As a working and guardian dog the original Doberman Pinschers were bred more for their ability to provide protection and stay with their owners than they were for their looks or their companionship qualities. Over time the Doberman Pinscher breeders have more selectively bred for a specific standard as well as to decrease the potential for aggression while still maintaining a well-balanced, all round guardian and companion dog.
The modern Doberman Pinscher was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908. Since then the breed standard has changed very little and still harkens back to the original body and head shape of the breed.
Overall the Doberman Pinscher is considered a medium sized dog, although their compact build and muscled appearance may make them seem much larger. In the United States a slightly leggier and taller Doberman Pinscher is often favored, combined with a leaner profile and appearance. The Doberman Pinscher must measure between 24 to 28 inches at the wither to be shown with any dogs smaller or taller than that disqualified. There is actually a different size for males and females with malls ranged from 26 to 28 inches and females slightly smaller at 24 to 26 inches. They have a square body shape with the height at the withers equal to the length along the body from the front of the chest to the hind part of the upper thigh.
The head of the Doberman Pinscher is distinctly wedge shaped when viewed from both the profile as well as from an overhead view. The plane of the side of the head from the edge of the muzzle to the base of the skulls should be flat and even, without any indentations or heavy jowls or cheeks. This sleek appearance down the side of the face is very important and the lips should be tight to the teeth and jaws and the jaws should be powerful and strong. The bite must be a correct scissors bite and any undershot jaw of more than one eight of a inch or an overshot jaw of more than three sixteenth of a inch are disqualifications. Four or more missing teeth also will result in a disqualification.
The eyes are almond shaped and slightly to the front of the head, moderately well set and always consistent and uniform in color. For black and tan colored dogs the color range from medium to dark brown is acceptable and for the other colors the eyes should match the markings. Any other colored eyes or parti-colored eyes result in disqualification.
The skull is flat across the top and features only a slight stop, giving a very gentle slope to the head. The ears are either cropped to stand up and are carried erect and pricked. Natural ears, in areas where cropping is prohibited or by a decision of the owner are naturally folded over and thin in the leather. It is interesting to note than in Germany no Doberman Pinscher that is cropped can be shown in regular shows and only with written permission in international dog events held in the country.
The neck is very noticeable in a Doberman Pinscher and is longer and well arched, narrowest at the base of the skull and smoothly widening and flowing into the shoulders. The withers are also noticeable just to the back of the neck and should be the highest point along the topline. The back is relatively short and straight from the withers to the slightly rounded croup. The chest is deep and broad with a noticeable forechest. The ribs are well sprung but able to accommodate the elbows which should be flat against the body.
The front legs should have a sloping shoulder blade that provides a good range of motion. The angle of the shoulder blade should be about 45 degrees from the ground and connecting with the top part of the leg at a 90 degree angle. The legs should be perfectly straight when viewed from any angle and they should be parallel to each other on all four corners of the dog's body. The feet are very well-arched and catlike in appearance with thick pads. They should face completely forward, never twisted either inward or outward.
The hind legs are strong, muscular and well developed. The hips are moderately broad and well balanced with the rest of the body. The hind quarters should have rounded curves with no sharp angles. The shanks are muscular and well developed and both the upper and lower shanks are the same length overall. The hock to heel portion of the leg should be perpendicular to the ground when the dog is standing. The hind legs are set parallel to the front and like the front feet should face straight forward. The dewclaws are typically removed on the hind legs but may be left on the front.
The tail of the Doberman Pinscher is typically docked at the second joint and should be carried on or just slightly above the horizontal line made by the spine. In the US Doberman Pinscher are not generally shown with a natural tail.
The coat is very short and sleek to the body, and is rather coarse and hard to the touch. There is some slightly undercoat around the neck that is gray in color, although it should be invisible when viewing the dog. Colors can be black, red, blue and fawn, which is also called Isabella. The marking on the Doberman Pinscher are clear and précised, with not blending or bleeding of the colors. Rust markings can appear over the eyes an don the muzzle as well as the forechest and throat. The bottom side of the tail and all found legs and feet are also rust colored. White Doberman Pinscher are not accepted in the AKC sanctioned shows and are not recognized.
The Doberman Pinscher should move with power and balance keeping the legs parallel to each other at all times. The hips and back should remain level and should not swing either to one side or the other. Although the dogs may be aloof and watchful, any signs of shyness of viciousness in the ring or when being examined by the judge will result in disqualification.