My love for dogs goes back to my childhood. But one particular breed that has always caught my attention is the French Bulldog. French Bulldogs are notoriously famous for their exotic color coats, and no matter how much I try to comprehend it, the science behind it always leaves me baffled. However, I am a proud owner of one (Mickey), so it was vital for me to understand why fellow brethren of Mickey are the bearers of such exquisite colors.
This led me to my quest to unravel how these tiny majestic creatures have such beautiful coats. Like any other quest, my hunt was also not short of hurdles, but in the end, I was successful in comprehending the science that goes behind all this. Truth to be told, having Mickey did make learning these concepts a bit easier, and I do hope to use this hard-earned knowledge in my future endeavors with the French Bulldogs.
So here I am, ready to pass down knowledge, explaining how the French Bulldog DNA works in the easiest way possible!
How The DNA Works
The French Bulldog consists of standard colors and rare colors. Understanding the functionality of the DNA will aid in getting your desired colored French Bulldog the next time you decide to breed it.
Let me put it in easy words; crucial genetic information is stored in the nucleus of dog cells. Each cell in the dog contains 39 pairs of chromosomes, 39 from the mother and 39 from the father. One of these pairs identifies the dog’s sex, while the others determine everything that distinguishes them. Thousands of genes make up chromosomes, which carry features encoded in DNA.
A locus is a compartment where the alleles are stored. Genes have two alleles from each parent placed on a chromosome at specific loci (locus is the plural of loci). When dogs breed, each parent contributes one allele from each locus at random, giving each allele a 50% chance of being handed down to the puppies. You can also consider this as a game of chance.
Don’t get stressed with these heavy words, and they are not as tough as you think they are! Dominant alleles are the ones that only need one copy of that particular gene for it to be expressed on a dog. On the other hand, in the case of recessive alleles, you need two copies of that particular gene to be visible on a dog’s coat.
Now moving on to the tougher part, Alleles are two gene variations stored in Locus. When these Loci are combined, the Dog’s final coat color is revealed. The Locus and Allele script is sometimes seen when someone attempts to depict their unique dog’s color DNA in letters. Let me try and explain it to you in this way: a Locus and its Alleles for a blue dog are (d/d). Each of the small d’s is an Allele, and the Locus holds both Alleles together.
I know the caption seems funny but bear with me, so the big and small letters in the place of alleles indicate whether a dog is a carrier or non-carrier of that specific color trait which is a bit ambiguous. In contrast, our lovely friends’ small letters simply denote that the dog carries that particular color trait.
All these gorgeous colors, such as Blue, Cocoa, Cream, AT, a, and pied, are all recessive genes, which means that two copies must occupy the same locus for the color to be expressed in the coat of a dog.
Why not take an example to understand this a bit more; Merle and Brindle are dominant genes, which means that just one copy of the gene in a given area in the dog’s coat must be expressed. Blue is (d/d) and cocoa is (co/co). The blue hue will not be expressed in a dog’s coat if only one copy of the blue gene (D/d).
The divisions, or Locus, are divided into the following categories: Cocoa, Testable, Blue, Cream, Piebald, Chocolate, and Merle. The K-locus, also known as the dominant black locus, is the next place that shares a position with another Allele, and here you’ll find Ky and the Kbr genes responsible for the brindle color, which we have all come to love. At the A-Locus, Ay is for the fawn, At is for the tan and point, and solid black. Lastly, the AW sable shares another.
Note: Since Brindle is a dominant gene, breeding with a brindle French Bulldog will most likely result in Brindle offspring.
The Color Range
So let’s dive deeper into the world of French Bulldogs. The cute Frenchies are a miniature of Bulldogs, and they are famous for their adaptability and charming personalities. But the one thing that sets them apart from the other breed is their striking color range. The French Bulldogs come in two color ranges. The first range is called the Standard Colors, and the latter is known as the Rare/ Exotic Colors.
- Pied + any of the above color
- Blue Fawn
- Tan + any of the above color
The Standard Color And Pattern
Here begins the fun part. So I will start by explaining the science behind the standard color range.
The Brindle is represented as a pattern because it is expressed as stripes. The color of the stripes is determined by the different locus present in the dog genetically.
As a result, Brindle is a dominant gene that only takes one copy to manifest. So, even if the brindle does not appear on the dog, it is called brindled if it possesses even one copy of Brindle. Some tests are genetically known as KBR or K, or KB. It’s also referred to as a “dominant black gene” occasionally.
The lack of this gene is known as KY. As a result, a dog with only one copy of the brindle gene is known as KBR/KY. KYKY is the name given to a dog with no brindle copies at all. Due to the presence of the Brindle gene, it is safe to say that Brindle can be classified as a Dominant Gene.
The foundation coat of the French Bulldog is fawn hairs, with black hairs extending in bands to create a coat that can range from a tiger brindle, with fawn hairs predominating, to the more typical dark brindles, with black hairs predominating. A “reverse brindle” is a pale variation with fawn hairs that predominate and is often more unusual.
The most important thing to remember is that unless they are fawn, tri, or the unusual mix, every single solid color “appearing Frenchy” is genetically a brindle. Because brindle has become unpopular in breeding programs worldwide, people will frequently refer to them as “blue dog” or “black dog.”
However, it’s crucial to remember that these dogs are genetically brindle, even with a solid hue and no stripes. And brindles are a foregone conclusion. So if you want to avoid brindle, you should always request DNA testing. But I think that brindle makes one of the cutest Frenchies.
Now moving on to our next color, the famous cream french bulldog. The cream color denotes that the french bulldog has two copies of recessive genes that achieve that cream color. We can visualize cream as a cover or a blanket gene, which means that a dog can have any color genetically but still look cream, and this is when genetic testing comes in handy.
The genetic code for cream is ‘e.’ Many cream-colored French Bulldogs are mistaken for light fawns. However, a true cream Frenchie will have a consistent tint that is slightly off-white throughout. This is because it comes from the fawn coat and is due to a recessive dilution.
They have black coloring, black noses, black eye rims, black paw pads, and black lips with no markings. The DNA of a real cream French Bulldog differs from a light fawn French Bulldog.
The piebald is a pattern, not a color, on the French Bulldog. A pied animal has a pattern of pigmented patches on a hair background that is unpigmented or otherwise white. Often piebald is referred to as a ‘delete genes.’ Sounds cool, no? To make a visibly pied dog, you’ll need two copies of S (ss). A pied carrier is a copy of pied (s/n) that has only one copy. Pied will appear in a variety of ways but will always remove at least half of the dog’s actual “color.”
This keeps on getting interesting since this particular gene can delete whenever it wants. Furthermore, it can also create ‘an extreme pied’ where the color is fully gone, so the dog has no visual color. Yes! The dogs will be a solid white.
On the other hand, some Frenchies carry only one copy of the pied gene, and they are mostly known as Saddle pied, Irish pied, or Blanket pied. These are truly magical as they will have one solid color on the head, back, and chest, and then from the neck till downwards, they are pure white.
These Frenchies are rare, but they still fall under the standard category. Quite ironic, I might add. A French Bulldog is categorized as black if the coat color is solid with the presence of Brindle. Moreover, if a puppy appears to be black, it is unlikely that it carries the gene as for a dog to be black, it should be carrying a unique ‘a/a DNA.
Due to them being quite a rare species, a Black French Bulldog can be pretty heavy on the pocket since it costs around $3500- $5000 to bring one home. But I think these cuties are worth breaking the bank.
The next in line is the Fawn French Bulldogs. These dogs come in various shades that range from very light to quiet cream-looking ones to extremely deep red fawn. A bonus point for these is that they can be coupled with an exotic color that will cause the dilution effect leading to a black mask, eyes, and nose.
A melanistic mask, also known as the mask, is a French Bulldog pattern that appears to look like a mask on a dog’s face. Mask is referred to as “Em” in the genetic code. A dog with a visual mask requires only one copy of this gene. That being said, certain colors, like brindle or pied, will obscure a mask, so you’ll have to test the dog to determine if it has a duplicate of Em. The fascinating thing about the mask is that it is deleted by the cream gene, as the cream gene is notorious for deleting the other color or pattern gene.
So, if you have a dog that carries one copy of cream, it will immediately erase one copy of the mask if one is present. So therefore, there will be no mask on an optically cream dog as two copies of cream “ee.”
The Exotic Color and Pattern
Now I shall pave my way to the more exciting bits, that is, the exotic color range.
A gene in the Merle French Bulldog causes mottled spots of color in a solid or piebald coat, and it can also impact skin color. Merle is a pattern gene as well. Merle comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Merle is represented by the letter “m” in genetics. The Merle pattern dilutes specific regions of the dog’s hue, making it appear different. This leads them to appear even more attractive. To create a visual Merle, only one copy of Merle must be present.
When two merles French bulldogs are bred together, this pattern is quite controversial in the French Bulldog community since it can create serious health difficulties. Remember that only a solid-coated French Bulldog should be bred to a merle French Bulldog. It is impossible to breed two longer merle lengths together because this can result in a fatal combination that can cause deafness, blindness, or worse. Although I am not an expert in merles, I strongly advise you to do extensive research before purchasing one for breeding purposes.
There are no known health risks associated with the merle gene. Merle dogs’ eyes are frequently brilliant blue or odd-looking, but not always. Heterochromia Iridium is a color variation in the iris. Merle French Bulldog colors are uncommon and, as a result, more expensive.
A hidden merle is a merle dog whose coat has been coated in cream or whose spots have been removed by treatment. Because the cream “blankets” the Merle pattern, a cream dog that is genetically merle will not display a visible Merle pattern. A pied dog, particularly an extreme pied, can remove all pigment from areas where merle would be visible, effectively “hiding” it. Other than a cream or a pied, no other two dogs can have “hidden merle.”
The most famous category in the Merle is the Blue Merle French Bulldog. This dog features a light gray base coat with darker patches. Along with that, these Frenchies mostly have striking blue eyes that are permanent. If you ask me, those blue eyes are my weakness! Let’s not forget that this is the only gene that can create permanent blue eyes.
Our next candidate is the Chocolate French Bulldog. Unfortunately, chocolate is also a recessive gene, meaning it will require two copies of the said gene to appear on the dog. The carrier of the chocolate gene is known as ‘Coco.’ Might as well just buy a chocolate Frenchie and name him Coco.
These dogs have a special feature that sets them apart. They have a ‘red eye glow,’ so if you put a flashlight in their eyes, you’ll notice a bright red reflection. Isn’t it amazing? Furthermore, Coco Chocolate is a discovery; there was no DNA test for it before this.
A Blue Fawn French Dog is a result of color dilution. The signs of dilution are mostly visible on the noses, mask, ear, or paw pads. This breed can be easily differentiated from the normal fawns because they have a different color mask and lighter-colored eyes.
Due to their unique color coat, The Blue Fawn French Bulldog is quite expensive as they cost anywhere from $4000 to a whopping $10000. Unfortunately, the craziness does not end here; in some areas, these cute blue Frenchies can even go above $10000, making them one of the most expensive colored breeds.
4. Isabella French Bulldog
We have another exotic color with an exotic name. Isabella French Bulldog is often referred to as ‘double lilac’ or ‘true lilac. This is mostly a new shade of lilac. These dogs contain a mixture of blue or chocolate hues, and in this case, the chocolate gene is testable (b/b).
Due to the presence of the chocolate, it has a more ‘red tint.’ Therefore, this particular breed is the most exotic out of all the colors in the French Bulldog community. These dogs have a soft, beautiful, and fabulous coat that has the power to grab anyone’s attention instantly. An Isabelle is one hell of an investment as it can cost from $15000- $40000. It sounds pretty crazy, but these Frenchies do have their loyal followers.
Lilac results from two combinations of D Locus, i.e., blue (d/d) and Co locus, i.e., chocolate (co/co). It is a recessive gene because it requires two copies of each following at the locus. Usually, if a dog carries two copies of the ‘d’ gene, the coat will feature a purplish color; however, if the dog is a tri-color, it will entail tan points on it’s coat.
In contrast to that, If the dog isn’t tricolor, solid black (a/a), or has the (Ay/Ay), it will be a lilac Fawn, which has a more yellowish champagne aspect to it than a blue fawn, which has snowier champagne look to it making them look adorable. Safe to say, this color does make them stand out in a crowd.
These are quite the diversified ones. Black and Tan, Chocolate and Tan, Blue and Tan, Lilac and Tan, and Merle and Tan are just a few of the Tricolor combinations. The A-Locus Allele combination is what gives these canines their tan point markings.
The ‘At’ gene is primarily responsible for the dog’s tri-color look. As previously stated, the At gene predominates over the ‘a’ gene. Dogs who are (At/At) or (At/a) at the A-locus, the Tan Points will be expressed. Apart from the dog’s tan points, the Alleles your dogs carry at the D-Locus, B-Locus, and M-Locus determine the color of your dog’s coat. If the dog does not carry two alleles of blue or chocolate, then its base color will be black and tan.
Whoa! Who knew there goes a lot behind the color of a French Bulldog than what meets the eyes. I believe that having this precious knowledge is essential if you are a Frenchie enthusiast. However, do your research before making a purchase or breeding. Feel free to hit me up if you have any queries.
Have a good day!