Doberman is one of the most popular breeds preferred as protection dogs. They are sleek, powerful, and muscular with keen intelligence. They have a black, red, blue, or fawn coat with rust marking. The breed originated in the late 19th century in Germany and breeders have developed several lines since then to achieve desired traits in these dogs.
Z-Factor Doberman refers to the dogs from this breed carrying a gene that makes them inappropriate for breeding. Let us try to learn more about the Z Factor in Dobermans and the common complications and health issues in these dogs.
Z Factor Doberman – A Complete Guide
The American Kennel Club (AKC) allows dog owners to register their purebred dogs so that they can participate in events and help sell or breed the dog in the future. In 1996, the AKC brought into practice a tracking system to help breeders identify ‘white’ Dobermans in other shades of the coat. Z Factor Dobermans are those carrying the albinistic gene and should not be bred.
Albinism is an inherited condition affecting Doberman pinschers and occurs when the gene is passed from the parent to the offspring. These dogs suffer from health problems associated with albinism like intolerance to light, tumors, and lesions on the eyelids, skin, lips, and irises. The first albino Doberman registered with the AKC was Sheba born in 1976 and it is believed that its sire and dam as well as its descendants all carry the albino gene.
The Z-tracking introduced by AKC is a useful tool that helps breeders identify the Z-line of Dobermans and eliminate Sheba descendants from their lines. Z in the registration number with AKC tells that the Doberman is Z Factor and has a risk of inheriting albinism. As a rule, breeders should acquire a pedigree certificate with colors to make sure Z Factor or ‘White’ dogs are not present in the pedigree of the dogs they want to breed.
What is Z Factor in Dobermans?
The Z tracking was implemented in 1998 as an effective way to identify descendants of Sheba, the first ‘white’ Doberman registered with AKC. ‘Z’ refers to the registration number assigned to the pup by the AKC and suggests that the pup has a white background. The gene responsible for albinism might be present if it has a white background of more than three generations.
The DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America) considers this anomaly to be a defect and does not encourage the breeding of this color. The DPCA has appealed to the AKC to list descendants of the sire and dan of Sheba with a ‘Z’ in the registration number instead of ‘P’. The Z Factor is responsible for a genetic abnormality called albinism in Dobermans. These dogs generally have a white coat and have blue eyes, pink nose, skin, mouth, and paw pads.
Z Factor or white Dobermans are not always white. They can have any shade of ivory to cream with white markings. They are not albinos but exhibit some characteristics of albinism. The Z line Dobermans are not considered appropriate for breeding due to the health concerns and risks associated with their genes. All the current albino Dobermans, more than 1800, descend from a single bloodline. Such line-breeding shows guaranteed genetic abnormalities and is responsible for the temperament and health problems seen in albino Dobermans.
The line descending from Shebah has produced over 11,000 Dobermans. The AKC Doberman standard was previously amended to include red, black, blue, and fawn coats only and white coats were not allowed to register. However, the z-list was introduced to track the possible carriers of the albino gene and a WZ designation is present in front of their AKC registration number to make it easy to identify.
Common Albino Doberman Health Issues
An albino Doberman lacks the proper amount of melatonin pigment responsible for giving the tissues their color. Albinism causes the production of pigment in abnormal amounts from none to little or prevents the distribution of the pigment in normal amounts. Lack of pigment affects their ability to protect themselves from the sun. This is why these Dobermans can easily get sunburnt and their eyes are sensitive to sunlight.
Apart from abnormal melatonin, the genes for albinism are related to other genes responsible for functions associated with blood, kidney, and liver and these dogs can experience health problems with these organs. Behavioral issues are also seen in Dobermans suffering from albinism. They face problems like aggression and difficulty adjusting to new situations. Many albino Dobermans are blind which causes anger and anxiety among them.
These dogs are more likely to develop skin cancer as well. They are also prone to health issues faced by any other Doberman. These include hip dysplasia, Wobbler syndrome, volvulus syndrome, gastric dilatation, hypothyroidism, and bone cancer.
Doberman DNA & COI – What You Should Know?
If you are looking to adopt a Doberman, it is important to understand that it could have genetic mutations leading to serious disorders and you will not know until it is too late. The only way to be aware of such risks is to get your dog DNA-tested. Modern canine DNA tests can give you the COI (Coefficient of inbreeding) for your Doberman which measures the amount of inbreeding that took place in the dog’s genetic makeup.
A DNA health test for your Doberman will also tell you about genetic disorders likely to be inherited by your dog and health problems it can develop during its lifetime. It also gives you insight into what colors of Doberman your dog can produce in its offspring and whether it is a ‘Z-Factor’ Doberman carrying a gene for albinism. These results can help you identify if the pup you own or are interested in is a good choice for breeding. You also get a clear picture of the dog’s future health and lifespan.
While the Z-Factor for Doberman is an incredible tool for breeders and pet owners, the list of white-factored Dobermans also contains dogs not carrying the albinism gene. The best way to learn the genetic makeup and risks for your pet is to get a DNA health test performed. This article intends to introduce the Z-Factor Doberman and help understand the concerns associated with these dogs.