While it might be cool to have a blue Doberman pinscher rather than a dog of the more common black or rust hue, his blue hue might not last that long. Many blue Dobermans begin losing their hair and suffering from skin infections by the time they turn 2 or 3, and often much earlier. It doesn't necessarily happen to every dog, but it's a common affliction formally known as color dilution alopecia or colloquially as Blue Doberman syndrome. While the affected dog may have a funky skin and hair coat, he's usually fine otherwise.
While other dog breeds have blue coats and may develop color dilution alopecia, it most often occurs in Doberman pinschers.
The Four Dobie Colors
Doberman pinschers appear in four colors, all with rust markings. Besides rust and black, these include blue -- a dilute of black -- and fawn, a dilute of red. Both parents must carry a dilution gene in order to produce blue or fawn puppies. Both dilutions often develop color dilution alopecia, as diluted dogs have softer hair than non-diluted dogs, and these hairs often contain pigment clumps, and have difficulty emerging through the hair follicle and breaking through skin.
Coat and Skin Issues
Before you acquire a blue Doberman, realize the odds are against you that he'll retain his coat into old age. As many as 93 percent of blue Dobermans eventually lose their hair, but it can happen as late as the age of 6, which is middle-aged for the Dobie. The hair loss starts gradually, but the dog ends up with a coat with a moth-eaten appearance. Sooner or later, most blue Dobies lose every blue hair on their coat.
Dry, flaky skin accompanies the hair loss, and secondary bacterial infections or acne-like pustules may occur. Usually, itching doesn't occur unless there are infections, and your vet can prescribe antibiotics to clear these up.
Blue Coat Management
- There's nothing to cure or stop the progression of color dilution alopecia. It's possible that supplementing your pet with melatonin or retinoid medication can cause some hair to regrow, but it still won't look like a normal coat.
- If your dog develops acne, your vet may recommend shampooing him regularly with benzoyl peroxide. Do not squeeze your Dobie's zits. This can result in a secondary infection.
A dog with Blue Doberman syndrome should not be bred.