The Evolution of French Bulldog Colors: From Classic to Trendy Shades

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French Bulldogs Cuddling
Want to know which Colors are Winnie & Whisper, Read on!

If we look at the American Kennel Club Official Standard of the French Bulldog, the acceptable french bulldog colors are White, Cream & Fawn (ranging from light fawn to red fawn). 

In the UK, the Kennel Club says only Brindle, Fawn, and Pied are the official French Bulldog colors.

However, if you have already started looking for a French Bulldog, you probably noticed that there are many other colors and markings available that are not officially recognized.

I spent days studying and researching online to understand how French Bulldog colors are made and the possible combinations.

Are these other colors legit? Are these dogs real Frenchies? Are you wrong for wanting to get a Blue Fawn Frenchie?

If you want an answer to all these questions and have a complete picture of all the French bulldog colors available, read on!

Understanding What Makes French Bulldog Colors

Genetics

The genetics of coat colors in French bulldogs can be complex. Understanding how different colors are inherited is essential for breeders who want to create specific coat colors. 

In this article, we will not cover the DNA of French Bulldogs in detail as this would require an entire article. However, there are two key things to know about the genetics of French bulldog colors:

  • French Bulldog colors are determined by its genes, inherited from its parents.
  • French bulldogs can carry genes for multiple coat colors, patterns, and markings, even if they don’t exhibit all those characteristics.

Colors, Patterns & Markings

We must clarify a few things about French Bulldog colors here. 

  • French Bulldog colors are composed of a base color + one or more markings, which will result in the final color name we give to the French Bulldog Color.
  •  Sometimes the marking might cover the base color, so some marking names are used as colors, like “Brindle” or Merle.
  • Sometimes the color base will cover all other markings; hence a Frenchie might have them genetically but won’t show them.

The different base colors existing today for French Bulldog are Cream, Fawn, White, Black, Blue, Champagne, Chocolate, Cocoa, Isabella, Lilac, New Shade, Platinum, Sable, and Pink.

Regarding the markings, we have Brindle, Melanisc Mask or Black Mask, Merle, Piebald, Tan points, Trindle, White Markings & Black Markings.

The Different Combinations of French Bulldogs Colors & Markings

Classic Colors & Markings

First, let’s quickly review each classic pattern and marking. 

What do I mean by classic? 

I mean, these are the officially recognized colors & markings by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

In this section, all the combinations you will see are accepted by AKC and could technically compete in the show ring.

Brindle

No, “Brindle” is not a color but a marking and is one of the most common markings in French Bulldogs.

Indeed it only takes one gene from one of the parents to have this characteristic.  It’s a beautiful mix of dark and light stripes that can vary in thickness and color intensity.

Brindle French Bulldogs are a common variety of Frenchies that exhibit unique patterns that vary from one dog to another making this pattern quite unique.

Brindle French Bulldog
A Frenchie displaying the Brindle pattern.

Melanic Mask or Black Mask

The melanic mask, also called black mask, is a distinct pattern in French Bulldogs. It’s characterized by a dark-colored mask or “hood” over the face, ranging in shade from black to dark brindle. It’s also quite common and popular as it only takes one gene responsible for producing dark pigmentation in the coat, skin, and eyes from one of the parents to display it.

Melanic Mask French bulldog
See this nice Black Mask? That’s what we call a Melanic Mask.

Piebald

The piebald pattern is characterized by large patches of white and another color, usually black, brindle marking, or fawn. The white patches can be distributed in any part of the dog’s body. The size and shape of the patches can vary from dog to dog. This pattern is considered relatively rare as it takes two recessive genes to produce the piebald look. However, it has been associated with congenital deafness, especially in the case of Extreme Piebald.

piebald French Bulldog Color
A Cute French Bulldog displaying the Piebald pattern.

White or Black Markings

These are self-explanatory, but it is interesting to note that the white markings typically appear on the chest and face, while the black markings can appear on the rest of the body. These markings are pretty common. However, the genes responsible for these markings can interact in different ways to produce different patterns, so the exact appearance of the markings can vary between individual dogs.

white & Black Marking French Bulldog Color
See this White Marking on its chest and neck? Adorable right?

Now that we have covered all the classic markings, we can continue with the traditional French Bulldog colors and explain how they combine with the different markings we have seen previously.

Cream

  • The color cream for French Bulldogs is a beautiful pale or off-white color. This stunning and unique coat color sets French Bulldogs apart from other breeds. They are sometimes mistaken for very light fawn or white Frenchies.
  • Cream French Bulldogs are quite rare as they must carry two genes linked to this color to display it.
  • Cream genes are the most dominant in the French Bulldog color pool, as even if the dog carries other color genes, the cream color will cover all of these additional features. However, genetically two cream Frenchies could be different. In the trendy colors section below, we will cover two colors which are, in reality, Cream French Bulldogs with unique genetics.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.
Cream French Bulldog
A Cream Frenchie!

Fawn

  • Fawn is a warm, light tan color ranging from pale beige to reddish-brown.
  • Fawn is one of the most common colors for French Bulldogs, especially if you consider all the possible combinations.
  • Fawn is often paired with black masks and ears, creating the classic “fawn black mask” look. Fawn & White and Fawn Brindle & White Frenchies have white markings on their chest or paws, which can add to their unique appearance. Other popular colors are Fawn brindle or Brindle, also called Black Brindle, when the brindle part is more pronounced over the fawn coat.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.
French Bulldog Fawn Color: 1: Fawn Brindle & White, 2: Black Brindle, 3: Fawn & White with Black Mask, 4: Fawn
1: Fawn Brindle & White, 2: Black Brindle, 3: Fawn & White with Black Mask, 4: Fawn

White

  • Generally, a White French Bulldog will have a completely white coat with no markings or spots. However, we consider a Frenchie to be white when more than 90% of its coat is white. 
  • Surprisingly, there is no specific gene to make completely White Frenchies. Said differently, the color white doesn’t exist genetically for French Bulldogs.

French Bulldogs can “look” white for four different reasons:

  • First, they are super light cream, so they look white, but genetically they are cream.
  • They are Extreme Pied Frenchies, meaning they carry two genes responsible for the piebald marking, and the patches of white, typical of the piebald marking, cover their entire body, making them look white.
  • They are Albinos, also called Pink French Bulldogs, which is the absence of colors.
  • They are Double Merle French Bulldogs, meaning they carry genes responsible for the merle marking that we will describe later.
  • So, healthy White Frenchies are extremely rare even though they are a recognized color by AKC.
  • Regarding health issues, White Frenchies are prone to specific health issues linked to their coat color:
White French Bulldog
1: A White French Bulldog, which is, in reality, an Extreme Piebald French Bulldog, as the white marking covers more than 90% of its body. 2: Cali, a cute rescue Albino Frenchie

Trendy Colors & Markings

This section will cover all the “new” French Bulldog’s colors and markings.

They are all purebred French Bulldogs, but none of these combinations are recognized by AKC or Kennel Club and would be disqualified in a Show ring

However, French Bulldogs with a disqualifying color can still be registered to participate in other AKC events, such as agility events.

Let’s start with the  trendy markings:

Merle

Merle is a coat pattern characterized by diluted and irregular spots of color on a base color. The spots can be of different sizes and shapes and are often of different colors, such as gray, black, and white. The merle pattern is not very common in French Bulldogs, although it is becoming increasingly popular. However, the merle marking can be associated with health issues in dogs with certain copies of the merle gene mutation. Depending on their specific genotype some Merle dogs can have vision and hearing impairments. If you want to learn more about the Merle Frenchie, check out our dedicated article.

Merle French Bulldog
A Merle French Bulldog

Tan points

Tan point is a coat pattern characterized by tan or copper-colored markings on certain parts of the dog’s body, typically on their eyebrows, cheeks, chest, and legs. There are no health issues linked to this marking.

Tan Points French Bulldog
This Frenchie is displaying clear Tan Points

Trindle

Trindle or “tri-colored brindle” is a coat pattern found in French Bulldogs, which combines the brindle pattern with the tan points pattern. The coat typically will have a brindle pattern in the tan points.

That’s all for the trendy patterns, so now let’s look at the different modern colors and the combination with all the other markings we have seen so far.

Black

  • The color black for French Bulldogs is a solid, dark pigment that appears uniformly across the dog’s coat, nose, and paw pads.
  • Believe it or not, pure black French Bulldogs are rare as they mostly combine recessive genes.
  • They can’t show specific patterns and markings like Brindle, for example. As we have seen earlier, a Black Brindle base color is actually fawn.
  • Besides the jet-black Frenchie, the other popular black combinations are Black & Tan, Black & White, Black Pied, and Black Merle.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this coat color.

Blue or Mouse

  • The blue coat for French Bulldogs defines a specific shade of grayish-blue often seen in their coats. The color is actually a dilution of the base color black for a pure blue French Bulldog, resulting in a blue-gray coloration.
  • Blue French Bulldogs are very rare since they are the product of a combination of recessive genes.
  • The most popular combinations for Blue French Bulldogs are Blue Brindle, Blue Fawn, Blue Merle, and Blue & Tan.
  • Blue Frenchies are prone to a relatively uncommon hereditary skin disease called color-dilution alopecia. This causes the gradual onset of a dry, dull, and poor hair coat quality, leading to hair loss in some more severe cases.
  • If you want to learn more about the Blue Frenchie, check out our dedicated article.
Blue French bulldogs
1: Rosco the Blue Brindle, 2: Winnie the Blue Fawn, 3: Wilbur the Blue Merle, 4: Madelyn the Blue & Tan Frenchie

Chocolate or Liver

  • Chocolate in French Bulldogs is used to describe a dark brown color resembling a chocolate bar’s color. This color can range in shades from a light reddish brown to a darker shade of chocolate brown color.
  • Chocolate is a recessive color gene in French Bulldogs, meaning both parents must carry the gene for a puppy to have this color. This makes chocolate french bulldogs quite rare, as both parents must pass on the gene for the color to show up in their offspring.
  • The most popular combinations for chocolate Frenchies are chocolate Brindle and chocolate & white.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.

Cocoa

  • Cocoa is a rich, dark brown color. It’s often described as being a warmer, darker brown than the Chocolate color. 
  • The cocoa color results from a recessive gene, meaning both parents must carry the gene for a puppy to have a cocoa coat. This is why cocoa French Bulldogs are relatively rare compared to others colors.
  • Regarding popular combinations, cocoa is often paired with white markings, which we call Cocoa & White. Cocoa Brindle is another popular combination.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.
A Cocoa Brindle French Bulldog

Sable

  • Sable is a coat color that is characterized in a dog by a mix of black-tipped hairs and a base color that can vary from light to dark. The black-tipped hairs can give the coat a “salt and pepper” or grizzled” appearance. In French Bulldogs, sable can range from a light cream to a darker red or chocolate color. The color is very close to the Fawn color, but genetically, they are different.
  • Sable is rare compared to other colors, such as fawn or brindle.
  • The most popular variety for Sable Frenchies are Sable & White and Brindle. Interestingly it’s probably impossible to differentiate a Sable Brindle from a Fawn Brindle without a DNA test, as they will look very similar.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.

Lilac

  • Lilac is a coat color characterized by a light purple-grey coat with a slightly pinkish hue, often described as a pastel lavender color.
  • Genetically Lilac Frenchies combine the genes responsible for blue and cocoa colors. That’s why this color is scarce.
  • The most popular variations of Lilac are Lilac Fawn and Lilac & Tan.
  • Similarly to the Blue Color, Lilac French Bulldogs are prone to color-dilution alopecia.
Lilac Frenchies
1: Lilac & Fawn Puppies, 2: Whisper the Lilac French Bulldog, 3: A Lilac & Tan Frenchie, 4: A Lilac & Red Fawn Frenchie

Isabella

  • Isabella is one of the rarest and most unique colors for French Bulldogs. It is a light, creamy fawn color with a bluish-grey tint. 
  • Genetically Isabella Frenchies are a mix of blue and chocolate color genes, making them extremely hard to come by. You may see other articles saying they are the same as Lilac, but with the advance of genetics, we can now differentiate clearly Lilac from Isabella French Bulldogs genetically.
  • The most popular combination is probably Isabella & tan, which creates a stunning combination.
  • Similarly to the Blue & Lilac Color, Isabella French Bulldogs are prone to color-dilution alopecia.
Isabella French Bulldog
1: Chapo the Isabella & Tan, 2: Isabella Puppy

New Shade

  • As its name suggests, New Shade is the newest color for French Bulldogs. A pale pink color characterizes it with a slightly orange or gold undertone.
  • Genetically, this is even rarer than the Lilac or the Isabella, as the dog will need to carry the cocoa, the chocolate, and the blue, to qualify as a New Shade color.
  • New Shade can be seen with the tan points giving  New Shade & Tan. Even though technically there could be other variations, this color is still too rare to have many examples to show you.
  • There is insufficient data to tell you if the New Shade is specifically prone to any particular disease. Still, they could also develop color-dilution alopecia since they carry the blue gene.

Champagne

  • Champagne color for French Bulldog is characterized by a light beige or pale gold coat with a tint of pink or peach. This color is often linked to the color of champagne, hence the name.
  • To qualify as a Champagne French bulldog, the dog must carry two pairs of recessive genes; The pair responsible for the Cocoa or Chocolate color and the pair responsible for the cream color. Without a DNA test, you won’t be able to distinguish, so be careful before buying one, as they are much more expensive than Cream French Bulldogs.
  • Champagne Frenchies can come in different combinations, but the most popular color remains the base color itself.
  • There are no specific health issues linked to this color coat.

Platinum

  • Platinum color in French Bulldog refers to a light, silvery-gray appearance that sometimes has a slightly bluish or lavender tint.
  • Genetically it is one of the most unique French Bulldog colors as it is a Champagne French bulldog carrying the gene for the Blue color.
  • Depending on the genes carried by the dog on top of the cream gene, you can genetically have three different variations:
    • Platinum is when the dog carries the genes for cocoa and blue.
    • Isabella Platinum is when the dog carries the genes for chocolate and blue.
    • New Shade Platinum is when the dog has cocoa, chocolate, and blue genes.
  • Platinum French Bulldogs are prone to color-dilution alopecia as it has the blue gene.

The Bottom line

I hope that you have a better understanding of the French Bulldog’s colors.

I want to leave you with a note on the ethicality of buying or breeding trendy colors.

In the Frenchie world today, there are both detractors and supporters of the new and unrecognized French Bulldog colors.

I don’t want to side with any parties and will give you some facts so you can decide whether buying or breeding a “trendy” color is right or wrong.

  • French Bulldogs were recognized as a breed in the USA in 1898.
  • The standard for the breed’s colors was set around the same time without any changes until today.
  • At that time, DNA tests for dogs didn’t exist, so exotic colors were the fruit of hazard and probably classified as defects, unlike today.
  • Each gene responsible for a single color or a marking is not by itself bad for the dog’s health except for the few exceptions we have mentioned.

When buying or breeding French Bulldogs, the main priority should be the health of the dogs and not their color. 

So unscrupulous breeders will focus only on exotic colors as they cost more to the detriment of the gene pool diversity that can, in turn, increase the risk of genetic disorders.

Responsible breeders are working hard to improve the breed and make it less prone to health issues that both recognized and unrecognized colors face equally.

So before buying a Frenchie, do your due diligence, and buy only from responsible breeders. Ask to see the parents and request DNA test screening for health issues.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the rarest Color of a French Bulldog?

The rarest color of French Bulldog is the Platinum New Shade, and if you add the fluffy gene on top of that, you would probably get the most expensive and rare French Bulldog ever.

What are the true Colors of a French Bulldog?

If “ true “ means recognized by AKC, then White, Cream & Fawn (ranging from light brown fawn to red fawn). Markings and patterns are brindle, piebald, black masks, black shadings, and white markings.

If “true” means genetically purebred French Bulldog colors, then all the colors are Cream, Fawn, White, Black, Blue, Champagne, Chocolate, Cocoa, Isabella, Lilac, New Shade, Platinum, and Sable. 

All the markings and patterns are Brindle, Melanisc Mask or Black Mask, Merle, Piebald, Tan points, Trindle, White Markings & Black Markings.

What is the most popular Frenchie Color?

Fawn and Brindle are two trendy colors. However, it seems that Blue Color has been gaining much traction recently especially Blue Fawn frenchies as more and more breeders specialize in this color.

What Colors are AKC approved for French Bulldogs?

AKC has listed these as acceptable colors for a French Bulldog: White, Cream & Fawn (ranging from light fawn to red fawn). Markings and patterns are brindle, piebald, black masks, black shadings, and white markings.

Why are non-standard Colors bad in French Bulldogs?

Non-standard colors by themselves are okay; however, what is bad is reducing the gene pool diversity. Some irresponsible breeders might use inbreeding to get rare colors which can, in turn, increase the risk of genetic disorders in the puppies produced.

Can French Bulldogs have more than one coat Color or Pattern?

Yes, they can, and they usually do, as their final color is the result of multiple genes, each responsible for a color or pattern. Take the popular Blue Fawn French Bulldog as an example.

Do French bulldog coat Colors affect temperament or health?

Yes, for some cases like the Blue gene has been associated with a relatively uncommon hereditary skin disease called color-dilution alopecia, for example. The Merle Pattern is also associated with health issues.

What should I look for when choosing a French Bulldog based on coat Color?

You should request to see the parents and get proper health and DNA tests to screen for potential health issues.

Are there any myths or misconceptions about French bulldog coat Colors I should know about?

One of the biggest myths is that a French Bulldog not recognized by AKC is not a French Bulldog. This is simply not true, as two AKC-recognized French Bulldogs could give birth to a non-recognized Frenchie because it is not a recognized color.

What’s the most expensive French Bulldog Color?

The most expensive French Bulldog Color would be Platinum as it carries all the colors, so technically it could produce any colors.

What is the best Color for a French Bulldog?

There is no best color for French Bulldog puppies. The best color is the one you like, and beyond the color, what is most important is the health and temperament of the dog.

What Color is my Frenchie?

Your Frenchie is the color you see; however, if you want to be sure of the color, you can buy a DNA test that will give you the accurate genetic color of your Frenchie.

Note: Some pictures here are taken from Canva, so if you would like us to feature your dog’s colors instead of these stock images, please send us a message and we will be happy to feature you.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Alexandre is the owner of French Bulldogs Lovers. He has always been passionate about dogs and more recently about French Bulldogs since he became the proud daddy of Lola, his little Frenchie princess!

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