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How Many Colors of Poodles are there?
Poodles come in many colors and patterns and that’s what we’re going to explore in this article. Let’s start with solid colors. Solid colored Poodles are the same color all over with no markings.
- Black – Black is one of the most popular colors and many Poodles seen in the show ring are black. A black Poodle has black fur, black points (pads, nose, lips, and eyelids), and dark grey skin. A black should be easy to recognize right? Wrong! Silver or blue pups also appear black when they are very young. A true black Poodle will remain black throughout his life and will never fade.
- White – White is the color that many people think of when they think Poodle. In fact, I have spoken to many people who thought that all Poodles were white! White Poodles are born white (unlike creams and apricots who sometimes fade to white) and always have black points.
- Cream – Cream is the lightest color of the red series, lighter than apricot. Many cream pups will eventually fade to white. Most creams will have slightly darker areas on their ears and tails.
- Apricot – Apricots and creams are quite hard to tell apart, but apricot is a slightly stronger, warmer color with the ears appearing almost red. Many apricots have a darker stripe running down their backs. Apricot Poodles often fade to cream with age. The points should be black.
- Red – Red Poodles can vary greatly in shade from rich dark red to almost apricot. Red is very striking and coveted by many people but red often fades and some dogs that are red as pups end up only slightly darker than apricots.
- Brown or Chocolate – Brown Poodles are born a rich dark brown color and all the points are also brown. This is another color that is prone to fading and like black it can be difficult to see if a pup is a true brown or is actually a café au lait or silver beige.
- Blue – Blue is a beautiful color but as pups blue Poodles are black! As they get older, they will become more of a muted shade and end up an ashy or charcoal color. A blue Poodle is lighter than black but darker than silver.
- Silver – Silver Poodles initially look black but when you shave their noses as many breeders do at a few weeks old you will see that they are grey underneath. Silver dogs take a few years to reach their final color.
- Silver Beige – Silver beige pups have brown points and look like brown pups at birth. You will not see the true color unless you shave them or look into the roots of the hair where you may see creamy undertones. Silver beige is different from café au lait as silver beige Poodles can have either brown or black noses.
- Café Au Lait – Café au lait Poodles always have liver or brown noses and often have lighter brown eyes than any other color. Unlike blue, silver, or silver beige these pups do not fade, they are actually born café au lait! As adults, they are often slightly darker than the silver beige Poodles.
Patterned Poodles are very striking and are growing in popularity although they are rarely seen in the show ring where the solid colors seem to take precedence. Some die-hard Poodle fans look down on these multi-colored beauties and it has even been suggested that Poodles that are not solid-colored are not pure. You may be surprised to know that the original Poodles were parti or multicolored and solid-colored coats were produced by selective breeding. Multicolored and patterned Poodles are making a comeback and I for one, am very glad to see this. What could be more splendid than a Poodle of many colors?
- Parti Colored – Parti colored Poodles are one of the most popular and eye-catching of the multi-colors. Parti Poodles are predominantly white with patches of any other Poodle color irregularly placed all over them much like a piebald horse. Parti Poodles can also fade like many of the solid-colored dogs. For example, a puppy that appears black and white at birth may turn out to be blue or silver and white. Parti colors can also be ‘ticked’ so rather than fading to another color entirely a sprinkling of white hairs appear in the colored patches giving a frosted look. A black and white or brown and white parti Poodle with ticking can look particularly beautiful, almost as if he has a sprinkling of frost over his coat.
- Tuxedo or Abstract – A tuxedo Poodle is technically a parti-color. Rather than having irregular patches of color the tuxedo is predominantly solid colored but with white markings on his chest, abdomen, and paws. Many tuxedos also sport a white blaze on the head or muzzle and a white tail tip.
- Phantom – Phantom Poodles are also predominantly one color but have points of another color much in the style of a Doberman or Rottweiler. Most Phantoms are black or chocolate with tan points but can also be silver or blue with tan, cream, or white points.
- Sable – Sable or Agouti coloring is usually seen in shepherd breeds like the German Shepherd or Dutch Shepherd. Sable Poodles have coats that are usually a shade of brown (though can be blue or silver) with black tips. Sable pups change color completely by the time they reach adulthood with the original color remaining on the ears and around their face. For this reason, you should never choose a sable pup based purely on color as what you see is most definitely not what you get.
- Brindle – Brindle is a very common pattern in the dog world but is most often associated with other breeds, such as Danes, Mastiffs, Boxers, and Greyhounds. Not Poodles! Brindles can be any color but what sets them apart is their tiger stripes. There is a lot of controversy surrounding brindle Poodles as many people argue that this pattern doesn’t occur naturally in the breed however DNA tests carried out on brindle Poodles have proven that they are 100% purebred.
Dominant and Recessive Genes
This is where it becomes tricky. A dog may ‘carry’ the genes for many other colors as well as the color that he displays. Some of these genes are dominant (dominant genes are ‘ruling’ genes so override others). Others are recessive (overruled by dominant genes).
When we talk about color genetics, we use the terms Genotype and Phenotype. Genotype means heredity so all the genes the dog has got from his parents. Phenotype is how he appears, so the color that he shows.
If a dog has inherited both dominant and recessive genes he will appear as the dominant color but may carry genes for the recessive color. Black is always dominant, and this must be considered when breeding black Poodles as a dog carrying black will appear black (unless he also carries the Rufus gene when he will appear red) but may also carry brown.
If the recessive brown gene is carried and the black dog is mated to another black dog also carrying brown, there is a possibility that a brown puppy will be born. This happens because the pup has inherited two copies of the recessive gene, one from each parent.
For a dog to be a recessive color he must carry two copies of the recessive gene as we must remember that dominant always overrules recessive so only one copy of the dominant gene is needed to make the dog display a coat of a dominant color.
Recessive genes bring complications to breeding for color as they can stay hidden for generations before making a sudden appearance. White, whilst being considered one of the standard Poodle colors, is still a largely unknown gene and as of yet, there is no test for it. This means it is unknown whether it is a recessive or dominant color.
The gene for a solid-colored coat is also a dominant gene. Where a solid-colored dog is mated to a parti-colored or piebald dog there is more chance that most of the pups will be solid-colored or have residual white markings. Unless the solid-colored parent also carries the parti-colored gene. If a pup inherits two copies of the piebald gene it will show a lot more white in the coat. If it only inherits one copy it will display much less white in the coat, if any.
Hidden genes are exactly what you would expect from the name. They are genes that the dog carries but does not express. A dog will express the color of the most dominant gene that he carries but if he also carries recessive genes for other colors these are the hidden genes.
Put very simply if you have a puppy born that is a different color to either of his parents that is because he has inherited two copies of a hidden gene carried by both parents. To express a color that is recessive the dog must inherit two copies of the gene.
What Colours are possible from different coloured parents
Predicting what colors, you will get from any two particular parents is extremely difficult as color genetics is still not an exact science. However, we have determined some of the possibilities and likely outcomes.
Remember that the color of the pups depends on many factors including hidden genes. We must presume there are no hidden genes in this instance and simply look at the color that is expressed: