My Silver Doberman
By: Shelby & Gemma
Once upon a time while Googling Doberman’s I came across the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. A SILVER DOBERMAN. As I clicked the link on this stunning image the website informed me that he was not silver as I had thought, but in fact a Blue Doberman. I continually harassed my husband about these beautiful dogs and how we should get one. Weekly I would send him links with photos of these fantastic Blue Dobermans, and weekly I would be reminded that we already had three dogs and he would be in the nut house if we got another.
The two days before my thirtieth birthday my husband gave me my present from him before heading out to my huge birthday bash. I unwrapped the gift and was surprise to see a black frame with a metal dog bone and inside the frame a tiny gray puppy. I looked at him, looked at the frame, looked at him and asked “You bought me a Weimaraner?” My nose crinkled in obvious distaste, my right eyebrow shooting up in question.
“No silly.” he replied. “I bought you a BLUE DOBERMAN! We pick her up tomorrow!”
I could not believe it. The dog I had been begging for for the last 6 months was now mine! I no longer wanted to go to the party, I simply wanted to drive right down and pick her up. It was the longest night of my life.
For my birthday I had also received 2 books on Dobermans, so that I could learn all I could about this noble breed. Yes, I know, the cart had come way before the horse on this, but I was determined to know my breed inside and out now that I had her. So on the drive down there I read aloud to my husband. From these breed books, I learned that there were not 3 colors of Dobermans but actually 4! What?! My mind was blown. Really? There are Black & Rust, Red & Rust – those are the two “standard colors” that most everyone is aware of. Then there is also Blue & Rust and Fawn (or Isabella) & Rust. The blue and the fawns are actually “Dilutes” of the Black and Red.
Blue is the dilute form of Black and Fawn is the Dilute form of Red. On top of that bombshell, I also learned that they are not in fact rare at all! It’s just a gamble of genetics. Like whether you end up with blue eyes or brown eyes (but a little more complex). In order to get dilute Dobermans aka, blues and fawns, the mother AND the father both must carry the dilute gene. It’s a simple color test that most reputable breeders would do before breeding their dogs to see what colors their dogs could produce. A lot of reputable breeders won’t breed 2 dilute carrying dogs together and therefore their offspring will not contain dilutes. However, less then reputable breeders don’t bother with such expensive testing and when their dogs produce blues and/or fawns they will drive up the price and sell them as “rare.” All four colors are accepted in the AKC, however only black/rust and red/rust are acceptable colors in Europe.
All of Gemma’s (that’s my girls name) paperwork says she a Blue Doberman. But the older she got the less gray she was. Sometimes she’s gray, some time she’s brownish. It changes like chameleon depending what she is standing near. At this point I still didn’t have much experience with dilutes, but I was beginning to suspect she was not Blue but in fact Fawn.
At five months old we attended an event, and once there we meet a wonderful lady who had a Doberman. But not just any Doberman, a Blue Doberman. She let us introduce Gemma to her Blue girl and when we compared them side by side I could tell my Gemma was definitely not a Blue. I asked this owner how could she really tell a blue apart from a fawn if they were not standing side by side. She point to her dogs nose and she said “You see her nose? What color would you call it?” I responded “well dark gray, kinda blackish/bluish?”
“Ok, now look at your girl’s nose. What color would you call that?”
“Well, I guess I would say a brownish/pinkish/red?”
“There you are then, there’s your answer. “ I just stared at her like an idiot. She sighed. “If you know a blue is a dilute
“Bluish/black?” I meekly responded.
“So a fawn, being a dilute of red would have….?”
This time I was able to boldly respond “Reddish/brown noses!”
“There you go. Now when you are wondering what color that Doberman is, always look to the nose. It knows.”
While her Blue was gorgeous, I couldn’t help but notice she had hardly any fur. You couldn’t really tell with your eye unless you looked very close, but it you petted her, you were pretty much patting naked skin with a little fuzz on top. I asked her why her dog was bald and had little pimple like bumps on her skin. “Didn’t your breeder explain CDA to you?” My husband and I just stared at her once again.
“CDA? No her breeder said nothing to us.” Yes, at this point I said “breeder” in air quotes, as I had come to realize we had supported a bad breeder. I was learning quickly it would not be a habit to be repeated. “Google it,” She told me. “Here’s my email. Contact me later with what you find out. I have to go, it’s my turn.”
As soon as I had cell service I did, google it that is. And I was shocked to learn that 92% of Blue Dobermans and 75% of Fawn Dobermans develop CDA or Color Dilution Alopecia. Like the name implies, they start losing their hair and get bald patches. And there is not a single thing you can do about it, after all it is genetic. Because the hair shaft is softer than the Black or Red, it tends to break easily or is unable to push through the follicle and causes the dog to have ingrown hairs or staph infections. CDA does not happen overnight. It’s normal onset is not until the dog reaches maturity at around 2 years old. I looked at my husband, than looked at my beautiful Doberman and started to cry. “Our daughter is going to be bald!”
Later that evening I contact the blue Dobermans owner with what I had found and asked her if this was just internet junk or if this was truth. She told me everything I told her was the truth and she asked if I would be interested in joining her local Doberman club as it appeared I truly had love for the breed and the willingness to learn. She and I became fast friends. She always answered my questions and never treated me poorly for asking questions I probably should have learned the answer to well before getting a dilute. I joined that Doberman Club she was part of a month later and I have not looked back since. I am still trying to learn everything I can about this breed. At the time of this post Gemma has just turned 20 months old. At 5 months I had to have a full thyroid panel done on her because she was losing hair. It came back clear and appeared to be environmental allergies. At 6 months I had her spayed and learned that she is VwD affected and a carrier. At 14 months old I switched her to a raw diet, because I was told it was the healthiest option for skin and coat issues. This appears to be a matter of opinion but it is working well for us at this time. I know that at 24 months she may start going bald, her top line is already thinning and there is nothing we can do about it. Think of it as male pattern baldness with no cure like Rogaine for dogs. I’m hoping that we are one of the lucky 25% percent. That my beautiful fawn girl will not go bald, but I’m not holding my breath.
I tell you my story today not to garner pity but to help those who may be interested in this rare “Silver Doberman.” There is nothing wrong with purchasing a fawn or blue Doberman from a reputable breeder or rescue. It is my hope that my story helps people understand that that beautiful RARE Doberman that you coveted may not keep its soft, fluffy, gorgeous coat and you may end up cuddling with a bald but still beautiful Doberman.