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Poodle Puppies at the
Anderson's Farm

Muffin and her puppy, Precocious - Note brown noses

Information  Pages

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Poodle Colors:

This is a simplified overview of the genetic basis for coat color in Poodles.  We raise only a select number of colors, but since our dogs are not from lines that have been selected for color, many recessive colors can appear.

We have a special interest in the color brown, which is caused by a defective gene (b) that codes for an enzyme in the pathway to melanin (black color - B gene).  The gene is recessive, so both parents have to have copies of the gene to produce brown dogs.  Since dogs with the genetic makeup b/b can not make the black pigment, their noses and foot pads are also brown.  Also, their eyes tend to be an amber color (young puppies tend to be blue).  Notice that Precocious in the picture above has a brown nose as does Muffin.

Now, brown is not so simple as b/b is brown and B/b is black.  There are three variants to the b gene.  Each variant is a different shade of brown.  Since all dogs have two copies of a gene, that would be 3 things taken 2 different ways, or a possibility of 9 different shades of brown (I doubt anyone could distinguish between all 9 combinations).  We have three shades of brown in our breeding program.  Big Sister is a dark brown with almond eyes, Brandy is a light brown with almond eyes, and Mr. Jinx is a golden brown with amber eyes.  The cross between Poqueto and Muffin produces both dark and light brown dogs.

Poodles also have what are called dilution genes that cause a color to be lighter than the base color.  Muffin has a dilution gene that fades her coat to a light tan.  Her color is called Cafe-au-Lait (or coffee with milk).  She still is a brown dog, as her nose is clearly brown, not black.  The Cafe color does not become apparent until about six weeks of age.  The Cafe gene is also recessive, so unless Muffin  mates with a sire with a copy of the gene, her puppies will all be brown.  That is how we got Precocious.  Muffin was actually mated to a black dog that carries the brown gene (B/b) so only half the puppies are brown.

There is a second dilution gene that causes the coat to fade.  This is the silver gene, which causes brown to become silver beige.  (in a black dog, the silver gene produces silver black).  Our dog Cocoa, is a silver beige, and Queen Isis is a silver black.

We are also interested in multi-colored dogs, particularly what is called a Parti Poodle.  A parti poodle is mostly a pure white color, with color on the head and tail, and often as a saddle on the back.  Lord Ojiboo and Lady Lillian are two of our parti poodles.  Both of our dogs are black and white partis, but any color is possible (red and white, brown and white, etc.).  the gene that causes parti poodles is also recessive, so it takes two dogs with the gene to get parti colored animals.  Ojiboo and Lillian both have two copies of the gene so they will produce all parti poodles.

There is another multi-colored poodle that is called a mis-mark, allure, and tuxedo.  These dogs have a base color with white markings, generally on the face and chest, but often on the feet as well.  Queen Isis and River are mis-marks.  The genetics of these dogs is not understood, and may even be the result of a developmental trait.   Now River is special in that she has an all white chest, white paws, white face, and a white spot on top of her head.  We call this Harlequin, but this is not a general term.  Windy just produced two puppies with identical markings, so there must be something special about this makeup.

The last multi-color is called a Phantom.  Phantom is caused by a single allele gene mutation, so again, both parents must have the gene.  The mutation causes two colors to appear on the dog.  One color is the overall color, the other is isolated to the feet, chest, face, and above the eyes.  This coloration is best known in other breeds such as a Doberman.  Note that any two colors can be involved, not just the Doberman, black and tan.  Particularly attractive is a black and silver phantom.

One last color variation is Brindle or Sable.  Here the color of each individual hair changes during growth,  Usually the tips are a dark color and the base lighter.  These can be very attractive dogs as the hair appears blended and can even strip in some breeds.  However, in poodles, the effect is often lost with grooming as the tips are cut off.  Deidre produces red sables which are very attractive.  They have a black mask (face) which is caused by another gene,

Poodles also come in an array of light colors from red to white.  Most of these dogs can be collectively called red dogs as they have a fault earlier in the pathway to the back pigment melanin, so only  a red pigment is made,  Red poodles are actually uncommon as most are diluted to Apricots, and even lighter to creams.  Red Headed Willie is a true red poodle and Butter Cup is a Red Cream. 

White is a common color in poodles, but a true white (sometimes called "Ice White") can easily be confused with a cream white which is actually a red poodle.  Casper is a true white poodle with almost no color showing.  His genetic makeup, however, is very complicated as he seems to produce an array of colors depending on the Dam he is mated with.  In his last litter (see Windy's Page) he produced two tan mis-marks, one black and one white-cream puppy.






This Page was Updated
January 04, 2007


Winterberry Farms
    202 Lillie Patrick Rd.
    Gay, GA  30218
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