When you’re buying a Doberman puppy, the color question can be really daunting.
Some people tell you that there are unhealthy colors, others tell you about very rare Doberman colors. Even when people agree on the most common color, everybody calls it differently.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into which color you should get to make sure your new addition to the family will live as long as possible.
The color of your Doberman definitely has an impact on your dog’s health as well as genetic predispositions for certain health issues.
Let’s check what the AKC has to say about the Doberman Pinscher:
Allowed Colors: Black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella).
Markings: Rust, sharply defined, appearing above each eye and on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet, and below tail.
White patch on chest, not exceeding 1⁄2 square inch, permissible.AKC Doberman breed standard
There is actually another colors which isn’t mentioned in the AKC standard – The white Doberman.
This is due to the fact that they’re not only quite rare, but the ones that are fully white (there’s a difference, we’ll get to that below) are Albinos which can carry health issues.
In short, all the Doberman colors (all with rust markings):
- Red Doberman (or brown)
- Black Doberman
- Blue Doberman
- Fawn Doberman
- White Doberman
However, as many of the European and American readers among us might be interested in the European Doberman, it’s important to know that there can be some confusion in terms of how they label the colors.
The FCI breed standard mentions the following:
The Dobermann is bred in two colour varieties: black or brown with rust red, clearly defined and clear markings (tan markings).
Tan markings are on the muzzle as a spot on the cheeks and the top of the eyebrow; on the throat; two spots on the forechest; on the metacarpus, metatarsus and feet; on the inner side of the hind thigh; on the forearms and under the tail.FCI Doberman breed standard
So the “black and rust” Doberman is the American equivalent to the “black and rust red” European Doberman, while the American “red and rust” Doberman is called “brown and rust red” Doberman.
Americans call the markings rust while Europeans call it tan (or alternatively just rust red).
Is there a difference between rust and tan markings? Yes, normally the tan markings are a bit lighter.
However, if you’re looking around in Europe, you’ll find that the Dobermans there are a bit darker, even though they should be more “tan”.
You can read more about the black and tan color in my article about Rottweiler colors (where the European dogs really tend to be a tad lighter, depending on the breeding line).
Beware of calling the black and rust Doberman something like black and brown as other breed lovers might get confused why you’re mixing up two different color variations (black and brown/red).
Just a difference in labeling, don’t be confused. You’ll learn how to spot each color in Dobermans pretty quickly.
The red and rust Dobermann (or “brown and rust red/tan”) is the second most common type of coat color for this dog breed.
Since it’s one of two colors that is recognised not only by the AKC but also by the FCI, it’s a pretty widely spread color since breeders know that this coat type will be accepted in show rings and can win confirmation titles.
The rich red is a striking color and the really highlights the Doberman’s smooth, hard, and thick coat.
Even though this color is not exactly rare among this specific breed, you’re not meeting dogs with rich colors like that outside every day.
As with other breeds, people often come up with the craziest names for colors that could be so easy to describe. A name often used for the reddish, brown tone is “chocolate”.
Beware of breeders that use terms like chocolate, bronze or whatever to describe this type of coat, at least if the description extends beyond a quick visualisation and can actually be found in some kind of papers or described as such on a breeder’s website
The black and rust Doberman is the most common type across the US and also Europe.
It’s a classic coat color for many dog breeds, including the Rottweiler, Hovawart, Beauceron, Bernese Mountain dog, German Pinscher and many more.
Is the All Black Doberman rare?
Many people are asking themselves whether or not the all black Doberman is rare and how they can find one.
According to various breed standards, the non-existence of markings is actually not desirable at all and shouldn’t be included in any breeding program.
In the right sunlight, you can see the outlines of the tan markings in most cases of seemingly all-black Dobermans.
The blue Doberman is recognised by the AKC, but not by most of the European standards and is avoided by most breeders for just this reason.
Technical, this type of coat color happens due to a dilutive gene that causes the black to look diluted down.
In some cases, Dobermans that are blue or silver can have color dilution alopecia – or short DCA. This condition describes a genetic skin condition which causes hair loss, dry dog skin and other similar issues.
Here you can check out an Instagram channel of a Doberman with a coat that looks a lot like silver in the sunlight.
Even though many people like the blue or silver touch, you should beware of breeders that crossbreed with other dogs that have similar coat colors and try to sell them to you as “blue Dobermans”.
Ask for their pedigree and/or DNA tests to avoid issues like crossbreeding with Labradors, Weimaraners, or any other breed that has a silver coat.
Contrary to the blue Cane Corso where the color is correctly labeled “gray”, the blue colored Doberman at least exists and is not some fantasy color.
Similar to the blue color, the fawn happens due to a dilutive gene which causes the skin to take be far lighter. Although the fawn or so-called Isabella Doberman is only recognised in the AKC, it can be sold under “light brown” in Europe instead.
This color may look astonishing but due to show ring restrictions, it’s estimated that far less than 10% of Dobermans have the fawn color.
Although it’s a common belief that the white Doberman equals an Albino Doberman, that is not really the case.
The regular white Doberman still produces melanin which is the reason for their skin pigmentation. This production is just limited and thus they seem to have a very light cream color, but never fully white.
Here you can check out the Instagram of a white Doberman.
There are many owners who report struggles with their white Dobermans due to the sensitive eyes, skin, and so on but I’m sure there are also quite a few who absolutely adore and enjoy their beautiful white Doberman.
Is the White Doberman Rare?
Although this type of Doberman is certainly quite rare, it’s not desirable to breed in most cases. Think about what happens if you have very few specimen of a certain color within a dog breed and you want to preserve that.
Many backyard breeders want to score the high prices that some potential puppy owners are ready to pay and they don’t shy away from including dogs that are related to the dog they have in their breeding program.
In most cases, these breeders are uncovered anyway if you follow my questions to ask your breeder.
These dogs often don’t have health testing and their inbreeding coefficient (or lack thereof as many breeders won’t supply you with this information) can be a dead giveaway that something’s wrong.
Make sure you find a great breeder for your future Doberman as it will save you lots of training on behavioral issues and vet bills.
History of the “Albino Doberman”
The first white Doberman was born in 1976 (Padula’s Queen Shebah) and a lot of inbreeding has taken place with this dog, according to various sources.
If you’re interested in this, here’s a letter from the DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America) elaborating on the white Doberman and everything that followed.
Research for this type of coat color span more than 10 years with many attempts at finding out how or why this color happened.
They even attempted to breed this dog to for “scientific purposes” which brought various behavioral issues to the daylight, which might be directly linked to their physical condition.
Although one might disagree with this practice (as one can certainly disagree with the cropping procedure that’s also encouraged by the DPCA), the findings are very interesting.
Furthermore, the owner of an albinistic Doberman stated the following about the puppy she got around 2000.
We purchased our White Doberman about two and one half years ago. We’d had him for several months and he was the sweetest dog (…)DPCA Letter
In June of 2000, a few months after we got him, he quit eating and we noticed how sensitive his eyes were to sunlight. Eventually his eyes became so bad we thought he would go blind. (…) He had gotten down to 58 pounds. He was put on prednisone some time during this time and eventually gained to 90+ pounds.
About six months ago he began to show aggressive behavior. He snapped at my husband and we chalked it up to the fact that he could not see well. He became food aggressive (…)
(…) when he attacked me ferociously, biting and shaking my arm from just below my elbow to my wrist. He released me and attacked me a second time.
Behavioral issues seem to be deeply rooted in this type of color.
However, the owner also bought a puppy from a pet store and talked about “Alpha” which might lead one to think whether or not they practiced old-school Alpha training and to what degree training and socialization (or the lack thereof) played a role in these incidents.
Eyesight problems, sensitivity to sunlight and skin that is easily affected by tumors or other issues like sunburns are problems that are all well-noted in the community about the white or Albino Doberman.
If you plan to rescue one (whereas many, if not all, Doberman enthusiasts would discourage you from buying an Albino dog from a breeder), plan for theses issues ahead of time.
Sensitivity to sunlight can be a real concern, depending on where you live and the mentioned skin issues can causes expensive vet bills down the road.
Whatever color is your favourite, there’s plenty of Doberman colors to choose from, you just have to evaluate your current lifestyle and personal plans.
If you plan to win show titles in European competitions, a black or red and rust Doberman would be your best bet.
Personal preference also plays a very big role in choosing color and many breeders might even discourage buyers to choose their unborn puppy just due to color because the mind can be so set on one specific puppy, getting you to ignore things like a temperament that doesn’t fit your lifestyle at all.
If you have any question about your (potential) Doberman’s color, let me know in the comments!Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutrionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.