When most people think of Doberman Pinschers, they are likely to imagine a black dog with tan markings. While this is certainly the most common color among Dobermans, they actually carry two different color genes; one is black, and the other is a color dilution that can appear in four different types: black, red, blue and fawn, or Isabella as it is also called. Any dog's coat color will be dependant on the color and color dilution genes, which can be further separated into dominant or recessive alleles, it has inherited.
The common combination, black and tan (also sometimes called black and rust), occurs when the Doberman inherits at least one dominant allele in its color and color dilution genes. After black and tan, the most common variation is red or red and dust, as it is called in the United States, or brown throughout the rest of the world, and this occurs when the color gene has two recessive alleles and the dilution gene has one dominant allele.
The other two colors possible, blue and Isabella (fawn), are totally controlled by the color dilution genes. When the color gene has one dominant allele and the color dilution genes are both recessive, the resulting coat is blue, or diluted black. When both the color and color dilution genes are all recessive, the result is fawn, or a diluted red.
Dobermans that are blue and fawn often suffer from a disorder called Color Dilution Alopecia. While this condition is not life threatening, these dogs can have skin problems and loose their hair. While blue and fawn Dobermans are accepted by many kennel clubs, they have been bared from international competition by the FCI and are banned from breeding by the German kennel club, Dobermann Verein.
There has been a lot of controversy about the appearance of "white" Dobermans over the last thirty years. The first white Doberman recorded was born in 1976, which was then bred with her offspring. This tight inbreeding was done in order to "fix" or control the breeding of white Dobermans. Some breeders began marketing their white Dobermans as special and unique while asking very high prices for them.
The truth is that "white" Dobermans are actually albino. Like other albino animals, they face a higher risk of disease, none the least of which are retina problems and they must stay out of the sun as much as possible because of their delicate skin. Because of these increased risks, breeding albino Dobermans or dogs that are known to be descended from albino Dobermans has been discouraged and even banned by many countries around the world, as many people feel that breeding a dog with such a high risk factor of illness is unethical. While the American Kennel Club still registers albino Dobermans, they are barred from competition, while the Doberman Pinscher Club of America is very active in discouraging breeders from continuing to breed and sell albino Dobermans.