Coat Colours

Is it a Dobe if it’s not Black & Rust?

The Dobermann breed according to the Kennel Club Breed Standard is acceptable in 4 colours only:

  1. Black & Rust
  2. Brown & Rust (sometimes called liver)
  3. Blue & Rust
  4. Fawn & Rust (sometimes called Isabella)

There are 2 other known ‘colours’ in existence – White and Black – more about these later.

The majority of breeders in the UK will breed Black & Rust and Brown & Rust dogs.  This is because the Blue and Fawn colours frequently result in something called Colour Dilution Alopecia.  This usually manifests as a thin coat, often with bald spots which is dull and without much shine.  If you look at photographs of Blue and Fawn Dobes you will see they look like ‘washed out’ versions of the Black and Brown colours.  They are however, otherwise healthy and perfectly acceptable dogs.

White Dobermanns – are actually Albino!

In the USA in 1976, two Black & Rust Dobes were mated and within this litter they delivered several black & rust puppies and one creamy/white coloured  Doberman bitch.  She had a pink nose, eye rims, pads and blue eyes.

She was then bred to a dominant black male, and produced a litter of black & rust. One male and female were kept by the breeder. Her next litter was a result of a mating with her SON and contained two Albino males. The daughter and son were also mated and this litter contained two Albino bitches. Later, these Albinos were bred together producing litters of all Albino puppies.

These dogs are often passed off as ‘rare’ and those who import them from the USA or who buy these puppies in the UK often don’t realise  that they are genetic mutants.  Albino dogs frequently have poor temperaments and health problems.  They are known to suffer from sensitivity to sunlight – which can lead to skin conditions and cancer, poor eyesight – retinal problems, which can also trigger aggression.

Black Dobermanns – Do they exist?

There have been reports recently of ‘all black’ Dobermanns.  Again, this is not an accepted standard in the breed which calls for very specific RUST markings on all colours of dog.

It is not known whether these ‘Black Dobermanns’ have again been bred purely for colour (as the albinos are) to the detriment of all other qualities, or whether they are infact crossbreeds.  It is believed to be theoretically possible to rigorously manage matings of high melanin content dogs to mask the rust markings and potentially eradicate them leaving only a solid black.  Again, if you are not breeding for health and temperament you will unavoidably end up with substandard dogs.

Sometimes people who want a puppy and who admire Dobermanns will be duped into buying a ‘rare’ puppy and frequently end up paying a lot more for a dog which is likely to be unhealthy, unstable and ultimately unhappy.  These breeders are rarely Kennel Club Accredited or reputable and simply have £££ signs in their eyes.

If you’ve thought about a black or white Dobermann or haven’t considered WHERE your puppy comes from and WHO bred him/her for WHAT reason, ask yourself:

Is it fair to breed a dog for looks alone when its temperament could have it condemned to death at a year old?

Reproduced with permission from The Dobermann Trust

Summer Weather

When the sun comes out usually there’s an increased number of outdoor activities, playing in the park with children, and of course our furry friends.

When you’re slapping the high factor sunscreen on your children and yourself don’t forget that animals can also suffer from sunburn, dehydration and overheating.

Here are a few hints and tips to help keep your dogs safe in any warm weather:

  • Take your walks and playtime in the mornings and evenings when the temperature is cooler.  This helps avoid your pet overheating.  Make sure not to exercise after feeding.
  • Whenever you take your dog out in the car, make sure you have some water available and some form of shade (a window blind or child screen can do the job nicely). 
  • Don’t leave your dog in the car.  Parking in the shade and leaving windows open is NOT safe.  The sun moves throughout the day so although you’ve parked in the shade, it won’t be that way all day.  Leaving the windows open may allow your pet, or your car to be stolen.
  • If you allow your dog to run around outside in your garden or dog run during the day, make sure there’s plenty of drinking water and shade available and consider bringing him/her indoors from midday until 3pm when the sun is at its hottest.
  • Watch out for tarmac!  It can become excessively hot very quickly and will burn your dogs paws if they are standing still or have no alternative area to stand/sit on.
  • Take care around garden areas, not all garden chemicals/pesticides are pet or children friendly.  If your dog ingests something or you suspect they may have, take them to the vet immediately.

If you do see a dog in distress please call the RSPCA cruelty and advice centre, open 24 hours a day 0300 1234 999.  

Reproduced with permission from The Dobermann Trust


There are several illnesses which are prevalent within the Dobermann breed which may affect a dog during it’s lifetime (average 10 years).

As with people, there are no guarantees of whether your dog will or won’t contract one of these or infact, a different ailment.

Responsible breeders take into account these factors when selecting a breeding pair of dogs and will also conduct healthchecks to confirm.  Naturally, the dogs which come into the care of The Dobermann Trust are not all from reputable breeders who do these health checks and some will come to us as strays with little or no background at all.

All of the dogs from The Dobermann Trust are vet checked, vaccinated, wormed, flea treated and microchipped prior to rehoming.  Where a dog requires additional veterinary treatment this is also administered.

Von Willebrands Disease – Blood clotting disorder like Haemophilia

There are three types of status assigned to dogs regarding VWd. – Clear, Carrier or Affected.  The status of each dog is predetermined by its genetics and breeding.  The genes are for this are passed from the parents.  A dog which is known to be ‘Affected’ with VWd is often (but not always) unable to produce enough ‘clotting factor’  or sticky blood platelets to allow a cut to stop bleeding and heal.  Neither Clear nor Carrier animals have this issue and present ‘normally’.  For Affected dogs, there is a more significant degree of risk to any surgery this animal has  and any vet treating an affected dog should be told of the illness.  DNA testing (Finnzymes test) is available to help identify those animals who are VWd affected.

Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV)

This is a hereditary eye condition which can cause loss of vision.  The  ‘skin’ which covers the immature eye does not clear correctly as the dog matures and can leave strands of fibre across the eye impairing vision.  Your vet can test and confirm a diagnoses if appropriate.

DCM – Dilated Cardiomyopathy – Heart Disease

DCM is a heart disease which involves the wasting of the heart muscle until it can no longer pump blood around the body.  This disease can affect a Dobermann at any age although it is most common between the ages of 4 and 7.

There is currently no way of knowing whether a Dobermann is affected by this disease without undertaking blood testing, Echocardiogram and Holter monitoring at regular intervals throughout a dog’s life.  More information is available from your local Dobermann Breed Club.

Often when symptoms begin to show the dog is already in decline.  Medication can be given to prolong life but there is no cure for this disease currently.

There are several fundraising schemes to push forward DCM research in the UK.  Please donate if you have the opportunity.


This condition occurs when the thyroid gland does not producing enough thyroid hormone.  This can affect many aspects of a dog’s wellbeing and can manifest in any combination of the following symptoms: lethargy, weight gain or loss, hair loss, hair becoming coarser, anaemia or recurring skin infections.  Your vet can take a simple blood test to verify if this condition exists in your dog, and will prescribe a course of hormone replacement medication which will need to be taken for the rest of its life.  Your dog can then continue living life to the full.

Hip Dysplasia

This condition occurs when the ball joint of the thigh bone does not fit into the socket of the hip joint with a good tight fit.  This creates a rubbing of the bones which can distort the shape and weaken the joint further and also allows Osteoarthritis to develop.  This condition can be tested by x-raying the hip joints as they are manipulated, whilst the dog is sedated.

Cervical Spondylopathy/Cervical Vertebral Instability or Wobblers Syndrome

This disease is known as Wobblers due to the unstable ‘wobbly’ movement which becomes apparent in the dog.  It is a condition of the vertebrae originating in the neck area.  It can manifest as unstable movement in the front or rear quarters, in the lifting or lowering of the neck and often in something known as ‘knuckling under’ of the feet.  This is where the toes tuck under and are trodden on when they are placed on the floor in normal movement.  Some dogs are in great pain with these issues and others appear not to feel any pain until the condition becomes quite advanced.

Bloat – The Killer!

Our beautiful girl Millie would have died in May 2012 if we hadn’t recognised the signs of bloat and rushed her to the vet immediately for surgery.  Big thanks to West Mount Vet in Halifax who saved Millie’s life.

Lookout for the signs

  • Your dog retches from the throat but nothing is produced other than small amounts of frothy mucus
  • Your dog tries to poo but can’t go
  • Your dog lies down in the Sphinx position
  • Your dog’s tummy swells up like a balloon and/or goes hard and the skin is tight like a drum skin
  • Trying to btie or worry at the abdomen or their side
  • Unsettled, pacing, whining

CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.  Bloat is a true emergency and can KILL IN UNDER ONE HOUR – be prepared to drive to the surgery straight away.  The chance of survival decreases significantly if you delay.

You can download a poster to raise awareness from the SafeDog website

Reproduced with permission from The Dobermann Trust

Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is the common name for Infectious Bronchitis in dogs.  It is a highly contagious disease which can affect any dog, of any breed, shape, size or age.  Like influenza in humans there are many varieties of the disease and it can pass more easily in areas where there are more dogs, (dog shows, training classes, pack walks, or boarding kennels) which is why it has earned the common name Kennel Cough.

You will realise your dog is unwell as dogs which have picked up Kennel Cough develop a very dry hacking cough which can last for several weeks.  As with ‘flu in people, you can expect sleepless nights as your dog may be off his food,  have a runny nose or runny eyes, tired and disinterested, running a high temperature. Kennel Cough can usually be shaken off in a fit and healthy dog, but those with a lowered immune system may struggle and this illness can prove fatal.

If your dog develops Kennel Cough you should seek the advice of your vet in the first instance to confirm that his general well being is sufficient to shake the illness off and to ensure that antibiotics can be provided if they are appropriate.  It often takes 4-6 weeks for the illness to pass but your dog will remain contagious for up to 3 months!

A vaccination for Kennel Cough is available from your vet and will go some way towards protecting your dog.  As there are so many strains of the disease it’s not 100% failsafe.  The vaccine is administered by squirting up your dog’s nose rather than injected into the skin, and it will take a week or so to become fully effective.

Reproduced with permission from The Dobermann Trust


What are worms?

Worms are parasites that live inside your dog, often without you knowing.  Sometimes when your pet looks healthy on the outside he has worms on the inside.  Some worms can pass on from pets to people through grooming, stroking and just being in their general vicinity.  This can be particularly harmful to children, elderly people and those with a weakened immune system.

Types of worms

There are various types of worms:

Roundworm: Can cause your dog to appear lethargic and tired, be bloated, have diarrhoea and lose weight.  Children are particularly at risk of this being passed from canine to human. Roundworm is known to cause permanent eye damage/blindness and has been associated with epilepsy.  Commonly picked up from soil in gardens or on walks.

Tapeworm: Fleas are known to transmit Tapeworms and a particular type of tapeworm is found on sheep so those dogs in contact with them are more likely to contract this.

Lungworm: There are two types of Lungworm which can cause coughing, bleeding and signs of nervousness in your dog.  This is commonly associated with foxes and can be picked up by the dog if it eats an infected slug or snail.

Whipworm and Hookworm: Whipworms are more often found in dogs in kennels and can cause diarrhoea.  Hookworms can also cause diarrhoea and lethargy, breathlessness caused by iron deficiencies.

How do I avoid my dog getting worms?

Make sure you have a regular worming routine for your dog, usually every 3 months.

Reproduced with permission from The Dobermann Trust