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Do black goldendoodles turn grey?

Goldendoodles are one of the most popular hybrid dog breeds today. These cute dogs are a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. Goldendoodles come in a variety of colors, including black, chocolate, yellow, red, cream, apricot, and grey. One common question many potential Goldendoodle owners have is: Do black Goldendoodles turn grey as they age?

The Genetics of Goldendoodle Coat Colors

To understand whether black Goldendoodles will turn grey, it’s important to first look at the underlying genetics. Coat color in dogs is determined by the pigments eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Eumelanin produces black and brown pigment, while phaeomelanin produces red and yellow pigment.

There are several genes that impact the production and distribution of these pigments. The most significant ones for Goldendoodle coat colors are:

  • E locus – Determines whether the dog can produce yellow/red phaeomelanin. The recessive e allele produces yellow/red pigment.
  • K locus – The dominant KB allele produces more eumelanin (black pigment). The ky or kbr alleles allow more phaeomelanin to show through.
  • A locus – Produces different variations in eumelanin. The recessive a allele results in lighter black or chocolate coats.

The combinations of these alleles are what produce the different Goldendoodle coat colors. For example:

  • EE or Ee dogs cannot have yellow/red phaeomelanin and will be black, chocolate, or grey.
  • Dogs with the KB allele will be darker black, chocolate, or grey.
  • aa dogs will have lighter black or chocolate coats approaching silver or platinum.

Do Black Goldendoodle Puppies Stay Black?

Whether a black Goldendoodle puppy will retain its black coat depends on the coat color genetics it inherits from its parents.

A black Goldendoodle puppy may have one of these genotype possibilities:

  • EE – Will always have a black coat throughout life. This is the most common genotype for solid black Goldendoodles.
  • Ee – May fade to lighter black, gray, or silver over time if it inherits the dilute (dd) or progressive graying (G) genes.
  • ee – Will lighten to cream/apricot over time unless it has KBKB or KBrBr genes to keep the coat dark.

Here are some scenarios and the likelihood that a black Goldendoodle puppy will retain its black coat:

Parent Genotype(s) Likelihood of Puppy Staying Black
Black poodle (EE) bred to black golden retriever (EE) Very high – puppies will be EE genotype
Black poodle (Ee) bred to golden retriever (ee) Moderate/variable – puppies may be Ee or ee
Silver poodle (Ee dd) bred to black golden retriever (EE) Low – puppies likely to inherit dilute gene and fade to gray
Black poodle (EE) bred to golden retriever (ee) Low – puppies will be Ee genotype and likely lighten over time

Two solid black parents increase the chances of black Goldendoodle puppies staying black. But one dilute, fading, or non-black parent means the puppies have a higher likelihood of lightening to gray or red/apricot shades as adults.

How the Dilute Gene Impacts Black Goldendoodle Coats

One gene that plays a major role in black Goldendoodle puppies turning gray is the dilute gene, or Chromosome 25 in dogs. The dilute allele (d) acts to lighten black coats to gray, blue, or silver.

If a black Goldendoodle inherits one or two copies of the dilute allele (Dd or dd), the black coat will dilute to gray or silver over time, often starting around 1 year old. A puppy that is DD will maintain a pure black coat its whole life.

Example dilute black/gray Goldendoodle coat changes:

  • DD puppy = solid black coat for life
  • Dd puppy = black at birth but turns slate gray around 1 year old
  • dd puppy = dark charcoal at birth, turns silver/platinum by 1 year old

Since poodles have a high incidence of carrying the dilute allele, black Goldendoodle puppies have a significant chance of inheriting d and turning gray if one parent is dilute black (silver, blue, or platinum poodle).

Impact of the Progressive Graying Gene in Goldendoodles

In addition to the dilute gene, black Goldendoodles may gradually turn gray from the progressive graying gene. This gene causes black or brown hairs to become interspersed with gray hairs as the dog ages.

The progressive graying gene (G locus) has not been definitively identified yet in dogs. But it is likely a dominant gene, so only one copy (G) is needed for a dog to progressively gray over time. A goldendoodle with the gg genotype would retain its original coat color lifelong.

Graying typically starts around the muzzle and eyes first. Then more and more gray hairs appear throughout the coat as the dog reaches middle/senior age. This graying can occur independently from the dilute gene.

For example, a dilute dd black puppy may turn platinum gray quickly by 1 year old. But a non-dilute DD or Dd puppy with the graying gene may still gradually turn silver in its later years from G’s effects.

Other Genes That Cause Black Goldendoodles to Fade

Some other genes that may cause a black goldendoodle’s coat to lighten over time include:

  • Mismark gene (S locus) – Causes tan points to appear on the dog’s muzzle, eyebrows, legs, and chest. Can make a black goldendoodle look darker as a puppy then lighten up as tan point fade over the first year.
  • Phaeomelanin (e/e genotype) – Allows red/yellow pigment to show through a black coat. Can cause black to fade to a brownish color.
  • Agouti gene (aw/at) – Banding of black and lighter hairs. May cause subtle lightening over time.

Each of these genes can work alone or together with dilute and graying genes to produce further coat color changes in black goldendoodles as they mature.

What Age Do Black Goldendoodles Start Turning Gray?

If a black goldendoodle puppy carries dilute or graying genes, when do the coat changes typically start showing up? There are some general timelines:

  • Dilute gene effects – Start around 1 year old; may be noticeable at as early as 8 months
  • Progressive graying – Begin around the muzzle between 2-4 years old; significant graying over body by 5-8 years old
  • Phaeomelanin effects – Subtle lightening around 1-2 years old
  • Mismark gene – Lightens over first year as puppy tan fades

However, the exact onset and progression of faded or gray coats can vary considerably between individual dogs. Some black goldendoodles may start to show subtle lightening as early as 6-12 months, while others won’t gray until 6 years or older.

Monitoring your black pup closely as he matures will give you an idea of whether and when dilute or graying genes may start impacting the coat.

Can Faded Black Goldendoodles Darken Again?

Once a black goldendoodle starts to fade to gray, is it possible for their coat to re-darken as they age? The short answer is no – coat colors lighten progressively over time, but they don’t reverse.

However, sometimes goldendoodles may appear darker after being shaved down. When kept long, the lighter and darker hairs blend together. But after shaving, the remaining black hairs stand out in contrast, temporarily making the dog look darker.

This is just an illusion though. As the fur grows out again, the lighter hairs will emerge and the coat will return to its faded or gray shade.

You can also use special black-enhancing shampoos or conditioners to make a faded black goldendoodle’s coat appear darker. But this effect washes out with time.

Will My Black Goldendoodle Puppy Turn Gray? Genetic Testing

If you want to know for sure whether your black goldendoodle puppy carries dilute or progressive graying genes, genetic testing is available.

There are dog DNA tests that check for:

  • Dilute gene – Provides dd, Dd, or DD genotype
  • Mismark/S Locus gene – Reveals if your puppy has tan points
  • Agouti – Checks for banding
  • Phaeomelanin (e/e) – Tests if your dog can produce yellow/red pigment

These tests can often accurately predict whether a black puppy will experience fading to gray or silver later in life. Testing one or both parents also provides insight into the puppy’s genotype.

Talk to your breeder about whether genetic testing has been done. If considering a rescue dog, testing kits can be ordered online.

Caring for Graying Black Goldendoodle Coats

If your black goldendoodle does start to turn gray, you’ll need to make some adjustments to keep their coat looking its best:

  • Use a whitening shampoo – Helps keep grays bright white instead of yellow.
  • Brush regularly – Prevents matting of the different colored hairs.
  • Use conditioner – Keeps the coat from drying out and looking dull.
  • Protect from sun – Grays can yellow if exposed to too much sunlight.
  • Consider tearless shampoos – Gray fur around eyes stains more easily.

With proper maintenance, your gray goldendoodle can maintain a beautiful two-tone or salt-and-pepper look as they mature.

Should I Choose a Black Goldendoodle Puppy?

Black goldendoodle puppies are absolutely adorable! But before getting your heart set on a black pup, consider whether you’ll be happy if the coat fades over time.

To maximize the chances a black puppy stays black look for:

  • Solid black parents – Avoid dilute or non-black parents
  • Reputable breeder that genetically health tests
  • Health clearances for dilute and progressive graying genes

Also be prepared that even solid black to black breedings can produce surprise fading. There are no guarantees when it comes to genetics!

The most important thing is choosing a healthy, temperamentally sound goldendoodle – black, gray, white, or any color!


Black goldendoodle puppies have a high chance of fading to gray or silver as they mature. The dilute gene and progressive graying gene both commonly cause black coats to lighten starting around 1-2 years old. Genetic testing the parents can provide insight into dilute and graying genotypes. While cute as puppies, black goldendoodles do often turn gray. But with proper care and grooming, their two-tone faded coats can remain quite striking and beautiful!