Special Care for a Blue Doberman


This is posted in response to specific inquiries about the special treatment and supplements that I give my blue Doberman.


The use of brand names and trademarks is NOT an endorsement of the specific products.  I have listed many supplements, and do NOT RECOMMEND ALL SUPPLEMENTS FOR ALL DOGS!  Not all blues and fawns even need supplements.  This is a decision for you and your vet.

I have no monetary interests. Product names and sources are provided for informational purposes only!

Those interested in blue and fawn Dobermans are invited to join a blue Doberman owners' group!

Click here  for more information on the Yahoo BlueDobes Group.  Over 400 members strong!

You'll find a message board and live chat room!  You can post messages to other blue and fawn owners, or chat with them real time.  You don't even have to own a blue or fawn Doberman to join.

There's no cost or obligation.  The only requirement is that you register with yahoo.com so that you can access the "group."  Yahoo does not allow any advertising at this site, including "puppies for sale" ads.  Litter brags may be posted only if they meet my criteria (ask about this).  Rescue information may be posted, as rescue is not a commercial enterprise.

Hope to see you there!

Blue Dobermans and CDA

What is CDA?

Blue and fawn Dobermans often suffer from a condition called Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA).  CDA is a form of follicular dysplasia (FD).  Reds and blacks can suffer from FD.  The symptoms of CDA include bilateral balding, which commonly begins on the flanks or along the topline and spreads down the back.

Severe cases may begin as puppies, although the vast majority of puppy problems turn out to be simple "puppy staph."  In a typical case of CDA, the coat may not begin to thin until the dog is between one and three years of age.  In severe (and rare) cases, all the blue (or fawn) hairs can fall out.  Most often, dogs with CDA end up with very thin coats along their back and flanks, but do not go completely bald.  The dogs remain healthy and happy, despite a thin coat.

Test the Thyroid!

Be aware that thyroid problems are often assumed to be CDA in blue Dobermans.  Many vets who see a blue Doberman with a thin coat may just assume that the cause is CDA and overlook or fail to recommend a thyroid test.  ALWAYS PERFORM A THYROID TEST ON A BLUE DOBERMAN WITH A THIN COAT!  The problem may not be CDA at all.  Hypothyroidism is very common in all colors of the Doberman (I believe that every Doberman should have its thyroid checked periodically).  A thin coat is a common symptom of hypothyroidism and it may affect blues to a greater degree -- or it may just be more apparent since blues have less hairs per square inch to begin with.

There are two commonly used thyroid tests.  A complete thyroid panel from MSU, or a simple test available from any veterinary laboratory.  I recommend the full MSU panel.  Hypothyroidism is easily treated once diagnosed.  If the thyroid is the cause of the coat problems, the coat will come back once the thyroid is supplemented.

You should also eliminate other potential causes of alopecia, including fungal problems and demodectic mange.  Consult with your veterinarian.

Dogs with CDA are Otherwise Healthy.

CDA IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANY OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS!  However, CDA can occur in combination with other problems like severe folliculitis and opportunistic bacterial infections.  Please note that folliculitis occurs in ALL COLORS of the Doberman -- it is not a "blue problem."  "Bumps" cause by opportunistic infections sometimes seen in Dobermans with CDA can be treated with antibiotics (also see the grooming tips, below).  Some bumps are due to dysplasia of the hair follicle, and will not respond to antibiotics.  Often times, the grooming and supplement ideas on this page may be enough to keep the skin healthy and keep the bumps under control.

Unfortunately, there is *A LOT* of ignorance among reputable Doberman people when it comes to blue Dobermans.  Blues are just as healthy as any other color.  Not all blues have coat problems.  When they suffer from CDA, it is only a cosmetic condition unless accompanied by opportunistic infections.  The cosmetic hair loss is comparable to balding in men (although they have different causes).  It is not as noticeable as you might think, luckily the skin color is similar to the blue hairs.

If you are considering owning a blue Doberman, make an informed decision knowing that it is quite possible that the dog will eventually have a thin coat.  In fact, PLAN on a thin coat.  If your dog maintains its coat, it will be a plus.  You may consider providing extra care, as described below, in order to maximize your chances of having a blue with a full beautiful coat.  You should only consider getting a blue or fawn if you will LOVE them, beautiful coat or bald!

How do Dobermans get CDA?

It is thought that CDA is somehow linked to the dilution gene.  (For a basic discussion of genetics, see my Color Genetics in the Doberman page.)  However, not all blue or fawn Dobermans will get CDA.  For those who get it, there is a wide range of severity.  Some people believe that a mutated dilution gene is involved.  (NOTE:  The dilution gene itself is *NOT* a mutated gene or genetic defect.  It has been with the Doberman since the beginning.  Many people believe that it was introduced through use of the weimeriner.)  Other people think that there is some other independent genetic factor that when COUPLED WITH healthy dilution genes results in CDA.  I tend to believe the latter, since a single litter of dilutes can produce both good and poor coats.

There has been no demonstrated link with the dilution gene in a form of FD in reds that mimics CDA (many of these reds do NOT carry dilution).  Because CDA is thought to have a genetic link, blues and fawns should not be bred until they reach three years old or so, and still have a good coat.  (No Doberman should be bred unless it is a superior specimen and will improve the breed as a whole, but this is a discussion for another day.  For some discussion on this topic, see my  Doberman Owners Buyer Education page.)

Note that a "good coat" for blues or fawns is still thinner than the average black or red coat (they have less hair per square inch of skin).  There is a possibility that environmental factors may play a role, at least in the severity of the disease.  The supplements listed on this page can be tried (after consultation with your vet) to lessen the severity of CDA.  Some of the supplement are good general supplements for all dogs.  I am NOT suggesting that all blues and fawns be placed on these supplements.  I make no representations that they actually work, but I have heard from people who swear that there is an improvement after following this or similar regimens.  Sometimes this improvement is dramatic, other times it is subtle.  If you have a problem with CDA and choose to try any of these supplements (after consulting with your vet), please let me know if you see any improvement or not.  Also, I want to point out that I believe that cleanliness and grooming are VERY IMPORTANT for blue Dobermans!


There are three essential parts to Storm's regimen: grooming, proper nutrition, and nutritional supplements.


I strongly believe that a clean coat and clear follicles reduces coat problems in blues and fawns.  I shampoo every 7 to 21 days, depending on how clean the coat stays.  I have chosen a shampoo formulated for frequent shampooing and flaky skin.  I use the Nova Pearls shampoo (made by Tomlyn) that contains Sulfur and Salicylic Acid (available from UPCO at 1-800-254-8726 or The Dog's Outfitter at 1-800-367-3647).  If I notice anything out of the ordinary, like bumps or possible staph, I add a few drops of Tincture of Iodine to the first handful of shampoo, and treat with a DROP of pure tea tree oil on a wet Q-tip (directly on any bumps) after shampoo.  (NOTE:  Some dogs may be sensitive to tea tree oil.  Try in in one spot, to begin with.)

As a conditioner, I use Mega Tek Cell Rebuilder.  Rub a handfull into the coat after shampooing, wait, and rinse out.  I also use it as a spray conditioner, diluted to 10% in distilled water in a spray bottle.  I also use  "Miracle Coat Pet Lusterizer/Conditioner Spray" (also available from UPCO and Dog's Outfitter) because it contains a small amount of tea tree oil.  Tea tree oil is said to kill staph, as well as other bacteria and fungi.  CAUTION:  I HAVE HEARD THAT PURE TEA TREE OIL IN LARGE QUANTITIES MAY CAUSE SEVERE ADVERSE REACTIONS IN SOME DOGS.  Some dogs may be sensitive to any amount of tea tree oil.  I have been told that pure tea tree oil should never be used on a Chihuahua.  Others use pure tea tree oil IN MODERATION without any problem.

NOTE:  If your blue of fawn Doberman has significant bumps or staph problems, you may want to try stronger grooming products.  Ask your vet about the following shampoo and conditioner, both made by Allerderm:  Pyoben Shampoo with 3% Benzoyl Peroxide; Resichlor medicated leave on conditioner with 2% Chlorhexidine Gluconate (not Resicort -- that is a different product!) .  Both products are also available from UPCO.  These products contain stronger antibacterial agents, but may not be as gentle to the skin and coat.  For this reason, I recommend they only be used when the problem is not controlled by the Nova Pearls and Miracle Coat.

Between shampoos, I sometimes use a 10% solution of Listerine (two ounces Listerine to 18 ounces water).  The solution is sprayed on liberally and wiped off with a clean terry cloth towel.  If you try this, be careful around the eyes and nose!  I finish by brushing through a few sprays of Miracle Coat described above.  If the dog does not smell or look dirty, I skip the Listerine and just use the Miracle Coat Lusterizer or Mega Tek.  Other people have Listerine formulas that include conditioners.  These formulas are not necessary if you finish with Miracle Coat Lusterizer.


I believe in using high quality dog food.  We currently feed INNOVA brand dry food, twice daily.  Click here to see an ingredient list and guaranteed analysis of Innova food, along with a link to their web site.  Innova is high in Linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acid), from sunflower oil and contains omega-3 acids from chicken fat.  I have used both Nutro and Avo-derm brands in the past without any problems.

I sometimes also add raw beef to his food.  I do not use ground beef, because I don't trust the stores to completely clean out other products, such as pork.  Also, just a little bit of a contaminant can ruin a whole batch of hamburger -- I just don't trust it.  I usually feed chuck roast (or whatever is on sale) that I cut into small cubes.  I don't feed a lot of raw beef, about a quarter pound a day.

My dogs always have access to fresh water.  Seattle water has heavy chlorination.  I installed an under the sink water filter because I hate the chlorine taste and odor.  If you don't drink your tap water, don't give it to your dogs either.

Nutritional Supplements

Once again, please understand that I am not a veterinarian or nutritionist.  I am providing this information because of many, frequent requests.  I highly encourage you to consult with your own veterinarian or nutritionist before trying Storm's supplements.  Just because they are listed does NOT MEAN you should use ALL of the supplements!

My dogs are fed Innova brand dog food.  It already has many supplements, including fatty acids, Vitamins C and E, and probiotics.  Your choice of supplements should be tailored to your food, so if you don't feed Innova, you may want to alter the following suggestions.

Fatty Acids:

General Health Warning Regarding Fish Oils and Vitamin E:  Fish oils and vitamin E may slightly increase clotting times in healthy dogs.  Consult with a veterinarian if your dog is, or may be, vWD affected.

Fatty acids benefit the skin and coat, may boost the immune system, may prevent certain forms of cancer, may reduce inflammatory response in problems such as arthritis.

I believe that fatty acids are probably the single most important skin and coat supplement for any dog.  After a conversation with a veterinary dermatologist, I now believe that a 75 to 80 pound blue Doberman should get enough fish body oils to provide up to 1.5 grams of EPA daily.  This dosage can be adjusted for body weight.

DO NOT use cod liver oil or other fish liver oils in this quantity!  Liver oils contain too much Vitamin A and D to be used in quantities sufficient to provide enough EPA.  A little bit of Cod Liver Oil may be good, but a lot is VERY BAD.

I currently use Kirkland brand "Natural Fish Oil Concentrate," Costco item #184667 (The same product is available at Sam's Club as "Member's Mark" for a few cents less.  It may be available at Wallmart, since they own Sam's Club).  One capsule per day per 20 pounds is close to the dosage that a dermatologist suggested is optimum.  The maximum daily dose is about one fish oil capsule per ten pounds of body weight daily.  As with all my supplements, I divide the daily dose in half, and give twice a day with meals.

Other fatty acids:

I currently use the above described fish oil in combination with borage oil (1000 mg. capsule daily) (borage oil is a source of GLA, a fatty acid that benefits the coat not provided by fish oil).

In the past, I have also used safflower oil (high in omega 6), flax seed oil (high in omega 3) and borage oil (high in GLA).  I find it more convenient to use a combination of the fish oil described above, and borage seed oil.  This eliminates the need to mix oils or pour out of a bottle.  Oils in gelcap form do not oxidize (get old or rancid) as fast as oils in bottles.

I believe that it is important to try to balance the fatty acids.  Many commercial products provide much more omega 6 than omega 3.  Could this be because omega 3 fatty acids are expensive?  Your choice of food will also affect your balance of fatty acids.  One reason to balance the fatty acids is that some research has shown that a diet that is too high in omega 6 fatty acids may stimulate the growth of certain tumors.  Omega 3 counteracts this stimulation.  Omega 3 oils (fish oil, flax oil) are thought to reduce the chances of getting certain cancers (one reason why cultures that eat a lot of fish generally have lower cancer rates).

Flax Seed Oil (no longer used in my regimen, but a good vegetable source of omega 3):  Flax seed oil is available in the cooler section of your local health food or supplement store.  Flax seed oil is a superior vegetable source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Prices vary, call around for the best deal.  I pay about $10 for 17 ounces of Flora brand flax seed oil, which is certified organic and uses the cold press method.  Their toll free number is 1-800-446-2110.

Safflower Oil (no longer used in my regimen, since I've switched to fish oil capsules, but a good vegetable source of omega-6):  Safflower oil, certified pesticide free, can be found at any larger supermarket in the oil section, and is inexpensive.  Safflower oil is an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids, essential for healthy skin and coat.  You may substitute Sunflower oil.  I chose safflower oil because Innova already used sunflower oil.  I believe that it is best to diversify sources.

Borage Seed Oil (currently used in combination with fish oil):  Borage seed oil is high in GLA, another form of fatty acid.  I believe in providing a variety of oils, which is why I have added borage.

A note about storing oils that are not in gelcap form:  All oils oxide with time and become rancid. To slow down this process, I recommend the following:

Keep all oils in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator.  Stick a toothpick in the end of one 400 IU gelcap of vitamin E and squeeze the contents into each bottle of oil when you first open it and shake well, this slows the oxidation process (this is also a good idea for your own cooking oils).  If you have an oil that you plan to keep for over a month, consider purchasing a "Vacu-Vin" accessory, available at any wine shop.  It is an inexpensive device that includes a couple of rubber stoppers and an hand held vacuum pump.  The oils can be stored in the smallest convenient bottle that has an opening about the size of a wine bottle.  This allows you to effectively vacuum seal the oils, removing most of the oxygen (cause of oxidation).  The Vacu-vin is also available from International Wine Accessories at 1-800-527-4072 (item #VV32-003).  The summer '98 catalog lists a price of $13.95.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is a good anti-oxidant which also benefits the skin and coat.  Be aware that some premium foods (like Innova) use Vitamin E as a preservative.  Many people supplement in the 400 to 800 IU per day range.


Kelp is an excellent natural source of trace nutrients, and I recommend it.  Modern farming and food processing techniques remove the trace minerals that once were present in all diets.  Many people claim that kelp deepens the rust coloration in Dobermans and Rottweilers with tan markings.  It is also an excellent source of iodine, which may help thyroid function.

Kelp may be ordered from UPCO at 1-800-254-8726 or Cherrybrook at 1-800-524-0820.  I choose to purchase my kelp at a health food store, because it is fit for human consumption.  I use powdered kelp because it is easier to digest than granulated kelp.

Brewer's Yeast and Garlic:

Yeast is an excellent natural source of B Vitamins.  Brewer's Yeast is inactive, and cannot produce bloating or fermentation in the stomach.  Garlic is thought to repel fleas, and possibly provide other benefits.  You can find brewer's yeast and garlic preparations at any pet food store or in any mail order catalog.  I buy peanut butter flavored yeast and garlic tablets and give them as treats.

B Vitamins:

B vitamins are very good for the skin and coat.  They are also indicated in times of high stress.  If your dog is not a blue or a fawn, they may get enough B Vitamins from the brewer's yeast.

I use B-50 tablets, up to two per day.  See the note regarding Folic Acid dosage, below in red.

B complex vitamins (B-50) can be purchased at any pharmacy, over the counter, or from various mail order sources.

Some people give up to four B-50's a day.  I use two per day.  If you use more than two, I recommend giving four equal doses per day.  Ask you vet about possible kidney problems with HIGH doses of Vitamin B.

Folic Acid:

Folic Acid is another one of the "trendy" "miracle drugs."  It has been found to ELIMINATE certain types of birth defects when given to women.  It may also provide protection from certain cancers and heart diseases.  It is used in Storm's regimen for its benefit on the skin and coat.  You may also want to give the folic acid tablets at a different time of the day, since the B complex already has folic acid in it.

Important dosage note:  You may have to adjust your dosage based on the type and amount of Vitamin B complex that you use!  Try to give around 1 to 1.2 mg. per day.  The common pill dosage is 400 mcg. (MICRO grams).  400 mcg. equals .4 mg (four-tenths of a milligram).

Folic Acid is available at any pharmacy, over the counter.

Vitamin C:

I Ester C with bioflavinoids.  Vitamin C is said to benefit skin and coat, and is also an excellent anti-oxidant.  The "Ester-C" product is said to stay in the system longer than other forms of Vitamin C and be gentler on the stomach.  NOTE:  I am currently trying to find information on "Vitamin C ester" with is NOT the same as "Ester-C."  Vitamin C ester is fat soluble.


Lecithin contains ingredients beneficial to the skin and coat.  It is also an emulsifier, and may allow the fatty acids to be absorbed and utilized more readily.  Readily available over the counter and from your favorite mail order source.


Yogurt helps keep a good natural balance of beneficial bacteria in the system, aiding in digestion.  If your dog doesn't like it or can't tolerate dairy products, you can get freeze dried acidophilus.

Note:  Innova already contains probiotics.  If your food does not, you may want to supplement with these, also.

Digestive Enzymes:

Digestive enzymes help the dog break down all of the food and supplements so that they are bio-available.  Common choices are K-Zyme or Pro-Zyme.  They are available from pet food stores or mail order.


Zinc is an essential element for healthy skin and coat.


Silica is an essential element for healthy skin and coat.  It can be purchased in a gel form.


Storm's regimen already includes Vitamins B, C and E.  I also am using two additional product that have nothing to do with skin and coat -- they are excellent antioxidants and are thought to combat cancer on a cellular level.

Both products are available from The Vitamin Shoppe.

The first product is called "Antioxidant Phyters" (item number VS-1430).  It contains ingredients such as extracts of green tea, red wine, licorice, pine bark (pycnogenol), bilberry, ginko biloba, and marigold and sunflowers.

The second product is Lycopene (item number VS-1270).  Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that is present in tomatoes (and other vegetables).

Suggested Supplements for Older Dobermans:

Older Dobermans may benefit from Co-Q10, L-Carnitine and L-Taurine.  These products are thought to help cardiac function.  Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM may benefit dogs with joint soreness.  Innova Senior contains Glucosamine.




[See the text above for discussion of ingredients and where to find them!  ***This is tailored for a SHOW DOG*** to keep his coat in top condition.  I am NOT recommending it for every blue and fawn.  Not every blue or fawn even needs supplements.  You MUST discuss this with your vet!  You may find it easier to give the pills mixed with a tablespoon of canned food.]

Innova brand dog food:  Moistened with a little water to aid mixing the below ingredients.

Fish Oil Supplement:  Typically three or four capsules at each meal, but enough to provide 1.5 grams (1500 mg.) of EPA daily.  Level of EPA varies with brand of fish oil, but the EPA content will be listed on the bottle.

Borage Oil:  500 to 1000 mg. per day.

Vitamin E:  400 IU, once or twice a day (see text above).

Kelp:  1/2 the daily dose for your brand at each meal (I use 1/2 teaspoon of powdered kelp from the health food store, twice daily).

Vitamin B complex:  One balanced B50 formula at each meal.

Brewer's Yeast with Garlic: As recommended on the package.  (I no longer give this with meals, as I give them as treats throughout the day).

Folic Acid:  Typically one at each meal, but enough to provide about 1 to 1.2 mg per day, divided into two doses.  See dosage comments in text above, as your B50 supplements will have some Folic Acid already.  You have to figure out how much extra Folic acid you need to supplement, AFTER figuring out how much is already provided by your Vitamin B.

Ester C with bioflavinoids:  500 mg. at each meal (many people build up to 3 grams a day in a Doberman.)  (Note that Innova already contains some Vitamin C.)

Lecithin:  One 1200 mg gelcap daily

Zinc:  One 25 mg. daily


Raw Beef:  occasionally about two ounces per meal.  (OPTIONAL, but a good source of natural carnitine and amino acids.)

*ONLY IF YOUR DOG HAS CONFIRMED CDA AND YOUR VET AGREES:  Melatonin .1 mg/kg of body weight, twice daily

Yogurt, one tablespoon, unflavored, all natural variety with live culture.  (OPTIONAL, but aids intestinal health)

Digestive Enzymes such as ProZyme, as label indicates.  (OPTIONAL, but aids assimilation of nutrients)

Silica, 1/2 to 3/4 the human dosage, available in a gel form.  (OPTIONAL, said to strengthen hair and nails)

Rose Ox,  an antioxidant made from Rosemary.  Rosemary is said to stimulate hair growth.  (OPTIONAL)

The following are not necessary for skin and coat.  I give them because they are potent antioxidants and are thought to combat cancer:

"Antioxidant Phyters", (see text above), ONCE DAILY, not at each meal.

Lycopene, 5 mg. ONCE DAILY, not at each meal.

The following are recommended for older Dobermans as they may aid in heart function:




The following may help older dogs with joint problems:




"Wow, that seems like a lot of work.  What is the easiest way for me to provide good nutrients for my blue (fawn) Doberman?"

The most important thing is buy the best food that you can.  I like Innova because it is human grade, PLUS it has quite a bit of Vitamins C and E already in it.  I think that the Fish Oil Capsules are very helpful, as is the B50, folic acid, and Zinc.  It isn't really as hard as it seems.  If you blue or fawn has confirmed CDA, ask your vet about Melatonin supplementation.

Important News Regarding a Possible Treatment for CDA!

The following information may be of interest to owners of ANY breed or color dog with hair loss.  This was found on a veterinary site on the internet.  I am not encouraging anybody to try this without consulting with a vet!  This is becoming a more common treatment and, by one report, is regrowing hair on about half of all blue Dobermans with hair loss!  This may be the first effective and readily available treatment for CDA!

"TREATING SEASONAL FLANK ALOPECIA" by JEFFERS, JAMES, VMD, DIP ACVD Seasonal flank alopecia is a recently described syndrome usually seen in Airedales and Boxers which has, as its main clinical feature, the development of flank alopecia and hyperpigmentation in the fall with spontaneous regrowth by springtime.  Dogs with seasonal flank alopecia have received melatonin implants (available for foxes and mink) in the fall which averted the disease. More interestingly, two Boxers who also had concurrent pattern baldness (a hair follicular dysplasia) grew hair in the alopecic area.  A dosage of 0.2 mg/kg/day of oral melatonin is being currently investigated for its ability to non specifically stimulate hair regrowth in dogs with follicular dysplasia or nonhormonal hair cycle abnormalities. The drug is most widely available as 1.5 or 3 mg tablets.

The above is reprinted with permission from Dr. Jeffers.

[Note: 0.2 mg/kg/day is approximately 1 mg per 11 pounds of body weight.  Dr. Jeffers told me that he uses this dosage.]

Since CDA is a form of FD, and melatonin seems to work in some cases of FD, some vets are now recommending melatonin for blue and fawn Dobermans with CDA.  Dr. Jeffers told me that it seems to work in about half of the cases.  Only time will tell whether it is a good treatment for CDA.


The above information is provided following REPEATED inquiries about the types of supplements that I have used.  It is not intended as advice.  I am not a veterinarian, please consult yours!  Although the above is tailored for a blue Doberman, any color Doberman, or any dog at all, would probably benefit from some of the supplements.  Keep in mind that the above quantities are for a 75 to 80 lb. dog!  REMEMBER:  not all blues and fawns require supplementation.  I have tried to discuss many supplements and do not suggest everything should be used for every dog.  This decision should only be made after consultation with your vet.  If your vet says "I don't think it will help," ask him/her "well, do you think it would hurt to try it?"  When Storm was on supplements, I did a periodic blood test, and he never had any problems due to his supplements.  You may want to do a blood panel before you start, six months out, then at least once a year after that.


Read what a veterinarian has to say about CDA.

If you own a blue Doberman, I would like to hear from you. Please E-mail me!

If you have any questions or comments regarding the above information, Please E-mail me!

Click here to send me mail!

Return to Storm's Home Page