What You Should Know About Merle French Bulldogs

The Merle French Bulldog has a unique and rare appearance however, they do carry with them some controversy.  French Bulldog purists aren’t a fan of Merle French bulldogs. I admit, when I saw some pictures on Facebook that a breeder had available I was in love with them.  Their coloring is attractive and they are some of the ones I saw are very cute.  I wanted to put together this article to educate you about this unique coloration and what you should know about that.  Upon doing some research I was deeply saddened about what I read and learned.  I feel that in the French Bulldog world this is a very controversial topic. With that being said I still wanted to write this article just for informational purposes and for those looking into Merle Frenchies. 

The Breeding of a Merle French Bulldog

The Merle coat coloration is not found in purebred French Bulldogs and it is important to know this is not a recognized French Bulldog color variation.  The color pattern has been introduced in most cases by crossing with merle Chihuahuas.

The inception of the Merle French Bulldog was for owners that were looking for a Frenchie with glamour and could be a splendid display. The Merle color is the most present and unique coat color. A Merle pattern comes from the lightning of the base coat in the Frenchie. Because of this the result is that the dark patches remain giving the pups the Merle characteristic.  Their fur can have hundreds of different markings but the most common is the dark brown or black and the dominant color is usually white, cream, or fawn all mixed with the dark colors. 

In order to get the spectacular colors of the Merle they must be bred with a French Bulldog and a Frenchie that has been crossbreed with Chihuahuas in the past. A Merle is the rarest and most expensive of the dog breeds. In the last 10 years these puppies have become the topic of conversation due to the high defect rate and so the brilliant coloring of this dog is slowly disappearing.

Merle Frenchie

Other Color Versions of Merles

Depending on the dominant gene that ends up being diluted other colors of merles exist. Three of the most sought out colors are Black, Blue, and Lilac because they fall under the category of rare French Bulldogs.

Black Merle

The Black Merle French Bulldog occurs when the dominant gene is black. This pushes out the other coat colors. Of the three Frenchie colors black, tan and fawn the dominant gene shines through giving the Black Merle its color and name.

Lilac Merle

The Lilac Merle French Bulldog is the most rare making them the hardest Frenchies to find. The Lilac color is a basically a color combination of chocolate and blue base coat color. The blue color is again diluted allowing the lilac color to show. The Lilac Merle also has light colored eyes that last their entire life and they are the color that most likely will have health complications.

Blue Merle

The Blue Merle French Bulldog is usually called a blue-gene dog breed but in actuality they are black Frenchies that base color has been slightly diluted giving their hair a blue hue. Blue Merle French Bulldogs have an interesting eye appearance. They get to maintain bright blue eyes through puppyhood into adulthood and then still maintain lighter eye colors than standard French Bulldogs. 

The Numerous Health Issues of Merle French Bulldogs

The gene that is needed to create the Merle patterning is also the gene that creates significant risks including hearing, sight, and blue eye defects. The truth is that no French Bulldog has the Merle gene  which means that they are not pure breeds. Because of that crossing the breeds leads to a bunch of complications.

Research is out there showing that crossing a Merle and a Merle makes a 25% chance of Double Merles. This breed Double Merles have an 86% chance of being deformed, deaf, blind, or color dilution alopecia. Besides these defects they are likely to have neurological defects, immune disorders and extensive allergies and the worst case there have been instances of death.

The Blue Merle French Bulldogs are known to have inflammation conditions with their skin and can cause ruptures of the skin. Staph infections can then occur leading to death. The Blue Merle French Bulldog has the shortest life span.

More Explanations of Eye Defects

Deformed Eyes (Small Microphthalmia)

The development of small eyes is not coman and can be in both or one eye. The cause is the presence of nictitating membranes still covering the eye socket or sockets.

Missing Eye or Eyes (Anopthalmia)

The condition known as Anopthalmia is the missing of one or both eyes when born. Sometimes the eyes can be formed but are so deep in the eye socket that the nictitating membrane covers them.

Wandering Eye

Wandering Eye is a case of Microphthalmia with multiple defects. Eye degeneration aids in the condition and as it progresses the lens becomes liquefied.

Starburst Pupil (Coloboma)

This eye condition is like an eye cleft. Sometimes cataracts can also be present in the condition. Starburst is most likely the deadliest and there are many reports of deafness and blindness associated with Starburst Pupil.

It is good to note and important to explain that the Merle gene itself shouldn’t cause any health issues. But this requires the breeder to mate one Merle dog with another Merle that is single coat colored.

Where Can You Purchase Merle French Bulldogs?

It’s no wonder that people want to own French Bulldogs. They are amazing and interesting lovable little pups and the lust for all things extremely rare makes the Merle French Bulldog a wanted pet. Be sure to do your homework on this breed variation before making your final decision.  

There are not many Merle French Bulldog breeders likely due to the many complications when breeding and also because thankfully most states now have certain criteria that needs to be met to breed and sell these little Frenchies. 

I don’t feel comfortable offering a list of safe breeders for this breed but you will want to make sure the breeder meets all of the following conditions.

  • DNA is important on this one. You will want to make sure that DNA test from a canine department is available along with DNA profiling. This allows you to make sure you are getting an authentic Merle French Bulldog.
  • Make sure that all required preventive measures and immunizations have been given. Including treatments for ticks, worms, and fleas. You will also want this in writing along with the vaccination history for your soon to be pup
  • Get a full veterinary examination and request a health guarantee. The best time frame is a year. 

I would tell you to make sure that your breeder has filed paperwork with the AKC however the Merle color is not recognized by the AKC. I found conflicting information on this account and several sites state they have filed with the AKC and I have found other sites that state the only way to file with the AKC is to lie about the color combinations.  There are several colors of French Bulldogs that the AKC blacklisted and so it is best for you to do some additional research before you purchase any type of French Bulldog.

The cost of these rare colored Frenchies can be anywhere from $6,000 – $12,000 and in some cases more than that.

Final Thoughts on The Merle French Bulldog

I know that was a lot of information but my final thoughts on the controversial Merle French Bulldog is not whether or not you should own one or not is that it depends where you purchase one. The fact that this breed can have such terrible defects and can even cause death would want me to make sure that breeders were highly educated with Merle Frenchies making sure that all breeding was done correctly keeping the birth defects to the same percentage of birth defects in French Bulldogs in general.  

As an owner of a Brindle Frenchie I would want to make sure the health of the dog should come first and I would ask that you keep that in mind when deciding if a French Bulldog is the right dog for you and more importantly if a Merle French Bulldog is a must have.

For more French Bulldog general information visit:  https://frenchiejourney.com/frenchies/general-info/

PS – Learn all about the “Frenchton” here too!

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