History and Education
History of the Albino Doberman
The first albino Doberman recorded by the AKC was Padula's Queen Shebah. Shebah
was born in November of 1976. Her parents were two normally-colored dogs, Rasputin VI and Dynamo Humm. Interestingly, Shebah's
breeders claimed that Rasputin and Dynamo Humm had produced an albino male in a previous litter; however, this dog died at
a young age, and so far as I know there is no firm evidence that he was actually the same color as Shebah, or even that he
existed at all.
All the albino
Dobermans that have been registered by the AKC are descendants of this single dog, Padula's Queen Shebah. Approximately 11,300
descendants have been registered with the AKC over the last 28 years, and roughly 1830 of these have been albino. The other
9470 or so are presumed to be carriers of the albinistic trait (the only method currently available for separating carrier
from non-carrier descendants is by breeding them). All descendants are now tracked through the "z list", which records all
dobermans descended from Shebah's parents and registered with the AKC.
At the time that the z list was originally put together, there was some question
about seven dogs which were registered as white but not related to Shebah. However, it appears that these dogs were probably
fawns which had been misregistered as white. Dr. Jim Edwards, who was at that time Director of Judging, Research and Development
with the AKC, made the following statement: "This investigation has uncovered an additional seven (7) Dobermans registered
as "white" and not included in Shebah's pedigree. These occur sporadically, with ages varying from two years to fifteen years.
Only two of these have produced litters, and only three litters have been registered. We are continuing our investigation
into these cases and will provide appropriate updates to the DPCA when our analysis is complete. I am encouraged that this
number is small, remembering that color assignment is sometimes difficult for the novice breeder."
Dr. Jonathan Dodd, editor of the Doberman Quarterly, stated:"The basis for this
system is the genetic proposition that all of the "white" Dobermans which have been registered by the AKC stem from a single
genetic point in time. Based on this model, it was hypothesized that one or both of the parents of the first registered "white"
Doberman would appear in the extended pedigree of every "white", as well as that of every animal producing a "white" offspring.
Examination of AKC records has borne this out. Only a few exceptions have been noted and are being investigated, as will any
future exceptions. Most presumably result from the mis-identification of fawn animals."
Unfortunately, Dr. Edward has since retired, and the current AKC staff disavow
any knowledge of any such investigation! Apparently, though, these dogs were simply misregistered fawns. Interestingly, the registration on Padula's
Queen Shebah was originally rejected by the AKC. When the registration application was first sent in, the owners wrote "albino"
in the color section. The AKC rightfully returned the slip to the owners, explaining that albino is not a color.
Without consulting the Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA), the AKC then independently decided to register Shebah as
white (even though she was not actually white). Her registration became official in 1979.
The AKC standard for the Doberman pinscher was amended in 1982, to disqualify
dogs "not of an allowed color". Allowed colors are black, red (called brown in other countries), blue, and fawn (also referred
to as Isabella).
In 1983, the DPCA bought two albino bitches for breeding studies. These
dogs and their offspring were found to have faults such as poor conformation, poor temperaments (aggression and fear problems,
problems with trainability), multiple missing teeth, photosensitivity, sunburn, and so on. In fact, most of the puppies out
of these test litters had to be euthanized because of their extremely poor temperaments. Additionally, at least one of these
original albinos is known to have died of skin cancer.
The AKC agreed to provide specialized tracking of albino and
albino-factored Dobermans through special registration numbers in November of 1995, thus creating the "z list". All descendants
of Shebah's parents born since 1996 have carried registration numbers starting with "WZ". Every AKC registered descendant
of these dogs is recorded in the z list, even those who were born before the "z" registration numbers were instituted.
WHITE or ALBINO?
Albinism is a genetic disorder that causes melatonin, the pigment that gives animal tissue its color, to not be produced
in normal amounts, or prevents it from being distributed in normal amounts.
Albinism can cause an animal to produce pigment in varying amounts from almost none to only a slight difference from normal.
Albino Dobermans usually have a totally white coat, blue eyes, and pink paw pads, nose, mouth, skin, and membranes. Doberman
Pinschers with a white albino coat are missing adequate amount of pigment in their bodies to protect themselves from the sun.
For this reason, white albino Dobermans can easily be sun burned and their eyes are sensitive to sun light.
Besides the obvious problems of not having melatonin pigment to protect the body, the genes responsible for albinism are
closely related to other genes. These genes are responsible for other body functions unrelated to pigmentation such as liver,
kidney, and blood functions where problems can develop.
Additionally, behavioral problems have been observed in Dobermans suffering from albinism. These Dobermans have had problems
with aggression and adjusting to new situations. The physical and mental challenges accompanying the albino Doberman’s
white coat are apparent in that very few, only three at the time of this writing, have received any type of AKC title including
sporting titles such as in agility.
Regardless of the obvious afflictions suffered by the white Doberman, there are breeders who follow a philosophy focused
on breeding these rare ‘colored’ Dobermans. As we have discussed in other areas of this site, such breeding practices
not focused on health create their own problems. The best way to produce a white Doberman is to breed two white Dobermans.
This practice further isolates the problematic genes carried by the white Doberman line and increases their probability of
expression. This simply means the more white Dobermans are bred to each other the more likely their recessive genetic problems
will be displayed.
A brief note about our opinion on Z-factored Dobermans:
It is our personal opinion that the American Kennel Club should, effective immediately, alter registration status of
all white/albino Dobermans to "limited", and furthermore begin issuing registration to all white/albino puppies automatically
"limited", and cease offering 'full" registration to white/albino puppies. This practise would quickly eliminate the need
for the Z program.
We do not feel that the Z-factored Dobermans are sub-par or 2nd class by any means, we do however feel that great
care should be taken not to perpetuate the white/albino Doberman. However, Dobermans with poor skin pigmentation, larger white
markings or unusual white markings (white feet, large white patches/streaks on chest, white markings on face) and poor color
quality (Dobermans are supposed to be black/rust, blue/rust, red/rust, or fawn/rust. Rust markings should be rich and well-defined,
not faded, cream, white, light tan, or vaguely defined) should not be bred.