Phantom Poodle guide (Before you buy)

Poodles come in diverse colors and color combinations. Phantom is one of the patterns that the elegant Poodle exhibits and that many find appealing. It is not a specific or different breed.

You can tell if Poodle is phantom if it has a darker solid base color with lighter secondary markings highlighting specific areas known as phantom or tan points. These areas are;

  • Eyebrows (just above the eyes)
  • Side of the muzzle extending into the cheeks
  • Chin and throat
  • Inner legs and particularly toward the paws
  • Underneath the tail or bottom edge of the tail
  • Two triangular spots on the chest

Black is the main base color but may be modified by other genes into brown, blue, or silver. The secondary color splashes can be red/tan, apricot, cream, or chalk white.

These markings are usually present at birth and remain throughout the dog’s life.

But for a better understanding, let’s take a closer look at the genes involved in making the phantom coloration possible. Scroll on.

Teacup-black and brown Phantom Poodle
Black Poodle with tan phantom points

Phantom Poodle Genetics

Color genetics can be quite complex but bare with me.

For phantom points to be visible on a Poodle it needs the AtAt or Ata gene combination on the A (agouti) locus. The agouti locus controls the distribution of black and red color pigments and markings.

A locus is a specific gene location on a DNA strand (chromosome). Different version of the same gene (alleles) can be found on a specific locus.

However, other Loci (pl or locus) will determine if the phantom points will be visible or not. These are the E (extension) and K (dominant black) locus.

First, the dog needs to be EE or Ee to allow for normal production of the black and red pigment and for the marking controlled by agouti to show. If the dog is Em at the extension locus it will have a mask similar to the base color that will block the phantom points on the face from showing. A Poodle that is ee at E-locus will have a red (or its shades) coat color and the phantom points will not show.

In addition, the Pooch will need to be carrying kyky at the K locus for the markings to be visible. If the dog is Kb at the K locus, it will be solid black. A Poodle that is KbrKbr or Kbrky will have brindled phantom points as brindle only affect the red color pigments on the phantom points.

The base color can also be modified by the dilution, brown, progressive greying, or merle genes to blue-gray, chocolate, silver-gray, or merle. The secondary phantom points can be modified by the intensity gene (which determines how rich the color is) resulting in lighter shades such as cream, apricot, or chalk white.

Color variations

Here are some of the possible color combinations that a Phantom Poodle can be found in;

  • Black Phantom Poodle– Has a black base color with a tan, cream, chalk white, or apricot phantom points.
  • Blue Phantom Poodle– Has a blue-gray base color with tan, cream, chalk white, or apricot phantom points
  • Silver Phantom Poodle– Has a silvery base color with a tan, cream, chalk white, or apricot phantom points
  • Brown/chocolate phantom Poodle– Has a chocolate base coat with tan, cream, chalk white, or apricot phantom points
  • Merle Phantom Poodle– Has a merle pattern on the base coat with tan, cream, chalk white, or apricot phantom points
  • Red Phantom Poodle– Has a black, blue, silver, or brown base coat color with red (tan) phantom points.
  • Apricot phantom Poodle– Has a black, blue, silver, or brown background color with apricot phantom points
  • Cream Phantom Poodle– Has a black, blue, silver, or brown base color with cream phantom points
  • Brindle Phantom Poodle- Has a black, blue, silver, or brown base color with brindle phantom points
  • Tricolor Phantom Poodle (Parti phantom)– This is a parti Poodle with phantom marking often showing on the face and eyebrows. The dog can have black, blue, silver, or brown base color with phantom points plus varying degrees of white markings.

It is genetically impossible for a phantom Poodle to have a red base color (or its shades of red such as cream, apricot, etc). Red (phaeomelanin) is only present on the phantom points with black (eumelanin) pigments as the base color.

It is also genetically impossible for a Sable dog to have phantom points as the gene responsible for sable is dominant over the tan point gene. As such, a sable dog cannot be a phantom.

Parti Vs Phantom Poodle

Phantom Poodles are often confused for Parti Poodles in that they are both multicolored coat patterns. While the two seem identical, they are different but it is common to mistake one for the other as they both display two colors

Parti is a pattern where the coat is part white and part another color. White is the main color while the secondary color can be blue, red, black, or brown in a white base color. Typically, white is the dominant color making up at least 50% of the coat color.

The secondary markings on a Parti Poodle are random, unlike phantom markings that appear in specific areas by comparison. Markings on a Parti Poodle can show up anywhere but not in specific areas. The patterns on a phantom are found in specific areas as described earlier

Phantom Poodles explained
Black Poodle with cream phantom points

Phantom Poodle cost

Phantom Poodles can be quite expensive. The average price for a standard Poodle puppy is around $2500. This cost can be lower or higher depending on the breeder, location, demand, the size of the pooch, and pedigree.


Do phantom poodles shed?

Just like any other Poodle variation, the Phantom Poodle only sheds a few strands of hair at a time. This is because all Poodles regardless of coat color will have a curly coat that is only lightly shed.

Is a phantom poodle rare?

Compared to other solid-colored Poodles, phantoms can be quite rare to find. However, be wary of anyone using “rare” as a selling point. Ensure your pup is from a reputable and trusted breeder and make an effort to meet the parents and other pups of the litter if possible.

Are phantom poodles recognized by AKC?

AKC does recognize the Phantom Poodle. However, this coloration cannot be registered for conformation shows but is allowed in competitive events such as agility and obedience competitions.

Do Phantom Poodles change color?

Black or chocolate Phantom Poodles can color over time. This is caused by the greying gene which causes progressive fading of base color as the dog ages. A black phantom will change into a silvery-gray color while a chocolate phantom fades into a pale brown color.

The greying gene is an incomplete dominant gene. This means that one copy of the gene is sufficient to cause a color but not to the degree that 2 copies would.

What is a ghost phantom Poodle?

A ghost Phantom Poodle is genetically phantom but only shows slight phantom markings. This is due to the base and secondary colors being similar and almost indistinguishable. For instance, a chocolate Poodle with tan markings would be considered to have ghost phantom markings.

Are phantom poodles purebred?

The phantom Poodle is a purebred dog and is not different from any other Poodle with exception of the coat color.

They come in any Poodle size and share the same temperament. All Poodles, regardless of the markings or color are known to be highly intelligent, loyal, outgoing, energetic, and make great family dogs.

No health complication is associated with the genes responsible for phantom markings. What’s more, phantoms do not require any kind of special care.

Do you find Phantom Poodles intriguing? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!