French Bulldogs are incredibly popular pint-sized pups, both for their adorable good looks and for their great personalities.
But nothing causes quite such a stir as a French Bulldog with piercing blue eyes. Blue eyes in Frenchies come about due to color genetics – what eye color that puppy inherits from the parent dogs.
In this article, learn everything you ever wondered about French Bulldog blue eyes, how this happens, whether a blue-eyed puppy will become a blue-eyed adult, and more.
French Bulldog Blue Eyes
Not all French Bulldogs have blue eyes. However, like all domestic dog breeds, most French Bulldog puppies will be born with blue eyes. It can take as long as 12 weeks to find out if your Frenchie's puppy blue eyes will remain blue or will change to the adult eye color.
However, breeders with a deep knowledge of canine color genetics can often predict in advance whether a puppy's eyes will change color in adulthood.
See a French Bulldog Puppy With Blue Eyes
This short YouTube video from a French Bulldog breeder shows off a gorgeous French Bulldog puppy with intense blue eyes.
Do Wild Wolf Puppies Also Have Blue Eyes At Birth?
All domestic dog breeds today are descended from a now-extinct wild wolf ancestor. This means that studying wild wolves can give researchers and canine biologists some great information about dog genetics.
For instance, as you learned earlier here, the majority of puppies are born with blue eyes. In fact, the same holds true for wild wolf puppies, as Wolf Country highlights.
Wolf pups will go through their eye color change anywhere from eight to 16 weeks of life when their eyes will turn a yellow-gold. It is very rare (but possible) that a wolf will retain the blue eye color throughout life.
What Causes Blue Eyes in a French Bulldog?
If you are new to learning about the French Bulldog breed, you probably don't know a lot about dog color genetics as of yet.
All dogs have two different genes that contribute to coat color, skin color, nose, paws, and eye color. As VCA Animal Hospital explains, these two genes are eumelanin and phaeomelanin.
Eumelanin controls for black and the range of black colors. Phaeomelanin controls for red and the range of red colors.
As you can see by this explanation from UVW French Bulldogs breeder, color genetics in Frenchies can get very complicated very quickly!
As Dog Genetics points out, brown is the default or main eye color for domestic dogs, Canis lupus familiaris. Otherwise, there are four possible ways that a French Bulldog might inherit blue eyes in adulthood.
1. A Frenchie inherits the merle gene
The merle gene is responsible for the majority of French Bulldogs that grow up to have blue eyes. Merle is a misunderstood gene in that it is not a color but rather an interaction with color pigment.
The merle gene causes a color dilution. Merle can occur in varying degrees, and the more influence the merle gene has in a dog's DNA, the more likely it is that the dog's eyes will be blue in adulthood.
There is also the possibility with the merle gene that a dog may inherit heterochromia, or two differently colored eyes, of which one is typically blue.
2. A Frenchie inherits white around the eyes
When a French bulldog inherits more white around the iris (the colored part of the eye), this can contribute to a blue iris due to a lack of pigment in the eye area.
3. A Frenchie is born with albinism
Albinism is at its heart the absence of color pigment. The default eye color for full albinism is a pinkish shade, but there are no documented cases of full albinism in dogs to date.
A Frenchie that inherits albinism to some degree may have blue eyes in adulthood.
4. A Frenchie simply inherits blue eyes through a genetic anomaly
For everything that is known about dog coat color genetics today, there are still some things that remain a mystery.
One of those mysteries is when genes simply don't do what we expect them to do. This is called a "genetic anomaly."
For example, earlier you learned that the vast majority of wild wolf pups are born blue-eyed and grow up to have yellow-gold eyes. But every so often, a wolf pup will keep the blue eyes in adulthood.
This is an example of a genetic anomaly. Something that was supposed to happen doesn't. The most likely explanation is some type of random genetic mutation – an error in coding, so to speak.
What Does the Merle Gene Do in French Bulldogs?
The presence of the merle gene in the French Bulldog gene pool is itself something of a genetic anomaly.
This has caused no small amount of controversy among French Bulldog breeders around the world.
As the French Bulldog Club of Australia and New Zealand explains, merle as a color-influencing gene was introduced later on in the breed development.
Some breeders believe that merle is an undesirable gene, not because of what it does to eye or color, but because it is now associated with some other health problems that dogs can inherit.
However, if you have been shopping around for French Bulldog puppies with blue eyes, you may also have noticed some breeders actually charge more for Frenchies with blue eyes.
This can feel pretty confusing!
The main health issues that are more closely associated with Frenchies that inherit the merle gene are hearing and vision impairment. The greatest danger arises when a French Bulldog puppy inherits a copy of the merle gene from both the mother and father dog.
Health Issues Associated with the Merle Gene in French Bulldogs
There are four major known health issues that are closely associated with the merle gene in French Bulldogs.
These serious vision issues are most closely associated with French Bulldog puppies that receive two copies of the merle gene from both the father and mother dog.
1. Eye malformation (smaller eyes)
With this vision issue, the puppy may be born with smaller than normal eyes. However, the nictitating membrane is usually still present but can also be malformed.
2. Eye(s) missing
With this vision issue, the puppy may be born with one or both eyes either deeply placed back in the socket (recessed) or missing altogether.
3. Wandering eyes
Wandering eyes occurs when the eye is both smaller than normal and there is a malformation of the pupil. Cataracts, degeneration leading to blindness, and leaking of the lens liquid are all common with this condition.
4. Cleft eye(s) (starburst)
Cleft eyes are also closely correlated with deafness in Frenchies. With the starburst eye, cataracts and eventual blindness are common.
What Does the French Bulldog Breed Standard Say About Blue Eyes in Frenchies?
French Bulldogs, like all American Kennel Club (AKC), registered purebred dog breeds, have a breed standard.
Usually, the breed standard is developed by the AKC-affiliated dog breed club, which in this case is the French Bull Dog Club of America.
The breed standard is thought to represent the appearance that most closely conforms to what an ideal French Bulldog should look like.
The French Bulldog breed standard that is filed with the AKC, like all dog breed standards, states that certain coat and eye colors are standard and acceptable for dogs entering show competitions.
Certain coat and eye colors, however, are not standard and will disqualify a dog from entering show competitions through the AKC. The main reason for this is because of concerns about the merle gene and the health conditions it can cause in Frenchies.
You don't need to worry about the breed standard unless you aspire to enter your French Bulldog in AKC show contests or breed show quality Frenchies.
How to Make Sure You Choose a Healthy French Bulldog with Blue Eyes
After reading about the possible health issues associated with French Bulldogs with blue eyes, you may be worried about choosing a healthy Frenchie puppy.
The best way to choose a puppy that will be healthy is to work with a reputable breeder that does health tests on all parent dogs before allowing them to breed.
This way, that breeder can guard against any puppy inheriting two copies of the merle gene, which is where most of the serious eye and ear issues occur.
French Bulldogs can also have other eye colors, including dark brown, light brown, hazel, or black and even green eyes.
Since it can be difficult to know for sure why a French Bulldog puppy's eyes are blue, at least until 12 weeks or older, the best way to choose the healthiest puppy is to work with a breeder that gives you an initial guarantee of health
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.