Every dog owner wants to believe that their pet is one of a kind. However, some dogs actually are so rare that they have to be seen to be believed. Black Dobermans are one of those unusual dogs.
In this article, we’ll talk about how rare black Dobermans really are, as well as discuss some vital information you need to know if you’re interested in owning one of these dogs.
The Earliest Records of Black Dobermans in History
While we don’t know exactly when the first black Dobermans were born, it couldn’t have been earlier than the late 19th century. That’s when a German man named Karl Dobermann first started developing the breed that would later share his name.
Dobermann was a tax collector—an unpopular profession no matter where you are in the world. Because he often felt threatened as he traveled, Dobermann decided to develop a new breed specifically for protection and guarding work. By crossing such existing breeds as the Rottweiler, Black-and-Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, and Weimeraner, the first Dobermans were developed.
Just as it is now, the most common color type back then was the black-and-tan Doberman. It’s possible that black Dobermans were among these early dogs, but there are no records to confirm this.
How Black Dobermans Gained Popularity
Strong, athletic, intelligent, and fearless, the Doberman is the ideal working dog. Developed as guard dogs, Dobermans first served this role in their native Germany before quickly spreading across Europe and into the United States. Dobermans reached the United States in the early 20th century, where their popularity grew slowly until World War II, when many Dobermans served bravely with the U.S. Marines.
After the war, Dobermans began to pick up wins in the show ring, and this, along with their wartime heroics, caused their popularity to skyrocket. Dobermans currently rank in the top 20 of all breeds registered with the AKC. Around the world, they remain one of the most popular breeds for police and military use.
Because black is technically an undesirable coat color in Dobermans, black Dobermans probably weren’t very popular, and their births probably weren’t recorded by breeders. Because of this, we don’t know how many may have existed as the breed grew in popularity.
Formal Recognition of Black Dobermans
While the Doberman was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908, black Dobermans are not accepted as show quality. Black, blue, red, or fawn, all with tan or rust markings are the four official Doberman coat colors. Neither pure white nor pure black Dobermans are acceptable.
While a black Doberman is still a member of the breed, there’s often some question of whether these dogs are purebred, because their coat color is so rare. We’ll talk about this more in-depth in the next section, but unethical breeders sometimes cross other breeds with Dobermans to create “rare” black Dobermans that are mixed-breed dogs.
Top 3 Unique Facts About Black Dobermans
1. Black Dobermans Usually Aren’t Completely Black
Even though a black Doberman may look all one color from a distance, most of them typically do have at least some hints of lighter markings. Even if it’s just hair that’s a few shades lighter than pure black, or some tan spots on their legs, black Dobermans usually aren’t completely monotone.
2. Black Dobermans Are Controversial
Black Dobermans really shouldn’t exist, as they fall outside breed standards. In fact, those that are born are likely the result of a genetic mutation or inbreeding somewhere in the family line. Deliberately breeding these dogs is controversial due to the high likelihood of inbreeding. Consistent inbreeding isn’t sustainable long-term, generally leading to dogs with significant health and behavioral issues. Breeding just for color also means ignoring potential disqualifying health issues in parent dogs, which ethical breeders should not do.
3. Black Dobermans May Not be What They Seem
If there’s demand for a dog or a color type, you’ll always find an unethical breeder willing to bend the rules to make some quick cash. As we mentioned earlier, when it comes to black Dobermans, crooked breeders may introduce genes from other breeds to ensure that puppies are born all black. Rather than disclosing this information, the breeders pass the dogs off as pure Dobermans in a rare color, with a price point to match.
Does the Black Doberman Make a Good Pet?
Evaluating a black Doberman as a pet is a bit tricky because they are so rare. Likewise, those that do exist may display personalities significantly different than standard, as a result of faulty breeding practices or mutations. Some ethical black Doberman breeders do exist who perform rigorous health testing on their dogs before breeding, and focus on producing healthy dogs in rare colors.
If you’re fortunate enough to find a black Doberman from one of these breeders, you can expect them to conform closely to most other Dobermans in standard colors. They are energetic dogs who need plenty of exercise. Intelligent and typically highly trainable, Dobermans can be a bit stubborn, and are best suited to more experienced dog owners.
Because they are prone to protectiveness, careful socialization and training are required to help a Doberman learn to respond appropriately to perceived threats. Although they’re always on the alert, well-trained Dobermans make loving and gentle family pets.
Importantly, Dobermans as a breed are prone to some health issues—including heart disease, hip problems, and a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease.
As we’ve learned, black Dobermans are extremely rare, and those that do exist may either have significant medical issues or may not even be pure Dobermans at all. While it’s typically not a good strategy to pick a dog simply based on how they look, in this case, that’s especially true.
Generally, Dobermans are a better choice for experienced dog owners who can meet their high exercise and training needs. If that sounds like you, you might be able to find a healthy black Doberman, but there’s no guarantee. You would be better off looking for the healthiest puppy from a responsible breeder than searching high and low for a black Doberman that may not even exist.