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Albino & White Doberman: Facts, History & Pictures

Brooke Bundy

By Brooke Bundy

Two albino doberman on leashes

With its snowy fur and clear blue eyes, the white Doberman Pinscher has stirred up quite a lot of controversy ever since the first dog known to carry this mutation survived almost fifty years ago. While it’s not known whether white Dobermans are truly albino, white isn’t included in the AKC breed standard for Dobermans, which recognizes only four colors: black, blue, red, and fawn. Interestingly, white Dobermans are still eligible to be AKC registered as long as they are purebred. However, these dogs will go on the Z-list, which was designed by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA) to track these dogs so that breeders can avoid choosing them for their breeding stock.

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The Earliest Records of Dobermans in History

A clever tax collector named Louis Dobermann developed the modern Doberman Pinscher breed as a way to guard his income. Some proposed ancestors include the German Pinscher, the Rottweiler, and anonymous terrier and herding breeds.

How Dobermans Gained Popularity

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Doberman Pinscher in 1908. However, there is sparse information regarding white Dobermans until the 1930s. When Queen Sheba was born in 1976, her pedigree bore the interesting comment, “the first white Doberman not put to sleep.”

The AKC accepted Sheba for registration once her owners proved that she was a purebred Doberman, but the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was outraged. In 1982, the DPCA changed their breed standard to exclude white Dobermans. The AKC still allows these pups to be registered, even though their white color isn’t included in their own breed standard.

Formal Recognition of White Dobermans

As a part of their cooperation with the DPCA, the AKC currently places any of their registered white Dobermans on the “Z-list,” a record designed by the DPCA with the intention of tracking Sheba’s descendants. It’s commonly believed that all white Dobermans descend from Sheba, who was unscrupulously bred many times in order to retain the rare trait in the breeding stock. Some members of both kennel clubs are still lobbying today for a breeding ban of white Dobermans.

There’s a hot debate about whether white Doberman Pinschers are technically albinos since they aren’t pure white and still have some blue pigment in their eyes. Some people have called them “partial albinos,” but that’s self-contradictory since the definition of albinism is total loss of pigmentation. Rather, white Dobermans might suffer from leucism, which is a separate genetic condition that causes partial loss of pigmentation.

The DPCA states that these dogs have health and behavioral issues like true albinos. However, the debate is very heated and there isn’t much proof beyond anecdotal evidence or biased reporting for most of it. The only scientifically proven negative traits about white Dobermans is that their skin is photosensitive, which means it’s more susceptible to sunburn. There have also been studies showing that white or albino Dobermans are more likely to develop tumors, but there haven’t been any further studies on whether these tumors are malignant or benign.

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Top 6 Unique Facts About Dobermans

1. Doberman Pinschers can hit 32 mph if they’re running at full speed.

They’re one of the fastest dog breeds in the world, but they’re still no match for the Greyhound, the reigning champ who can run at 45 mph.

2. There are four recognized Pinschers: Doberman Pinschers, German Pinschers, Affenpinschers, and Miniature Pinschers.

Of the four types, the Doberman Pinscher is the largest in size, but has the shortest lifespan.

3. The Doberman Pinscher has earned Best in Show at Westminster four times.

This is quite an impressive feat. Some of the more popular dog breeds in the United States, such as the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever, haven’t won a single time.

4. They’ve served in the military.

After immigrating to America from Germany in the early 20th century, Dobermans have frequently been used for police and military work. They even served in the Pacific tours during World War II and earned the title “Devil Dogs.”

5. White is a recessive trait in Dobermans.

Two parents must have the mutated recessive gene in order for their offspring to be white. This mutated gene “masks” the color the Doberman would have been otherwise, such as rust or black.

6. All-black Dobermans also exist, but they are rare.

Melanism is a condition which gives a dog’s coat too much pigment, resulting in an all-black coat. While a mostly black coat with rust-colored markings is included in the typical breed standard, it’s hard to find a completely black Doberman. Both the AKC and the DPCA disapprove of breeding all-black Doberman Pinschers.

Do White Dobermans Make a Good Pet?

So far, sensitivity to light and higher susceptibility to tumors are the only health issues that are known to belong exclusively to white Dobermans. Other than those issues, they share the same positive and negative traits common to all Dobermans. As a whole, Doberman Pinschers have a reputation for developing many health issues, including bloat, hip dysplasia, bone cancer, and von Willebrand’s disease, which is a blood clotting disorder. However, their average lifespan of 10-12 years is relatively long considering their large size, so we believe their life expectancy is more dependent on their level of care rather than genetics.

Dobermans are easy to train and eager to please, making them good candidates for canine agility competitions. Containing bounds of energy, these dogs thrive with active families, or in a home with a large backyard. They’re fiercely loyal to their own and may bark or become aggressive to strangers without proper early socialization.

Some owners of white Dobermans claim that their pups have the sweetest temperaments, with some even becoming service dogs to the sick and elderly. Others share horror stories on the Internet of their dog who turned aggressive and had to be euthanized. As with most dogs, how you treat your white Doberman is generally the best indicator of how they’ll treat you.

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Although white Dobermans are frowned upon for breeding, they still can make good pets if you want to give a rescue a second chance. However, a white Doberman has unique health concerns, such as hypersensitivity to sunlight. If you decide to adopt a white Doberman, make sure you know how to adapt to their special needs first, such as taking them to a dog park in the early morning or evening while the sun isn’t out.

As a whole, Doberman Pinschers are a high-energy breed that likes to run and thrives on agility courses. With proper socialization, they can become great family dogs that are known to protect and love their own.


Featured Image Credit: Two albino doberman on leashes (maxually, Flickr CC-BY-NC 2.0)

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