AKC defines “Breed type” as the sum of the
qualities that q dogs of one breed from another.
Beauchamp in his book Solving the Mysteries
of Breed Type states “There is no
characteristic among dog breeds that is more
variable than the head, and it therefore imparts
individuality to each of the breeds.”
statement makes the case that the head is one of
the most Important elements that identify “breed
It applies equally to all breeds,
including the Doberman.
the importance of the head to identify the
Doberman as a Doberman, judges must put head
conformation in proper perspective.
What does that mean?
It means to the Doberman fancy, that the
head is important … even essential to breed type
… but the Doberman is not a “head breed”.
all know what a “head breed” is.
It’s a breed that has let the head become
the most defining element of breed type.
Unfortunately, when a breed concentrates
on heads to the exclusion of other qualities,
those other qualities suffer.
What results is a breed with a beautiful
head, that often times have poor structure,
proportions, and movement.
As you observe other breeds, it will
become obvious which ones are “head breeds”.
fanciers are inclined to take a middle of the
road approach. They expect the head to be
considered equally with other type-defining
The head is not more important than
profile, gait, angulation, or proportions, but
is certainly equal to each of them.
The judge simply has to decide for
himself the level of importance the head has in
defining the overall breed.
are three disqualifications in the mouth of the
They will not be discussed as one of the
defining elements of the Doberman breed, simply
because a dog with a disqualification is
disallowed from any consideration.
Further evaluation of the head or any
other attribute is moot.
A discussion of the mouth appears later.
first things that you should notice about the
head are the overall shape and size.
standard describes the head as
“Long and dry, resembling a blunt
wedge in both frontal and profile views. When
seen from the front, the head widens gradually
toward the base of the ears in a practically
is not a quantifiable description, but for the
Doberman it is generally considered to be about
equal to the length of the neck, and about half
the length of the topline as measured from the
withers to the base of the tail.
You can confirm these general guidelines
by measuring the drawings in the Doberman
Pinscher Club of America Illustrated Standard
and by measuring photos of dogs considered as
having correct heads.
Of course, “dry” simply means no loose
skin, with tight lips and flews.
Figure 1 will
help to visualize the look of the blunt wedge.
These two graphics show the head as a
blunt wedge when viewed from the front or in
When facing the Doberman, you should be
able to place your flat hands against sides of
the muzzle and cheeks and feel the smooth flat
planes of the dog’s head.
On a correct head, your hands will form
the flat planes of the blunt wedge.
“blunt wedge” is another non-measurable
A blunt wedge may be fairly wide,
somewhat narrow, or in between.
There are no concrete measurements to
give as guidelines, simply because different
head shapes are correct for different body
A heavy boned, substantial dog will
nearly always have a broader “blunt wedge” than
a less substantial one.
A refined dog may have a narrow “blunt
Any of these may be suitable for that
the standard also calls for “Jaws full and
powerful well filled under the eyes. “ If a
dog does not have sufficient muzzle and
underjaw, then the head won’t form the planes of
the blunt wedge.
The full muzzle and underjaw are also
important to hold the 42 large teeth required by
is the judge’s responsibility to see enough
Dobermans and to be mentored by enough different
people to determine the normal acceptable limits
of the “blunt wedge”.
The judge can then evaluate within those
limits, and reward dogs that fall within the
standard continues “Eyes- almond shaped,
moderately deep set, with vigorous, energetic
expression. Iris, of uniform color, ranging from
medium to darkest brown in black dogs; in reds,
blues, and fawns the color of the iris blends
with that of the markings, the darkest shade
being preferable in every case”
paragraph is self-explanatory.
The key words to remember are “almond
shaped”, “dark”, and “expression.” The first two
are easily understood.
Figure 2 Ear set
The standard is clear on the placement of
the ear, i.e. level with the top of the skull.
discussion of ear cropping however is not quite
The statement that the ear is “normally
cropped” is sometimes interpreted to mean that
it is typically cropped, but not required.
The phrase “and carried erect” clarifies
that our breed is a cropped breed and the ears
are carried erectly.
ears are allowed, and some Dobermans have
finished their championships with uncropped
ears. Nonetheless, uncropped ears should be
thought as a deviation from the standard.
You must make your own decision as to the
magnitude of the deviation. Bear in mind that
you must also think about the impact that
uncropped ears have on expression and the
overall look of the dog.
the planes of the head (Figure 3).
The standard states: “Top of skull
flat, turning with slight stop to bridge of
muzzle, with muzzle line extending parallel to
top line of skull. Cheeks flat and muscular.
Nose -solid black on black dogs, dark brown on
red ones, dark gray on blue ones, dark tan on
fawns. Lips lying close to jaws.”
Figure 3 head planes
description of most characteristics of the head
as set forth in this part of the standard are
clear and need little amplification.