When I first saw a French Bulldog, I began singing songs of how much I wanted one. It’s just an instinctive reaction. But what color? If you’re a French Bulldog lover, you’ll probably be the first to agree that all Frenchies are adorable regardless of what color they may be. That said, the options are rather extensive so it’s not a simple answer!
What colors do French Bulldogs Come in? AKC Breed Standard Colors are: White, Cream, and Fawn (a caramel like color) – in any variation. Outside of Breed Standard you will find Pure Black, Blue, Chocolate, Merle, Tan, Sable and possibly others. Brindle is a marking that looks black, similar to tiger stripes, but is different than pure black. Brindle is acceptable to AKC breed standard. Other acceptable markings and patterns, include piebald, ticking, white markings, black shadings and black masks.
Confused? Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s a bit complex. Basically you’ll see French Bulldogs in many colors. Of them, only certain ones are within what is considered the breed standard. If the Frenchie is white, cream or fawn in any shade (from light to reddish fawn), that’s within AKC breed standard. Here’s a breakdown of breed standard colors:
Cream: Cream is an off white, eggshell color
White: White in this context means pure white,
Fawn: Fawn is anything from a light tan to a caramel, to a dark reddish (often called red fawn).
Brindle: The wild card is Brindle, which is considered a marking not a color. It looks anything from some sparse dark striping, to almost solid black. Brindle is also within standard. Here’s 2 Frenchies with Brindle markings:
Can you see the fawn under the black? Fawn is that tan color similar to a baby deer. In this case both have a Fawn base coat color, and both have white chests. They also both have brindle markings, which is that black you see. The one on the right has more brindle markings and so he looks darker. Both cases are considered Brindle markings and is acceptable. It can be sparse, or so dark it looks almost pure black. As long as there is any shade of Fawn, White, Cream (or any other base color) in there, it’s Brindle. Here is pure black for comparison:
He also has white markings on his chest but the black has no trace of a lighter color. That’s considered pure black and would fall outside standard. That really just means they would be disqualified in an AKC dog show. They can still be AKC registered. If she’s going to simply be a pet, color has no direct bearing on anything. The only concern with non-standard colors are if they have any link to health issues. We’ll discuss that more below.
Breed Standard Colors By AKC
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has specific colors that they consider as the “breed standard”. What this means is that French Bulldogs can only be these colors. These include white, cream and fawn. While it might appear that the French Bulldog can only be of these colors, there are acceptable variations to this color. For instance, a fawn French Bulldog can be many shades of fawn from light or medium fawn to a reddish fawn. The dog’s coat may also be a combination of white, cream and fawn.
What Are The Acceptable Colors and Markings?
In addition to the solid colors of white, cream and fawn, the French Bulldog can also come in several patterns or with different markings. They may have black masks, piebald, brindle, white markings and black shadings. A piebald Frenchie is the result of both his parents having the recessive piebald gene. The pup would have pigmented spots on a white background. A piebald Frenchie is usually described as white and brindle.
A brindle Frenchie might be fawn colored with streaks of other colors like possibly black, cream or white. Brindle Frenchies usually have streaks of black on a fawn background. With many brindle Frenchies, the black stripes may be very sparse or may be clearly defined and so distinct that you can barely see the fawn background.
Those with the clearly defined black stripes are often described as black brindle. There is no limit to how many black stripes are on the body as long as you can see even a small amount of the background color. Despite black brindle being acceptable, solid black is not acceptable.
A fawn French Bulldog may have a variety of shades from pale cream or yellow to a deep reddish color. Light-colored fawn Frenchies often have lighter colored noses. While this might not be desired, it’s still acceptable. Fawn Frenchies might also have a black mask.
What Other Colors Exist And Are They Really “Rare”?
As you’ve been learning here, French Bulldogs come in a variety of colors, patterns and designs. The genes of both parents determine the Frenchie puppy’s color. The most common French Bulldog colors are white, fawn, brindle or piebald. You might find Frenchies with a few other colors or color combinations. Some of these are considered rare and some are just plain disqualifications according to the AKC breed standard.
- Cream – This diluted fawn coat is usually similar to the color of a creamy eggshell.
- Blue –When a French Bulldog is said to have a blue coat, blue covers the entire body. This color is caused by Color Dilution Alopecia, a genetic disorder found in some Frenchies. Blue Frenchies are possibly the most popular and the most expensive.
- Blue Sable – The coat of the blue sable French Bulldog is fawn with blue-tipped strings of hair mixed throughout the coat.
- Sable – Sable French Bulldogs have a coat that’s mostly fawn with black strings of hair usually on the front of the dog.
- Chocolate Brindle – The coat of the chocolate brindle French Bulldog is a mixture of chocolate brown with light milky-looking color. Chocolate brindle Frenchies usually have nails and noses that are some shade of brown. These Frenchies often have light blue eyes.
- Pure Black – The pure black Frenchie, which have been disqualified from Frenchie competitions, has a solid black coat with no brindle.
What Are Some Health Concerns With Non-Breed Standard Colors?
The AKC French Bulldog Breed Standard allows a wide variety of colors and color patterns. Yet, there are still breeders who are breeding dogs that will create what they consider rare dogs. The reasons why responsible breeders are against this is not because they don’t like the rare colors. Their main reasons are because there are a number of health concerns when using non-breed standard colors.
- Chocolate or liver colors can result in yellow-eyed French Bulldogs who may suffer from juvenile cataracts or early blindness.
- All black or all white Frenchies with no brindle may carry the deaf gene and can also result in blue-eyed Frenchies with eye problems.
- Blue Frenchies can create green- or yellow-eyed dogs, which can have problems with blindness. The blue color also carries a genetic disorder that causes hair loss and scaly, dry skin.
- The merle color is probably the most problematic of all the colors you’ll see in French Bulldogs because they have genes that can lead to several health problems, including both hearing and vision issues.
Non-Standard Colors Worth Mentioning
In an attempt to label them as “rare”, many irresponsible breeders have created French Bulldogs in non-standard colors. Some examples of disqualified colors include:
- Blue Fawn
- Blue Pied
- Pure Blue
- Pure Black
- Black and Tan
- Blue and Tan
- Chocolate and Tan
While many of these Frenchies are beautiful, their non-standard colors get them disqualified from AKC French Bulldog competitions. The purpose of breeding dogs for these non-standard colors is to charge higher prices. Many of these non-standard colored Frenchies go for very high prices despite being unacceptable to the AKC. However, some buyers don’t care if the dog can’t compete. They are just happy being owners of a Frenchie that they believe to be “rare”.
An interesting note is that a Frenchie may be an undesirable color based on the AKC’s Breed Standard but may still be registerable. In situations like this, the AKC will register the dog but will register them as “color not recognized by the AKC”. The exception to this is the merle color Frenchie. The AKC is so deadest against this color because of the many health issues, that they will NOT register them.
What Are “Fad Colors” For Frenchies? Why Do People Want Them Stopped?
When referring to the French Bulldog coat color, a “fad color” is any coat color that’s disqualified by the AKC Bulldog Breed Standard. They’re also often the same colors that breeders describe as “rare”. Examples would be blue, blue sable, solid black, blue fawn, merle and liver to name just a few.
Responsible French Bulldog breeders only breed dogs that meet the AKC breed standards, and they do this to preserve the breed standard. Breeders who intentionally breed dogs that do not meet the AKC standard are generally doing so to advertise their dogs as “rare” dogs and attempt to sell them for higher prices.
Responsible breeders are deadset against this and are trying to stop it because they do not want the unacceptable color genes to be spread through a high-quality gene pool. This can cause problems for reputable breeders who want to produce and sell French Bulldog puppies that meet the AKC Breed Standard.
You may wonder why Frenchies that are fad or rare colors go for such a high price when they’re often disqualified or undesirable to the AKC. The reason is that many buyers are choosing to buy Frenchies because they like the breed or are in love with a particular color. They often don’t have the knowledge of the breed to know that a particular color is undesirable in that breed.
Why do breed standards exist?
The purpose of breed standards is to ensure that when a breeder is producing animals for either sale or show, there are certain guidelines they must adhere to regarding that specific breed. In the case of the Frenchie, the breed standard guidelines state they can only be certain colors, can’t weigh more than 28 pounds, must have bat ears, and must meet many other French Bulldog characteristics and traits. They also exist to keep the bloodline as clean and healthy as possible.
Why are some colors not preferred by AKC standards?
Colors on the Frenchie that may be disqualified include solid black, black and white, black and tan, white with black, blue, blue fawn, merle and liver. While ticking may not be a desirable trait in a Frenchie, it’s still acceptable by the AKC. Ticking is when there are colored spots or flecks on a white background.
The French Bulldog comes in so many colors and color pattern variations, it’s often hard to believe when looking at a litter or a Frenchie dog show, they’re all the same dog breed. What all these different colors and designs accomplish is giving potential Frenchie owners a huge selection from which to choose when buying a Frenchie!