Merle French Bulldog: Facts, Genetics, Pictures & More

Merle French Bulldog with a harness

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 merle French Bulldogs, read on to learn more about their appearance, genetics, behavior, health, and pricing, to name a few.

What Is a Merle French Bulldog?

Merle French Bulldog sitting on top of the stairs

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 these dogs are the same as those of the standard French Bulldog, except for their m-locus gene. This gives merle Frenchies their unique coat color and their disposition to some health conditions as well. 

Note that the merle gene is not naturally present in purebred French Bulldogs. 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 include deafness and blindness.

Merle French Bulldog Appearance

The appearance of a merle French Bulldog is no different than that of 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:

Blue Merle French Bulldog

Blue merle French Bulldog sitting on the couch
Image credit: _winterthefrenchie / Instagram

The blue merle French Bulldog is quite rare, yet one of the most in-demand variants of merle Frenchies. Technically, blue merle French Bulldogs are black Frenchies with a diluted base coat color.

My brother got a blue merle Frenchie from a breeder friend, and as he arrived in their place, the light-grayish blue hue all over his body was very noticeable. However, some blue merle Frenchies have darker hues.

You can check this video to get a better visual of what a blue merle Frenchie puppy looks like:

Elizabeth .. blue Merle french bulldog

Black Merle French Bulldog

Black merle French Bulldog sitting on the grass

The black merle French Bulldog highlights the solid dominant color of the merle gene. Their black merle pattern has rich, dense, and irregular mottling that may appear as very dark brown in certain lighting conditions. 

Lilac Merle French Bulldog

Lilac merle French Bulldog looking upwards

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.

This is the rarest variant and is also the most expensive. Meanwhile, a newer version of the lilac French Bulldog, called the true lilac merle Frenchie, has been recently developed.

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 Bulldog standing on two legs
Image credit: bella.frenchie.belgium / Instagram

The tan merle French Bulldog has 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 Bulldog with orange bandana
Image credit: neighborhoodbadboys / Instagram

A red merle French Bulldog is similar to a blue merle French Bulldog. They are brown or liver with diluted base coat colors. The merle coat pattern gives a reddish-tan hue all over their body. 

Choco Merle French Bulldog

Choco merle French Bulldog with harness
Image credit: idlehoursbulldogs / Instagram

The 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 to also 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?

Merle Frenchie side profile

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 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

Merle Frenchie walking on dirt

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 adaptable 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 is 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

Merle French Bulldog puppies on a dog bed

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 conditions, location, and the breeder’s reputation. These variants are also generally more expensive compared to the cost of standard-colored French Bulldogs.

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 ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$30 – $110
Bowls$10 – $30
Toys$20 – $60
Beds$30– $200
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 who 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, and 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. 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

Merle French Bulldog puppy walking outdoors

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:

  • Blue
  • Chip
  • Dusty
  • Fleck
  • Marbles
  • Mottley
  • Oreo
  • Patches
  • Splotch
  • Spot

Meanwhile, here are some names to consider for a female merle Frenchie: 

  • Andromeda
  • Cookie
  • Dapple
  • Doris
  • Dottie
  • Halo
  • Kisses
  • Nebula
  • Polka
  • Pops

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

Merle Frenchie resting outdoors

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.

Did the merle pattern in French Bulldogs capture your attention? Let us know in the comments how you feel about this rare dog. Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have about this unique Frenchie pattern!

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