Poodle Colors

Poodles come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, to the point that the terminology can become quite bewildering. Black puppies can turn blue, patterned, or multicolored Poodles are known as parti Poodles but aren’t always party Poodles, and ticked Poodles are spotty rather than ticked off. 

In this article, we shed some light, rather than hair, on the rainbow world of Poodle colors, exploring the most common coat hues and patterns before delving deeper into the weird yet wonderful world of ticked and parti Poodles.

Table of Contents

poodles different colors

12 Common Solid Colors of the Poodle

Most Poodles, regardless of size, come in solid colors, some of which are more common than others.

black standard poodle

 Black

Black is one of the most common colors of Poodle and one of the 11 recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). According to the AKC breed standard, in addition to his solid, black coat, a black Poodle should also have “black noses, eye-rims and lips, black or self-colored toenails and very dark eyes.”   

A true black Poodle should be the color of black ink, with no noticeable tinting and a complete absence of silver or white guard hairs. Such Poodles shouldn’t fade or “clear” as they age but remain pure black into their dotage. 

When a Poodle’s color lightens or fades, it’s known as “clearing” and some Poodle puppies that are born black, clear within a year or two, becoming silver or blue.

Although black Poodles are often overlooked in favor of lighter-colored puppies or rescues, they are no more aggressive or less intelligent than any other color Poodle. 

There is one slight health discrepancy, however, in that studies have found that black and other dark-colored Poodles are more susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma of the digit (SCDD) than other lighter-colored dogs.

Due to their poor visibility at night, these dogs should always wear an LED collar when getting walked in the dark.

Blue

Blue Poodles are often registered as black because that’s how they appear when firstborn. Some may take a year to develop the blue tinge to their coats, while others hang onto the vestiges of their puppyhood black for 24 months.

Experienced breeders can distinguish a blue puppy from a litter of black siblings immediately, based on its coat’s brown tint. A quick examination of their paws may also reveal some silver or white hairs between the pads.

As a blue Poodle puppy ages, so its color clears, becoming almost gun-metal grey. Some shading is acceptable in blue Poodles, but to be true to the breed standard, they should, like the black Poodle, have black noses, dark eyes, and black toenails. 

As with any color variation, blue has little impact on the dog’s personality or health. It is an accepted Poodle color and, unlike silver Poodles, for instance, is “naturally harsh” rather than cottony.

blue poodle
silver poodle

Silver

Another diluted version of the black Poodle, like the blues, silvers are born black but will start to clear much earlier. By the time they reach six weeks, silver hues will be apparent around the face and paws, with the rest of the coat following suit over the next year or so.

As with the blue Poodle, a silver puppy will often have a “frosting of white on the underpads of the feet” but will otherwise appear completely black.

Silver is recessive color, making it more difficult to breed for, and silver puppies are only really guaranteed if both parents are also silver Poodles. 

It’s been suggested that Miniature Poodles were the first to feature the silver coloration and then passed the gene onto to their Toy cousins. 

Silver Poodles are among the most difficult to breed, especially if you’re aiming for a near platinum shade. In 1964, Linda Hopkins shared her dismay at the “dark, dismal steel” offerings being produced, saying, “There is no more popular color than silver or none as greatly misunderstood.”

Ideally, for Hopkins, a silver Poodle should be as near pale platinum as possible, although she also found the lavender-tinged Miniature Poodles bred by Mrs. M. Campbell Inglis “interesting.”

Gray

Like humans, some Poodles’ coats turn gray as they age. This process is caused by the Progressive Graying gene which is found in some black, blue, and brown Poodles. A dominant mutation, if a parent shows the tendency to gray as he or she ages, there’s a 50% chance the puppies will do the same.

Although some Poodles are born gray and remain that way throughout their lives, others will start to change color at around two or three months of age, gradually fading as they mature. 

Regardless of how the gray coat is produced this color is recognized by the AKC. Like the black, blue, and silver Poodles, gray dogs should also have black noses and nails and dark-colored eyes.

gray poodle
cream poodle

Cream

Cream is one of several off-white colorations found in all sizes of Poodle, and distinguishing one from another can be challenging. A cream Poodle is fairly easy to identify as it is one of the few light-colored Poodles that have black rather than liver-colored noses.

Establishing whether a Poodle is white or cream is more difficult as both have black points and a pale cream, in certain lights, may appear white. Experts will no doubt dismiss this confusion as pure ignorance as the two are very different. While white indicates the complete absence of color, the cream is a very diluted brown, not far from apricot.

Indeed, many cream-colored Poodles are born light or even medium brown and then clear as they mature.

White

White is one of the most popular and most common colors for Poodles.

A white Poodle isn’t the same as an albino, however, as the former has black skin whereas the latter will be pink. 

Despite being white, a white Poodle belongs to the black hair type and therefore has a black nose, nails, and eye-rims, as well as dark-colored eyes, giving it a striking appearance.

In the past, a white Poodle with pink toenails or a patch of pink skin would still have succeeded in the show ring but, these days, the AKC insists on white Poodles with black extremities only.

White Poodles have similar temperaments to other colors, and some owners and breeders prefer the white’s softer, more cottony coat to the harsh texture of for example a cream Poodle.  This color needs to be washed with a special shampoo for Poodles often to stay bright and clean.

Although there has been some evidence to suggest that white dogs of all breeds are more susceptible to congenital deafness than others, this doesn’t appear to be the case with the Standard Poodle. Both the Toy and the Miniature Poodle carry this trait, however, and it does appear to affect those with white pigmentation more than other colors.

white poodle dog
miniature poodle on rock

Brown

Once lumped together with Red Poodles, brown Poodles should ideally be the color of dark mahogany or a rich walnut brown, as opposed to chestnut. Nevertheless, brown Poodles boast more color variations and a wider range of hues than almost any of the other colors. 

Most brown Poodles are born dark and then fade as they mature, producing stunning shades of cinnamon brown and coffee. 

One of the biggest problems facing the brown Poodle is its tendency to have very pale yellow, almost green eyes. This is an undesirable trait in the show ring but difficult to eliminate in breeding.

Sun, chlorine, and other environmental factors can also bleach the brown Poodle’s coat which is why you’re unlikely to find a dark chocolate-brown Poodle over the age of around seven years.

The most sought-after brown Poodles have amber-colored eyes, a liver nose, and dark toenails, as per the breed standard.

Red 

Up until 1980, red Poodles were considered brown, but since then, they’ve been a class of their own, standing out from the competition with their chestnut, auburn, and copper hues. 

Despite not being recognized in its own right until then, it’s now believed the red Poodle has a unique gene, sometimes called the Rufus gene, that darkens the more common apricot color. Rufus is a recessive allele, which is perhaps why red Poodles are so rare.

Whatever color the puppy, there’s no guarantee he’ll remain that same shade of red as he matures. Red Poodles are particularly prone to color change, with some fading as they age and others darkening.

apricot poodle

Apricot

Like red, apricot is a relatively new color for Poodles, having only been accepted into the breed standard comparatively recently. 

The first apricot-colored Standard Poodle was born in 1898 but categorized as liver at the time. Since then, apricot Poodles have won a variety of prestigious awards, and their popularity has continued. 

Last year, world-famous Lionel Messi welcomed an apricot Toy Poodle named Abu into his family, adding a splash of color and cuteness to the Messi tribe.

Cafe Au Lait

Not to be confused with the cream Poodle, one that’s the color of cafe au lait should have a light tan tinge to his coat, amber eyes, and liver point. 

Although Poodles of this color may look similar to red ones, the cafe au lait hue is closer to silver than red. Although it is considered an official color, it’s not particularly popular and is frequently criticized for being a sub-standard brown.

Silver Beige

Unlike cafe au lait, silver beige is a diluted shade of brown, and most silver beige Poodles are born brown, clearing around their face and paws within the first six weeks of life. 

Silver beige is much more popular than cafe au lait, but the two are frequently confused. To differentiate between them, you ideally need to know the puppy’s original color at birth. While cafe au lait puppies are usually born that color, silver beige Poodles are born brown and subsequently fade to silver beige.

Parti Poodles

Parti Poodles have large amounts of white on their body. This can be mixed with any of the regular colors: red, black, brown etc.

These dogs are highly sought-after. You will probably have to look for a bit in order to find the Parti Poodle of your dreams!

parti poodle

Poodle Colors That Aren’t Ticking The Right Boxes

Some Poodles have flecks or white spots in their coat, known as ticking. This is produced by a specific gene and can even be seen in pure white Poodles that, if they have the ticking gene, will appear dirty. 

More of a marking than a color in its own right, it can be difficult to spot the spots on a Poodle puppy. More commonly found on parti Poodles than solid colors, ticking becomes increasingly obvious as the puppy matures.  

While the United Kennel Club sees ticking as an acceptable trait in a Poodle, the AKC disqualifies such dogs from conformation classes, as it does parti Poodles. According to them, both colour patterns fail to meet the breed standard, in which the coat should be “an even and solid color at the skin.”

5 Things You Never Knew About the Poodle

What is the Rarest Poodle Color?

Any color that’s dependent on a recessive gene will occur less frequently than one that’s dictated by a dominant gene, like black, for example. 

While some argue that blue is the rarest coat color in almost any breed, including the Poodle, others claim the red Poodle is less common while some say apricot Poodles are “the rarest in the world.”

What Color Poodle is the Smartest?

Some Poodle owners are convinced that certain colored dogs are cleverer than others. The idea behind this theory is that black and white Poodles were the original breed standard colors and have therefore been bred for temperament and intelligence, rather than color. 

As we just ascertained that the “original” Poodle was a parti Poodle, this theory seems far from foolproof. You may indeed have a particularly intelligent white Poodle at some stage in your life, but you could equally have an Einstein-style Tuxedo Poodle. 

At the end of the day, Poodles are as varied as humans, and some are blessed with superior intelligence just as others are endowed with an especially friendly temperament. 

What is the Most Popular Poodle Color?

It’s difficult to distinguish which color Poodle is the most popular and which is the most common. Whites are common and much-loved for their regal appearance, while the black is easier to keep to clean, making it popular among more practical Poodle owners. 

Are Parti Poodles More Expensive?

Parti Poodles with rare or distinctive patterns are often more expensive than solid-colored Poodles, although the average price hovers around $1,100, which is just a hundred dollars or so more than a solid-colored dog. 

If you want a top-quality Poodle of any color, you should be prepared to pay upwards of $2,000, and as much as $5,000 for a Standard Poodle. 

Do Poodles Have a Favorite Person?

While most dog breeds adore whoever feeds them, Poodles are a little more particular, selecting their favorite human based on their personality, rather than their ability to provide care and sustenance. 

Poodles are extremely loyal dogs and, once they’ve chosen you as The One, they’ll tend to cling on to you while remaining somewhat aloof in their association with other members of your household.

The Bottom Line

The world of Poodles is full of color and variety. While traditionalists may prefer to stick with the standard breed colors, those drawn to the exotic may find the parti Poodles more attractive. 

The good news is, whatever color Poodle you prefer, they’re likely to share the same traits and health status as any other colored Poodle, although there is some evidence to suggest that white Poodles are more prone to congenital deafness than other colors. 

If you’re looking for a competition dog, you may need to be more careful in your color selection as some Poodle colors, like the Cafe au Lait, for example, struggle to compete with more vibrant colors in the show ring. 

An ancient breed dating back to the 15th or possibly even 14th century, it seems unlikely the Poodle will ever lose its popularity. In 2019, it ranked 6th on the AKC’s most popular dog breeds list and, last year was the 7th most popular dog breed in the world.   

The good news is, even if you jump on the Poodle bandwagon, you don’t have to conform by having a black or white Poodle – you can choose to stand out from the crowd with a red, apricot, or even one that appears to be wearing a stylish Tuxedo.

Whatever color Poodle you opt for, you can be sure you’ll have a loyal companion that draws attention wherever you go.

Author: Nicky Hoseck

Author: Nicky Hoseck

Nicky lives on a small-holding on South Africa’s Wild Coast with a selection of animals, a husband, and five dogs. She spends all her waking hours with her Australian Cattle Dog, Koala, either walking, horse-riding, running, or just hanging out.

Originally from the UK, Nicky been living with dogs for over 40 years and is a passionate dog-owner.

With a Masters Degree from the University of London under her belt, Nicky has had a diverse career, training and riding horses, running safari lodges, and hosting volunteers. She’s now a full-time writer.

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