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Do Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies change color

Do Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies change color after they are born? Well – the short answer is yes, they do.

When a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is first born, it's color might not be anything like it is going to at maturity. In fact a Ridgeback pup may start to change to a different color within a few short weeks after it's first day of birth.

At the time of whelping, some of the puppies in a litter will often appear very dark – almost black - in color. This usually indicates a later transformation to a rich dark Mahogany or dark Wheaten coat hair which completes sometime during adolescence. But Ridgeback puppies aren't always born dark. Sometimes they can come into the world a much lighter color. In fact, a litter can have a mixture of both light and dark colored puppies at birth. 

It isn't just the dark colored pups that change color. The lighter ones do too. After these are whelped, they often will appear to be a much lighter and muddied in coat, but eventually will lose that muddy/dirty coat and start to transform into a clean wheaten color.

Although most of the change in color occurs within a few weeks, Ridgeback puppies will continue to change color all the way through puppy hood and adolescence, although to a much lesser, almost imperceptible degree. They eventually will settle into a their permanent coat color by the time they are about 6 to 7 months old.

It is worth mentioning that the official Standard for the Breed allows for quite a range of color within what is called a “wheaten” coat. On rare occasions, a Rhodesian can look almost blond, and will remain so throughout it's life, gradually darkening somewhat. These are called “light wheaten” in appearance.

Because Ridgeback puppy buyers aren't around during the early growth of a litter, they really don't see the most dramatic color transformation of a puppy and so the question of color doesn't really come up that much. Reputable breeders release their puppies around 8 to 12 weeks old. By that time, any dramatic color transformation that occurs will have already taken place. Any further change, albeit very small, will likely be when they lose their puppy coat a few months later.

At some point something happens to the coat of a Ridgeback puppy that breeders call “Blowing Coat”. This usually happens around 9 to 12 months of age. This can also depend on the weather, and how much your puppy plays outside as the weather warms up. During the “blowing coat” stage, the puppy's fur will start becoming noticeably lighter in color, and is most noticeable around it's neck. This will be almost imperceptible at first and then one day you might begin to notice that whenever you pet or stroke your puppy, s/he seems to be shedding a lot. This is a perfectly normal stage that your puppy is going through. As your puppy continues to shed, you will also notice that the texture of their coat will transform somewhat as well. The really soft coat they had as a puppy will give way to a little bit hardier feel and it will have a healthy sheen to it. Once the coat has been entirely replaced by its new coat, you'll begin to really appreciate the beauty of your Ridgeback.

So, if you happen to be around a litter during the first few days of a litter being born, don't be surprised if the puppies don't have the same color as all the other older Rhodesian Ridgebacks that you have become familiar with. Not to worry, they will most definitely become the fine, upstanding and handsome dog that you first believed them to be.


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