Do Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Size isn't the only change to a puppy's appearance during the first year: Many pups also change color as they become older. While color may not be the prime motivator for picking a puppy, knowing what to expect from a puppy coat can help you select a dog that will grow into the adult you want.


Changes to Coat Color

Puppies that have full, solid-colored coats from root to tip -- such as fully brown chocolate labs and all-golden golden retrievers or goldendoodles -- often retain the color specifics in adulthood. Pups with different-color undercoats or hair with different-color tips tend to change coat color as they grow. A black pup might grow up to be a silver adult, or a tawny apricot puppy might lighten to a cream-colored adult.

Changes to Coat Markings

Multicolored dogs, including the tricolor beagle and the spotted Dalmatian, change colors as they grow. Classic tricolor beagles and other tricolor dogs are born black-and-white. As the pups grow, they begin to show brown or red in the face, haunches and shoulders. Patches of color shift and grow during puppyhood, so the markings on your dog as an adult might not wholly resemble those of the puppy you bought. Dalmatians are born white, and their signature spots develop during the second and third week of life.

Other Coat Changes

Puppy coats may change in length and texture, too. Clues that your short-haired pup will grow up to be a long-haired dog include longer hair on the legs and the ears. Breed plays a role in coat changes: Purebred dogs, like beagles, Dalmatians and golden retrievers, tend to develop into appearances that are much the same as their progenitors'. Spotting may vary, but you'll have a good idea of how the adult will look by looking at the pup's parents. Adult coats of mixed-breed dogs and so-called designer dogs like the goldendoodle or Shih-poo are harder to predict because their genetic traits are mixed. These puppies tend to develop in more random ways, although patterns can emerge.

Time Frame

You will notice coat coloration changes throughout your pup's first months; most are complete by the end of the first year. Shedding seasons during your puppy's first year may also bring coat changes,such as new fur growing in a different color. If you're shopping from a breeder, ask to see pictures of dogs from prior litters as adults and as puppies. Changes to their coat markings can help illustrate what pups from another litter might look like.