How to Breed Poodles for Color

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Poodle coats come in a remarkable range of color.
Poodle coats come in a remarkable range of color. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Poodles come in standard (above 15 inches tall), miniature (between 10 and 15 inches tall), and toy (under 10 inches tall) varieties. All varieties share the same acceptable colors. The coat color, according to the American Kennel Club breed standard, may display slight shade variations from the primary coat color, but the color must be solid. Patched, spotted, or multi-colored poodles cannot be considered in line with the official breed standard; however, these colors still appear in breeding programs. It is difficult to breed poodles for coloring, not only because the interactions between dominant and recessive color genes will sometimes end in surprises, but because there are so many genes contributing to a poodle's appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Poodle breedstock
  • Pencil and paper
  • Poodle color chart (optional)

Breeding Poodles for Color

Determine the phenotypes of the potential poodle sires and dams. A phenotype is the physical representation of the genotype, or the DNA "blueprint" determining the poodle's color. The standard poodle colors accepted by the AKC are black, blue, cafe-au-lait, brown, apricot, cream and white. Each color has a specific genotype that, when present, determines a poodle's color.

The dominant poodle color is black.
The dominant poodle color is black. (Image: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Determine the nose colors of your breedstock. A poodle's nose may be the same color as the coat, or it could be different. The poodle's nose color could greatly assist you in determining the dog's genotype.

A poodle's coat color is determined by its genotype.
A poodle's coat color is determined by its genotype. (Image: Stephen Chernin/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Understand the basic poodle allele loci. This is necessary when determining possible poodle coat and nose colors. It is the interplay between the two alleles that allow such variation in poodle color, and even variation within a color. The "E" locus returns a phaeomelanin, or "brown" pigment. However, it can represent black or brown coloring, depending on whether it is "E" or "e," with the capitalized being the dominant black, and the lowercase, the recessive brown. A poodle with "EE" or "Ee" will therefore always be black, whereas "ee" will be brown. Similarly, the "B" locus contributes to red coats, the "G" contributes to silver coats, and the "D," a dilution. This last dilution locus, when paired with another locus, dilutes the color represented by its paired allele. An example is genotype "Eedd," which would appear as a diluted black poodle, referred to as "blue."

Breeding poodles for color is not an exact science, but that does not stop people from getting the colors they want!
Breeding poodles for color is not an exact science, but that does not stop people from getting the colors they want! (Image: Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Use the E, B, and D loci to determine the possible coat and nose genotypes of your breedstock. For example, a black poodle with a black nose could have a genotype of EEBB, EeBB, EeBb or EEBb. The first two letters symbolize the coat color, and the second two, the nose color. When capitalized, the allele is dominant. Because black is the dominant color amongst all poodles, anything pared with "E" will be black. In the above example, no black poodle possesses a brown nose, thus a genotype of EEbb or Eebb cannot occur.

A poodle's nose color is not by accident.
A poodle's nose color is not by accident. (Image: Chris McGrath/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Mix and match your possible mates to get a rough prediction of what colors the possible litters will produce, once you've identified your sires and dams' possible genotypes. This is highly inaccurate, but not impossible. For example, breeding a brown sire with genotype "eebb" to a black dam of genotype "EeBb" will return puppies with possible coat genotype combinations Ee and ee -- some black, some brown. Similarly, the nose colors can be Bb or bb, with some black and some brown, though all black poodles will have nose genotypes Bb (black noses).

Predicting the colors of a poodle litter is not exact, but usually somewhat predictable.
Predicting the colors of a poodle litter is not exact, but usually somewhat predictable. (Image: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

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