Why do Cavapoos change color?

why do cavapoos change color
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    When we started our search for a Cavapoo I had it in my head that I wanted a red female. Both myself and my eldest daughter have bright red hair, and if it has taught me anything it is that we are easy to pick out in a crowd. As luck would have it, our wish came true and we managed to get Rosie, our beautiful ruby red, Cavapoo.

    Do cavapoos change color as they get older?

    Before choosing a particular Cavapoo color, you should be aware that most Cavapoo coats will experience a significant change in color as they mature. This is the result of the “fading gene” which is inherited from the Poodle parent.

    The color of your Cavapoo will probably affect its price but be warned, the color is likely to change as your Cavapoo puppy grows. Here we look at the different Cavapoo coat colors and try to explain why they lighten over time.

    Why is my Cavapoos coat lighter?

    As a Cavapoo is a cross bred between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle, it gets its appearance and temperament from its parents.

    One common characteristic of the Poodle breed is that the color of the coat they were born with tends to change to another color as they mature. If they are born with a dark coat, they “clear” or “fade” to a much lighter color.

    So, for example, a Poodle with a dark red shade may eventually “clear” to an apricot color by the time they are 2 years old. The coat of a black poodle may “clear” to become silver or blue in appearance and dark brown poodles may change to a lighter caramel shade and so on. Although the initial color may go through numerous color changes, they usually stabilize by the time the Poodle is 3 years of age.

    red toy poodle
    Our Cavapoo’s dad was a red Toy Poodle.

    Rosie’s dad was a red toy poodle, which is relatively rare as they are the result of a recessive gene called the Rufus gene. Many breeders believe that the red shade is a result of a darkening in what was originally an apricot or brown coated Poodle. But like all Poodles, even the red ones can go through color changes as the dog starts to grow.

    Another reason your Cavapoo may change color is due to age.

    Although dogs do not go grey like us humans do, it is quite common for their muzzles to get lighter in color.

    Different Cavapoo Colors

    Cavapoos are in high demand and so are a relatively expensive crossbreed. Quite often the price depends on a number of factors such as:

    • the breeder
    • health of the parents
    • gender (with girls being offered at a premium)
    • color (red being the most lucrative)

    According to the American Kennel Club, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes in four standard colors – black and tan, black and white, Blenheim, and ruby, whereas a Poodle has over 10 different color variants.

    Therefore, when you combine the two breeds to make a Cavapoo, their short, soft, curly coat comes in a whole spectrum of colors and can be one solid color or made up of various complex markings.

    Here we explain the differences between the colored coats:

    black cavapoo puppy
    ©Credit Warren Photographic

    Black Cavapoos

    Black Cavapoos are usually the least expensive and can range from solid black to abstract black (with flashes of white on their chin, chest, toes and forehead).

    white cavapoo puppy

    White Cavapoos

    Most white Cavapoos have a splash of other colors in their coat, including apricot, red, tan and black. It is rare for a Cavapoo to be completely solid white although it is possible.

    chocolate cavapoo

    Chocolate Cavapoos

    The chocolate colored coat of a Cavapoo usually appears in solid form throughout the body, but often includes white on the toes, chest, and forehead just like black Cavapoos. Chocolate Cavapoos have a recessive gene so are less common than an apricot or red Cavapoo. The chocolate color is created from a brown or black Poodle.

    red cavapoo

    Red Cavapoos

    Red Cavapoos tend to be the most expensive (especially if they have flashes of white on their head, chest, feet or tip of the tail). A red Cavapoo can be dark, solid or light-colored and range in hue right through from red to chestnut and strawberry blonde.

    apricot cavapoo

    Apricot Cavapoos

    Another Cavapoo color variation is apricot. This can be solid to medium to light in color. They generally look golden, apricot or peach in color.

    Tan Cavapoos

    Tan Cavapoo coats come in solid form or have a hint of different colors of usually white, black and apricot speckled through their fur. This coat is common due to the black and tan or ruby colors of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

    tri colored cavapoo

    Tri-Colored Cavapoos

    The tri-color Cavapoo coat includes a mixture of apricot, tan, red, white, and black. These colors are placed randomly in different areas on the body and sometimes appear as patches of color. Most Cavapoos that are tri-colored will have black as the main based body color.

    Phantom Cavapoos

    In order for a Cavapoo to be considered a Phantom, they have to have certain markings on specific parts of their bodies. When seen in natural lighting the phantom coat color includes tan, brown, and black around the legs, chest, cheeks, nose, and the underside of the tail. The Phantom color is almost always inherited from a Phantom Poodle.

    Sable Cavapoos

    A sable colored Cavapoo has a coat combination of black and tan markings with featured undertones that appear as a puppy ages to adulthood. It is relatively rare to find a sable Cavapoo and it is often one of the coat types that tends to lighten over time.

    Whilst a Cavapoos coat may look adorable, they are high-maintenance and it is therefore important that you take the time to look after it properly. For more information on how to groom a Cavapoo, please read our informative guide.


    The color of your Cavapoos coat is entirely based on genetics and can often feel like a magic trick. What you see, if rarely what you end up getting!

    As your Cavapoos coat can fade over time, you should bear this in mind when looking for a puppy. If you have a set colour preference, then try to choose a Cavapoo that has a darker shade to ensure that even as the coat gets lighter, the color itself remains defined.

    Regardless of which color combination or gender you choose, you can’t go wrong with a Cavapoo as their loving, loyal and sweet nature makes them the perfect family companion.

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