Unicorn of the Poodle World

It is said to be the rarest color for a Poodle in the world.

For a Poodle to be this color, it must be homozygous for recessive red on the E locus, giving it the genotype e/e. Its genetics affects the production of eumelanin (one of the two pigments responsible for a dog’s coat color) by restricting its production and giving pheomelanin the upper hand, so to speak. Poodles with the genotype BBee or Bbee (where B represents black pigment and e represents the recessive color gene) can exhibit this color, as can the presence or absence of specific E alleles which also impact the expression of colors.

“This” is the color called “apricot.”  Caused by a recessive gene, this color can appear as a very light red that in some dogs borders on cream. The apricot gene is a recessive to all the Poodle colors except white, and some owners don’t even realize that their pup is an apricot until the dog is a year old, sometimes even two years old. Though some sources say that it was the last color to be developed in the breed, apricot is hardly a new color.

The first recorded apricot Poodle was “Snowden Yellow Gall,” born in 1898. At the time, Snowden’s the breeder referred to his color as “liver,” probably because the breeder had brown Poodles – the dam’s sire was liver, her dam a brown (s an aside, the same owner later bred a litter of eight Poodles, six of which reds, a color that was already known by 1890). The amazing litter was sold to an English kennel which then worked to continue the apricots and reds, thus allowing us to have apricot Poodles today. 

That said, it took time for the color to make inroads. The first apricot colored Standard Poodle champion was Phigidity Jessie who didn’t earned his UK title until 1929, and another nine years for the first apricot Poodle to win an American championship, this dog being Carillon Amour who did it in 1938.

To this point, we’ve been discussing Standard Poodles.  By 1912, Miniature Poodles were becoming incredibly popular, and around that time, the first apricot colored Miniature Poodle was born in Whippendall Kennel.

It can be challenging for novices to tell a red Poodle from an apricot. In the simplest terms, apricots tend to have a light yellowish or orangish coat, while reds have a darker red-colored coat, but unless the two dogs are side by side, is can be difficult to tell each other apart unless you put them side by side.

In future post, we’ll talk about the recessive allele sometimes called the “Rufus gene.” It is particularly associated with the development of the red color in Poodles and is thought to darken an apricot or brown coat.

We conclude with mentioning that in 2020, the world famous soccer player, Lionel Messi, welcomed an apricot Toy Poodle named “Abu” into his family which already had a Dogue de Bordeaux.

Image: Apricot Poodle by © Manon Ringuette |Dreamstime




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