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Phantom Poodles


While it is the solid Poodle that is the most common, there is much to discuss regarding Phantom Poodle coloring (pronounced fantom) , which is different than mismarks, the Tuxedo and partis.

Let's take a closer look into the world of Poodle colors to help explain what these colors are and why they exist.

What Phantom Coloring Means

A phantom Poodle is not a different breed or type of dog, this is simply a term to describe a particular coloring of the dog.

This type of coloring, while extremely beautiful and preferred by many Poodle owners, is not yet accepted by the AKC in regard to conformation.

This is much different than parti colored Poodles, even though both parti and phantoms have a mixture of 2 colors. This term only refers to Poodles that have specific markings on a solid background. The solid will usually be:
  • Black, cream, apricot, red, white, silver or brown
These dogs are broken down into more detailed groups:
  • Black phantoms - black & apricot, black & red, black & cream, black & gray, black & brown or black & silver
  • Chocolate phantoms - Brown & apricot
  • Red phantoms - red & apricot
  • Silver phantoms - silver & cream
The markings must occur on certain parts of the dogs' coat. Many refer to these markings as Dobie markings (short for Doberman), however this pattern also appears on Dachshunds, certain Spaniels, Yorkies, Manchester Terriers and certain Coonhounds. These markings must be:
  • Above each eye
  • On the sides of the muzzle (also referred to as the side of the cheeks)
  • Across the dog's chest
  • Down the legs
  • Under the tail
All phantom Poodles are born with their markings. This does not occur as the dog ages.

Phantoms are genetically linked to brindle Poodles. For this reason, a phantom Poodle dam or sire can produce a litter of brindle puppies and likewise a brindle Poodle dam or sire can produce a litter of phantom puppies. 

With most dog breeds, brindle is a term that means the coat that is striped, with intermingling dark and light hairs making a striping pattern. 

However, with Poodles, brindle means "sable". Sable is a term that means that the coat is one color yet the tips of the hairs are black. 

With most dogs, the sabling (black tips) fade out or completely disappear with age.
Phantom Poodle dogs
Attribution: By V. Eickenberg.Flying Spark at de.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Issues with Phantom Poodles

Before 2005, in Germany (a country in which the Poodle is highly popular), phantoms were only allowed to be bred with other phantom Poodles.

Whenever an apricot Poodle puppy was born, the German Poodle Club did not allow that pup to bred.

These rules caused too much inline breeding to be done.

Inline breeding is the pairing of dogs who are very closely related, such as father to daughter and is considered unethical by most reputable breeders in the U.S.  

The inline breeding caused bloodlines to develop too long of a lower jaw, overbites, incorrect number of teeth, and premature color fading.   
This led to a drastic & needed change that allowed Phantoms to be mated with black or apricot Poodles

This is slowly, yet steadily, decreasing the above stated flaws. 

Currently, the AKC does not recognize Phantom Poodles in Conformation events, but does allow them to participate in Agility and Obedience.


Phantom poodles must have a ky/ky genotype (non-solid black that allows other colors to be expressed) plus an E (allows for brindling) or EM (gives a black mask) , and also be at/at (the gene that allows for tan points).


Phantom Poodles, just like any other double colored Poodle including tuxedos or partis, are defined by coat color only. There are no differences in regard to vulnerabilities to health issues and they do not require any different sort of grooming or care that differs from a solid Poodle. In addition, there are no behavioral or temperament differences with Phantoms. Where color lands on the coat is simply a matter of genomes and does not affect the personality of the dog.
You may also be interested in:

Parti colored Poodles - The different types of coats that hold two colors. 
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