What colors and color patterns do Frenchies come in?

One of our favorite characteristics of French Bulldogs is that they come in so many wonderful colors and patterns. We love all of our Frenchies so much that it is impossible for us to decide which is our favorite because they all are so unique and different. Whatever your particular preference is, we will eventually have the perfect puppy for you!

You can look at the first FAQ regarding the Breed Standard to see what the AKC says about acceptable and non-acceptable colors, but we know from experience that reading this information can be a little confusing. To try to better understand the available colors and patterns, it is helpful to read descriptions we found on Wikipedia.    Even these folks recognize that there is more than a little confusion on colors and color patterns as stated in the AKC standard.  What they say is that “all terms regarding color and colorations should be taken subjectively, as there is a great deal of difference of opinion within the Frenchie community as to which term defines which color”.

In case you haven’t as yet read the AKC color standard, here it is:  “Acceptable colors – all brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white, and any color except those which constitute disqualification.  All colors are acceptable with the exception of solid black, mouse, or liver; black and tan; black and white; and white with black, which are disqualifications (for dog shows).  Black means black without a trace of brindle.”

We will add here that the colors and color patterns of the French Bulldog are based on several different genes which interact with each other to produce the myriad of beautiful colors and patterns in which this gorgeous breed appears. As is the case with other genes, some are dominant and others are recessive, and there is a hierarchy within some of the recessive genes. For a recessive gene to be expressed, a puppy must inherit the recessive gene from both the mother and the father. If the recessive is inherited from one and the dominant from the other, the dominant will be expressed, but the puppy will also carry the recessive gene which can be passed on to future generations. Since the relative rarity and desirability of a Frenchie color and pattern is a significant factor in the pricing of Frenchie puppies, it is probably good to have an idea of how the various genes interact.

Without getting into too much confusing DNA verbiage, we can say that brindle is dominant over fawn and a uniform color is dominant over piedness (white coat with patches of a dark color). The rare chocolate is also a recessive color in Frenchies caused by one of four alleles on the B locus (one of which, the most common, cannot be DNA tested for as yet). The rare and beautiful blue coloration (diluting black to bluish gray, fawn to a blue hazed fawn, or chocolate to lilac) is also due to a recessive gene.

Pure black with no brindling is due to the recessive black gene (a/a), as is pure blue (which is created by the double recessive black coupled with the double recessive dilute [blue] gene – a/a, d/d). Pure black and pure blue Frenchies are not permitted in AKC sanctioned conformation events at this time, but hopefully this will change so that these extraordinarily rare and beautiful dogs can be properly admired and rewarded. Another color and pattern which is even more rare and beautiful is the pure black with tan points (created by another recessive gene, which can also be diluted to a pure blue with tan points). It is also possible to produce a chocolate Frenchie with tan points, which we hope to do relatively soon. These gorgeous and extremely rare dogs are also not currently allowed into AKC sanctioned conformation events at this time, probably due to the fact the genetics were not well understood when the guidelines were established many decades ago; someday we hope that this will change.

We think you can see that there might be some confusion over all of this variation, and there obviously is, so we will try to help clarify the different colors for you.

As we alluded, one of the many wonderful things about Frenchies is that they come in so many beautiful colors based on the color genes which are naturally occurring in the breeding population. The most basic color for the French Bulldog is black, but they also come in a myriad of other colors, e.g., many shades of fawn, blue fawn, and chocolate fawn; many shades of blue/gray; many shades of chocolate; cream; and lilac. We have produced most of these colors and will be producing all of them in the not too distant future. Although a Frenchie can come in any of these colors, it is VERY common for solid colored Frenchies to have a splash of white on their chests. In addition, it is not uncommon for them to have a touch of white on the head, the neck area, the toes, or elsewhere.

And, best of all, in addition to Frenchies coming in these beautiful colors, there are pied Frenchies in each of these colors as well. In simple terms, a pied Frenchie is basically a white/eggshell colored Frenchie with one or more patches of a darker color.  These are beautiful dogs and are all very distinct based on the number and size of the darker colored patches and the overall patterning. Some pieds are mostly white and have very little of the darker color, sometimes as little as one small patch around an eye, on the tail, etc. Most pied Frenchies have a few darker colored patches, but with still more white than the darker color. A few Frenchies, like Samson, have large areas of the darker colors on their coats with less white, sometimes much less white, than the darker color(s).

Below we will describe each of the different colors, along with posting a few pictures of each of the colors for reference, including pieds in each of these colors.

Brindle Frenchies  –   A brindle Frenchie has a coat that is predominantly a dark color with lighter colored hairs mixed in, sometimes in a uniform manner and sometimes quite random. Brindling (the lighter hairs) may be almost non-existent (called Seal Brindle) to very heavy (called Tiger Brindle or even reverse brindle if there are more lighter colored hairs than dark ones). The brindle gene on the K-locus (Kbr) is dominant over the fawn gene (Ky), so any puppy which has even one copy of the brindle gene from either the father or mother will be a brindle. Standard black brindle Frenchies, while very handsome, are the most common of all colors (since black is dominant over blue and chocolate) and therefore generally the least expensive. Frequently (actually, almost always), there are patches of white of varying sizes on the chests of brindle Frenchies, and also it sometimes occurs on the heads, neck areas, &/or toes of brindle dogs.

Raven - seal brindle (she has such a small amount of brindling that she almost looks like a pure black)

Bond - brindle

Bond – brindle (average amt of brindling)

Storm - heavy brindle

Here are some examples of several black brindle pieds with various amounts of patches. Not only are there different amounts of patches but within the patches there are different amounts of brindling, from very little like Brynlee, to quite a lot like Kristoff.

Cassie - brindle pied

Cassie – brindle pied (basically white other than the brindle patch on left eye and a beauty mark on back leg)

Bryn - brindle pied (small to average amt of patches with almost no brindling)

Malone - brindle pied (Multiple separated patches)

Kristoff - brindle pied

Kristoff – brindle pied (large amount of patches and heavily brindled within his patches)

Brynlee has been added to our BlueHaven family and we will update pictures of her when she is full grown.

Brynlee – brindle pied (heavily patched with very little brindling)

The more rare brindles are the gorgeous blue brindles and the stunning chocolate brindles with the piercing yellow/golden eyes. Blue brindle Frenchies are the result of the “d” or dilute gene, which they must inherit from both the mother and the father (kind of like blue eyes in humans).   The dilute factor causes the black hairs to become blueish gray.  Pigment on the nose and pads is also a grayish blue in color, and their eyes are generally from a light to a medium brown, often with hints of gold or green (although their eyes are blue up until they are a few months old). Just like black brindles, blue brindles will also have various amounts of brindle to their coats.

Montana - blue brindle (small amt of brindle to coat)

Montana – blue brindle (small amt of brindle to coat)

Valaine - blue brindle (with unique white marks)

Valaine – blue brindle (with unique white marks and very little brindling)

Blue Brindle

Rush – blue brindle (moderate amt of brindling to coat)

Blue - blue brindle (heavily brindled)

Blue – blue brindle (heavily brindled)

Elvis - blue pied (small amt of patches just on his face)

Elvis – blue pied (small amt of patches just on his face)

Rainey - blue pied (avg amt of patches)

Rainey – blue pied (avg amt of patches with double eye patch, and small amt of brindling to patches)

Marlin - blue pied (average amt of body patches with all blue head)

Marlin – blue pied (average amt of body patches with all blue head, and small amt of brindling)

Delilah - blue pied (large amt of patches with single eye patch, avg brindling to patches.)

Delilah – blue pied (large amt of patches, with single eye patch and avg brindling to patches.)

Samson - blue pied (heavy blue pied with all blue head, and small amt of brindling)

The chocolate brindle is another rare Frenchie color which can range from a light milk chocolate brown to a fairly dark chocolate-brown.   Chocolate brindle Frenchies have brown to light brown noses and nails and a variety of gorgeous eye colors which really set them apart, especially the piercing yellow/gold eyes which our chocolate Frenchies have. Their eyes can also be a light brown, green, or hazel.  Their eyes are very easily distinguished from the very dark to black eyes of standard brindle Frenchies and even the somewhat lighter brown eyes of blues and fawns. As with all the other brindles, chocolate brindles have varying amounts of brindling to their coats as well.

Chocolate Brindle

Heath – chocolate brindle (medium shade of chocolate color with average amounts of brindling to coat and gorgeous golden-yellow eyes)

Rocky - chocolate brindle (dark chocolate color with small amount of brindling  and gorgeous golden yellow eyes)

Rocky – chocolate brindle (dark chocolate color with small amount of brindling and gorgeous golden-yellow eyes)

Joy - chocolate pied (average amount of patches with lots of brindling and beautiful golden-yellow eyes.

Joy – chocolate pied (average amount of patches with lots of brindling and beautiful golden-yellow eyes.

Kisses - chocolate pied (heavy chocolate pied with all chocolate head, small amount of brindling, and beautiful golden yellow eyes)

According to the AKC guidelines, all brindle dogs have acceptable coloring, including blue brindles and chocolate brindles, which are both naturally occurring recessive colorings. We are aware of several blue brindle and chocolate brindle Frenchies that have been entered into conformation competitions and have done well, although there are certainly some in the Frenchie community who still hold prejudices against them, as unjustified as that may be. Since both blue brindles and chocolate brindles are quite rare and beautiful, they command higher prices than standard black brindles and fawns, and we have neither seen nor experienced anything that would suggest that either the blues or chocolates have any higher incidence of health issues than standard colors, regardless of what some naysayers may spout. 

Fawn –  Fawn Frenchies can range from a very light tan to a dark reddish tan and everything in between, and, if you ask us, they are all very beautiful. They do not have any brindling in their coats, but generally most fawns are not completely uniform in color as the tint of the back, sides, and head/ears is often darker than the color of the lower body and legs. Since brindling is dominant over fawn, a puppy must inherit a copy of the fawn gene (Ky) from both the mother and the father to be a fawn. Even one copy of the brindle gene (Kbr) inherited from either the mother or father will create a brindle dog.  

Light Fawn

Honey – Light Fawn

Golden Fawn

Goldfinger – Golden Fawn

Red Fawn

Rascal – Red Fawn

Wolfe - fawn pied (small amount of patches just on right eye and bum)

Wolfe – fawn pied (small amount of patches just on right eye and bum)

Manning - fawn pied (average amount of golden fawn patches)

Manning – fawn pied (average amount of fawn patches)

Briar - fawn pied (moderate amounts of beautiful golden fawn patches)

Briar – fawn pied (large amount of beautiful golden fawn patches)

Spanky - fawn pied (heavy red fawn pied

Spanky – fawn pied (heavy red fawn pied)

Blue-fawn   –   This is a color variation of blue, wherein a fawn coat is diluted with the blue hue being seen most clearly in the masking points on the face and on the upper body. They have grayish colored noses and pads and they generally have light to medium brown to green/grey eyes.   These are also very beautiful and rare dogs.   They range in color from a light blue fawn to a dark apricot blue fawn.

Darius - light blue fawn

Gracie - blue fawn

Gracie – blue fawn

Pansy - blue fawn  (beautiful golden blue fawn)

Pansy – blue fawn (golden blue fawn)

Apricot Blue Fawn

Quigley – Apricot Blue Fawn

Gale - blue fawn pied (small amount of patches)

Gale – blue fawn pied (small amount of patches)

Tysie - blue fawn pied (avg amount of patches)

Tysie – blue fawn pied (avg amount of patches)

Katie - blue fawn pied (heavily patched blue fawn pied)

Cream – Cream Frenchies are considered by many to be fawns or diluted fawns, but in actuality they are created by a double copy of the recessive gene on the E-locus (e/e), which is the first locus in the color priority for Frenchies. Any puppy which is e/e, regardless of what other color determinant genes it carries, will be a cream. Cream Frenchies have a uniform eggshell coloration (unless they are pieds, in which case the color patches on their eggshell bodies are a shade of fawn, often with an orangish tint).

Sweets - cream pied (small amount of eggshell patches)

Sweets – cream pied (small amount of eggshell patches)

Sable – Another fairly rare coloring for the Frenchie is sable. Sable Frenchies have fawn coats of various shades with the hairs being tipped in black, with other black hairs mixed in fairly evenly into the coat. The black tipping and shading tends to be more heavy on the upper body; and often the lower legs are without evidence of black.

Eve - sable

Eve – sable

Tanner - red sable

Werner - sable pied

Donna - red sable pied

Donna – red sable pied

Blue Sable – Sables which carry a double copy of the dilute (blue) gene are called blue sables. They are similar in their coloration to the sables except that the black hairs are diluted to a bluish hue.

Brent - blue sable

Brent – blue sable

Cody - blue sable

Cody – blue sable

Dark blue sable – A fairly rare color for the Frenchie, as well as one of the most beautiful, is the dark blue sable. They do not carry a copy of the brindle gene, even though their color is similar to that of the blue brindle and not the blue fawns or sables. They have no brindling in their coats so they appear very similar to the pure blues, but they are not the pure blues as described below as they do not carry a double copy of the recessive black gene (a), although the ones which we have produced to date carry either a single copy of the recessive black gene (a) or the tan points gene (at).

Lincoln - dark blue sable with tan points on lower legs

Lincoln – dark blue sable with tan points on lower legs

Darla - dark blue sable pied with some tan points on face.

Darla – dark blue sable pied with some tan points on face.

Below are extremely rare Frenchie colors that are disqualified by the AKC for conformation competitions, but they are extremely beautiful and command very high prices:

Pure Black and Pure Blue – Pure black Frenchies (Frenchies with a black coat with no brindling) are disqualified for conformation competitions, probably because it was initially thought that this was a dominant characteristic and would overpower other colors. It is now known that pure black is caused by a recessive gene on the A-locus which is rare and must be inherited from both parents. These are very beautiful and expensive dogs. The pure blue is even more rare in that pure blue Frenchies (blue with no brindling) must inherit both the recessive black gene and the recessive dilute gene from both parents. Both the pure black and the pure blue color Frenchies also come in pieds when one of these gorgeous puppies also inherits the recessive pied gene from both parents.

June - pure black (no brindling)

June – pure black (no brindling to coat)

Cinderella - pure blue

Cinderella – pure blue (no brindling to coat)

Charming - pure blue (no brindling to coat)

Charming – pure blue (no brindling to coat)

Black & Tan, Blue & Tan, and Chocolate & Tan  –   These are the rarest of the French Bulldog marking patterns and colors. They are also disqualified for conformation competitions because initially black & tan was thought to be a dominant marking pattern, as it is in other canine breeds like Doberman Pincers and Rottweilers.   It is now known that black & tan in Frenchies (black with tan points) is the result of a recessive gene which is naturally occurring but very uncommon in Frenchies.   Even more rare are the blue & tan (blue with tan points) and chocolate & tan Frenchies since both the recessive tan points (or tan points and recessive black) and the recessive dilute (blue) genes must be inherited from both parents. Both black & tan Frenchies, blue & tan Frenchies, and chocolate & tan Frenchies all come in pied as well, if both mom and dad are pied or carry the recessive pied gene.

Frenchies having any of these colors and patterns are very beautiful, very rare, and very expensive; but if you are looking for a unique and special Frenchie that very few individuals in the world are lucky enough to own, one may be just what you are looking for. While Frenchies of these colors and patterns cannot currently be entered into conformation competitions, they are just as healthy and just as wonderful in every way as their brothers and sisters which have more common coloration.

Django - black and tan

Django – black & tan (PURE black with tan points on face, lower legs, and bum)

Cruz - blue and tan

Cruz – blue & tan (PURE blue with tan points on face, lower legs, and bum)

Rey - black and tan pied, AKA tri-pied (large amount of pure black patches with tan points on face and bum).

Rey – black and tan pied, AKA tri-pied (large amount of pure black patches with tan points on face and bum).

Luke - black and tan pied, AKA tri-pied (small amount of pure black patches with tan points on face and bum)

Luke – black and tan pied, AKA tri-pied (small amount of pure black patches with tan points on face and bum)

Hop - blue & tan pied, AKA blue tri-pied (PURE blue with tan points on face and bum)

Hop – blue & tan pied, AKA blue tri-pied (PURE blue patches and tan points on face and bum)

Close-up picture of Hop showing tan points on his face.

Close-up picture of Hop showing tan points on his face.

Acceptable, but penalized, coloring:
Ticked pied   –   This refers to pied Frenchies that have abundant amounts of freckled markings on the white areas of the body.    This is not a DQ for the AKC, but this pattern tends to be heavily penalized in show rings everywhere. The more white a Frenchie has, the more likely it is to have ticking, although there are some pied dogs which are mostly white and have virtually no ticking (such as our Bryn, who has no ticking at all, although she has a lot of white). Some individuals really like Frenchies with a lot of ticking regardless of what the AKC penalizes (we like to call them beauty marks), so it is really a matter of personal taste.

Ticked Pied

Ticked Pied

Wrap-up:
Hopefully, this helps you better understand the colors and patterns available for this wonderful breed.   It is quite a variety for sure, and we are producing almost all of these colors and patterns now, and we expect to be producing all of them in the near future so that we have the perfect puppy for each of our valued clients. 

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