I get a LOT of calls and email's asking about color breeding. People want to know what color
puppies they will get if they breed this color to that color. What people do not seem to understand is that when dealing with
colors in poodles and poodle genetics NOTHING is certain. All you can do is make a guess. With some research and knowing the
background of your lines, one can make a more educated guess, but once again its just a guess.
I have spent a lot of time and effort to study pedigrees and colors but even I am still
learning. Especially when it comes to the multi colors its all still a guess.
Vet gen does have a DNA test that will supposedly tell you the color genes that your dog
carries. I will warn people that you should never bank all your money on that test. I have known of quite a few people that
have tested their dogs and gotten strange colors in their litters that were not even talked about in the test. I am also unsure
if this test takes into account the multi colors.
I am going to take this page and talk about what I have learned and what I have had personal
experience with colors. As I said before, nothing is certain, HOWEVER...there are some important DOS and do NOTS to color
First off what you personally are breeding for in color, is what you have to take into
account. Just throwing 2 poodles together and hoping for the best is NOT good breeding practices. Once you have established
that two dogs are proper breeding material and that they offset each others faults, then you have to take into account, color
compatability and what you are working towards in color. Most reputable breeders you will find will specialize in certain
colors. Trying to work on too many colors at once can become frustrating and confusing, even though the temptation is great!
Just throwing 2 colors together can seriously destroy the colors and their points (pigment of the nose, lips, eye liner, and
pads are considered the points).
Remember when talking about points that, Browns, Cafe Au Lait, and Silver beige should
ALWAYS have liver color points. Where the breed standard states that liver is ACCEPTABLE in reds it is NOT preferred and really
and truly should be looked upon as a fault in my opinion.
All other colors should have black or self colored points.
ANOTHER POINT TO CONSIDER
Many colors are considered to be fading colors and will carry with them the fading gene
automatically. These should be remembered before thinking about your breeding program
Colors that are considered fading colors are: EVERY COLOR BUT BLACK! That means BLUE, SILVER,
BROWN, CAFE AU LAIT, SILVER BEIGE, RED, APRICOT, CREAM, and WHITE. This also comes into play when talking about Multicolors
and mixes of the above colors. You can pretty much count on a Sable ALWAYS carrying the fading gene and that the puppy will
not stay the color that it is when it is born.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COLORS IN POODLES
*Please do remember (and sometimes I even forget this rule), BLACK IS DOMINATE TO EVERYTHING!!!!!!
*When thinking breeding in your program and what color is best to mate with your dog, you
must remember when studying your dogs pedigree for colors that you also have to take into consideration the colors of the
siblings of each dog. There may be a color hidden there that you did not know about and need to consider. Its a good way to
tell the recessive color genes in your dog.
*Most people are noticing that blues seem to carry the gene for ALL COLORS. This includes
the parti colors. This is why many breeders think blues are a great basis for a breeding program, depending of course upon
what colors you are breeding for.
*The dogs being bred must carry the gene for that specific color in order for the puppies
to be that color. For example, you will NOT get a parti colored puppy out of a dog that does NOT carry the gene for parti.
*A color bred dog refers to a dog that has predominately only THAT color in their background.
*A hybrid color bred dog refers to a dog that has predominately only 2 colors in their
background. Such as a black/red hybrid or a black/brown hybrid.
Here are some serious DO NOT's that you should think about when breeding poodles.
DO NOT breed BROWN, CAFE AU LAIT, or SILVER BIEGE (Brown shades) to the following colors:
RED, APRICOT, CREAM, or WHITE. Mixing of these colors will cause incorrect pigment on the points since the brown shades have
liver colored points and Red, Apricot, Cream, and White should all have jet black points.
DO NOT breed REDS or APRICOTS to the following colors:
SILVER or BLUE. Breeding red or apricot to silver causes the color to fade even more than
they already do as the silver and blue colors carries the fading gene. True I have bred blue to red before due to the fact
that was what I had to work with at the time. But if you are truly working to deepen and darken reds and apricots and produce
beautiful dogs that hold their color, you do not want to introduce any more of the fading gene into these already fading colors
than you have to.
When breeding BROWNS, to keep them dark and reduce fading and taking the above rules into
account, DO NOT breed to the following colors: BLUE, SILVER, CAFE AU LAIT, SILVER BEIGE. These colors once again will introduce
the fading gene into your browns that you are trying to keep dark.
When breeding for icy whites DO NOT breed to the following colors: APRICOT and CREAM. These
colors will ad a yellowish tone to your whites. However, there are some breeders out there that do breed for creams and off
whites by using these color combinations.
Here are some very important DOS that you should think about when breeding poodles.
Other than the absolute DO NOT's listed above, how you combine colors totally depends upon
what your end goal color is in your breeding program.
When breeding REDS, to keep them dark, to reduce fading, and keeping the points nice and
jet black, DO breed to the following colors: RED and BLACK. When using a black every few generations in a red breeding program
you will hopefully help to keep dark points on the puppies and also to darken their color. HOWEVER, be very careful what colors
are in the background of said black that you do not inadvertently introduce more of the fading gene. I would pick a black
that has an all black only background or even better a black that has an all red and black only background (black/red hybrid).
Many people consider a color bred red to have apricot in the background. This is because apricot is a dilute of red so still
in the same color family. HOWEVER, do not forget that this apricot causes more fading gene to be present in your reds, so
the fewer apricots used the better to keep the color.
When breeding BROWNS, to keep them dark and to reduce fading, DO breed to the following
colors: BROWNS and BLACK. Breeding true blacks to a brown is a great way to help reduce the fading that we see in most browns.
HOWEVER, once again be very careful what colors are in the background of said black that you do not inadvertently introduce
more of the fading gene.
When breeding WHITE, to keep the color icy white and keep the points jet black DO breed
to the following colors: WHITE, SILVER, BLUE and BLACK. Remember white is already a fading color so breeding it to another
fading color will not hurt the color. You really do have to be careful when breeding whites as it is easy to loose the pigment
in the points. Putting a Silver, Blue, or Black in the background will help to keep these points nice and dark.
When breeding for SILVER you will want to breed to the following colors: SILVER, SILVER
BEIGE, WHITE, and BLUE. Your best chances exist when one parent being bred to these colors is a silver.
When breeding for SILVER BEIGE (which is a VERY difficult color to reproduce unless breeding
like color to like color) you will want to breed to the following colors: SILVER BEIGE, SILVER, CAFE AU LAIT, and BLUE. I
would stay away from using whites, as I have said above, or you will have to worry about pigment on resulting white offspring.
COLOR BREEDING IN THE PARTI COLORS/PATTERNS
These general rules hold true also for the parti colors.
When it comes to color and pattern breeding in the parti colors (and by parti I mean the
old definition of more than one color), it is VERY difficult to say what you are going to get. This is probably due to breeders
here in the US focusing on the solid colors for so long and looking down upon the parti colors as something that is undesirable.
Now that the partis are allowed in the conformation ring in UKC and many breeders are working
very hard to produce as nice a quality as is being produced in the solids it is a color/pattern that people need to look at
NOTE: If you are breeding for a specific color pattern it is recommended to breed like
pattern to like pattern for best results.
BREEDING PIEBALD TO PIEBALD
Breeding spotted (will be referred to as piebald pattern from here on out) partis, usually
one piebald breed to another piebald will produce piebald. It is very hard to say though how heavy of markings you will get
in a breeding as of yet. I have had very heavily marked piebalds that have been bred together and have produced piebalds will
very little spotting at all. Since each and every piebald has a unique pattern and no two are alike its very hard to guess
at how the genes will come together.
You also have the new trend of people trying to produce heavier marked piebalds. These
piebalds are know as true Tuxedos (a dog that has white in a bib around the neck that may or may not go all the way around
the neck, totally white on the belly and up into the chest, white on the legs that may extend all the way up to the elbow
and or knees, may or may not have white markings on the face or head, and with the rest of the dog being predominately the
darker color). There are many breeder out there that are incorrectly calling their abstract (mismarked) poodles a tuxedo.
These puppies are usually produced from solid dogs or a solid bred to a piebald and not from two piebalds bred together. This
is a specific color pattern which is a little heavier than your normal piebald color of 50% white. They are heavier on the
dark color than the white but still are considered to be a piebald and are produced by piebalds. Once again your best chance
of getting a tuxedo is to breed to a tuxedo. However you will also get regular piebalds in the litter. Since these tuxedo
piebalds are just a heavily marked version of a piebald, the exact formula of breeding to get these markings is still being
BREEDING PIEBALD TO PHANTOM
Breeding a piebald to a phantom pattern can produce a variety of patterns. It all depends
upon what the background of that phantom dog is and if that dog will carry the piebald gene. If the phantom carries the piebald
gene I have found that the phantom gene is recessive to that of the piebald gene. If the phantom does NOT carry for piebald,
then usually what you will get is a mixture of heavily abstract (mismarked) and even solid colored puppies. Every once in
a while you will get a phantom patterned puppy but as I said it seems to be recessive so that would mean that the piebald
would carry the gene for phantom.
BREEDING PIEBALD TO SOLID
Breeding a piebald to a solid dog will usually always produce solids and abstract puppies,
UNLESS, once again, that solid colored dog carries the piebald gene. Puppies produced from such breedings are usually referred
to as parti factored. Meaning that they carry the gene for parti. However this is still debated among parti people. Genetically
they should carry for parti regardless, however when some of these parti factored are bred to a piebald they will not produce
piebald puppies. It all will depend upon how these recessive gene line up in the produced puppies. Also remember that you
can breed a pair together one time and get totally different results the next time they are bred together.
Some colors seem to be more conducive to producing piebalds when bred to solid colored
dogs such as white and silvers. It is still unsure as to why these solid colors seem to produce piebalds more than others
but is speculated to be because they are recessive colors and not dominate to the piebald color. I personally have noticed
that blues will tend to produce piebalds as well as other parti colors when bred to a parti patterned dog. Once again I believe
this is because blues carry the gene for all colors.
BREEDING PHANTOM TO PHANTOM
Breeding a phantom to a phantom will almost always produce phantom, though it is possible
to get a couple solid colored puppies in the mix.
BREEDING PHANTOM TO SOLID
Breeding a phantom to a solid colored dog will usually result in solid colored puppies
that now carry for the phantom gene. Once again as with the piebald puppies it may or may not come through in your breeding.
It depends upon how the recessive genes line up. Also as with the piebalds there are some colors that are more conducive to
producing phantom when bred to a solid than other colors. There seems to be a link between the phantoms and the red poodles.
It is unsure what the correlation is yet but there is a lot of speculation. I have also noticed that whites and silvers will
allow the phantom gene to come through. Also surprisingly I have known of quite a few solid blacks that will throw phantoms
that have not had phantoms in their background that we know of. Many of these solid blacks have had a lot of red in the background,
which leads us back to the correlation between reds and phantoms.
Abstracts are fairly easy to produce and many dogs carry the gene for abstract including
solids. If you look at the dogs that were used to create the poodle, such as the Portuguese water dog, you will see where
these abstract markings come from. Abstract markings are called mismarks by many of the older breeders. I find that the term
abstract (used by the UKC) is a lot more pleasing to most people. Contrary to the belief of the old time solid breeders this
is not a flaw but something that is in the poodle genes from the beginning as I explained above. These dogs will usually have
white on the chest, some white on the feet or toes and may or may not have white markings on the face or head. In the old
days all the parti patterns were lumped into the mismark category, however today we know that the abstract gene and the genes
for the other parti patterns are separate genes.
Since most dogs carry for the abstract, you can get abstracts in any litter, whether its
solid bred to solid or solid bred to another pattern. On the other hand I have bred to poodle that were abstracts together
and gotten some of my most beautiful solid colored puppies. You do have to be careful as these solids will then carry this
gene recessively and if you are working to produce only solid colored puppies you will have to breed accordingly.
Brindles (the tiger striped pattern seen often in boxers) too have been around for a very
long time. It is unsure as to where that particular gene originated but I believe this gene too comes from the dogs used to
create the poodle breed. I have found that most brindles are produced from a blue parent. Once again this would go to show
that blue carries for everything.
Brindle bred to brindle will produce almost nothing but brindle as this gene seems to be
Brindle bred to a solid color will usually produce a litter with mostly brindles and a
few solids. These solids produced WILL carry and produce brindles. The brindle pattern can be produced in a variety of colors.
Sables have also been around since the beginning in poodles and in my opinion is a difficult
color to reproduce. A sable bred to a sable is of course your best bet to produce sable but it does not always result in sables.
I have seen two sables bred together and the result was nothing but solid colored puppies with no markings what so ever. I
have also noticed that many sables will come from a blue parent just as with the brindle pattern. I have also seen sables
produced by solid silvers and whites. It is difficult to try and tell someone how to breed for sable when not much is known
about the sable gene. I also do not know of a lot of breeders out there breeding just for sable.
These dogs are usually a combination of patterns. Like piebald markings on the body and
phantom markings on the face, or a brindle with abstract markings, or a piebald with brindle or sable being the spotting color.
These are the most difficult to determine where they came from. Its all in how these usually recessive genes line up. Sometimes
they appear out of seemingly thin air. Until more is know about how the parti genes combine, and more test breedings are done
to try and produce more multi patterns, its almost impossible to tell someone what to breed together (other than the obvious
combinations that may or may not produce the desired effect) to produce a multi patterned parti. Just for an example, many
people think that breeding a piebald to a phantom will produce a dog with piebald markings on the body but phantom markings
on the face. Where this may have been the way some have been produced in the past, it will usually not result in a multi patterned
NOTE: ARTICLE WRITTEN BY KEISHA OF ARPEGGIO POODLES