Albino Doberman History

by Judy Doniere

It seems so long ago that I received a phone call from Peggy Adamson asking me to investigate a phone call she had from Susan Goldman in VA. about some “white” Dobermans.

Peggy and I both thought they might be either a mixed breed or possibly faded out fawns but I said I’d call Susi since Peggy was leaving town.

Susi and I talked for over an hour.  She convinced me this was not either of the above and said she’d send me pictures.  There was a white dam … Sheba, a black son, Tarzan and a black daughter, Princess … Sheba’s newborn litter of pups sired by her son, Tarzan contained 2 “white” pups along with some black & tans.

On 11-12 1980  Susi sent me pictures and the following note:

“Dear Judy,
Please find enclosed photos of Padula’s Queen Sheba.  White bitch.  Also the black male dog, Padula’s Tar-Zan.  Pedigree enclosed on Tarzan.  Bred to litter sister, Padula’s Princess who produced black and tan pups and two white bitches.  Tarzan was also bred back to Sheba and only two pups lived both being white males.  Keep in touch and I’ll do likewise.  Sure wish we were closer so we could work better together but I’ll advise you of any new developments.

Susan Goldman”

When I got the pictures, I was speechless and for me that is quite a feat. One look and I knew we had a BIG problem that had to be squelched immediately.  I asked Susi if she was on good terms with the owner of the dogs.  She said he allowed her to come over and see them.  I told her we had to try and buy them or get them some way and to keep it quiet until I could contact the DPCA and some people to help with this. Little did I know that this would be the start of some of the biggest controversies in the DPCA for years to come.

I contacted the DPCA president at that time, Ray Carlisle and my long time friend and DPCA Delegate as well as AKC Vice President Charles O’Neill and told them.  Ray had a very difficult time being convinced they were purebred. Chuck just thought it might go away and didn’t take it seriously at first, but he was the first to come around and offer help.

I asked the DPCA BOD (DPCA Board of Directors) if they would do something immediately.  Either buy these dogs or put a  DQ (disqualification) in the standard as soon as possible.  Neither of these two things were thought necessary.  I spent over a year with petitions being signed all over the country asking the BOD to put a DQ in the Standard for unallowable colors.  I also wanted DPCA to go to AKC (American Kennel Club) to withdraw the registrations.  No go!

Finally after Ray Carlisle, Peggy Adamson, Frank Grover, May Jacobson and scores of others visited Joe Padula and saw these dogs for themselves they realized we indeed had a big problem.  By then several more litters were whelped with more “whites” in these litters.  The colony of these mutations were increased by about ten including the littermates who were carrying the gene.  Since most of these breedings were large litters, the numbers became staggering in a relatively short time.

 On March 3, 1981 after talking with Bill Garnett and asking him if he would go over and see the dogs, he sent me movies and pictures.  He wrote the following to me.

3-05-81

“Dear Judy,

The films turned out pretty good.  The first white (we now use the term Albino) is Sheba, the dam of the two white sons seen in the film.  The black dog is Tarzan, her black son sire by “Raven,” Satan’s Black Raven.  Raven has been for years the local pet stock stud.  It has long been established that he is a #1 Black.  When Sheba was bred to Raven, she produced 14 Black get.  8 dogs 6 bitches.  Mr. Padula, Sheba’s owner kept a dog Tarzan and a bitch Princess.  These two were bred producing 8 get.  6 blacks, and 2 whites.  Both whites are bitches.  One white bitch appears in my films. The other belongs to his son who lives in the Richmond area.  He plans in the future to breed white to white.

The film shows the dogs in their environment.  Princess the black sister to Tarzan refused to come out of her dog house while I had film.  When she did I was somewhat surprised at her conformation.  Not bad.  I’ve seen worse in the ring.  She was balanced with somewhat of a one piece look.  If you look closely at the film you can make out their markings.  They parallel for the best description, Ivory on white.  Their lips, skin, footpads, are pink.  Their eyes are a pale, very pale blue.  I was particularly interested in Mr. Padula’s comment that in late afternoon their eyes to him took on a pink glow????

In questioning Mr. Padula about the white dogs level of activity, I was most interested in his explanation that they were more active in early morning and late afternoon … his reasoning was that it was cooler … well Judy the weather here has been delightful.  In the mid-day temperatures being the most pleasant.  My thoughts are that they are avoiding the high sun not because of heat but “light.”  They are without doubt most sensitive to the bright light.  This can easily be seen in the films by the slitting of the eyes.

I also question their sense of hearing , or the level of it.  In trying to get their attention for head shots I had to engage in noise-making long and hard to get a response.  Then, it was not quick but very slow to turn in the direction in which the noise came.  I spoke to a Dr. about this.  He felt that they could hear but quite possibly were responding to vibrations also.

I questioned Mr. Padula abut Sheba’s and the white pups’ health in general. Thinking I might encounter a weakness here … if anything is abnormal its that they seem to be healthier than most pups.  Mr. Padula attributes this to the fact that he treats them like dogs.  (Note:  This did not last long as Mr. Padula lost many pups shortly after, due to Parvo and other things … usually after ear crops.)

Something I omitted that I think you’ll find interesting.  In discussing the animals with Mr. Padula he mentioned an interesting fact about Sheba.  It seems she has a problem with depth perception and/or lateral vision.  Mr. Padula owns a ceramic shop.  When Sheba attempts to negotiate the hallways and narrow door openings, she has a problem in orientation, she is hesitant and cautious to a point where her equilibrium seems to be affected.  This should not be attributed to wariness of her surroundings for she has been with Mr. Padula for over 2 yrs.  This condition could collaborate some of the things you and I have discussed.

In summing up my impressions I find this matter absolutely fascinating. There is no question in my mind that these dogs are pure bred.  I realize that a  lot of concerns can and will evolve from the discussions of this matter.  The breeders AND I MEAN TRUE BREEDERS  will be concerned from the Breed stand-point.  The Politicians will seize the opportunity to further their own goals.  Be what it may, for myself, I take the breeders’ point of view.  The seventeen puppies that Sheba has produced and the 9 that Tarzan and Princess produced are all carrying this white factor.  It becomes mind-boggling because we are not talking just arithmetic progression but
rather a geometric progression.

Cooler heads must prevail, politics must not be allowed to circumvent efforts that will lead to the proper approach and solution to what could be a serious situation in the future.”

Best Regards,
Bill Garnett

After two years or so the DPCA with the aid of Charles O’Neill changed the standard (Feb. 6, 1982) to include a DQ for “any color other than the four allowed colors.”

Chuck also being Executive Vice Pres. of AKC decided to have one of their investigators go to Johnson Tennessee to meet with Mrs. Ray Potter, Sheba’s breeder and investigate this situation.

This is part of his report:

The bitch (Dynamo Humm) had whelped a large litter of 12.  7 females and 5 males.  One female in the litter was a mutant “white” in color with blue eyes.  This was the second time Mrs. Potter had used “Rasputin VI” as a stud.  Mrs. Potter stated she knew Rasputin was not the one who threw White.  This was the second litter Dynamo produced.  In her first litter, also sired by Rasputin, she whelped a White or mutant male.  Mrs. Potter doesn’t remember how many other pups were in the litter but she did not register this litter and the puppies were sold privately.  Dynamo had two
more litters by different sires, none with white markings nor with white mutant dogs.  Mrs. Potter did not register them because they were “poor.”

I had spoken several times with Mrs. Potter.  One of the things she told me was that she had bred Sheba’s dam, Dynamo Humm once before to another UNRELATED stud.  Out of a huge litter, she has one White male.  I asked her if the sire of this litter was at all related to Rasputin, Sheba’s sire. She said no.  I asked her several times … always with the same answer.  I asked her his name and she couldn’t remember.  I asked who owned him.  She didn’t remember.  I also asked if she registered the litter.  She said no. When asked why, her reply was “they just weren’t good enough.”

You can see that her statements to me and to the investigator were somewhat different.  Many things she said you have to take with a grain of salt. Why, since these were strictly BYB (Back Yard Breeder) type pups, did she make a determination to not register any of the other litters and yet register Sheba?  Where did these pups go?  The balance of Sheba’s litter were sold to a pet shop called Doctors Pets, formerly Pet Love.  No records were kept and it became a dead end.  The investigator did find 5 of the 12 dogs however, but never saw them.  He was able to speak with the owners but all had gotten rid of them … so they said.

 I asked Mrs. Potter about the white male.  She said he got hit by a car. She did tell me he was taken to a Veterinarian, Dr. Brown in Elizabethtown, Tennessee, but he died at the Vet’s office.  I called Dr. Brown and he verified he took care of the White male throughout his short lifetime of 5 mo.  He docked, cropped and tended him when he was hit by the car and the dog died in his office.

Sheba and a black brother were taken by Mrs. Potter to Norfolk, Virginia to stay for a while as her son was in the Navy there.  She advertised Sheba and the male in a local paper for sale.  Sheba was sold to Julia Schulz whom she said had other Dobermans.  The male was sold to a black man who she didn’t remember. She kept the blue slip until the Schulz check cleared and sent her the paper filled in blank.

Julia Schulz said she got rid of Sheba because she had a dominant red bitch who was fighting with Sheba.  She sold her to Joe Padula and gave him the blank blue slip.  No transfer was made to each owner as required by AKC.

Joe Padula did not register Sheba until Jan. 24, 1979.  That was the date of issue of her certificate.  He did this because her first litter was whelped April 24, 1979.

When Padula sent in the blue slip (according to the investigator report) he filled out his name and sent in the blue slip to AKC.  It was returned along with a letter from AKC explaining that ALBINO WAS NOT A COLOR (my caps). They advised him to send in photographs.  He did.

In Jan. 24, 1979, AKC sent this letter to Mr. Padula.

” Dear Mr. Padula:
                                  Breed:  Doberman Pinscher
                                  Litter number  WM 361038

This will acknowledge receipt of your recent correspondence and photographs of the female you acquired from the above litter. The photographs you submitted were examined by the registration review committee, and it was the opinion of this committee, that the color of this female is white.
Your application for individual registration has been forwarded to our processing department.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Very truly yours,

Dorothy Ott
The American Kennel Club

With this letter, the AKC took it upon themselves to name the color of Sheba white.  Thus the first recorded color of an incorrectly labeled Doberman was registered.

The DPCA  implemented the “White” Doberman Research Committee in Nov. of 1981, consisting of Judy Doniere and Nancy Heitzman, Co-Chairs with Charles A. T. O’Neill, Chairman of the committee.

We were given items to be researched:

Purchase of White Doberman (s)
Frozen Semen
Records
Contact with University and /or genetic individual
Who and how to breed, how to pick bitches for breeding, etc.

Shortly thereafter I enlisted the aid of Dr. John Paul Scott.  He was the associate of Clarence C. Little, Author of “The Inheritance Of Coat Color In Dogs.”  By a coincidence Dr. Scott was teaching at Bowling Green State University, about twenty minutes from my home.

After several meetings and showing all my material, pictures and movies of these dogs, Dr. Scott said he’d be very interested in doing a study of them. I went to our Parent club and after some time they agreed to do a five year breeding research study with Dr. Scott as our advisor.  He said in order to prove we didn’t just have an extreme dilution from our dilute colors, and to prove they were a mutated gene with Albinism as the most likely cause, we’d have to do breeding studies for scientific proof (if possible) and identify the gene.

The DPCA gave us a grant of $10,000 for a five year study.  We first had to purchase or breed to some of these dogs with our normal colors first since some of the new owners of these Mutants were unreliable to take part in this project.  Many were “get rich quick” types who saw the way to make some bucks on these dogs.  We decided to try and buy a couple bitches.  I knew the first Albino to Albino litter was ready to take place.  With the continued help of Bill Garnett and Susie Goldman, who lived close to the breeder Mr. Joe Padula, we were able to make the purchase of two bitches.  I knew they came in two shades … the Dondo, which (according to the studies of Pierson and Usher) is a dirty gray shade and the Cornaz, which is more of a sand shade. These shades va
ry with the climate and the amount of sunlight.

Bill Garnett purchased two bitches from Joe Padula for the DPCA on Sept. 9, 1983.  The price was $500.00 each.  Had this been Mr. Padula’s first litter and had no one paid much attention to them, we could have gotten them for about $50.00 each I’m sure.  He didn’t know what he had until word spread and droves of people started visiting him. Bill kept them for several weeks to get them in condition to be sent to me. He kept a diary of them while he had them and sent it to me ahead of time.

Since I was not allowed to visit Mr. Padula because of articles I printed in various magazines and my efforts to put a stop to these dogs, I had not seen these dogs in person.

I was initially shocked when the day arrived and our two white girls came. I had to turn the #500 crate upside down to get them out.  They were extremely shaken by their plane ride and huddled in the back and snapped at me when I tried to get them out. I put them in my kennel room near the back door which I opened and they immediately ran out, scared to death.  I watched as they both ran head long into the fence at the back of my yard.  None of my dogs ever did that.  At first I thought their eyesight was so bad they didn’t see it but upon getting close to them, I realized their eyes were shut tight.  It was a sunny day.

I kept the other pup (Bill called them Pinky … later I renamed her Clorox (Roxie) and Bunny (later Nancy named her Shanna) for a few days to watch her and then sent her on to California to Nancy Heitzman who had volunteered to help me in this project.  Roxie was the Dondo shade.  Shanna was a Cornaz shade. Because Shanna was the darker of the two, her markings were quite vivid white against the sand colored coat.  Roxie’s markings were barely visible. Shanna had a large white splash on her chest also. Later I discovered Roxie had 6 missing teeth.  As I recall, Shanna had none missing.

To say raising Roxie was easy is being kind.  She was without a doubt the most difficult Dobe I had ever had.  In order for her to not submissive pee at 6:30 AM in the morning when I let her outside I had to open the back door and climb up on her crate so she couldn’t see me and let the other dogs run out ahead of her, lean over and open the crate and let her run out without noticing me.  Then she’d not pee all the way out.  FUN!

I never got her lead broken.  She’d buck, throw herself on the ground, bite at the lead and scream. Once when I’d taken her to the Vets and was holding her on a lead while paying the bill, I looked down to see her try and run out the door when someone walked in.  There I was holding the last half of the good leather lead she’d chewed in two.

Dr. Scott wanted her bred to a fawn dog first.  We tried but the dog wouldn’t breed her, probably because she tried to kill him even though she was muzzled and held by three people.  The next best dog we could find was a nice red male who carried the dilution factor.  We knew that another Albino had just whelped a litter from a fawn dog.  However, they all died but we knew the first generation would all be blacks because of the black dominant background in all these dogs.  Our litter with Roxie was whelped and all were blacks of course.  By that time, and due to my assignments, I placed Roxie with a nice girl and her husband who lived a short distance from me.  I was out of town on whelping day.  I talked to the girl on the phone and she said after Roxie whelped the litter she wouldn’t allow her or her husband in the room. She tried to attack them.  I called my friend Sue and she went over to help out.  She muzzled Roxi and that’s the way we had to deal with it.

The reason we were going to do these test breedings was first to determine that this color was not an extreme dilution.  We knew this, but for scientific purposes it is required, said Dr. Scott.

I took all the pups back to my home at four weeks to raise as Roxie was just too unpredictable with them as well as the people who kept her.

The pups were cute, nice looking and raised like any of our show pups. Actually, they did look like show pups at an early age.  They were outgoing and playful.  I place them in pet homes with no papers and all who took them knew of their background.  I told them to keep in touch with me weekly or more often.  I wanted to know exactly how things were going.

Well, it was worse than I thought.  By the time they were a year of age they had all been put down.  All had become extremely aggressive and had bitten members of their families on several occasions.  They were getting worse the older they got.

I had a friend keep a male for experimental purposes who, to find out the relationship of the blue eyes in other breeds, bred this male to her red and white purebred Siberian Husky.  Not one pup had blue eyes out of a litter of nine.  Dr. Scott found this interesting and said what we have in the Albino was a different gene then the normal blue eyes seen in the Siberian.  We put the male Dobe down shortly after he attacked my friend badly.

Shanna was bred to a blue male.  All pups were again blacks.  The very same situation with temperament happened and most all the litter were put down due to attacks on family members.

We were three years into this DPCA project.  Dr. Scott wanted to breed one of these bitches again to another Albino of another breed.  It is so rare, but I happened to find a Samoyed breeder who had a group of Albinos in that breed.  She was working with Dr. George Padgett who was advising her on breeding procedures trying to identify the gene for this in that breed.  We got together and were going to breed Roxie to one of her males.  Both Dr. Padgett and Dr. Scott said this above all would determine if we had the same mutation … Albinism in both breeds.

As things happen, politics became the downfall of this project within the DPCA.  Many members thought this was not anything so serious and our money could be better spent elsewhere.  The DPCA BOD discontinued the White Doberman Research Committee in 1987.

While I continued to monitor the proliferation of the Albinos, keeping track of all the breedings as well as the owners and talking with many of the owners, I kept trying to get the DPCA to go to the AKC and try and get a Restricted Registration on these Albinos.  By now, I felt there were too many for them to pull all registrations but maybe we could start at some point.

I continued tracking pedigrees and had a complete list of all the Dobes that were Albinos and Hybinos (my name for the hybrids carrying the Albino gene). I received updates from both Betty James and Marty Wojtaszek who continued sending me names from AKC stud books.  Both had pedigree services. I am indebted to them for all their help over the year.

Finally, in 1994 Nancy Heitzman and I convinced then President of DPCA, Mrs. Judy Brown, that we must go to the AKC for a Restricted Registration.  With DPCA Board approval,  Mrs. Brown wrote to the AKC and we (Nancy, our Delegate Jane Kay and I) met with the Staff.

We had a very encouraging meeting with them for several hours.  They asked us many questions and seemed to be ready to implement a Restricted Registration.  They wanted one last thing first.  To poll our membership again as to our feelings r
egarding the Albino.  The vote was 99.6% of our membership wanting Restricted Registration.

In the meantime one member of the staff talked to a few people and decided he wanted to see these dogs for himself.  He and another member of the AKC BOD went to the leading “puppy mill” breeding them and thought they were very nice, healthy dogs.  He also had AKC ask another owner to bring her two Albino Dobes to the AKC for the BOD to view.  They also found them to be free of health problems and nice dogs.

They denied our request for Restricted Registration.  Our next step was to appeal to the Delegate body.  The wording we were to present was given to me by the then President of the AKC.  We did not feel it was correctly worded to make people understand what we wanted but never the less when someone in that position tells you how to put a motion to the Delegates, you did so.

In the meantime a big change was then taking place in the DPCA.  Many who were involved in this project were eventually voted out or removed from their positions on the White (Albino) Committee and new people were put in place. Letters to be sent by certain dates to the Delegates never were sent in time for them to be effective or even in some cases to even be read. When Jane Kay realized this, she postponed the vote of the Delegate body until the June meeting.  By then she was removed as Delegate. AKC Delegates turned down our request for Restricted Registration.

The AKC gave us a Tracking System that was implemented in June of that year. I felt this was to keep us happy so that we would not pursue Restricted Registration but since I wasn’t a part of the Committee it really didn’t seem to matter to anyone how I or many others felt anyway.

In March of 1996 after submitting some of Sheba’s hairs I still had to Dr. George Padgett, DVM at Michigan State University, I asked him to examine the hairs in order to determine if they were indeed Albinos or what.  Here is his letter to the DPCA, cc’d to me.

Dear Mrs. Doniere:

In regard to the question of “White” Dobermans, although I have had limited samples to work with (one white Doberman), I have compared this individual to samples obtained from some of the breeds which we tend to accept as “normal” white (i.e.- Samoyeds, Great Pyrenese, Kuvasok, Bichon Frises, and American Eskimo Dogs).  Although it is true that all dogs in all of these breeds are not necessarily “all” white, the coats of the ones sampled were all white.

The coats of the “white” Dobermans differ from the above breeds in one or more of the following parameters: size of pigment granules, shape of pigment granules, number of pigment granules, and hair diameter and uniformity.  In other words, these dogs are not a “normal” white as we have tended to accept it.

I would agree with Dr. Patterson’s suggestions (1982) that this is probably a mutation in the C series.  I believe it is an albino, although not the classical pink-eyed, tyrosine negative animal which we associate with this term.  They are phototypic and I believe there is little disagreement with this statement.

Sincerely,

George A. Padgett, DVM
Professor of Pathology

The question had once and for all been proven these dogs were not White but indeed Tyrosine positive Albinos.

New elections have taken place and new studies have been done.  President Tony DiNardo has again sent letters to the AKC to ask for a hearing of the Staff to a Limited Registration.  This is somewhat different than Restricted Registration in that AKC has, for several years now, implemented this to be available to a Breeder who wants to sell a pup with AKC registration … however, it cannot be shown in Conformation nor can it be be bred.

We would like this same thing only imposed by a Parent Club when they feel they have a disastrous problem in the breed.  It would allow for Limited Registration but the dogs (in our case, Albinos) can’t be shown or bred.

While I realize this is quite long reading, this is just an encapsulated account.  I have left out lots of material that would have taken a great many pages to fill.

As of August, 2001, over 25 yrs. since Sheba was whelped, we now have thousands of dogs that carry the Albino gene directly descending from her. What will the future of our breed hold?  Only time and the AKC will tell.  We do plan on continuing or efforts with the AKC to ban these dogs from breeding. Hopefully, in a few months we may have better news.

I would like to thank some of the Geneticists and Veterinarians for their research, help and advice during all the years we studied these Albinos.

Dr. John Paul Scott, BGSU, Regents Professor of Psych.
Dr. Donald Patterson, DVM, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. D.J. Prueur, Wash. State University, Dept. of Veterinarian Micro Pathology
Dr. Charles Parshall, Ohio State, Deptartment of Opthamology
Dr. Mark Ladd, University of Surrey England, Geneticist
Dr. Jeff Hogans, DVM
Dr. May Jacobson, PH.D

written & submitted by Judy Doniere, USA

A LETTER FROM A CONCERNED ALBINO/WHITE DOBERMAN OWNER

We purchased our White Doberman about two and one half years ago.  We’d had him for several months and he was the sweetest dog so we begged the breeder’s name from the pet store where we bought him and wrote a nice letter to the breeder.  We never received an acknowledgment.   

In June of 2000, a few months after we got him, he quit eating and we noticed how sensitive his eyes were to sunlight.  Eventually his eyes became so bad we thought he would go blind.  We took him to a dog eye doctor and had a specialist working on his immune system.  We had to force feed him according to our vet’s instructions and finally we discovered he would eat braunsweiger sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches.  He had gotten down to 58 pounds.  He was put on prednisone some time during this time and eventually gained to 90+ pounds.   

All through this he was a sweet dog.  I took him to obedience school and considered myself the Alpha – he obeyed every command I gave him, on or off lead, and continued to for a long time after obedience school was finished.  But I began to notice that he was getting slower (or perhaps stubborn) in obeying.     It occurred to me that he was having trouble understanding.  He’d cock his head from side to side and just didn’t seem to understand new things.  He became very skittish; afraid of a grocery bag out of place.  Same with clothes
on the laundry room floor.  He was never afraid or timid with people though.  He loved everyone he met. 
 

About six months ago he began to show aggressive behavior.  He snapped at my husband and we chalked it up to the fact that he could not see well.  He became food aggressive (I have two other dogs) and bit my husband when he was feeding them.  My husband was laying on the bed with him and Lugar’s paw was resting on my husband’s hand.  My husband asked himself, “should I wake him before I move my hand”  – he did not, and the dog attacked him and left many puncture wounds in his hand.   

Night before last my husband was showing me a place on Lugars face that he thought needed attention – perhaps a washing and hydrogen peroxide.  I didn’t get to see the area because Lugar suddenly attacked him.  My husband was able to jump out of his way but it was awhile before the stare-down and the curling lips subsided.  

At this point my husband was a little apprehensive about the dog.  We treat his eyes every day and my husband decided, since I was the Alpha that I should perhaps do the honors.   I was doing just that last night, treating the second eye, when he attacked me ferociously, biting and shaking my arm from just below my elbow to my wrist.  He released me and attacked me a second time.  I had to go to the emergency room and have stitches and the other punctures seen to.  We locked him up for the night.  My husband is now at the vet having him put down, as we would never pass off an animal like that to any one else.  

We were told this animal was “albinistic” – but NOT Albino.  We were told he can’t be Albino because he has blue eyes, as opposed to pink eyes.  We believe they should not be bred nor able to receive AKC standing.  I will write a letter to AKC also.    Thanks.  

Published at the request of the writer,
Evie Foggy,
New Port Richey, FL
, USA

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