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de Americans vs de Europeans
American male                                  European male             

The FCI show system differs drastically on many points from the AKC/CKC system. There are fewer shows, and those few are divided into the CAC rank shows, which allow dogs to collect the points (certificates) toward the national Championship, and CACIB rank shows, which give out points (certificates) toward the International Champion title. Collecting points toward a championship is not something new, you say! Read on and you will see how the championship system might be set to work to everybody's benefit. First of all, no dog under 15 months of age can be awarded points. That puts the youngsters out of competition. One would therefore expect a low number of entries in the Junior class, but this is not the case. Puppy class (6 to 9 months) and Junior class (9 to 18 months) are always full as breeders bring their promising new dogs to get the critique of the JUDGE. To further prevent young dogs from getting a Champion title before they are mature and also to prevent the situation where the dog is put on steroids or other medication for a season and finishes within a few weeks, at least a year must pass between the dog's first and last set of points. Thus the youngest possible champion in most European countries has to be at least 27 months of age. Further, in most countries no dog of a working breed can be awarded championship without earning a working diploma. Training in Schutzhund is difficult and very time consuming, so many dogs receive their title much later in life. The working diploma policy makes a Champion title meaningful, as it shows that the holder of that title actually has both beauty and brains. Four dogs can be placed in every class, and the winner of each of the four adult classes compete against one another. Once the winner is chosen, the dog that was placed second in that winner's class is invited back to the ring to compete for the remaining placements. The dog placed second receives a reserve certificate, and if the dog that was placed first is already a Champion, the second dog gets all the points. Every dog presented at a show is being evaluated as "Excellent," "Very Good," "Good," "Fair" or "Unsatisfactory," and the youngsters receive "Highly Promising," "Promising," "Not Promising." Most of the European JUDGES are breeder-judges. Having an all-rounder judging the breed would mean low entries, so clubs try hard to ensure they have breeder-judges for all the popular breeds, and working breeds are popular everywhere in Europe. The FCI Group II (analogous to the Working Group in America) always has the largest number of entries. JUDGES may be licensed by either FCI or the breed club. JUDGES that work under the breed clubs are highly respected as it is very difficult to meet all the requirements the breed clubs set for the applicants. Many breed clubs demand that the JUDGE never add any other breeds to his list. The JUDGE is well aware that most of his entries end up in the ring only because their owners wish to know his opinion, so most JUDGES provide very well written critiques explaining in detail the dog's virtues and faults and why it was or was not placed. All critiques start with "Typical" or "Untypical," thus giving the reader the idea that breed type is the most important virtue. While it is common to hear in America "Our Spike won a major," in Europe people say, "Our Spike won under Mr. X." That reflects the attitudes toward shows that prevail on both continents, and while North American dog fanciers show for points because there is nothing else available to them, Europeans show for critiques. Many Boxer magazines in Europe publish all the critiques every month, so anyone who is interested in what Mr. X thought about Spike can pick up a copy of the magazine and have his curiosity satisfied. The publishing of critiques is absolutely invaluable for the breed? development, as the JUDGE is required to describe each and every entry he had, not just the winners.


Let it be said right now that in Europe most (and we do mean most) BREEDERS and owners show their own dogs. The number of HANDLERS is extremely small, and most of those that do exist work with one breed only. Usually a European HANDLER is a well-known BREEDER who accepts a limited number of dogs to be campaigned at the V.I.P. level such as at ATIBOX and the World Championship shows. The number of famous professional Boxer HANDLERS in Europe does not exceed ten, and all of them work with Boxers only. Otherwise, the BREEDERS can be rightfully called HANDLERS, as they are the ones who dominate the rings in every European country. Boxers and other working breeds are always shown on a free (loose) lead, except in the Scandinavian countries where British influence is strong. Many German JUDGES are famous for not allowing the HANDLERS to touch their dogs during the class except for showing the dogs' teeth. The usual picture at any show is a ring full of Boxers stacking themselves and sparring against each other with their HANDLERS holding onto the very end of 6-8 foot lead. Watching and competing at many large shows in Europe in the past 10 years, we do not remember a single case in which a Boxer was moved on a tight lead under his chin. Because the HANDLER'S influence on the dog is minimal, both the judge and the ringside can evaluate the true structure of the dog. Any dog that shows aggression or fear, shies off and does not wish to spar, is going to be given a lower mark. There are also a large percentage of pet owners that show their dogs at least a few times, and if the dog is good, they might breed it under the guidance of the club and the BREEDER. Many HANDLERS involve their friends/family members at a show, as double handling (when somebody calls the dog from outside the ring to make it more alert and expressive) is quite common at the shows. Double (sometimes triple) handling is one of the main reasons why BREEDERS and owners might wish to use a handler, because the dog often looks better when it is the owner who calls the dog from outside the ring.


For the most part European BREEDERS are no different than their American colleagues. They are quite passionate and have high goals. The difference is in the experiences they had when they started out. In European countries the influence of the national breed clubs is very strong. The clubs set out the guidelines that all BREEDERS are expected to adhere to. It is worth noticing that all the national breed clubs belong to the international club, ATIBOX in case of Boxers. Breed clubs determine the proper age for the dogs to be bred, the health clearances the breeding stock are supposed to have, the working-ability tests (and sometimes even an endurance test) that are to be completed, etc. In many countries the system of breed wardens is very strong ? they assist the breeders in many aspects of their daily routine and decision making. European BREEDERS of working breeds learn upfront that the temperament of a dog is as important as its conformation. Of course each of them dreams of winning, preferably winning big, but they also know that if the dog is not capable of working in a SchH field for many hours every week under any conditions for at least a year, that dog will never become a Champion. Therefore they soon learn that if their dog? structure is off, even if it still can be shown, it won't be able to earn a working diploma. Each working breed's Standard, including the Boxers, describes an ideal working dog, and most European BREEDERS know all too well why the Standard demands correct angulation and a short back, for example. Not because JUDGES like it, not because HANDLERS want to see it, but because a long-backed, straight from both sides dog will fall apart on the field. BREEDERS look for strong, capable dogs that are full of attitude. Working dogs must be balanced, have plenty of bone mass, substance and solid nerves. Young BREEDERS have the strong support of the system, and their mentors make them read critiques by the thousands. That alone helps the new BREEDER get a mental picture of that ideal dog and also allows them a way of expressing what they see, and that is an invaluable learning tool. BREEDERS who seek easy ways to the top usually end up losing their reputation, and that is the worst thing that can happen to a BREEDER in Europe. The countries are small and every dog fancier knows every BREEDER in his country and a few neighboring countries, too, so if someone ever does something unethical, it immediately becomes known. Therefore, many BREEDERS are weeded out of the scene as the years pass, and those old experienced BREEDERS are respected and even obeyed to some degree. Aside from all of the abovementioned reasons, excellent mentoring and traditionalism are responsible for the European working breeds' success. The support system is extremely developed in Europe, and many BREEDERS prefer to work together toward the same goals rather than competing with each other. Looking for the historical reasons, we came to the conclusion that because Europe has experienced two devastating wars just recently, the people have learned to help and support each other. In many instances it was the only means of survival. Many people who were born before the Second World War still breed today, and so the tradition of helping each other lives on. America, on the other hand, has been in a much better economic condition in recent years, people could accomplish a lot by themselves, and thus became very competitive. Like children who say "I can do it all by myself!" they jump right in, and we wonder if they miss something by not having a wing of wise experience to nestle under.

Below you will find a small gallery of the dogs from both North America and Europe. These collages are not meant to illustrate the differences between the two, but rather the similarities of the faults, virtues and general outlines in the North American dogs of different breeds. The Europeans are placed there for comparison. We tried to pick dogs of the same sex, age, quality and of similar color where possible.
American bitch                                European bitch
American                        vs                  European
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American bitch                                European bitch
American male                                  European male