Apricot poodles are a color variation of the poodle dog breed, also called the apricot red poodle, and first appeared in the late-19th century. These dogs are solid reddish-orange with dark eyes and nails, caused by genes that restrict melanin production in the fur. The poodles are prone to fading with age, and may become light brown or cream as they grow older. Apricot poodles can have a range of coat patterns, but some organizations disqualify them from show if they have parti-color fur.
The apricot poodle standard requires a bright reddish or orangeish-brown coat without significant color variations, except for darker areas under the ears or on the ruff. The best examples of this breed have black noses, lips, and eyelids, as well as black eyes and toenails. Dogs with liver lips, noses, and eye-rims or amber eyes are also permitted for show.
This coat color first appeared in 1898 on a female standard poodle called Sowden Yellow Gal, whose parents were liver-brown and white, respectively. The first miniature apricot dog was born in 1912, and the first apricot champion was born in 1929. Since the early-20th century, this color type has become more common, and a number of breeders specialize in apricot coats.
The genetic mutation that causes apricot poodles affects the dogs' production of eumelanin, leaving only phaeomelanin, or red pigment, in the fur. Apricots are homozygous for the “e” allele of the extension, or “E” gene, which keeps them from producing darker types of melanin. The “V” gene, responsible for silvering, combines with the “e” allele to produce even lighter dogs. Heterozygous “Vv” dogs are cream, while homozygous “vv” dogs produce white fur.
Poodles with silver in their ancestry may fade and become paler as they age, even if they don't have a light coat in puppyhood. Apricot dogs may appear darker red when they have the recessive Rufus, or “f” gene, which also darkens brown coats. Many breeders find this dark tone desirable and work to add it into their lines, but avoid blue, silver, and brown ancestry, which can cause fading or pale noses.
The Spotting, or “S” gene, and the Merle, or “M” gene cause parti-color coats, which can occur in dogs of any base coat color. Variations include Irish spotting, piebald spotting, and extreme white piebald patterns, which may be sought after by some breeders, but are barred from show in Europe and North America. In Germany, however, parti-colored poodles have their own show registry. Spotted or partially-white apricot poodles have the same temperament and health traits as their solid-colored cousins, and do just as well as pets or hunting animals.