The merle French Bulldog is a super adorable pooch with an eye-catching appearance. For the most part, this dog is the same Frenchie everyone loves, only in a unique-looking coat.
But despite their mesmerizing looks, merle Frenchies are controversial dogs. Why is that?
Many pet lovers believe that the merle French Bulldog is the result of unethical breeding practices. Some claim that these dogs are very unhealthy, and therefore not ideal pets. But are these claims true?
If you want to learn more about the merle French Bulldog, we suggest you stick around. In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about the merle Frenchies, including some truths and misconceptions about them!
What Is a Merle French Bulldog? What Does “Merle” Mean in French Bulldogs?
The merle Frenchie is a variant of the French Bulldog that exhibits a speckled coat pattern. Merle Frenchies come in different colors such as the blue merle, black merle, lilac merle, and tan merle. Despite having an eye-catching appearance, merle Frenchies are often criticized for their health issues.
In dogs, the word “merle” describes a coat pattern that has irregularly shaped patches. These patches can be of various shades, such as a diluted color of the base coat. A dog with a merle pattern will have cow-like blotches all over its fur.
One thing that sets the merle Frenchie apart from other French Bulldogs is their coat genetics. Merles carry the M-locus, which is responsible for their mottled coat pattern.
According to experts, the merle gene was introduced to Frenchies by breeding them with merle Chihuahuas somewhere along the line. This means early generation merle Frenchies are not considered purebreds.
It is only after six generations that a merle Frenchie can pass as a purebred dog. While the merle is a unique look in French Bulldogs, it has some adverse effects on their health.
Are Merle French Bulldogs Rare?
Yes, merle Frenchies are pretty rare, but not for the reason you might think. Unlike other exotic colors, merles are not that difficult to breed. In fact, it’s pretty easy to have merle puppies. So what makes merle Frenchies rare?
One reason why merle Frenchies are rare is the controversy surrounding them. Many people believe that merle Frenchies are sickly and predisposed to life-threatening issues. In addition, merles cost thousands of dollars more than other Frenchie colors.
As expected, a high price tag and a pretty lousy health reputation is not an attractive proposition. This makes pet owners think twice about buying a merle fluffy French Bulldog!
Moreover, some kennel clubs do not recognize merle Frenchies. According to an official statement of The Kennel Club, they will no longer accept merle dogs for registration unless the breed natively carries the gene.
More and more kennel clubs are adopting this kind of policy. In turn, many pet owners who want to register their dogs in clubs end up picking a different breed. Sadly, all these factors result in the scarce population of the merle French Bulldogs.
Merle French Bulldog Appearance: What Does a Merle French Bulldog Look Like?
Aside from its merle coat, the merle Frenchie shares a similar appearance with other French Bulldogs. These pups have the same compact build and same squarish heads we’ve grown to love.
Merles also have the roach backs and bat ears of the standard French Bulldogs. These pooches also sport short and smooth coats that have irregularly shaped patches.
The most common eye colors for merle Frenchies are brown and black. However, some merles can also develop green or blue eyes.
Interestingly, the merle French Bulldog has a few color variations. These include blue merle French Bulldogs, black merle Frenchies, lilac merle Frenchies, and tan merle Frenchies. Let’s take a look at each one of these rare colored Frenchies!
Blue Merle French Bulldog
The blue merle is the rarest variant of the merle patterning in Frenchies. Most blue Frenchies are born with blue base coat color and blue eyes, which they retain as they grow up.
A blue merle Frenchie is also known as a blue-gene dog breed. However, despite the name, these pups actually have black genes. It just so happens that their black genes are diluted, giving off the appearance of a greyish blue.
Black Merle French Bulldog
The black merle is the darkest variation of the merle French Bulldog. This color combination results from a non-diluted black dominant color. A black merle pup has rich blacks that may appear chocolate in some lighting conditions.
Due to its appearance, a black merle Frenchie can be mistaken as a brindle French Bulldog.
However, one significant difference between a black merle and a brindle is in their pattern. Merles have irregular patches, while brindles have tiger-like stripes.
Lilac Merle French Bulldog
A lilac merle Frenchie, also known as the isabella merle, is a dog born with a blue coat and carries a dilute gene. Due to their coat genetics, true lilac merles will become paler as they age.
The final color of a lilac French Bulldog is greyish with hints of purple and a blue hue. Lilac color merles are amongst the most expensive merle Frenchies out there. This pooch is born from a dam or sire that carries both chocolate gene and dilute gene.
Tan Merle French Bulldog
Tan merle Frenchies have brownish spots on top of a tan base color. Sometimes, these dogs can have light brown or pink noses and light-colored paw pads.
On some occasions, tan merle Frenchies can have greyish spots on top of their solid tan coats. They may look similar to blue merles under some lighting conditions.
One way to tell if a Frenchie is a tan merle is by looking at the color of its forearm and forelegs.
To see some of the merle French Bulldog variations in action, watch this video:
Merle French Bulldog Size and Weight: How Big Will a Merle Bulldog Get When Fully Grown?
A fully grown merle Frenchie measures 16 to 28 pounds in weight and 11 to 13 inches in height. These dogs share the same size as other French Bulldog colors.
The French Bulldog is considered a small to medium dog breed. While these pups are descendants of toy Bulldogs, they aren’t considered to be toy-sized dogs. This is probably because of their chunky bodies and dense muscles.
Gender does not play a significant role in the size of a merle Frenchie. In general, males will still be slightly larger and heavier than females, but not much.
If the size is your concern when choosing a pet, you can’t go wrong with either the male or female merle Frenchie.
For reference, a full-grown merle Frenchie weighs around the same as a miniature Bull Terrier or an English Cocker Spaniel. Moreover, these pups are about twice as heavy as their tinier cousins, the teacup French Bulldog.
Merle French Bulldog Coat Color Genetics: How Do You Get a Merle Frenchie?
The merle coat is an exotic coat pattern in dogs. This pattern is a result of a particular locus known as the M-locus.
If a Frenchie carries a dominant gene of the M-locus, its coat will have the merle markings.
However, if it carries the recessive allele of the M-locus, it will not have merle markings, but it will still be considered a carrier of the merle gene.
The combined coat color genes determine whether a dog will be a black merle, blue merle, tan merle, or lilac merle.
It is believed that the merle gene was introduced to the French Bulldog somewhere down the line. In fact, many experts claim that the Frenchie was crossed with different breeds such as the Chihuahua to produce exotic patterns, such as merle.
To get a merle Frenchie, you need to breed a merle Frenchie with another Frenchie that has no merle gene.
You must stick to this combination when breeding merle French Bulldogs. Doing otherwise will produce a so-called “double merle.”
A double merle is a dog that is born from two heterozygous merles. Double merles have genetic issues, such as blindness, deafness, increased likelihood of tracheal collapse, and more. Physical deformities are also common in double merles.
Here’s a very simple explanation on how to breed a merle Frenchie:
Unfortunately, there’s always a risk of producing double merle Frenchies. The only way to ensure that you are breeding the right pair is to perform a DNA test on both dogs.
Accidentally breeding two merles may result in a very sickly litter. These accidental double merles are the reason why there’s so much controversy surrounding merle Frenchies!
Merle French Bulldog Kennel Club Recognition: Can Merle Frenchies Be AKC Registered?
Merle is not a recognized coat pattern in the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards for the French Bulldog. The said breed standards specifically mention merle as one of the disqualifications.
The only accepted coat colors and coat patterns for Frenchies are brindle, white, cream, fawn, and a few combinations of these colors.
So unless your Frenchie can pass as one of these colors, you won’t be able to register it to the AKC.
Another thing to note is that your Frenchie is not eligible to join AKC-hosted events if it is not AKC-registered. If you’re looking for pet shows, agility competitions, and other dog events, look elsewhere.
Some merle Frenchie owners were able to register their pooches to the Continental Kennel Club Inc. (CKC). You can also try them out if you really want your pup registered to a kennel club.
Merle French Bulldog Temperament and Personality: Are Merle French Bulldogs Good Family Dogs?
Yes, merle Frenchies are good family dogs. These pups are easy-going, loyal, and super playful. There is never a dull moment when this pooch is around!
Despite their relatively small stature, merle Frenchies are full of energy. For the most part, merles also share the same temperament as other Frenchie colors. They love goofing around, and they are pretty agile, too!
Merle French Bulldogs also do well with kids and other pets. They are adaptable to different kinds of living conditions as well.
However, the merle Frenchie may not be for you if you have a busy lifestyle. Frenchies can suffer from separation anxiety whenever they are left alone. So you may need to leave your pup to a pet daycare when you’re away.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a guard dog, you’ll be disappointed with the merle Frenchie! These pooches are extremely sociable, even to strangers.
All in all, if you want a unique dog that is adaptable and well-behaved, the merle Frenchie is for you. With proper training, this pup can be the best companion for your family!
Merle French Bulldog Lifespan and Health Issues: Are Merle French Bulldogs Healthy?
The lifespan of a merle Frenchie varies quite a lot. Healthy merle Frenchies can live anywhere around 11 to 13 years, while unhealthy ones only live approximately six to nine years.
The merle French Bulldog is not exactly known for its sound body. On the contrary, these pups get a bad rap for their health.
Many merle Frenchies are born blind or deaf, especially double merle dogs. Similarly, research shows that double merle Frenchies have an 86% chance of having congenital disabilities such as color dilution alopecia.
In addition to birth defects, double merle Frenchies have an increased likelihood of developing immune disorders and extreme allergies.
These dogs are also the most vulnerable to neurological defects, skin ruptures, and staph infections.
Below are some of the other health problems of merle French Bulldogs:
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when the ball and socket of a dog are misaligned. This condition causes severe pain when moving and can lead to deterioration of posture. A merle Frenchie with hip dysplasia may also become obese due to inactivity.
- Brachycephalic Syndrome: Brachycephalic syndrome is a common disorder in short-muzzled dog breeds, such as Pugs and French Bulldogs. This syndrome describes a group of airway abnormalities, including stenotic nares and laryngeal collapse.
- Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation, informally known as slipped stifles, is a condition characterized by the misalignment of the kneecap. This health problem is a congenital disease that shows signs later in a dog’s life. A merle Frenchie with a luxated patella will require surgery.
- Cleft Palate: Cleft palate is a common condition in all dogs but more so in merle Frenchies. This condition occurs when oral and nasal cavities separate from the mouth. Most cases of cleft palate are non-deadly, but it can drastically alter the quality of life of a dog.
As you can see, the health of a merle Frenchie is a bit of a mixed bag. The merle color affects more than just a dog’s coat. That said, this pooch may need a bit of extra care to stay in tip-top shape.
It is recommended to get a merle Frenchie only from a responsible breeder. This way, you can make sure that you are not getting a double merle dog.
How Much Does a Merle French Bulldog Cost? Puppy Prices and Expenses
The usual price of a merle French Bulldog is anywhere between $6,000 and $50,000. The rarest color of the merle Frenchie — the blue merle — can even cost upwards of $100,000!
To some, this price may seem ridiculous, but to others, this unique pup is worth every penny. If you plan to have a merle Frenchie as a pet, it is recommended to get one only from a reputable breeder.
Yes, it might be tempting to save thousands of dollars by picking up a merle Frenchie from a backyard breeder, but don’t fall for it. Keep in mind that getting an accidentally bred double merle is the last thing you’d want!
In terms of the recurring cost of owning a merle Frenchie, you should expect to pay around $180 per month. This covers the cost of dog food, vitamins, medication, and more.
For reference, this cost is on par with your expenses should you get a standard French Bulldog instead. If you are interested, you can check out our comprehensive guide on the cost of owning a French Bulldog for more information.
Places to Find Merle French Bulldog Puppies for Sale and Adoption
The merle Frenchie is quite a rare catch. You won’t find these dogs in most pet shops or shelters. But if you are patient, you might be able to snag one from the reputable breeders and rescues listed below.
Here are some reputable breeders where you can find merle French Bulldog puppies for sale:
- Exotic French Bulldogs – This is a small breeding facility located in California. With over 20 years of experience, this is one of the most trusted when it comes to rare French Bulldogs. They offer puppy shipping at an added cost, or you can drop by their headquarters at Riverside, CA.
- Francoeur French Bulldogs – Francoeur French Bulldogs is another awesome place to get a merle Frenchie puppy. Their merles are genetically tested and guaranteed against other health problems!
- Lancaster Puppies – Lancaster Puppies is a website where breeders can post dogs for sale. On this site, you’ll find dozens of listings for Frenchies. You just have to keep your eyes peeled for a merle!
Here are some places where you can find merle French Bulldogs for adoption:
- French Bulldog Rescue Network (FBRN) – FBRN is a Connecticut-based organization rehabilitating Frenchies and Frenchie mixes. This rescue has been around since 2001, and they are one of the most well-trusted in the area. Check out their adoptable Frenchies once in a while!
- French Bulldog Village (FBV) – FBV is a foster-based Frenchie rescue located in Pennsylvania. Dogs from this rescue are neutered/spayed, microchipped, and fully vaccinated. Make sure to check them out for merle Frenchies from time to time.
- Adopt-a-Pet – Adopt-a-Pet is a website that connects aspiring fur parents to rescues and shelters around the country. With a bit of patience, you’ll find a merle Frenchie on this site!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Merle Frenchies Bad?
The introduction of the merle gene to the French Bulldog breed took a toll on the breed’s health.
Many merle Frenchies are unhealthy or predisposed with life-altering conditions. All of these resulted in a bad rap for the merle Frenchies.
However, merle Frenchies are not bad per se. When properly bred, these pups can prove to be as healthy as other French Bulldogs.
Are Merle French Bulldogs Aggressive?
French Bulldogs are not aggressive. On the contrary, these pups are very friendly and affectionate. The only time a merle Frenchie may be aggressive is when it feels threatened or abused as a puppy.
Do Merle French Bulldogs Have Blue Eyes?
Most merle Frenchies are born with light-colored eyes such as blue, and many of them retain this eye color.
However, some merle Frenchies outgrow their bright blue eyes. Sometimes, these pups can also have green, dark brown, or black eyes.
Can You Breed Two Merle French Bulldogs?
Yes, you can technically breed two merle dogs; however, this practice is considered unethical and irresponsible. Breeding two merle Frenchies produces a so-called double merle dog.
Double merles are born with physical deformities and health conditions. If you intend on breeding a merle Frenchie, it is advised that you only breed one merle dog with a non-merle. In other words, merle dogs should only have one merle parent.
What Is the Rarest Color of French Bulldog?
According to breeders, the blue merle is the rarest color of the French Bulldog. Unsurprisingly, the blue merle is also the most expensive. This color is so rare because it is so hard to breed without defects.
Most blue merle Frenchies are born with physical defects and life-threatening health conditions. Other rare colors of the merle Frenchie are the lilac merle and tan merle.
Final Thoughts: Should You Get a Merle French Bulldog?
The merle Frenchie is a special dog that comes with special compromises. Yes, this pooch is a fantastic family pet, but it does not have the best health. Sure, the merle Frenchie is a unique-looking dog, but it also costs a pretty penny.
The takeaway here is that if you want an energetic and loving family companion, you can’t go wrong with the French Bulldog.
However, unless you want a super unique pup, you should probably skip the merle and go with a regular color of the same breed.