When someone asks you what your favorite dog breed is you don’t think twice about your answer. What would your dream dog be?
What if you always wanted a French Bulldog? You would gravitate towards the breed based on personality and temperament. What about how cute and appealing they are? One of their many selling points is their color.
French Bulldogs colors cover a vast range. We will cover common versus rare French Bulldog colors, genetic factors related to them, and some concerns regarding traits that are not part of the breed standard.
What is the background of French Bulldog colors?
French Bulldogs, which were modified from English Bulldogs, came from ancient Greek Molossian Hounds. Many of them were fawn or brindle. They would form the foundation for Mastiffs and English Bulldogs.
Molosser colors contributed to the English Bulldog standard. These standards are brindle, white and piebald. Then came the modifications to obtain the beloved French Bulldog.
Current colors were introduced from outbreedings to pugs and ancestors to rat terriers, according to the AKC.
What is the genetic explanation of colors?
Colors in dogs are complicated from a genetic standpoint. In basic genetics, recessive genes can only show up as characteristics if two of them are present.
There are multiple genes involved with coloration in dogs, and some of these are even breed-specific. Genes dictate not only the colors but also their locations and patterns.
Color genes are responsible for whether a dog is red or black and whether it has a mask, spots, freckles, points, or tri-color patterning.
There are masking genes responsible for facial markings and piebald genes responsible for the distribution of white in some dogs. The color white is affected by different genes unique to various breeds.
Why is there controversy about French Bulldog colors?
The primary argument against breeding for specific colors outside of the breed standard is health concerns. In some cases, genes for certain colors are linked to genes for health problems.
Forget for a moment about alopecia commonly associated with the blue gene in dogs. The diluting gene responsible for bluing in Frenchies has been linked to blindness, sensitive skin, and cataracts.
Chocolate dogs can also suffer from premature cataracts, supporting the concerning role of the diluting gene on overall health in dogs.
French Bulldogs who are largely white with colors other than brindle suffer from deafness. Completely white Frenchies do not have this issue, reflecting the different genetic paths for white expression in dogs.
According to the Frenchie Shop, The color merle in dogs has been linked to dysfunctional and structural ocular abnormalities and missing eyes in several breeds like Dachsunds. Breeding two merle dogs compound the chances of these deformities showing up in puppies.
Color Belies Purebred Standard
Some colors are remarkable in that they were never part of a breed’s history. Once a dog breed enters a registry, outbreeding and cross-breeding are prohibited. However, they were a crucial part of the background of modern breeds.
However, the practice distinguishes purebred dogs from designer dog hybrids and others. When the color like lilac or merle crops up in a litter of French Bulldogs, registries question the background of the dog with good reason.
Promotes Price Inflation
French Bulldogs in colors like lilac and tan are not easy to get. Breeders usually charge more for rare colors. The only problem is these colors are not standard or even acceptable, so showing or registering your dog is likely off the table.
And not that you would ever put a price on the companionship a Frenchie could provide, these rare dogs can cost an astronomical fortune.
What are standard French Bulldog colors?
There are a set of colors recognized as standard by most French Bulldog registries and clubs such as the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club.
Brindle is a disrupting gene that breaks up a solid-colored coat. In the case of the French Bulldog, a black coat is disrupted when fawn breaks through. This can show up as wide bands that look like tiger stripes or mild specks of tan, known as a seal.
Brindling is a dominant trait in French Bulldogs.
Brindle Frenchies can have little to no white or large areas of white. A black-and-white French Bulldog dog is as unacceptable as a solid black dog. Any black Frenchie must have at least a trace of brindle. All brindle dogs with white areas or patches must have solid black noses.
Another common color of French Bulldogs, the fawn is dominant. It is on the same locus as cream, sable, and black. Fawn Frenchies can range from light tan to reddish with a dark facial mask complimentary to their body color.
White bulldogs have varying levels of mottling and ticking or freckling. While judges will not disqualify your Frenchie for ticking in the show ring, they will penalize it. The more ticking a French Bulldog shows, the more points it loses.
According to FrenchBulldogsAustralia, The cream is a dilute fawn and is distinct from white dogs. Sometimes these dogs have some dark around their ears and eyes. They have absolutely none of the pink shade you would see with white dogs.
In cream dogs, the masking trait of fawns is suppressed.
What are rare French Bulldog colors?
Every French Bulldog litter has the potential to produce a puppy with a color that does not meet breed club standards. These colors are disqualified in the show ring but coveted by pet owners.
Rare colors in Frenchies are carried on recessive genes. The controversy surrounding these varieties, also known as fad colors, is they were originally associated with health abnormalities.
Responsible breeders of today argue health conditions related to the Frenchie’s coat color, especially blue, have been eliminated. This largely relies on the fact they no longer breed dogs that are related, known as inbreeding or line breeding.
Without delving into the controversy, rare colors remain popular among French Bulldog owners because they are unusual and more difficult to find.
Moreover, coat color affects the eyes. Many dogs with rare fur color also have light-colored eyes, ranging from hazel to grayish-blue.
French Bulldog colors largely unrecognized by any clubs or registries are solid black, blue, black-and-tan or tricolor, chocolate, lilac, and merle.
According to the AKC, a black French Bulldog must have at least a trace of brindle. Black is a recessive trait, so a Frenchie must have two copies of the gene to express this color over fawn.
Solid black dogs can have the brindling gene, but it will not be expressed because of the absence of tan.
Similar to the solid black gene, the black-and-tan gene is a recessive color on the fawn locus. Black-and-tan will be masked by the presence of one or two copies of the fawn gene.
Black-and-tan will be expressed at specific points as you see in a Doberman or German Shepherd.
To further complicate matters, if a dog has a brindling gene, brindle will show up in place of the tan marks. These dogs would appear appropriately marked for the AKC and other registries.
Blue is one of the most desired of colors. These dogs have two blue diluting genes. Blue can be solid or expressed in fawn or cream dogs.
According to French Bulldog Club, Blue is called mouse by the American Kennel Club and is unacceptable.
Keep in mind that gray or silver is a standard color in some dogs. In French Bulldogs, blue has nothing to do with a color gene.
The blue color has long been associated with color dilution alopecia. This shows up as progressive hair loss beginning from the age of four to 24 months. It readily shows up also in blue Dobermans and blue Pit Bulls.
Its controversy stems from the fact that not all dogs who have the condition are blue and not all diluted canines experience hair loss.
According to TheHappyPuppySite, the color shows up naturally in litters. However, breeding specifically for the color may subject the pup to future problems.
Chocolate is a recessive gene carried on its own locus and expressed as a recessive trait similar to the blue gene. There are two shades of chocolate, one known as liver and testable.
Merle is unusual in that it is a dominant gene in French Bulldogs. It was likely introduced by crossbreeding with Chihuahuas. This has caused it to be frowned upon along with the health problems associated with breeding two merle dogs.
Rarer than the highly-sought blue color, lilac involves two diluting genes at separate loci. One is the gene responsible for blue Frenchies and the other for chocolate dogs. The result is beautiful champagne to light purple-hued dogs with vivid light-colored eyes.
Lilac dogs are difficult to obtain.
Tri-color Frenchies are different than when you think of a Saint Bernard or Bernese Mountain Dog. With Frenc- Bulldogs the trifecta is the mixture of genes involved in coat colors.
Black and Tan Tri
This involves a Frenchie who is lilac, blue, or chocolate with color in markings or points like a Rottweiler, for example. These dogs may or may not have white patches.
These dogs are chocolate and white with tan in stereotypic patterns.
There is no mistaking the easy charm and distinctive adorable looks of the French Bulldog. Its color does not change its charisma.
However, its many colors are becoming larger parts of the conversation as questions arise about its effects on the breed’s health and purity.
While the demand for French Bulldogs of rare colors is likely to persist, the breed’s retention of desirable traits will rely on well-established standards.