Poodle Colors: How Do They Get Them?

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If someone were to ask you to think about which poodle color you would choose if you were to buy a poodle, you would think that’s not such a difficult choice. How hard can it be to pick a favorite out of three poodle colors: black, white, and cream? If this is you, then you would be surprised to hear how many different coat colors of poodles there are to choose from. Read on to explore all the varieties of poodle colors.

It’s All in the Genes

How does a poodle get its colors? It’s all in the genes. Each parent is responsible for one gene that determines the color of the coat, and each gene is either dominant or recessive. The two genes received from the parents can be of a different color, but only one, the dominant one, will be visible in the new pup.

To make things simple and more visual, let’s give an example of Ralphie, a black toy poodle. Ralphie could’ve received a black gene from his mother and a brown gene from his father. In this case, since the dominant gene is black, Ralphie will turn out to be a black poodle. But he still has the brown gene that was passed on by his father.

When the time comes for Ralphie to mate, he may pass on the recessive gene to his offspring. If the female also passes the brown gene to the offspring, Ralphie may end up having a brown daughter.

It’s not so uncommon to find poodles with a diluted color of the coat, different patterns, or added markings.

Solid Color Options

Apricot Poodles

One of the prettiest and most favored colors for poodles is apricot. Even if not interested in competitions, their proud owners will make sure to keep the lovely looking coat shiny and tangle-free. Together with the red, it is also the newest color for the breed. It’s not so rare that these two colors get mistaken for each other.

People also tend to mistake a creme for an apricot if it has a richer color. As the pup gets older, the color may get lighter or darker, so a puppy that seemed to be a light apricot may turn into a solid cream.

Most often, the apricot will have some variation in color, such as slightly darker ears or neck. The points of the poodle (nose, eye-rims, and lips) are usually black along with very dark eyes, although this is not a rule. Genes of apricot poodles are recessive to all other colors apart from white.

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Black Poodles

The color that adds most to the elegance and proud posture a poodle already naturally possesses is black. It can be easy to mistake a puppy for a black poodle even though that may not be the case. Poodles have three layers to their coat, the surface layer, middle layer, and inner layer, the one that is visible only during grooming. So, it is not so uncommon for a poodle that seems black on the outside to have a different color, grey, blue or silver.

For a poodle to be a “true black,” the hair needs to be black all the way down to the root and should stay black during the time the puppy grows up to the adult stage. Grey hair due to aging is a different story and can happen to black poodles as well. A black poodle will also have black points and dark brown eyes.

Blue Poodles

Blue is another captivating coat color that adds to the dignified appearance of poodles, provided the owner keeps the dog clean and smelling good, as there is nothing dignified in a stinky dog, no matter the color. This is one example of when a puppy can be mistaken for a black. Blue poodles are born with an entirely black coat.

When the pup starts reaching adulthood, his coat color will change to an intriguing dark blue. This shade occurs when a dominant gene and a recessive silvering gene are part of their gene mix. Points of the blue poodle are black with very dark brown eyes.

Silver Poodles

Another example of a puppy born black and changing colors over time is seen in the silver poodle. With the most aristocratic look of all, silver poodles get their color usually during the first year. The genetics is similar to that of the blue poodle and is caused by a present silvering gene within a black poodle. Only this time the dog must have two recessive versions of the silvering gene to produce this color.

Brown Poodles

Brown is another common solid color that gives a poodle a gorgeous, warm, and fluffy look. It is not to be confused with the Café Au Lait, as the color is much darker. For a poodle to be considered a brown, there should be no traces of black, not even in the eyes and nose. Brown poodles actually have liver-colored points and dark amber eyes. In order for a poodle to turn out brown, the dog must carry two of the brown recessive genes.

Café Au Lait Poodles

Café Au Lait appeared as a mixture of apricot, brown and silver. It has both the apricot gene as well as a dominant and a recessive version of the silvering gene. The color is a light tan and can often be confused with a silver. One differentiation is the color of the points; a Café Au Lait will always have a liver-colored nose and paws. Another differentiator is that a Café Au Lait is born with its true color, while a silver needs to fade to its true color eventually.

Red Poodles

Being the newest and the rarest color of them all, it is no surprise that they are one of the most desired. Their appearance is exceptionally striking and a sign that the owner holds himself to certain beauty standards. Surprising as it may be, the reds come from the apricot gene. But it’s another gene referred to as “Rufus” that is having a darkening effect to the apricot color. The complete science and is yet to be better understood. For now, it’s important to know that this color may fade with time.

White Poodles

The pure, snow-white coat of a true white poodle is truly stunning. Sure, the bright white coat is the quickest to get dirty and stained. However, that is easily solved with good quality grooming products. Having some black spotting is tolerable on white, but black-tipped hairs are not. The black tipping appears to form a completely different gene, and these poodles are known as sable poodles.  True white poodles have black points and very dark eyes.

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Keeping the Coat Beautiful

No matter the color of the poodle, keeping the coat shiny and beautiful requires regular grooming. Just as with us humans, the coat of the poodle is influenced by outside conditions, such as air pollution, exposure to the sunlight, cold weather, etc. Due to these influences, it is not uncommon for a poodle’s coat to become dull, shrill, or yellowish, as the dog grows older.

It is easy to not notice the difference in the richness, thickness, and overall glow of the coat until enough hairs have dulled and lost its shine to make a visible difference. That’s why regular grooming plays an important role in the overall health of the skin and coat. Besides good quality, color-enhancing shampoos and conditioners, regular hair cuts and brushing, it is the diet that by far has the greatest influence on the overall quality of the coat.

A good, well-balanced diet, high in omega-3 fatty acids will make sure the coat is soft and fluffy for a longer time.

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