As with all breeds, there are certain characteristics put forth by the American Kennel Club (AKC) that all purebred Dobermans should follow. The AKC breed standards are split into different categories, and are as followed:
General Physical Appearance
The Doberman is a tall, slender breed that is considered medium in size. The body is square and muscular, yet features a compact build which makes the breed great for speed and endurance. Doberman’s have a very proud, regal appearance that reflects through to temperament and nobility. The breed is known for being alert, watchful, energetic, determined, obedient, loyal, and fearless.
Height (at withers)
Males: Between 26 and 28 inches, with an ideal height of 27.5 inches
Females: Between 24 and 26 inches, with an ideal height of 25.5 inches
Males: Between 75 and 100 pounds
Females: Between 60 and 90 pounds
According to the AKC breed standards, the dog’s head should look like a blunt wedge when both profile and frontal views are visible. Looking at the dog from the front the head should gradually widen as it nears the base of the ears. The eyes are moderately set and almond shaped with an expression that is both energetic and vigorous.
The dog’s iris should be a solid color that can range from dark brown to black in most. However, in Doberman’s with coat colors such as blue, red, or fawn, the iris color will blend with the dog’s main color.
The Doberman’s ears are the center of a great debate – to crop or not to crop. Naturally the breed has long ears that hang down, however it is very common for owners to have an elective surgery done so they stand erect.
The nose of a Doberman can also vary depending on coat color. For example, black dogs usually have black noses, blue dogs have dark gray, fawns have dark tan, and red ones have dark brown noses.
According to the AKC breed standards, the Doberman’s teeth are white and strongly developed. This breed has 42 teeth that require correct placement; 20 within the upper jaw and 22 inside the lower. The breed is not penalized for distemper teeth present, but missing teeth and over/undershot are disqualifying faults.
The neck is dry, well muscled and carried proudly. It is arched, and the nape gradually widens as it moves toward the body. The length of the neck should be in proportion to the head and body. The withers are pronounced and form to create the highest point of the dog’s body. The Doberman has a deep chest and a well defined forechest. Naturally the dog’s tail is long and thin, however it has became customary for AKC breeders to dock the tail at the second joint. The tail is carried slightly higher than the back when alert.
Coat and Acceptable Colors
The coat is short, smooth, thick, hard, and lies close to the skin. Dobermans come in several colors that include black, blue, fawn, and red. Each coat color features markings of rust that help sharply define the dog’s body. Such markings will be found on the eyebrows, throat, muzzle, legs, feet, under the tail, and forechest. Some Dobes have a patch of white on the chest; this is permissible so long as it does not exceed a half square inch in size.
The ideal Doberman, as put forth by the AKC breed standards, will have a temperament that is watchful, alert, loyal, energetic, obedient, and determined. Any Doberman viewed as aggressive or shy by a judge will lead to an automatic rejection from the show ring. Dobermans should be cautious, yet accepting of strangers. Poor breeding can lead to undesirable temperaments. Therefore backyard breeders should be avoided when getting this breed of dog.
AKC Breed Standards for Disqualifications & Faults
Disqualifications from show rings include undershots that are more than 1/8 inch, overshots of more than 3/16 inch, missing teeth of four or more, and dogs that are not of an allowed coat color. Any deviation from the specifications listed above is considered a fault in the show ring and can result in a point deduction.