The Standard Poodle is arguably one of the most sophisticated and elegant members of the dog world. Their long legs, complicated grooming styles, and somewhat aloof attitude only add to their grandeur.
While the pure White or Black Standard Poodle may be seen often trotting around a show ring, the more elusive and as a result more intriguing is the Silver variety. Whether they are bright platinum or more pewter toned, this variety of Poodle will stop many in their tracks for a second look.
Read on to find out more about all things Silver Standard Poodle. From their amazing transformation in puppyhood to the genetic recipe that creates this unusual coloring.
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What is a Silver Standard Poodle?
The Silver Standard Poodle is not a breed in its own right but rather one of the color variations available of the Poodle breed. The fact that this coloring is rare only enhances the elegance of the Standard Poodle.
This might seem like a mythical creature due to its rarity. To make things even more difficult a Silver Standard Poodle is not actually born silver, so picking one out as a puppy will also be a challenge.
Straight out of the womb, a Silver Poodle will appear Black. They will then go through a gradual process of fading until their Silver tones come through. You may see this process of color changing referred to as “clearing”.
If all this chat about Silver Poodles has piqued your interest in Poodles in general, you can read more about them here with our comprehensive guide to the Poodle breed.
The Silver Standard Poodle is a result of the unusual pairing of two recessive color genes in one dog. The big difference is that Silver Poodles are not born silver rather they present black at birth and undergo a period of “clearing” where their coats gradually lighten to a silver tone.
When do Silver Poodles Fade?
There is no exact timeline of when a Silver Poodle will fully reveal their full tone. Most people prize the completely Silver Poodle but this can be tricky to predict. The best indicator that a Poodle may grow up to be fully silver is that its head and paws will have fully lightened to Silver in the first 6 weeks.
These striking pups will still have Black bodies. However, this will also gradually fade over the subsequent months until they are fully Silver. Patience is vital though as the whole process can take up to 2 years in total.
Are Silver Poodles Rare?
In short, yes, a true Silver Poodle is rare. You are much more likely to see Standard Poodles in tones of Black, White, or Chocolate.
For a Poodle to express a Silver coat they require not one but two copies of a recessive gene. This means both the mother and father have to pass on a copy. Let’s get very briefly scientific to explain what a recessive gene is, this will help us understand why rolling the genetic dice and getting a Silver pup is rare.
Despite the huge variety in coat color available in Poodles (or any dog for that matter), there are only two basic pigments that color stems from. These are eumelanin (Black) and phaeomelanin (Red). All different variations in color are created by the mixing of these two pigments, which are both forms of melanin.
Eumelanin and phaeomelanin can be thought of as the base colors in dogs. Eumelanin is, by default, Black pigment, but variation in color occurs because genes modify eumelanin to create other colors such as Liver (Brown), Blue (Grey), or Isabella (Pale Brown). Phaeomelanin by comparison expresses as Red with a default color of Gold or Yellow.
Genes control the intensity of phaeomelanin or eumelanin, making the color stronger or weaker.
For a Silver Poodle to occur a puppy has to have a base pigment of Eumelanin (Black) and then requires two copies of a specific gene in their DNA to dilute Black to the extreme that it looks Silver. A dog inherits one copy of each gene from each of the parent dogs.
A mutation in the melanophilin (MLPH) gene is the cause of color dilution. Many Poodles out there may have only one copy of this gene matched with a more dominant gene which means they do not fade, but it would be impossible to tell who carries it without a full genetic screening.
If a parent dog has one recessive gene and one dominant gene, there is no guarantee the recessive gene will be passed on and the line of potentially Silver offspring stops with them.
Now those that remember high school science, may be sitting thinking but the sure-fire way to make a Silver puppy is to breed from both a Silver mother and Silver father. If the parents are both Silver, then it stands to reason they will only have Silver recessive genes to pass on?
However, this is discouraged as many Silver Poodles overlap somewhere in their genetic lines, owing to the limited presence of the dilution gene. Cross breeding two Silver Poodles, which effectively represent four copies of the dilution gene, has a high chance of being a close genetic mix. This errs into familial breeding and as such is discouraged due to associated health conditions.
In terms of overall rarity a truly Silver Standard Poodle is fairly uncommon. It may be that older Black Poodles can take on a silver appearance due to loss of pigmentation associated with age. However, this is not the genetic dilution of color we are talking about that occurs before a Silver Poodle is 2 years old.
Can Miniature and Toy Poodles be Silver?
Yes, Miniature and Toy Poodles can be Silver too. Infact the earliest recorded reports of the Silver coloring are recorded as occurring in the Miniature Poodle size. Cross breeding between sizes then allowed the dilution gene to proliferate in both the Toy and Standard Poodle offerings.
How do you Know if Your Standard Poodle will be Silver?
If you have an infinite budget, you could undertake costly full DNA mapping of your puppy, including screening of parent dog DNA. However, the price would be exorbitant, if you could even find a lab willing to undertake this.
The less scientific method is to pay close attention to any indicators of color change in a puppy. While many dog’s coats may begin to develop markings or change tone in the weeks following birth, an indicator that a puppy will lighten to fully Silver is if the face and feet are the first to lift while the body remains Black initially.
If you have access to a lot of information of the parents, grandparent and even great grandparent dogs you can look back to look for hints that a dilution gene may be present in your prospective pup’s lineage. Look for a history of a Silver Poodle or very light coat coloring tones, this means there could be a recessive gene floating in their that could make an appearance.
Can you Dye a Poodle Silver?
There are providers of dog hair colorants. These can be somewhat controversial though as dying a dog’s fur serves no purpose for the dog other than for aesthetic appeal. It is essential the dye designed specifically for dogs is the only product used, human grade hair colorants often contain chemicals that would be damaging and potentially lethal to dogs.
Using dye to change the color of a Poodle is nothing new though. The late 70s and 80s saw an explosion of Pink Poodles, which are definitely not a natural tone. You can read more about the Pink Poodle in one of our other articles: “Are Pink Poodles Real?”
The same colorants could in theory be used to dye another Poodle Silver. However, as Silver is a light tone the Poodle would need to be White or Cream to accept the dye. There would be no way to lighten a darker Poodle, say a Black or Dark Brown, up to a Gray or Silver tone.
Can you Dye a Silver Poodle Another Color?
In theory you could dye a Silver Poodle a darker color but given the appeal and rarity of a Silver coated Poodle it does beg the question. Why would you want to?
Do Silver Poodles Differ from Other Colors?
The main difference in Silver Poodles is that the nature of recessive genes required to make them, means the dog will essentially be a different color at birth. While a solid Black, White or Cream Poodle for example will be visible early on, the Silver Poodle will undergo a steady transformation.
The term Silver can also encompass a variety of shades from shiny, almost metallic platinum tone to a rich Gray flannel like appearance. Part of the fun is that you will never be fully able to predict your particular dog’s presentation until they are fully grown.
It could be argued that Silver is one of the most aristocratic and polished Poodle colorings which makes them highly desirable for those who wish to indulge in some of the more adventurous Poodle grooming styles. The Silver tones against the inky black eyes, nose and nails makes traditional Poodle cuts really pop!
What is the Rarest Color of Standard Poodle?
We know that recessive genes like those required in a Silver Poodle are rare but there are some others that require unusual genetic pairings making them equally, if not rarer than the Silver Standard Poodle.
Where the Silver Poodle depends on recessive genes lightening a base dark (black) pigment, the Apricot Poodle requires specific recessive genes and a base Red pigment. True Red pigment is rarer than Black and by default the Apricot is then lesser seen than the Silver Poodle.
The Apricot Poodle is also one of the last Poodle colors to be developed and only occurred through deliberately selective breeding.
As the base Red pigment is less prevalent in the Poodle line, the true Red Poodle by association is rarer than their Black or White counterparts. Adding to the rarity of the Red Poodle is that many Kennel Club’s did not recognise Red as a purebred Poodle color until the 1990s meaning professional breeders were less inclined to continue Red lines.
Following the Apricot, Red and Silver Standard Poodle, other rarer color offerings include Café Au Lait, fCream and color patterns such as Sable and Phantom.
Are Blue Poodles Real?
When discussing rare Poodle colors, the Blue Poodle requires a section all of its own. You may be thinking, no way, but we are not talking Sky Blue here, rather a Black coat that displays an inky Black/Gray tone.
A Blue Poodle strictly speaking is not recognised as a purebred Poodle rather it is a Poodle that has received one copy of a black dominant gene and a specific dilution gene that doesn’t result in it fading fully to Silver but instead retains a lightened Dark Gray/Blue tone.
Although these Blue tinged Poodles are striking in purebred circles they are somewhat shunned as an improper expression of a truly Black Poodle coat and as a result there has been little targeted breeding of this specific color.
For those not concerned with showring points and seeking a striking Poodle color Blue Poodles can attract a high price as a domestic pet due to their rarity.
The Silver Standard Poodle, like the Apricot, Blue, and Red variations all fall in the rarer Poodle color family due to the presence of recessive genes. These may be harder to find however the kudos of having such a striking Poodle may be worth the wait.
In all fairness though, we are pretty biased here in our belief that a Poodle, whatever their color, is a great choice as a canine companion who will provide years of loyalty and plenty of mischievous hijinks!