It’s back to the basics on this one, folks. Many people are confused about if there is any difference between a Doberman and Doberman Pinscher. I can certainly understand why this is confusing if you are new to the breed, so let’s clear this up once and for all, shall we?
What’s the difference between a Doberman and a Doberman Pinscher? The term Doberman and Doberman Pinscher refer to the same breed of dog. The term “Doberman Pinscher” is primarily used in the United States and Canada while “Doberman” is used in the rest of the world.
To make things even more confusing, you also have a “Dobermann” (spelled with two n’s) to add to the mix. Yes, a Dobermann is the same breed as a Doberman and Doberman Pinscher. Again, all three of these dogs are of the same breed! However, let’s make sure you don’t sound ill-informed when you talk about these dogs. Here’s who should use which of these terms and when.
Doberman Terms At-a-Glance
Below is a quick guide reference for the correct terminology when referring to each type of Doberman. Remember that both of the below-mentioned varieties are still the same breed of dog. They’re still ALL Dobermans.
|Type of Doberman||Correct Term(s)|
|American Doberman Pinscher||
What’s the Difference? For a side-by-side comparison of these two Doberman varieties, including diagrams of their physical differences, see my article: American vs. European Doberman: A Side-by-Side Comparison
Origins of the Breed’s Name
In the late 19th century, a tax collector, night watchman, and local dog catcher living in a small town in Germany named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann created a new dog breed via selective breeding. As the town’s tax collector, his job involved collecting tax money from citizens throughout the town, which was a dangerous job at the time. His other job, as the town’s night watchman, wasn’t much easier. He was tasked with making rounds at night (on foot) looking for thugs who were up to no good.
Luckily, as the local dog catcher, he had access to many different breeds of dogs. So he began selective breeding in an attempt to produce the perfect dog for personal protection. The dog was to join him on his rounds through the town. The dog breed that he created was later named the “Doberman Pinscher” in his honor after his death in 1894.
In 1948 Germany dropped the word “Pinscher” from the breed’s name. Breed experts at the time argued that the term pinscher wasn’t appropriate for the breed since the dog was not representative of a pinscher (the German word for terrier). After Germany dropped the word pinscher from the name, other countries began to follow suit. Currently, only the United States and Canada use the term “Doberman Pinscher”, while the rest of the world uses the term “Dobermann”.
For the rest of the world, an extra “n” was also added onto the name “Doberman” to make the spelling of the breed’s name “Dobermann”, which is how Louis Dobermann spelled his last name.
For a complete breed overview of the Doberman Pinscher, including more about Louis Dobermann and his role developing the breed, see my article The Doberman Pinscher: A Complete Breed Overview.
European “Dobermann” vs. the American “Doberman Pinscher”
Due to significant differences with breeding practices in America and Europe, the Doberman breed has split into two varieties of dog; the European Dobermann and the American Doberman Pinscher. These two varieties have so many differences that some experts have argued they should be separated into two different breeds entirely. Currently, they’re still classified as the same breed. However, they have significant differences in both temperament and physical appearance.
The European Dobermann is a slightly larger dog with more muscle mass and a shorter, thicker neck. Thie European variety has a high drive and is very well suited for personal protection or any other working dog assignments. The American Doberman Pinscher is a slightly smaller, sleeker, and some argue “more elegant” looking dog. These dogs have thinner necks that seem to slope up from the body in a curved manner. They’re generally calmer and better suited for use as a family pet. Despite the differences between these two varieties, they are the same breed of dog.
The European Dobermann should always be spelled with two n’s in the word Dobermann while the American Doberman Pinscher should always be spelled with one “n” in the word Doberman.
Doberman — Spelled With One ‘N’
The term “Doberman”, spelled with one “n”, is technically incorrect if you’re referring to the European dog and it should be spelled as “Dobermann”. However, the term Doberman (spelled with one ‘n’) is still used quite widely as just a shortened way of referring to the entire breed (both the American or European variety).
So if you write the word “Doberman” (like I do quite often on this website), you aren’t wrong, you‘re simply using a less formal way of referring to the entire breed. This informal reference can refer to either the European Dobermann or the American Doberman Pinscher, or both.
If you want to remain formal, and as correct as possible, use “Doberman Pinscher” to refer to the American variety, and “Dobermann” to refer to the European variety.
Dobermann — Spelled With Two N’s
Dobermann spelled with two n’s is the formal way of referring to the European Dobermann. This is also how the creator of the breed, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann spelled his last name. This term, however, is not a shortened way of referring to the American Doberman Pinscher. Writing “Dobermann” while referring to the American Doberman Pinscher is incorrect.
Many people in other countries will still use the term “Doberman” (with one ‘n’) as a slightly shortened, or just informal, way of referring to the same dog.
When in doubt, just use the word “Doberman”. This is the slightly less formal (although still very common) way to refer to either variety—or the breed as a whole.
Doberman owners love their dogs. They’re often very dedicated to the breed and convinced that there is no other dog breed in the world like the Doberman. They also like to have fun with their dogs and often times find them doing pretty humorous things. That’s why over time, a few slang words have been developed to refer to the breed such as:
- Dobie (pronounced “Dough-bie”): This is short for “Doberman” which could be used to refer to either an American Doberman Pinscher, European Dobermann, or the breed as a whole.
- Dobe (pronounced “Dowb” or “Dough-bie”): This is another shortened term for “Doberman” which could be used to refer to either an American Doberman Pinscher, European Dobermann, or the breed as a whole. This also has two different pronunciations.
- Doberdork (pronounced “Dough-ber-dork”): This is a loving way a Doberman owner may refer to their dog. It’s a reference to their playful and, at times, humorous demeanor. It can be referring to either an American Doberman Pinscher or a European Dobermann.
You may see some other slang terms floating around for these dogs and they almost always can be used to reference either variety of Doberman (either the American or European), or the breed as a whole.
Is a Miniature Pinscher the same as a Doberman Pinscher? Although they may look similar, the Miniature Pinscher (or “Min Pin”) is a completely different dog breed from the Doberman Pinscher. They may share a few genetic similarities, as it’s believed that the German Pinscher breed may be in the genetic makeup of both dogs. However, that’s about where the similarities end. The Miniature Pinscher is not simply a smaller version of a Doberman.
I know that’s a lot to soak in if you came to this page thinking that these two terms referred to two different types of dogs. So let’s see if we can simplify it further for you.
- If you are referring to an American Doberman Pinscher – Say “Doberman Pinscher” or “American Doberman Pinscher”. However, you can also use the slightly less formal, and shorter term, “Doberman” although this will not signal to others which specific variety you’re referring to (American or European).
- If you are referring to a European Dobermann – Say “Dobermann”. If you’re writing the word, you are welcome to write it simply as “Doberman” with one “n”, but this is less formal and will not signal to others which specific variety you’re referring to (American or European).
- If you live in America or Canada – Use the term “Doberman Pinscher” or the less formal “Doberman” to refer to the breed.
- If you live in Europe or anywhere else in the world – Use the term “Dobermann” or the less formal “Doberman” to refer to the breed.
Using the correct terminology will make it clear to others exactly which type of Doberman you are referring to. It will also help to make sure you don’t sound uninformed when it comes to the breed. Remember, when in doubt just say or write “Doberman” and you won’t be wrong.
What’s the difference between a Doberman and a Dobermann? Both the terms “Doberman” and “Dobermann” refer to the same breed of dog. However, Dobermann (spelled with two n’s) refers specifically to the European variety.
Is a pinscher a terrier? The word “pinscher” means “terrier” in German. Therefor a pinscher is the same thing as a terrier.
Is it spelled “Doberman” or “Dobermann”? The correct spelling is Dobermann (with two n’s) if you are referring to the European Dobermann variety. Doberman (spelled with one ‘n’) refers to the breed as a whole and can be used to reference either an American Doberman Pinscher or European Dobermann.