Since the breed was first developed in 1890 by tax collector Louis Dobermann, the Doberman pinscher has become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
According to AKC in 2020, Dobermans were the 18th most popular canine breed in America.
Most Dobermans are born with blue eyes, which change to brown as the puppy ages. The only color that has blue eyes are the controversial white Dobermans.
Allowable colors in the breed differ depending on the registry.
Can a Purebred Doberman Have Blue Eyes?
A Doberman can have blue eyes when it is a young puppy, if it is white, or if it develops an eye problem like cataracts. Most countries only allow black and rust-colored or brown and rust-colored Dobermans to be registered or shown, but they can come in other colors, like black, white (cream), albino, fawn (Isabella), or blue.
When Dobermans Have Blue Eyes
Doberman pinschers also called Dobies, have blue eyes for three main reasons.
They are puppies under seventeen weeks old, they are white, or they have an eye problem that causes all or part of the eye to turn blue.
All puppies, no matter the breed, are born with blue eyes unless they are albinos. Their eyes have no color at all, but appear pink or red.
Some albino dogs are thought to have light blue eyes, since blue eyes can pop up in other albino animals, including albino people. Only a DNA test can determine if a blue-eyed dog is albino or white.
All-white Dobies, also called cream, have blue eyes. The color is not allowed to be shown, although, in America, white or cream Dobies can be registered.
They’re allowed to compete in some AKC events like agility. The color is very rare.
An adult Dobie’s eyes can change to a cloudy blue when it is suffering from an eye problem that needs medical attention. Not all conditions will lead to blindness.
Conditions that cause blue eyes include:
- Corneal dystrophy
- Nuclear sclerosis
- Canine hepatitis, which causes the corneas to become inflamed.
The Breed Standard Problem
The color of purebred Dobermans is a controversial issue. The breed standard is pretty strict in America.
The breed standard for the international competition is even stricter. Many purebred Dobermans cannot be shown or even registered because their color does not fit the breed standard.
The country’s breed club sets the breed standards. Any multi-breed registries like the AKC follow the breed club standards.
Breed standards are important because there is no way to show dogs in conformation classes without them. Canines are judged based on how closely they resemble the breed standard in everything from ear length to coloration.
Unfortunately, breed standards were set long before anything was known about DNA or genes. Dog genes are flexible and produce many varieties of color, size, or other characteristics.
For example, Dobermans are born with long tails and floppy ears. The breed standard in America insists that long ears are cropped and tails are docked in order to keep with a tradition started by Louis Dobermann back in 1890.
Allowable Colors of Dobermans
The international showing of dogs is governed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). They only allow two colors of Dobermans.
The first is the color most associated with Dobies – black and rust. The second color is rarer – brown and rust, known as red and rust in America.
The colors that Dobermans come in are:
Black and Rust
This is the most common color in Doberman pinschers.
The body is black, with rust-red eyebrows, belly, part of the face, and about half of the legs.
Red and Rust
Reddish-brown, similar to the color of chestnut horses, takes up the areas where black would be on a black and rust Dobie.
Also called Isabella, this is a very light brown or beige. It’s caused by a gene that dilutes red.
It is rare. Unfortunately, most fawn Dobies become bald by the time they are three years old.
This is a diluted black color, making it more grey than blue. It’s another rare color.
They also come in blue and rust. They are also prone to baldness and other skin conditions.
Also called melanistic Dobermans, this is one of the rarest colors.
The jury is still out on whether they are any less healthy than more commonly colored Dobies.
Perhaps the rarest color of all. The dogs lack any color at all and have pink or red eyes.
Their white is a stark white with a pinkish tinge due to their pink skin. They are prone to many health problems.
Those that make it to adulthood have short lifespans. They are not allowed to be shown.
White or Cream
Sometimes called albinos, although these dogs do have coloration. Their white fur often has a pale yellow or tan tinge.
Their eyes are blue. They are prone to many health problems since all white Dobies descend from a single dog and are highly inbred.
They are also prone to be more aggressive because of their health problems. You’d be cranky, too, if you were sick, deaf, or had bad vision.
They are not allowed to be shown but are allowed in some events like agility.
Frequently Asked Questions About a Purebred Doberman Having Blue Eyes
My Doberman’s Color Does Not Fit the Breed Standard. Is It Still a Purebred?
Many purebred Doberman pinschers sport colors that are not allowed by the breed standard. Some will have large white spots or splotches, which are also not allowed. These dogs still make wonderful pets, even if they are not allowed to be shown or registered.
Is My Mismarked Doberman A Purebred?
The breed standard makes a strict requirement of just how much rust a Dobie can have compared to the black or brown parts of its coat. If a dog has too much or too little rust, it is not allowed to be shown, even if it is a purebred.
When Do My Doberman Puppy’s Eyes Change Color?
Most Dobie puppies’ eyes will change to brown by the time they are five weeks old. Some change as early as four weeks. Some will not change until week sixteen or seventeen.
The Least You Need to Know
Unless they are albinos, Doberman pinschers are born with blue eyes, which change to brown when puppies are between four and sixteen weeks old. Albino puppies have pink or translucent eyes.
Only white Dobermans have blue eyes all of their lives. Dobermans come in albino, white or cream, black, black and rust, red and rust, fawn or Isabella, and blue.
Dog shows are strict about which color Dobermans are allowed to be shown and what kind of markings they can have.