Like other bulldogs, the Merle French bulldogs, too, have a sweet disposition and easy-going temperament. But the following features set them apart from other bulldogs:
You’ve probably come across a puppy with a gorgeous, patchy coat and an adorably squished face. That’s right; we’re talking about the unique and adorable Merle French Bulldog.
So what sets it apart from your regular Frenchie?
Nothing except for a gene! Yes, you heard that right.The Merle Gene in French Bulldogs is responsible for that striking coat with beautiful patterns of diluted colors that makes this breed so popular.
But what about their personalities? They’re just as loving as your typical French Bulldog.
This article will take you through all you need to know about the Merle French Bulldog, especially how they get those peculiar coats.
When it comes to dogs, especially Frenchies, merle simply refers to a pattern on their coats which can range from tiger stripes to spots and patches. Their coats come in a variety of colors and patterns, and heredity and genetics determine their appearance.
This combination of colors and patterns makes the Merle French Bulldog look absolutely stunning and adorable. A Merle pattern can come in various colors, but typically the pattern is a gorgeous marbling of darker colors against a lighter shade.
These types of coats can only be inherited. Also, Merle genes carry the DNA code that determines the color of a dog’s eyes, paw pads, and nose.
And the French Bulldogs aren’t the only ones that can have merle genes!
Australian Shepherds, Great Danes, Koolies, Bergamasco Shepherds, and Dachshunds make it to the list.
— ajnabullies (@ajnabullies1) November 21, 2022
Yes, Merles are highly uncommon. And the blue merle is the rarest color in the Frenchie breed. But don’t let the name fool you into thinking a full-grown blue merle french bulldog has a blue coat. Far from it, actually. Its coat will have you thinking of cookies and cream — gray with spots and very different from the typical French Bulldog. But its eyes will remain bright blue throughout its lifetime.
Blue Fawn and Platinum are the other rare colors.
Multiple factors contribute to their exorbitant price tags. A Merle Frenchie can range anywhere from $6000 to a whopping $50,000, and the blue Merle Frenchie is the priciest of the lot.
And the fact that their coats look so exotic only adds to their appeal.
Merle Frenchies are a rare breed primarily because they are prone to a fair amount of health issues. So breeders have to be extremely careful and selective during the breeding process.
Picture a regular french bulldog but with patches and splotches all over it. The Merle french bulldog has a coat full of stripes, patches, or speckles.
It’s also interesting to note that a specific gene is responsible for their unique appearance. “The Merle color comes from recessive genes”, says Kevin Merritt, a former loan servicing specialist.
The breed can be described as having a coat with a mottled pattern, nose and paws with affected skin pigmentation on their nose and paws, and either blue or odd-coloured eyes. Not to forget the iconic triangle-shaped ears, large, short snouts, and wrinkly folds common with every other Frenchie.
The merle is considered to be a small to medium-sized dog, typically like any other French bulldog. The difference only lies in the color and genetic variations. Male dogs of the breed usually weigh between 20-28 pounds, while female merles weigh between 16-24 pounds.
Owing to their chunky bodies and heavy-set muscles, these dogs are classified as medium-sized rather than tall. The male merle Frenchie tends to be heavier than the female, but by a small margin.
That said, the weight and height of your merle French bulldog puppy will depend on its diet and lifestyle.
A well-balanced diet will ensure your merle French bulldog puppy grows into a healthy adult merle Frenchie. A well-balanced diet should include proteins and healthy fats in addition to essential minerals and vitamins. A report by the Merck Veterinary Manual states that while growing pups have higher nutritional requirements, adults of the breed require a diet that comprises 18% protein and 5% fat.
High-quality animal proteins from poultry, meat, and fish are a good choice since they are the easiest to digest. While proteins contribute to healthy muscles and lean body mass, fats are a source of energy. Good fats like omega fatty acids which will support your Frenchie’s skin and coat health.
Future Stud Blue Merle French bulldog 💙 pic.twitter.com/dcqWEEFs6C
— mudcityfrenchiez (@mudcityfrenchie) June 30, 2021
Did you know? “Merle is the gene that causes irregular changes in a dog’s coats, pads, eyes, and nose by removing pigment”, says Saba Shaikh from Petco Park, San Diego.
So, what makes a Merle French Bulldog?
We already know that Merle is a genetic condition that causes a distinct pattern on a dog’s coat.
This gene causes a variety of pattern styles, from solid to piebald. While it primarily affects the coat, it can also cause heterochromia iridis, a condition in which both eyes are of different colors.
Genetic issues like lower melanin, lower amino acid, etc., also contribute to their light eyes and pigmentation around the body.
Merle dogs have the genotype Mm, which means they have one merle (M) allele and one non-merle allele (m). If you cross a non-merle dog (mm) with a merle dog (Mm), you will get a litter of puppies that are half merle and half non-merle. A dog with a single copy of the M allele will have a merle coat.
Merle Frenchies come in several stunning colors like:
Lilac merle French Bulldogs are unique, equally rare, and come from parents with blue, chocolate, and merle genes. Often mistaken for blue merle French Bulldogs, their gorgeous coat color is a subtle blend of gray and light lilac, and their eyes are a glowing red.
As the name suggests, this pup will sport a rich chocolatey color with dark brown or black patterns. The color is among the rarest French Bulldog colors and is the result of rare and recessive genetics.
These Frenchies have predominantly white or eggshell-colored coats with one or many large, dark-colored patches around the eyes and ears, on the back, and under the neck. Interestingly, Pied is not a color in itself but rather the pattern of the coat.
These beautiful and very rare pups are a combination of lilac and blue merle french patterns. However, they err more on the grayish shade. An Isabella Frenchie is an offspring of parents with both blue and chocolate genes and is often referred to as a Lilac French Bulldog because of the similarity in coloring and coat.
While brindle typically means a dark color mixed with lighter colored hair, the brindle and white merle French Bulldog is a white pup speckled with much darker brown patterns all over
— Dakotian Laikas (@dakotianlaikas) October 30, 2021
On a lighter note, it appears the merle gene in this breed is probably acting out. A Fawn Merle French Bulldog typically has a lighter tan-colored coat but the merle gene in the breed erases pigments from random patches of its coat. The result is a haphazard pattern of pale fur spread across a solid fawn coat.
Merle French Bulldogs are known for their affable personalities. They are very affectionate and are the ideal companion dogs, happy to spend time with their owners. If you spot a Frenchie around, chances are it is hot on its human’s heels.
They are amazing with children and other animals and adore almost everyone they meet! They are heartwarming, silly, and goofy. Their easy-going nature also makes them very adaptable — a companion dog through and through.
French Bulldogs are bright, sociable, lively, keen, playful, eager, and affectionate. But that’s not all. They can be quite an intelligent breed too. If only their stubbornness didn’t come in the way!
The “bull” in their name is a fair indication of a dominant personality trait — these dogs can be “bull-headed”, stubborn, and hard to train. But, it’s a smart idea to have treats handy when you want to teach them a trick or two.
They also suffer from a fair share of separation anxiety. But, this can be managed effectively through socialization at a young age and enough training with positive reinforcement.
Sure, the merle Frenchie is an adorable dog with loads of rewarding qualities and a brilliant temperament. But the sad truth is that this breed is susceptible to several health conditions, most commonly genetic deformities. Its unique genetic condition makes this breed prone to a vast slew of issues like stunted limbs, blindness, or deafness.
The deafness is a result of a missing pigment in their inner ears. Unbelievable right? But the truth is that the coat’s color can significantly affect hearing.
Deafness is also more common in white and Merle Frenchies and can happen in either one ear or both. The defect occurs at birth or can develop over time.
Due to coded genetic issues, most merle Frenchies have allergies, immune problems, heart murmurs, and hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is particularly painful and happens when the socket and ball joint in the hip hasn’t formed correctly since birth.
This results in gait and motion issues and can eventually lead to hip arthritis.
Another health issue, albeit rare, is degenerative myelopathy — a progressive disease that typically attacks the spine.
Before getting a merle Frenchie, remember they can have eye defects too. Microphthalmia, typically characterized by a small eye, is a congenital disability common in this breed. Dogs with this issue may be born blind. Iris hypoplasia, or thinning of the iris, and corectopic — an off-centered pupil are also common.
Did you know? A merle Frenchie breeding with another merle Frenchie, results in what is known as a double merle. Most of the time, these offspring could be born deaf owing to a lack of hair pigment produced in the inner ear. A double merle can also suffer from blindness. The Merle coat may look lovely, but with it, it carries the genetic code for lighter eyes. This combination of white coat and light eyes results in a lack of pigment, which can also cause blindness.
Fret not. Just because you have a merle Frenchie does not mean it will suffer from health issues. Choosing one from a reputed breeder will ensure your pup has a far better chance of being safe from common genetic ailments.
A healthy diet, a happy home, and an active lifestyle also hugely contribute to maintaining your merle Frenchie in the pink of its health!
The AKC does not consider Merle a standard breed color. Despite that, most Merle French Bulldogs are recognized and can be registered by the American Kennel Club.
This applies to other breeds with Merle colorings and patterns as well.
Yes, you can. But this practice is widely considered unethical because of the many genetic impairments the offspring might have.
“If you breed two merle dogs together, you can expect a 25% chance for every puppy that the puppy will be crippled, with serious eye and ear defects being the most likely form of defects seen”, says Rachel Neumeier, Masters in Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, University of Illinois.
Yes! Merle French bulldogs have blue, light-colored eyes because of the low levels of melanin in their body.
No, Merle Frenchies are a result of selective breeding.
A blue merle is the rarest of them all and is usually bred only by the most reputed breeders. This is why they can sometimes cost up to 50,000 USD.
French bulldogs are selectively bred for the stunning color patches and pigmentation on their skin. These breeds are extremely rare because they can’t be purebred — meaning they don’t exist naturally.
In fact, the color pattern was first achieved by cross-breeding a French Bulldog with a Merle Chihuahua!
Merle French Bulldogs are very uncommon, exotic, and exorbitant. Prices can range from $7,500 to $50,000, and in some cases, even six figures. Be wary of breeders selling ‘cheap’ French Bulldogs because there are many French Bulldog scams and backyard breeders out there.
A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.