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 pup 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 a recessive black gene, as is pure blue (which is created by the double recessive black coupled with the double recessive dilute [blue] gene). 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). Although we have never seen one yet, 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 allowed currently into AKC sanctioned conformation events at this time, probably due because 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. .

Pied  –  In simple terms, a pied Frenchie is basically a white dog with patches of an acceptable (or unacceptable) color.  These are beautiful dogs and are all very distinct based on the patterning of the colors.  Darling Bryn is a brindle pied.  It is difficult to see in the picture, but she has some lighter brown hairs mixed in with the base black patches. Malone (Ayla and Samson’s son) is a brindle pied as well, while Stockton (one of Malone’s litter mates) is a fawn pied. Werner (Mia and Tanner’s boy) is a sable pied (on the non-white areas he has a fawn base with black tipped hairs and some black hairs mixed in). Skylee (Werner’s sister) is all white with a red fawn spot and a brindle tail. Katie, Bentley and Samson are perfect examples of the rare and beautiful blue pieds. Katie and Bentley are blue-fawn pied, and Samson is a blue brindle pied. There are a few lighter colored hairs mixed in with Samson’s basic blue coat, but they are hard to see unless you are close to him. Belle and Samson had a couple of beautiful blue brindle pieds (Angel and Star). Kisses is a beautiful and rare chocolate brindle pied.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Bryn - brindle pied

Malone - brindle pied (Alya and Samson's son)

Stockton - fawn pied (Ayla and Samson's son)

Werner - sable pied (Mia and Tanner's son)

Skylee - fawn pied (Mia and Tanner's daughter)

Katie - blue fawn pied

Bentley - blue fawn pied (Katie and Darius

Samson - blue pied

Angel - blue pied (Belle's and Samson's daughter)

Star - blue pied (Belle's and Samson's daughter)

Chocolate Kisses - chocolate pied

Brindle  –   A brindle Frenchie has a coat that is predominantly a dark color (such as black, chocolate, or blue) with lighter hairs of another color mixed in (brindling may be heavy or light).   Frequently, there is a patch of white either on the chest, head, or neck areas of brindle dogs.  Storm (one of Bryn’s puppies) is a gorgeous heavy brindle (he almost has enough brindling to be called a tiger brindle). Ayla had a couple of adorable black brindles as well, with not as much brindling as Storm. Cute little Mia is also a brindle (black with lighter reddish tan brindling). Fudge is a dark chocolate brindle with very little brindling. Beautiful Belle is a blue brindle while Godiva is a chocolate brindle. (According to the AKC guidelines, all brindle dogs have acceptable coloring, including blues and chocolates, which are both recessive colorings and therefore quite rare. We are aware of several blue and chocolate brindle dogs that have been entered into conformation competitions and have done well, although there are some in the Frenchie community who still hold prejudices against them, as unjustified as that may be.)

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Storm - brindle (Bryn's son)

Boozer - brindle (Ayla and Samson's son)

Mia - red brindle

Hot Fudge - brindle (chocolate carrier)

Belle - blue brindle

Godiva - chocolate brindle

Fawn  –  This description includes colors that are referred to as everything from Cream to Red.   Creams can range from egg shell to deep amber to rich butterscotch to palest gold.   Cream is generally considered to be a dilution of fawn, minus the masking gene. You can see that there is a wide range of interpretation about just what the color fawn is, but they are all very pretty (if you ask us). Ayla is a petite, golden fawn and she produced a couple of beautiful black faced fawn pups, Shaq and Jordan. Jordan is a golden fawn like his mom, while Shaq is a light fawn. Mia and Darius had a beautiful reddish fawn pup (Stoic) and a couple of black faced fawns, one of which is our Honey (AKA: Astrid), who is a light fawn. Sadie is a very beautiful dark red fawn.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Ayla - golden fawn

Shaq - fawn (Ayla and Samson's son)

Jordan - golden fawn (Ayla and Samson's son)

Stoic - red fawn (Mia and Darius' son)

Hiccup - fawn (Mia and Darius' son)

Honey / Astrid - fawn (Mia and Darius' daughter)

Sadie - red fawn

Blue or blue brindle  –   Blue 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).   Blue dogs are quite rare and command a higher price than standard colors, and we have neither seen nor experienced anything that would suggest that blues have any higher incidence of health issues than standard colors, regardless of what some naysayers will spout.  Belle is a blue brindle and had some gorgeous blue pups (Bull, Jett, Steel, Lakely and Heaven).   Samson (their daddy) is a heavy blue pied (meaning he has a lot more blue on his coat than white).  Bryn (our brindle pied blue-carrier female) had some gorgeous blue brindle puppies, Thunder (AKA: Thor) and Lightning.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Belle - blue brindle

Bull, Jett, Steele - blue brindles (Belle and Samson's boys)

Heaven - blue brindle (Belle's and Samson's daughter)

Samson - blue / blue pied

Thunder (Thor) & Lightning - blue brindles (Bryn's kiddos)

Thor (AKA: Thunder) - blue brindle (Bryn and Zeus' son)

Blue-fawn   –   This is a color variation of blue, wherein a fawn coat is diluted with coloring being seen most clearly in the masking points on the face.   There is a blue hue on a typical tan coat.   Generally, they have green/grey eyes.   These are also very beautiful and rare dogs.   Darius is an outstanding example of this coloration. Katie has a litter of pups with Darius which were all blue fawns, but the coloration varied from a light blue-fawn in Lexus to a dark blue-fawn in Maverick.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Darius - blue fawn

Katie and Darius' litter of blue fawns / blue fawn pied.

Lexus - blue fawn (Katie and Darius' lightest pup)

Maverick - blue fawn (Katie and Darius' darkest blue fawn)

Tiger brindle   –   This is a term reserved for Frenchies with a coat pattern comprising a fairly regular pattern of alternating fawn and black stripes, similar in appearance to the coat of a tiger.

Black (or seal) brindle  –  These dogs have a coat so dark that it may appear black, but a closer inspection will reveal at least a few lighter hairs.  One of Sadie’s puppies, Raven, is a beautiful seal-brindle.

Raven - seal brindle (Sadie's and Samson's daughter)

Reverse brindle  –   These Frenchies are brindle but the fawn color is more predominant than the dark or black brindling.

Chocolate   –   This is another rare Frenchie color which can range from a light milk chocolate brown to a fairly dark chocolate-brown.   Chocolate Frenchies have brown to light brown nose and nails and a variety of gorgeous eye colors which really set them apart, i.e., light brown, green, hazel, or piercing yellow/gold eyes like our petite chocolate pied girl, Kisses.   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 standard fawns.
Click on pictures to enlarge.

Chocolate Kisses - chocolate pied

Godiva - chocolate brindle

Sable – Another fairly rare coloring for the Frenchie is sable. Sable Frenchies have a fawn coat (usually a darker or reddish fawn) 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. Tanner is a very handsome dark sable boy who produced a gorgeous dark sable boy (Braven) with Mia.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Tanner - sable

Braven - dark sable (Mia and Tanner's boy)

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 puppies also inherits the recessive pied gene from both parents. We will also be breeding for these colors in the near future.

Black and 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 is the blue & tan (blue with tan points) since both the recessive tan points (or tan points and recessive black) and the recessive dilute genes must be inherited from both parents. Both black & tan Frenchies and blue & tan Frenchies 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 dog 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.

Acceptable, but penalized, coloring:
Ticked pied   –   This refers to Frenchies that have obvious 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 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, so it is really a matter of personal taste.

Hopefully, this helps you better understand the colors and patterns available on Frenchies.   It is quite a variety for sure.  While we do not have adult dogs that represent every possible color or color pattern at this time, we do have a good selection, and we will be adding more varieties in the future as we find just the right French Bulldogs to include in our family.   Hopefully, we will have the perfect Frenchie for you.

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