Poodle Coat Colors. Color and Poodle Personality. Which Colors Fade.

poodle coat colors

Last updated on January 27th, 2021 at 10:24 pm


The different colors that poodles come in make poodles very remarkable and exciting. Also, poodles change color over time. This adds more to the intrigue of the poodle. This means that you may get a poodle puppy of a particular color, but a few years later, end up having an adult poodle of a different color.

When the color of a poodle change, it is said that the poodle “fades” or “clears”. I prefer “clear” to “fade” because “fade” has the suggestion of a poodle losing its new and shiny appeal. Poodles are always beautiful no matter their shade. A poodle`s friendly, happy, and dignified temperament never fades even when the color changes. However, since “fade” is commonly used when discussing poodle color changes, I will use “fade”.

In this article, we will discuss the different colors poodles come in, then we will discuss which poodle color “fades” and when fading starts and stops.

Then, we will discuss the temperament and personality of poodles of different colors. Unlike poodle color the can be traced to genes, there is no scientific link between poodle color and personality. Attributing a poodle color to a certain temperament is just a speculation. There is no scientific evidence as to if this is true. 

However, some people believe that parti-colored poodles (poodles with one base color topped with patches of another color), black poodles, and white poodles are the smarter, superior in size, strength, temperament, heartiness, and drive. They love water more and have a higher prey drive. One origin of this claim stems from the fact that poodle with the parti color were the only poodles seen in ancient paintings of poodles. Also, when poodles were all the rage in France in the 17th century, the poodles of those days were described as been parti poodles, black poodles and white poodles. Hence, parti-poodles, black poodles, and white poodles are thought to be the original poodles that have the personality of the ideal poodle.

description of the french poodle
An excerpt from a 1861 book on dogs describing poodles in France.

Accordingly, when poodles were first bred, breeders bred only parti-colored poodles, black poodles, and white poodles. These breeders paid a lot of attention to ensure that these poodles had the intelligence and temperament expected of poodles. Therefore, parti-color poodles, black poodles, and white poodles are very representative of and continue to be representative of what a true poodle should be: smart and dignified. On the other hand, poodles of other colors were bred mainly with color in mind, and not for the intelligence and good temperament typical of the ancient poodle. Again, this is only a speculation that is not backed by any scientific evidence. Furthermore, environmental factors can strongly influence a dog`s behavior way more than the dog`s natural instinct.

To learn more about poodle behavior, read our article on what really determines a poodle`s personality.

a parti colored poodle from a 1700 painting
It`s a parti! An early painting of a poodle from the 1700s depicts the poodle as parti-colored. Image Source: wikipedia

Our discussion on poodle colors that follows applies to all poodle varieties:

  • Standard Poodle
  • Moyen Poodle
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Toy Poodle

Poodle Color and Poodle Personality

There is a common misconception about poodles and their temperaments, and that is the idea that poodles of different colors have different temperaments. Although there may be some trends of temperament that correspond with colors that are prominent in certain lines, the color itself is not a driving force of temperament. This classic case of a cause and an effect are mixed up.

Some poodle owners will claim, for example, that they owned three black standard poodles who were calm and well behaved, and then they got one parti poodle that was hyper and difficult to train. They conclude that they will only get black poodles because they have better temperaments. And while that person’s experience may be true, it anecdotal evidence at best, and it is much more likely it was just a coincidence.

However, let’s say certain lines tend to produce calm poodles, and those lines also tend to throw a lot of black puppies. This may account for the correlation some people see between color and temperament. But we should remember that correlation is not causation. Just because we see a trend of certain personality types among certain colors of poodles does not mean that the color is the cause of their temperament. 

Many litters of poodles have a variety of colors. You can see a litter from the same set of parents that has a black, a red, a parti, and a phantom all in the same litter. These puppies are likely to have similar temperaments because they come from the same set of parents. Their different coloring does not affect their temperaments.

Color Fading in Poodles

When you buy a new poodle, the most important thing to look for is health and temperament, but a lot of people also want a puppy of a certain color, and who can blame them? With all the wonderful variety of colors that the poodle comes in, new owners are often looking for a specific color of poodle. It is no surprise, then, that many poodle owners find themselves disappointed when their poodle’s color fades or changes. A good breeder should explain to buyers the process of fading that can happen. Too often, though, breeders are looking to make money on a rare color, and they do not disclose to the buyers the fact that the color will likely fade into something else.

Three is the magic number. By age three, most poodles will be the color that they will stay for the rest of their lives. If a poodle is going to fade in color at all, she will fade by age three. So, if you have a poodle that is three years old or older, chances are she will remain the color she is for the rest of her life. The most drastic changes in poodle coat color and fading happen between birth and age three.

Some poodles will not change color at all from birth to adulthood, while others will change so much, they will be barely recognizable.

Poodle Colors

The poodle hair color is similar to human hair color. Just as certain genes are responsible for certain human colors, the presence of certain genes in the poodle results in the hair color of the poodle. And just as human hair fades or turns grey with age, poodle hair may also fade with age. Finally, as there stereotypes about the behavior of humans of certain hair colors, there are also stereotypes about the temperament and personality of poodles of certain coat colors.

Now, I will discuss the many different beautiful colors that poodles come in and the features of each of these colors.

Black Poodles

What a Black Poodle Looks Like

A black poodle should have a dense and inky jet black coat. The skin of a black poodle should have a distinctly bluish cast.

According to the AKC standard for poodles, a black poodle should have a black nose, black eye-rims, and black lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes. The skin of a black poodle should be dark grey.

Black is the most dominant color in poodles. In fact, when a truly black poodle is mixed with a poodle of any other color, all the resulting offspring will come out black

a black poodle puppy
A black poodle

Coat Color Fading in Black Poodles

Black standard poodles tend to fade to a gray color as they get older. This is because a lot of black poodles are not truly black. They have a graying gene hidden in them, and this graying gene physically reveals itself later in the poodle`s life. When this happens, the black poodle is said to gray out.

When Do Black Poodle Coat Fades?

True blacks do not fade. However, when a poodle appears black as a puppy, but it is not truly black, its black coat color will fade by the time it reaches four to five years of age.

Black Poodle Personality and Temperament

There is no definite personality associated with black poodles. There are anecdotal statements that suggest that black poodles are smarter and better behaved than poodles of other colors because they are direct descendants of the original poodles, which were black and white parti poodles. One of the facts used to back this claim is that black poodles and white poodles have won more conformation dog show titles than poodles of other colors. The purpose of a conformation dog show is to judge if a dog conforms to the appearance and the personality that is expected of the dog`s breed. Blacks poodles, like white poodles, hold more titles than poodles of other colors. This is only anecdotal evidence. There is no scientific evidence that backs this claim.

However, a lot goes into a poodle`s personality beyond color. Learn more about what really affects a poodle`s personality here.

siba-winner-westminister-standard-poodle
Siba the poodle, Grand Champion Platinum, and Double Champion. Best in Show winner of the 2020 Westminster Dog Show (the Superbowl of dog shows).

White Poodles

What a white Poodle looks like

White poodles are poodles without any color. They have snow-white appearances. Poodles that are pure white are sometimes confused with faded cream-color poodles. However, cream-color poodles are not the same as white poodles. But when a cream-color poodle fades, it looks practically like a white poodle. However, cream poodles are technically different from white poodles.

According to the AKC standard for poodles, a white poodle should have a black nose, black eye-rims, and black lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes.

white poodle
A white poodle

Coat Color Fading in White Poodles

Truly white poodles do not fade.

White poodle personality and temperament

Scientifically speaking, no specific personality has been linked to white poodles. Just like black poodles, some people think white poodles have the characteristics of a true poodle because they were one of the original poodle colors during the poodle era in France. They believe American white poodles come from a direct line of the poodles from France. In fact, just like black poodles, you see white poodles win AKC conformation dog shows more than poodle of other colors. The purpose of conformation dog shows is to judge whether a dog`s appearance and personality meet the standards expected of that particular dog breed.

However, a lot goes into a poodle`s personality beyond color. Learn more about what really affects a poodle`s personality here.

toy poodle at dog show
Vikki, a champion toy poodle in dog shows.

Red Poodles

What a Red Poodle Looks Like

The color of a red poodle comes in many shades. A red poodle can vary from dark red to very light red.

Dark red poodles have been gaining in popularity for the past decade or so, and you will often see breeders advertise their puppies as “dark red” or “mahogany” red. You would do well not to fall for such advertising. The truth is the red gene always fades.

No matter how dark red your puppy is when you bring her home, by age three she will be a dark to light apricot in color. There’s nothing wrong with an apricot poodle, but the problem is that too many people pay extra money for the darker red colored puppy and they end up with a dog that is no darker than the average apricot (very light red) poodle.

The other problem with the darker red poodles is that some unethical breeders will inbreed to produce the darkest colored puppies, even knowing that those puppies will fade in color anyway. They do this because they know that people want a dark red poodle and will pay a higher dollar amount for one.

Usually, seeing the parents of the puppy in your litter will show you about how much your puppy will fade, although this is not always true. Since red is a recessive gene, it is possible for two parents of a different color to produce a red puppy if each of them carries the recessive red gene.

The only time a puppy might stay of a slightly darker red is when both parents are a nonfading black and produce a red puppy. Even then, the puppy will fade some, although it might stay a darker apricot than other reds.

Coat Color Fading in Red Poodles

Fading is very common in red poodles. A dark red poodle fades usually fades to a light red poodle, while a light red poodle fades to the apricot-colored poodle. Sometimes instead of fading, red poodles can darken, going from a light shade to a darker shade.

When Do Red Poodle Fade?

A red poodle will be completely faded at three years of age.

Red Poodle Personality and Temperament

No definite personality/personalities has been linked to red poodles, scientifically. The personality of a red poodle depends on a lot of factors, but color is not one of these factors.

Apricot Poodles

What an Apricot Poodle Looks like

An apricot poodle should have the color of a ripe apricot. Apricots with a dark shade are preferred over apricots with a light shade in the poodle world. An apricot poodle should be lighter than a red poodle but darker than a cream poodle. 

According to AKC standards, an apricot poodle should have black a nose, black eye-rims, and black lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes. Apricots poodles can also have liver-colored noses, eye-rims, and lips, and amber eyes. However, black features are preferred over liver-colored features in apricot poodles.

Coat Color Fading in Apricot Poodles

When Apricot poodles fade, they turn to cream color.

When do Apricot Poodles Fade?

Apricot poodles fade to a lighter color at the age of 3 years.

Apricot Poodle Personality and Temperament

A lot of factors such as parentage determine the personality of an apricot poodle. However, color is not one of the factors that dictate the personality of an apricot poodle.

Cream Poodles

What a cream poodle looks like

A cream poodle can have a buttery color cream color. However, a cream poodle can also be so light in color that it looks like a white poodle.

According to AKC standards, a cream poodle should have a black nose, black eye-rims, and black lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes. 

a cream poodle
A cream poodle

Coat Color Fading in Cream Poodles

When cream poodles fade, cream poodles fade to white.

Cream Poodle Personality and Temperament

There is no definite personality associated with cream poodles that is due to the cream color of their coats. Factors such as socialization and training affect a poodle`s personality. However, color is not a known scientific factor that contributes to the behavior of poodle.

Brown/Chocolate Poodles

What a Brown/Chocolate Poodle Looks Like

Just like the red color in poodles, the brown color in poodles comes in many interesting shades ranging from the dark brown shade to the light brown shade. Brown poodles, no matter what shade they are going to fade into later in life, are born dark in shade. 

The eyes of all brown poodles should be several shades darker (but not black in color) than their coats. The eyes of brown poodles should be surrounded by dark eye rims, and their rims lips and nose are the same dark shade.

According to AKC standards, a brown poodle should have a liver-colored nose, liver-colored eye-rims and lips, dark toenails, and dark amber eyes

Darker features are preferred in brown poodles. However, brown poodles can also have light pale yellow eyes, with light pinkish eye-rims, lips, and noses.

brown chocolate poodle
A brown chocolate poodle

Coat Color Fading in Brown Poodles

A true brown puppy is born brown and should not fade. Some might become a slightly lighter shade of brown, but they should stay close to the color they were at birth. Their noses should be brown like their coats.

Brown poodles Personality and Temperament

Brown poodles can have any temperament that can be due ot multiple factors. However, the brown color of a poodle has nothing to do with the poodle`s temperament.

Blue Poodles

What a blue poodle looks like

A blue poodle has an even color throughout with a bluish cast. Blue poodles are usually born black and they gradually turn blue by the time they reach two years of age.

According to AKC standards, blue poodles have black noses, eye-rims and lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes.

Coat Color Fading in Blue Poodles

Blue poodles result from black poodles fading to blue.

Blue Poodle Personality and Temperament

The blue color of a blue poodle has nothing to do with a blue poodle`s temperament.

Silver Poodles

Silver poodle`s come in colors that vary from glistening light platinum to a light gray color. A silver poodle should be an even color all over with no shadings.

According to AKC standards, a silver poodle should have a black nose, black eye-rims and lips, black toenails, and very dark eyes.

Silver poodles are nearly always born jet black all over with the exception of the underpads of their feet that is white in color.

It is possible to tell the color of a silver puppy at six weeks of age when its facial hair is first clipped. The lighter the face on clipping the hair, the lighter the puppy will be at maturity.

Coat Color Fading in Silver Poodles

A silver poodle lightens gradually from its dark puppy color to a medium-dark color and then to its lightest mature color over the course of its first 18 months.

Sable Poodle Color

Sable poodles change in color dramatically over the first three years of their lives. Sable poodles often look reddish-brown at birth. But by the time they are ready for their new homes, they look like an apricot that went to the salon for red highlights. By the time sable poodles are adults, it can be difficult to tell them apart from an apricot, although the color genes are entirely different.

Since a sable poodle is easily identifiable, buyers are usually not surprised by this color change, unless they are led to believe that their puppy will stay the way it looks at 8 weeks old. By then, however, it is usually quite easy to tell that the red tips of the puppy’s fur are growing out and that his first haircut will change a sable poodle`s color drastically.

Phantom Poodles

What is a phantom poodle anyway? No, a phantom poodle is not the ghost of poodles past. A phantom poodle is usually a black poodle with brown legs and eyebrows and a brown chest. A typical phantom poodle will be mostly black, and that black part should not fade. However, some phantom poodles look like regular phantom when they go to their new homes and fade to a blue or silver phantom by the time, they reach their third birthday. The brown markings usually stay brown, although they can fade to a lighter color brown. Some breeders have advertised red and black phantoms, but the red markings will usually fade to a light brown or apricot in these phantoms.

Tri-Color Poodles

tricolor poodle puppies
Multi-color poodle puppies

Tri-Color poodles are all the rage lately, especially as the Bernedoodle breed gains popularity among owners. Whether or not a tri-colored poodle will fade depends on the type of black or parti base coat that it has. Just like some phantoms fade and others don’t, the same is true with the tri-colored poodle. If the tri-colored poodle is a black and white parti with brown eyebrows, it probably will not fade.

However, if the tri-colored poodle has a blue base coat with brown eyebrows and small white markings, the blue part of his coat will fade from black to blue by the time he is three years old. The best way to know whether your tri-colored poodle will fade is to see the parents.

Silver Beige, Café Au Lait, or Cream Poodles?

cafe au lait poodle
This Cafe Au Lait poodle has the same color as an adult as she had as a puppy. That`s how to know she is not a silver beige poodle.

A Café Au Lait poodle look like a brown poodle but these two colors are two entirely different colors with different genetics, but they look identical as puppies. In fact, if a breeder has a litter that contains both browns and Café Au Lait, it can be difficult to tell the difference without testing the individual puppies in the litter.

A Café Au Lait poodle can often be confused for a silver beige or cream poodle. Café Au Lait poodles have liver colored points and amber eyes. A silver beige poodle can have a liver nose, but it could also have a black nose. As adults, it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two. A Café Au Lait puppy is born its true color, while a silver beige puppy will look brown when born and fade with age.

Silver Beige and Café Au Lait dogs can look like creams, but if your dog is a cream it will have a black nose and dark brown eyes.

Parti Poodles. Do Parti Poodles Fade?

A parti poodle has a pattern of two colors throughout his coat. A parti poodle will have two solid colors that appear in patches.

Parti poodles are usually seen in black and white, red and white, or brown and white. White is usually the base color and the spots are the other color.

Some Parti poodles fade while others do not. A black and white parti poodle is the most common type of parti poodle, and it usually will not fade. However, red and white parti poodles almost always fade. In much the same way that red poodles fade, the red spots on a red and white parti poodle will fade as well. Sometimes, those spots fade so much that you can hardly even tell the poodle is a parti poodle at all.

a parti poodle
A parti poodle

Brindle Poodles

Brindle poodles have a unique tiger stripe look to their coats. The amount of striping varies from one brindle poodle to the next. You can usually see some of this striping at birth, although it becomes more prominent as the puppy gets older. Usually, the puppy can look like a dark brown with some lighter colors underneath the dark brown fur. When the puppy has his first haircut, the stripes are much more visible. Some of the colors in a brindle poodle may continue to fade until he is about three years old, after which he will remain that color for life.

Differences Between Black, Silver, Blue, or faded Black Poodles

Black is the dominant color in poodle puppies, and puppies that will be black, blue, or silver are jet black when they are born. Sometimes breeders will know what color their puppies are, but not always. If a breeder has bred two silver dogs together, it is likely that the litter will be silver. If both parents are black, however, it might be more difficult to know what color the puppies will be. They will look black, like the parents. But, if the parents carry the dilute gene, it is possible that the puppies could end up blue or silver.

A good breeder has studied his lines and performed color coat testing and should be able to predict what colors will be in the litter. However, further color coat testing might need to be done on each puppy in the litter to know for sure what color each puppy will be as an adult. Some black puppies are referred to as “bad black” which simply means that they are not a blue or a silver poodle, but that their black coat did not stay as black as it should have but faded to a dark gray. When showing poodles in the ring, a black poodle must be completely jet black from head to foot. That is considered perfection when it comes to black poodles.

What Color Poodle is the Most Expensive?

The most expensive poodles are poodles with unique multiple colors on their coats such as a tri-colored poodle ( a poodle with three different colors). Unique tricolored poodles can be sold for as much as $20 000. This is interesting because up until recently, solid colors poodles are favored over multi-color poodles in the American poodle scene.

In fact, the AKC still does not let multicolored poodles compete in AKC conformation dog shows. The AKC standard states that multiple colors in a poodle`s coat is a “fault” in the poodle`s appearance. However, Many European dog clubs recognize multicolored poodles. Nevertheless, these days most people love to have these uniquely-multi-colored poodles as pets.

What Is The Most Popular Poodle Color?

The most popular color for poodles is black. This is because black is a very dominant color in poodles. It is very easy for poodles to produce black puppies, even when the parents are not black in color. Moreover, when a dominant black poodle is mated with any of the other poodle colors, all the puppies born will be black. Moreover, you tend to see more black poodle competing in dog shows than any other poodle color. Second in popularity to black poodles are white poodles.