All the Colors and Types of the Doberman Pinscher

All the colors of a Doberman Pinscher.

If you’re considering getting a Doberman Pinscher, it’s important to know all the various colors and types that exist, along with the typical traits of each one, so you can make the best possible choice. Below are all the different varieties of Doberman, but they may not all be what they seem, so make sure you read about each one.

Click on any of the Doberman colors below to learn more.

 

In addition to the various colors, there are also three different variants of Doberman you’re likely to see advertised for sale—the American, European, and Warlock (or King) variants. Here’s a hint: only two of these three actually exist.

Click on any of the Doberman types below to learn more.

American DobermanEuropean DobermanWarlock (King) Doberman
 

There are seven possible colors that Dobermans can come in. Only six of these are known to exist because while full albino can exist in theory, it’s currently not confirmed to exist. However, many people strongly believe they do exist. The reason for this may be a lot of confusion surrounding the white and albino Dobermans, but more on that in a bit.

There are two genes in the Doberman pertaining to color, a black gene, and a color dilution gene. These two genes can produce four color combinations. These four combinations are the only colors recognized by the AKC: black, red, blue and fawn with rust markings. However, there is also a white color that the AKC acknowledges exists but is not considered a “standard” color.

I will also include some information about the typical temperament traits of each type whenever there appear to be common themes reported by owners. Every dog will have its own unique temperament of course, but since many Doberman owners claim that certain colors seem to have common temperament traits, I will describe those here. Although please keep in mind that this information is quite anecdotal.

For more information on the official breed standard, the AKC’s Doberman Pinscher information page.

Video: All 9 Colors of the Doberman

In this video I briefly talk about each color’s uniqueness including their respective health concerns and you’ll see plenty of footage of every color all throughout!

Markings

In addition to the main coat color, this breed is known for its prominent rust (or tan) markings. Despite the various different colors, almost all of the variations have these traditional markings. Some American breed Dobermans even have a small white patch in the chest area.

  • American Dobermans: Per the American Kennel Club (AKC), the rust markings should be sharply defined and appear above each eye, on the muzzle, throat, chest, on all four legs and feet, as well as a patch just below the tail. The white patch on the chest should not exceed a half-inch square in size.
  • European Dobermans: Per the Federation Cynologique Internationale (AISBL), the “tan” markings should be clearly defined and located on the muzzle, on the cheeks, and on top of each eyebrow. The markings should also appear on the throat, in two spots on the chest, between the ankles and toes, on feet, the inside of the hind thigh, forearms, and under the tail. Essentially the markings are the same as the American Doberman, however, a small white patch is not considered the standard for the European’s.

Black and Rust

Three black Dobermans.

A.K.A.: Black, black and tan, black and brown

Breed Standard Color: Yes, for both the American and European varieties.

The black and rust Doberman is the most common color combination seen. This is the most traditional color and is the color most often depicted for this breed in movies and on television. This color is known for their shiny, sleek coat.

The majority of Dobermans are of this color and there isn’t a “typical” temperament for dogs of this color. Due to their black coat, they can have issues with heat in the direct sun, although most dogs of this breed do not do well in extreme temperatures.

Red and Rust

Three red and rust Dobermans.

A.K.A.: Red, brown, chocolate

Breed Standard Color: Yes, for both the American and European varieties.

The next most common color for the Doberman is the red and rust color. This color is slightly less common than the black, but still quite easy to find. The coat on these dogs can range in color from a lighter copper-like tone to almost a dark chocolate tone. Others have described the color as a light brownish-red color.

Some owners report that red and rust Dobermans are easy going, a little more light-hearted, and less territorial. Dobermans, in general, are prone to some skin issues, but the red and rust varieties may be slightly more prone to these. The skin issues are usually minor (and very treatable) if they do arise, such as acne and light hair loss.

Blue and Rust

Blue and Rust color.
Bruce, a blue and rust Doberman (left) sits next to Summer, a traditional black and rust colored Doberman. Instagram handle: life.of.mocha.and.bruce

A.K.A.: Blue, grey, silver

Breed Standard Color: Only for the American Doberman.

The blue and rust Doberman is a bit more rare than its red or black counterparts and is only an accepted standard color for the American variety. However, the blue color can still be a disqualifier for some dog shows. That is why this color is often avoided by breeders, making them less frequently seen.

Actually, these dogs are not blue at all but are technically a diluted black. However, they can appear to have a charcoal, gray, silver or even a purple tone to them. They can have some issues with a dry coat at times, but these are usually minor. However, these dogs are prone to suffering from color dilution alopecia (CDA) which is a genetic skin condition that can cause hair thinning, hair loss, or dry and itchy skin. There doesn’t seem to be any typical temperament traits for blue Dobermans as reported by their owners.

Fawn (Isabella) and Rust

Fawn and rust colored.
Ty, is a Fawn and Rust colored Doberman Pinscher. Instagram handle: tythedoberman

A.K.A.: Light brown

Breed Standard Color: Only for the American Doberman.

The fawn colored Dobermans are the least common of the four standard colors but you can still find a fawn puppy with some patience. This color is only considered a breed standard for the American Doberman. Like the blue color, since some dog shows will disqualify this color, it tends to be avoided by breeders making them a bit more rare. This is also the least popular of the four main colors.

The color in these dogs is technically a diluted red which makes them appear a fawn color. Like the blue Dobermans, they can suffer from some minor skin related issues such as ingrown hairs, staph infections, and acne. They are also prone to color dilution alopecia, which can cause hair loss and dry or itchy skin.

All Black

All-black Doberman (Melanistic)
Owen, an all-black Doberman (left) sits next to Heike, a traditional black and rust Doberman (right). Image credit: Mikej

A.K.A.: Melanistic

Breed Standard Color: No

These dogs have a genetic rarity that causes the excess production of melanin pigmentation, making them appear completely black in color. Usually, they will still have the typical Doberman markings, but they’ll be exceptionally dark colored and difficult to see. All black Dobermans are very rare and are not accepted as a breed standard for either the American or European variety since both require the typical rust colored markings, which these dogs often lack. Since these dogs cannot compete in shows or competitions, breeders generally avoid any breeding which might produce them.

Some believe that all black Dobermans may be the result of inbreeding, making them more prone to certain health issues. However, others contend that all black Dobermans don’t have any more health concerns than the other colors. The jury is certainly still out on that.

For more pictures and all about the controversy surrounding the all-black Doberman, see my article Are All-Black Dobermans Rare.

White (Partial Albino)

A white Doberman lays next to the traditional Doberman colors of black and red.
A white Doberman lays next to the more traditional Doberman colors (black and red).

A.K.A.: Cream, ivory

Breed Standard Color: No

The white Doberman is considered “leucistic”, meaning they are not full albino as they still produce some melanin pigmentation, but it’s very limited. They’re often confused with full albino, although this is not the case since they still produce some pigmentation. They’re considered a “tyrosinase-positive albinoid”, but some just refer to them as a partial albino. This causes their coats to be a very light color (but not completely white), with even lighter colored markings. It also produces blue eyes, pink nose, lips, and eye rims. White Dobermans are very rare and are not accepted as a breed standard for either American or European Dobermans and cannot compete, although the American Kennel Club (AKC) does acknowledge their existence.

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the white Doberman. Many people consider it wrong or immoral to breed them since they are thought to be more prone to additional behavioral and health problems. Although this notion is strongly contested by many owners.

The critics of the white variety cite the dog’s history as a reason why they have these issues. The first white Doberman appeared in 1976. Her name was “Padula’s Queen Shebah” and she was born to two black and rust parents. She was later bred with her son and her son was also bred with his sisters in an attempt to produce more white-colored offspring. Since that time, there has potentially been significant additional inbreeding in the bloodline by unethical “backyard breeders” who are more concerned with producing rare (and potentially more expensive) dogs, than maintaining a healthy gene pool. This inbreeding is what the critics cite as the reason for many of their health and behavioral issues.

White Dobermans can suffer from eyesight problems including increased photosensitivity. They often close or squint their eyes in the sun as a result. Some people state they are prone to biting due to an increase of fear in the daylight due to poor eyesight. It is well established, however, that they can suffer sunburns and are much more prone to cancerous skin tumors, poor quality fur, and other skin issues. A sunburn causing a dry, cracked, or peeling nose on these dogs is a potential concern due to the lack of pigment.

Any potential owners of white Dobermans are encouraged to ensure that extensive health screening is done prior to deciding to take one home. Also, be aware that you may encounter higher medical bills during the life of the dog as compared to other varieties.

For a more in-depth explanation of the white Doberman, see my article The White Doberman Pinscher: Pictures, Cost, Health, and More.

Full Albino

A.K.A.: None

Breed Standard Color: No

A full albino Doberman has no pigmentation at all. In fact, they lack the gene that allows them to produce any pigment. This dog is significantly more white in color than the white (or cream) colored dog mentioned in the previous section. The easiest way to tell if the dog is just a white (partial albino) Doberman or a full albino is with the color of the eyes. Blue eyes mean it is a white or cream dog and pink eyes mean it’s a full albino.

Here’s an important note; the white Doberman is often referred to, and confused with, a true albino Doberman. True, full albino Dobermans are not known to exist. However, it is theoretically possible and since some advertise their dogs as such, I decided to include it on this list. A true albino in any breed is incredibly rare and are the result of a genetic mutation called tyrosinase. Those who advertise their Doberman as true albino are inaccurate as they always have blue eyes and by definition, a full albino is not capable of producing blue eyes as that requires at least some pigmentation.

Any full albino Doberman should, in theory, suffer from similar medical issues as the white colored version listed above. They will have photosensitivity, potentially poor eyesight (especially in bright settings), prone to sunburns and cancerous skin tumors. They would also likely suffer from poor quality fur and other skin problems.

For a very in-depth discussion about the controversy surrounding the white and albino issue, see The Albino Doberman Controversy by Caroline Coile, Ph.D.

American Doberman

American Doberman
An American Doberman is thinner and more sleek looking.

There are two very different types of Doberman—the American and European varieties. Both are potentially great dogs but they do have some very different traits. Below are the main physical and temperamental traits that set the American version apart from their European counterparts.

Physical Traits

  • Smaller (shorter and lighter)
  • Overall sleek appearance
  • Less muscle mass
  • Thinner and sleeker head, snout, and jaw structure
  • Longer body
  • Slender, long neck
  • Smaller chest
  • Thin, slender legs
  • Lighter colored eyes
  • Lighter colored rust markings

Temperamental Traits

  • Less of a working dog
  • Bred more often for show
  • More likely to stay close to their owners
  • Gentler temperament
  • Responds well to positive reinforcement and light correction
  • More in-tune with people
  • Does better in a family environment
  • More likely to enjoy sitting still in their bed or couch
  • More elegance and grace
  • Can be less brave

TIP: For a complete list of the differences between the two main types of Doberman (including a diagram of the physical differences), see my article American vs. European Doberman: A Side-by-Side Comparison.

The physical characteristics listed here aren’t often debated, however, it’s worth noting that the temperamental traits listed are what is generally thought to be true of American Dobermans. However, this can vary drastically as each individual dog will have their own temperamental predispositions.

Much of the differences come from the breeder’s intentions. American breeders are more likely to desire a show dog that can collect impressive titles which in turn can help the breeder to produce more desirable offspring in the future. As a result, they’re more likely to excel at AKC conformation shows but less likely to excel at working events. There are fewer regulations surrounding breeding in America but there tends to be additional emphasis placed on health screenings, so these dogs are much more likely to be screened for potential health defects by responsible breeders. Also, in America, a more family-oriented dog is desirable over a working dog and these dogs are bred with that in mind.

American Dobermans can and do work in personal protection rolls but they don’t excel at it as often as the European’s do. They generally aren’t as powerful or have the drive of their European counterparts. However, they generally do well in agility and obedience competitions.

For the official standard for the American Doberman, see the American Kennel Club’s Official Standard for the Doberman Pinscher (PDF).

European Doberman

European Doberman
European Dobermans are larger, with broader heads, and more muscle mass.

The European Doberman is certainly different, both physically and temperamentally, from its American counterpart. Below are the main physical and temperamental traits that set them apart.

Physical Traits

  • Slightly larger (taller and heavier)
  • More muscle mass
  • Thicker overall bone structure
  • Blockier, thicker head and snout
  • Thicker, shorter neck
  • Broad chest
  • Slightly shorter body (in length)
  • Darker colored eyes
  • Darker colored rust markings

Temperamental Traits

  • Working dog temperament
  • Lots of drive, determination, and stamina
  • Brave
  • Calm
  • More alert
  • Confident in new situations
  • Responds well to clear and firm direction

TIP: For a complete list of the differences between the two main types of Doberman (including a diagram of the physical differences), see my article American vs. European Doberman: A Side-by-Side Comparison.

As with the previous section, the temperamental traits listed here are traits that are generally thought to be true of European Dobermans, but each dog will have its own personality and may or may not represent what’s described here.

Besides their physical differences, such as being bigger and more muscular, European Dobermans are also said to possess a significant amount of drive and stamina. This makes them exceptional at guard work. They also tend to make great military, police, and search and rescue dogs for this reason.

There are a number of regulations surrounding breeding of these dogs in Europe, including temperment testing prior to receiving approval to breed. However, breeders in Europe are less likely to health test their dogs as there is less emphasis placed on this than in America. Essentially, the European variety can work hard, but they aren’t show dogs like their American counterparts. However, they’re much more likely to be successful in working events.

For the official standard for the European Doberman, see the AISBL FCI-Standard for the Dobermann (PDF).

Warlock (King) Doberman

A Warlock Doberman.
A “Warlock” Doberman is usually a cross between a Doberman and a Great Dane. Image credit: petssync.com

The Warlock Doberman, also known as a King or Goliath Doberman, is said to be essentially an extremely large Doberman Pinscher. However, it’s important to know that no such Doberman exists. This has been confirmed by multiple credible sources including the DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America) and others. There is no exceptionally large purebred form of Doberman. The Doberman is a medium-sized dog and any exceptionally large versions you might see likely are not Dobermans at all.

Unfortunately, these terms are most likely to be used by backyard breeders as a sales gimmick in an attempt to portray their dogs as rare or more valuable. The most common method used by these breeders is to cross a Doberman with a Great Dane. This produces what appears to be a very large Doberman-like dog but is actually just a Great Dane mix (commonly called a “Doberdane”). However, sometimes these breeders will cross Dobermans with Rottweilers or other breeds to produce what they try to portray as rare or valuable. No reputable breeders would ever advertise “Warlock Dobermans” for sale.

Dobermans are already the ideal size for protection work. Any larger and they won’t be as fast or maneuverable, which are both important qualities to have in protection work. Also, the larger size can put more strain on the joints and heart of the dog.

The largest a Doberman should be, per the AKC, is 28 inches tall and 100 pounds for males, or 26 inches tall and 90 pounds for females.

If you are dead set on getting a Doberman/Great Dane mix, make sure you find a breeder who is honest enough to advertise them as just that, or as “Doberdanes.” If they’re willing to call them a misleading name like “Warlock Dobermans”, then they’re probably not a reputable breeder and will likely be misleading about other aspects of the puppies in their litters.

If you want to read more about the Warlock Doberman myth, see the DPCA’s Warlock Doberman page here.

Related Questions

What is the best color Doberman? The best Doberman is one that fits well with your lifestyle and home environment. The most common color for a Doberman is black and rust. The colors with the least health issues are typically the black and rust or red and rust variety.

Are blue Dobermans rare? While blue colored Dobermans are still considered a breed standard per the American Kennel Club, they are certainly more rare than their black or red counterparts. Blue Dobermans are also often referred to as silver or grey Dobermans.

Are fawn Dobermans rare? Fawn (or Isabella) colored Dobermans are the rarest of the four recognized breed colors by the American Kennel Club.

How long do blue Dobermans live? Blue Dobermans are prone to relatively minor additional health issues beyond their more traditionally colored counterparts. Generally, a blue Doberman should live just as long as any other color of Doberman, or about 10 to 12 years.

John Walter

I'm the founder of Doberman Planet. I live in the Sacramento area of California and love spending quality time with Cooper, my 6-year-old Doberman Pinscher.

6 thoughts on “All the Colors and Types of the Doberman Pinscher

  1. I have a doberman 5 months old she is a Europe doberman but her color is not black and rust it is black and tan her mother is a red doberman father black and rust is black and tan unusual?

    1. If by black and tan you mean the brown spots are lighter colored than the rust color, then yeah that’s pretty normal. There are variations in the shade of their markings. The markings on American Dobermans are usually lighter and Europeans are usually darker, but there are exceptions of course.

  2. I have a tan dog from Rumania and areas on his body are turning a lighter shade, he is 5.5 years old.
    Can you tell me if this is normal or the sign of some condition I need to treat please?
    Many thanks
    Gerry

    1. Subtle changes in coat color as the dog ages is normal. If it’s drastic though you may want to play it safe and see a vet. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. But yes, some subtle changes are normal.

    1. All these dogs are still the same breed. They’re all Dobermans. If you are referring to American or European Dobermans, generally the European tends to be a bit larger with more muscle mass.

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