If you have already encountered a French Bulldog with a unique coat that looks like blotches of alternating solid colors and diluted pigment, chances are you have already seen a merle Frenchie.
Though it is easy to get mesmerized by its beautiful appearance, French Bulldog enthusiasts need to understand the merle gene better to see if they can handle all aspects of this dog.
If you are curious about the Merle French Bulldog, read on to know more about its appearance, genetics, behavior, health, and pricing, to name a few.
What Is a Merle French Bulldog?
The merle French Bulldog is a color coat variant of the standard French Bulldog. The merle gene partners this dog’s solid coat with dark and light-mottled patches all over its body. Merle colors come in different varieties, too, such as blue, black, lilac, red, brown, and tan.
Most features of this dog are the same as that of the standard French Bulldog, except for its m-locus gene. This gives the merle Frenchie its unique coat color and its disposition to some health conditions as well.
Note that the merle gene is not naturally present in a purebred French Bulldog. Hence, they were crossed with other breeds that carry merle patterning, such as merle Chihuahuas.
To retain many of the distinct characteristics of the French Bulldog breed, they were bred back to the Frenchie for multiple generations or until they became indistinguishable from the purebred one.
What Does Merle Mean in Dogs?
The merle coat in dogs refers to a coat color pattern characterized by a solid base coat, with speckled or mottled solid and light patches or markings all over their body.
Merle is a semi-dominant gene, and breeding merle French Bulldogs is generally safe when one parent carrying the gene is bred with a non-merle parent.
However, controversy exists when two merle French Bulldogs are bred together, resulting in a double merle puppy. Double merles are subject to a lot of health conditions, which includes deafness and blindness.
Merle French Bulldog Appearance
The appearance of a merle French Bulldog is no different than other French Bulldogs since they are essentially the same breed. They stand at around 11 to 13 inches from the shoulder and weigh no more than 28 pounds.
They have compact and muscular builds and squarish, brachycephalic facial features with bat-like ears. Merle Frenchies are most likely to have a blue or partially blue eye color, too.
Further, the merle pattern has several variations for the French Bulldog breed. The particular gene affecting the dog’s coat also influences the pigmentation of its paw pads and nose.
Below are some of the most common merle French Bulldog colors for you to appreciate:
Blue Merle French Bulldog
Blue merle French Bulldogs are quite rare, yet one of the most in-demand variants of merle Frenchies.
Technically, the blue merle French Bulldog is a black Frenchie with a diluted base coat color. This gives it a blue hue all over its body. The blue patches may vary from very light gray to almost black.
The blue Merle French Bulldog puppy is also born with bright blue eyes that it retains all the way into adulthood.
You can check this video to give you a better visual of what a blue merle Frenchie puppy looks like:
Black Merle French Bulldog
The black merle French Bulldog highlights the solid dominant color of the merle gene. Its black merle pattern has rich, dense, and irregular mottling that may appear as very dark brown in certain lighting conditions.
Lilac Merle French Bulldog
Also known as the isabella merle, the lilac merle French Bulldog is a color combination of chocolate with a blue base coat color. This blue base color is diluted further, revealing the lilac color more.
The patches of lilac merle Frenchies are light, ashy, or slivery in color.
This is the rarest variant and is also the most expensive. Meanwhile, a newer version of the lilac French Bulldog has been recently developed called the true lilac merle Frenchie.
These rare French Bulldogs have a richer champagne look, purple maroon noses, and pinkish purple eye rims, lips, and pads. Their light-colored eyes usually glow red under certain lighting conditions.
Tan Merle French Bulldog
Tan merle French Bulldogs have light brown spots on top of tan base coats, as well as light brown noses and paw pads.
Some tan merle Frenchies may also have greyish spots on top of solid tan coats. Under certain lighting conditions, they may be mistaken for blue merle French Bulldogs.
Red Merle French Bulldog
Red merle French Bulldogs are similar to blue merle French Bulldogs. They are brown or liver with diluted base coat colors. The merle coat pattern gives a reddish-tan hue all over its body.
Choco Merle French Bulldog
Choco merle is one of the rare colors for merle French Bulldogs, making them quite hard to find. They have irregular dark chocolate or brown patches over their lighter base coat.
Expect their noses and paw pads also to be dark brown or liver in color.
Merle French Bulldog Color Genetics
Like with other merle dogs, the m locus is responsible for these unique, irregularly mottled patches in dogs.
Merle is a semi-dominant gene, meaning that only one merle dog is needed to produce a merle puppy that has a genotype of Mm. In this case, the “M” refers to the merle allele, while the “m” points to the non-merle.
Following this thought, an mm genotype will lead to a non-merle dog. On the other hand, breeding two merle French Bulldogs will generate double-merle dogs with the MM genotype.
However, breeding double-merle French Bulldogs is discouraged due to its associated health problems.
Further, breeding these rare-colored Frenchies, especially with all their color variations, must be left in the hands of experienced breeders.
Since merle Frenchies are not technically pure breeds, expertise is needed to ensure that merle puppies produced by the parents do not lead to birth defects or any hereditary issues.
Are Merle French Bulldogs Rare?
Since the merle gene is not innate to the French Bulldog, it required certain cross-breeding and back-breeding strategies to achieve merle Frenchies that are no different from purebred ones. This makes it definitely rare.
Certain merle variants are even much rarer, such as the choco, lilac or isabella, and blue merle French Bulldogs.
Do Kennel Clubs Recognize Merle French Bulldogs?
Due to its mixed-breed heritage, the American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn’t recognize merle as a standard, or even alternate, color or marking for the French Bulldog.
In fact, the French Bulldog’s breed standards by the AKC specifically indicate merle as a disqualifying color or pattern for the breed. This means that these dogs can’t be registered nor allowed to join conformation shows.
However, through the AKC’s Canine Partners program, merle French Bulldogs may still be allowed to join sporting events.
Similarly, the United Kennel Club (UKC) disqualifies all diluted black and liver colors for the French Bulldog. The diluted nature of a merle’s base coat color then prevents these merle dogs from being registered with the UKC.
On the other hand, the Continental Kennel Club (CKC) does not recognize merle as a standard color, nor does it mention merle as a disqualification.
The CKC recognizes black, gray, liver, isabella, and blue Frenchies, though, with or without tan points, as non-standard colors. Though these are not merle colors upfront, these are the colors responsible for their patterns.
Hence, you can take a chance to register your merle dog with the CKC, as other merle French Bulldog owners have successfully done so.
Merle French Bulldog Temperament and Personality
My experience in breeding French Bulldogs has also gotten me interested in breeding merles but in a healthy and ethical way.
After two productions of blue merle litters, I observed no difference in terms of the behavior of the puppies compared to the standard-colored Frenchie puppies I have also reared.
Merle Frenchies generally have a happy, active, alert, playful, and well-rounded temperament. They always look forward to the presence of their humans and are highly adjustable to different environments.
Further, their friendly, affectionate, and sociable nature allows them to blend very well with kids and even with other dogs and animals.
Merle French Bulldog Lifespan and Health Issues
Merle French Bulldogs that are bred in a healthy and ethical manner should be able to live between 10 and 12 years, which is the same lifespan as other French Bulldogs.
On top of the usual health issues that the French Bulldog is prone to, breeding two merle dogs predisposes the Frenchie puppy to even more illnesses existing in double-merle dogs.
Here are some of the most common diseases associated with Merle Frenchies:
- Deafness: Deafness in merle Frenchies can occur in one or both ears and is more common in double-merles. Double-merle puppies have about a 10% chance of being deaf in one ear and a 15% chance of being deaf in both. Unfortunately, this condition is irreversible if genetically related.
- Blindness: The merle gene is responsible for a lot of different eye abnormalities in dogs, which may lead to blindness. Some of these conditions include microphthalmia, iris coloboma, persistent pupillary membranes (PPMs), and cataracts.
- Hip Dysplasia: This hip and joint problem are common across all types of Frenchies, including merles. Hip dysplasia happens when the ball of the thighbone and socket joint of the pelvis grow at an uneven rate, resulting in a loose fit. This is a painful condition that can be treated through medication, physical therapy, or surgery.
On top of the ones indicated above, other health problems that may affect merle dog breeds, including merle Frenchies, are color dilution alopecia (CDA), allergies, breathing issues, and immune disorders.
Though many of these conditions are not life-threatening in nature, they affect the overall quality of your dog’s life. To optimize your dog’s lifespan, ensure you partner with your trusted vet to prevent these illnesses.
How Much Does a Merle French Bulldog Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses
The merle Frenchie is a difficult dog to breed, especially its rarer variants. Along with the high demand for this dog’s coat, it can fetch around $6,000 to $15,000, while the rarest colors are priced upwards of $20,000.
These prices will also depend on factors such as age, gender, bloodlines, health condition, location, and the breeder’s reputation.
Note that the price mentioned above is just the puppy itself. As you prepare to take care of a merle French Bulldog, you need to consider the initial expenses of welcoming your puppy home and its maintenance.
The table below lists the initial items you need to take care of as a first-time owner of a merle Frenchie puppy:
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$30 – $110|
|Bowls||$10 – $30|
|Toys||$20 – $60|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$30 – $370|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $160|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$20 – $50|
|Total Initial Cost||$495 – $2,470|
Given the medical conditions associated with the merle Frenchie, you have to prioritize high-quality dog food, complete vaccination, and routine vet visits for your dog.
Additionally, to save up on the high costs of emergency treatment, getting pet insurance for your merle Frenchie is also a smart move.
Places to Find Merle French Bulldog Puppies for Sale and Adoption
Once you have prepared your budget for a merle French Bulldog, the next step is to find a responsible breeder that can produce a healthy puppy for you that is bred through ethical practices.
To ensure that your puppy is not at risk of any genetic issues, always ask for its DNA test results and a copy of its veterinary records. It is also a good practice to request to view the parents of the puppy you are interested in.
Here are some of the best sources of reputable breeders of merle French Bulldogs:
- AKC Marketplace – Though breeders from the AKC Marketplace follow the breed standards for the French Bulldog, you can take a chance to check if they breed healthy heterozygous merles. You can also be assured that you only deal with breeders who exercise ethical breeding practices when searching from this source.
- French Bull Dog Club of America (FBDCA) Breeder Referral – As the national breed club and the parent club of the AKC for Frenchies, breeders featured in FBDCA’s breeder referral also uphold high and ethical breeding standards. You can go through the list to find a merle French Bulldog puppy.
- Good Dog – Good Dog awards badges for breeders who do not just comply but also go beyond its required community standards for both the quality and health of their dogs, including merle Frenchies. The site also features pertinent details about both the dog and the breeder, allowing you to reach an informed decision.
If you find the merle French Bulldog price quite high, you may opt to adopt one instead. Not only are adoption fees considerably lower than buying one from a breeder, but it is also a life-saving move for a dog in need.
Here are legitimate rescue organizations where you can adopt a healthy merle French Bulldog:
- French Bulldog Rescue Network (FBRN) – Founded in 2001, FBRN is a volunteer-run organization that focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of French Bulldogs in need which may include merle Frenchies, too. FBRN is an all-inclusive organization that does not discriminate against any of its members, vendors, or adopters.
- Short Noses Only Rescue Team (SNORT) – SNORT is focused on the rescue of snub-nosed dogs, mostly in the Northeast United States, which includes the French Bulldog and all its variants. They have a non-refundable adoption application fee of $15, then a phone interview and a home evaluation will be scheduled as part of the application process.
- French Bulldog Village (FBV) – As a non-profit organization, FBV has a mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome French Bulldogs and their mixes, along with merle Frenchies as well. They also advocate owner education for the responsible acquisition and ownership of the breed.
Some misguided owners of merle Frenchies are not aware of the possible health issues that these dogs carry. Hence, they end up in animal shelters and rescues, waiting for loving adoptive homes.
Best Dog Names for Your Merle French Bulldog Puppy
One of the most exciting tasks of acquiring any puppy is giving it a name that will symbolize your special attachment to it.
When giving your merle Frenchie a name, you may match it based on its appearance, color, or something special to you. What is important is that it sounds pleasant, and your dog can easily identify with it.
To help you with this task, here are some name suggestions for a male merle French Bulldog:
Meanwhile, here are some names to consider for a female merle Frenchie:
Remember that your dog’s name will last for its lifetime, so take your time and decide on something that you will love hearing repeatedly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Merle French Bulldogs Healthy?
The health disposition of a merle French Bulldog depends on how it is bred. If it is produced out of one merle and one non-merle parent, it is acceptable, and you don’t have to worry too much about health problems.
However, if it is bred out of two merle dogs, it is prone to many illnesses, including blindness and deafness. Taking care of double-merle Frenchies will need a lot of time and attention.
Why Are Merle French Bulldogs So Expensive?
Aside from the difficulty and expertise needed in breeding merle Frenchies, the cost of producing them is also expensive since most Frenchies require artificial insemination and a cesarean method of delivery.
Further, the rarity of this color in Frenchies and the demand for such also contributes to its high price.
Do Merle French Bulldogs Have Blue Eyes?
Yes, the gene causing the merle French Bulldog’s coat color is mostly responsible for its vibrant blue or partially blue eyes. This type of blue eye color remains until adulthood due to its lack of melanin in the eyes.
Do Merle French Bulldogs Shed?
Merle French Bulldogs shed all year round, just like their other colored counterparts. They also shed even heavier at least twice a year as they adapt to the existing weather conditions around them.
Regular brushing at least once a week should be good for managing your merle Frenchie’s shedding. This needs to be done more often during the heavy shedding seasons.
What Is the Rarest Color for French Bulldogs?
The rarest colors for French Bulldogs include blue, lilac, blue & tan, and chocolate & tan.
Generally, all merle Frenchies are also considered rare. However, for the variants, the rarest ones are the lilac merle, choco merle, and blue merle French Bulldogs. This makes them the most expensive ones, as well.
Before you shell out a lot of cash for an understandably captivating merle French Bulldog, ensure that you have thoroughly studied the ins and outs of handling one, especially from a health perspective.
It is also critical to take your time to get to know your breeder more and the background of the merle Frenchie you are interested in.
It is always best to avoid double-merles so you don’t end up spending more on medical expenses.
The merle French Bulldog may indeed be expensive, but if bred ethically, you end up with a very beautiful dog with a well-rounded personality.
Let us know how you feel about this rare and unique dog in the comments!