My dog Jill is a fawn French Bulldog, an acceptable color within the breed standard. (Photo by Karen Dibert)
My dog Jill is a fawn French Bulldog, an acceptable color within the breed standard. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

Why You Don’t Want Purebred Dogs in Rare Colors

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I’m seeing an alarming trend in purebred dog breeding that disturbs me: Rare colors within a breed have become trendy. This fad isn’t new, but it is gaining traction and will be the downfall of purebred dogs, through the ignorance of breeders and owners alike.

As a retired breeder of French Bulldogs, I know they have many acceptable colors, but there are some that registering organizations do not allow. Not because they’re new, or from a hidden gene that suddenly emerged, but because they have been proven to harm the breed in some way. The same holds true with other breeds as well.

A cream Frenchie purbred dog in a standard color.
Cooper is a cream Frenchie, a standard color within the breed. (Photo by Alicia Kerns)

Frenchies who are all white or all black with no trace of brindle carry the deaf gene, and can produce blue-eyed dogs with eye problems. Liver or chocolate colors, as seen commonly (and safely) in Labradors, can produce yellow-eyed Frenchies with early blindness or juvenile cataracts. These are health issues that no pet parent wants to deal with, and ones that should never be imposed on an animal because a breeder wants to make money on a “rare color” or a person wants an unusual-looking pup. A good breeder will never risk a dog’s health, and a good owner has the responsibility of researching the breed they are getting.

A purebred Frenchie dog in a standard cream color.
Louie, a cream Frenchie, advocates for No Fad Colors. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

Other colors considered rare in French Bulldogs are the black and tan (like a Doberman), and the all black with no trace of brindle. These colors are so dominant that when used for breeding, will eliminate all other colors in the bloodline. It would be sad, indeed, to lose healthy fawns, brindles, creams, and pieds because a handful of unethical and uneducated people wanted blacks as well as black and tans.

The blue color is the biggest trend of all for Frenchies. They’re being bred and sold so quickly that there are waiting lists for the puppies. Blues (colored like a Weimaraner) have been more of an issue with the breed than any other fad color. This color tends to produce yellow- or green-eyed dogs, which as noted above can lead to blindness.

A blue French bulldog.
Blue French Bulldog by Shutterstock.

In addition, the color carries a genetic disorder that causes dry, scaly skin and hair loss. While this won’t be evident in a puppy, as the dog gets older problems will develop. Healthy dogs live longer, and cause less stress and worry for their pet parents. Setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache, at your beloved pup’s expense, isn’t worth a designer color or a trending fad.

Please do your research before buying a dog of a particular breed. Sacrificing your pet’s future health, or contributing to your favorite breed’s eventual health decline, is not worth the bragging rights of having a rare dog. These are living creatures who suffer from our stupidity — not a handbag we’ll toss aside when it gets worn. Be a responsible owner, and enjoy your dog’s long healthy years as a result.

About the author: Karen Dibert is a wife, mom, and dog lover living in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. She has five kids, three French Bulldogs, and a flock of useless chickens. Karen authors a pet column for her local newspaper, advocates for her son with Down syndrome, manages Louie the French Dog’s Instagram accounts, compulsively photographs everything, and lives in the sewing room, filling orders for her Etsy shops, The French Dog, The French Dog Home, and Collar The Dog. A snapshot of her life can be seen on Facebook.

28 thoughts on “Why You Don’t Want Purebred Dogs in Rare Colors”

  1. You know what else inbreeding and line breeding locks in? Bad traits. I agree that pedigree’s should be studied, but only in the interest of breeding complimentary dogs, and lineages, not in breeding dogs with the same pedigree’s with variation. The closer you breed your dogs, the shorter their maximum potential lifespan becomes and the more likely you are to have bad traits double up.

  2. No. Many of us just know how genetics actually work and detest the spread of harmful misinformation. The Dilution gene does not cause any health problems, careless breeding causes health problems. Dilution is a harmless colour mutation, just like brindle, black, sable, red, chocolate, etc. CDA is a seperate issue that expresses in the presence of the Dilution gene. Most dilutes are unaffected except in Dobermans.

  3. No, they were simply stating the truth. This article is full of fallacies at best, lies at worst, depending on the knowledge of the writer. The person who wrote this article understands absolutely nothing of genetics.

    You are mistaking correlation for causation. The known gene variations responsible for dilution and chocolate are completely harmless. They don’t cause any health issues at all.

    Despite what the article claims, Juvenile cataracts is caused by a mutation in HSF4 gene, which has been identified and is now testable. The Chocolate gene is caused by a loss-of-function mutation on the TYRP1 gene. There is another gene in French Bulldogs responsible for a very dark brown coat called the Cocoa gene caused by a nonsense mutation on the HPS3 gene. It is unknown if the Cocoa gene causes health problems in dogs at this point in time, though none have been reported yet. All 3 of these genes are completely unrelated, and they are all testable.

    Black & Tan is recessive. Brindle, Fawn and Cream are all dominant to Tan Points.

    The Dilution gene is also harmless. Although CDA is a condition that effects some blue and lilac dogs, it is not fully understood and has yet to be identified. What is known is that it is unrelated to all known variations of the Dilution gene. It is thought to be caused by either an unidentified variation on the Dilution Locus or an unrelated recessive gene that only expresses in the presence of the Dilution gene. Most blue dogs in most breeds are at very low risk for CDA, the exception being Dobermans which are heavily affected. CDA is unreported in 100% Dilution breeds. CDA also expresses by 3 years, so a simple way for breeders of blue dogs to ensure they’re not breeding dogs with CDA is to wait until the dog is 3 years before breeding with it.

    Merle is only harmful when it is doubled up. Double Merles can be avoided by never breeding 2 Merles together or any Merle to a Recessive Red or a clear Red because red hides Merle. Double Merles are often deaf, blind or both. Single Merles are unaffected. Merle to Pied should also be avoided.

    Any issues common in the aforementioned colours is due to careless breeding, not the mutations responsible for the colours. Even Merle related health issues are caused by careless or ignorant breeding.

    If French Bulldog breeders were truly concerned about the health of their breed, they would breed dogs with a longer snout, tighter eyelids, and open nares. But of course those are all “breed features” so who cares if they have restricted breathing and eye issues. Don’t kid yourself, people against breeding certain colours are only against it because they’re not accepted in the breed standard.

  4. Some problems with info here…black and tan (atat) is NOT dominant to other colors on the A series. It’s recessive. Also, Weims are dilute chocolate. Blue is dilute black.

  5. I take exception to these points in the article:

    1) Frenchies who are all white or all black with no trace of brindle carry the deaf gene

    This is mostly FALSE. Solid white dogs, dogs with white on the ears [pieds] have been genetically linked to deafness, however any color Frenchie could carry the deaf gene and any color Frenchie could be deaf; this is why we BAER test to remove these dogs from the gene pool. There is ZERO genetic link to black dogs carrying the deaf gene.

    2) Frenchies who are all white or all black with no trace of brindle… can produce blue-eyed dogs with eye problems.

    SOME blue eyed dogs MAY have eye problems, and there appears to be a genetic link for ALBINO white dogs to produce eye issues. This is certainly NOT true for black dogs and white dogs that are NOT albino.

    3) Liver or chocolate colors, as seen commonly (and safely) in Labradors, can produce yellow-eyed Frenchies with early blindness or juvenile cataracts.
    There is no genetic link to chocolate producing early blindness or juvenile cataracts, there IS however a DNA test that breeders can utilize to see if dogs of ANY pattern or color carry the gene for juvenile cataracts. Chocolate Frenchies are not prone to health problems more than any other color and can safely be bred.

    4) Other colors considered rare in French Bulldogs are the black and tan (like a Doberman), and the all black with no trace of brindle. These colors are so dominant that when used for breeding, will eliminate all other colors in the bloodline.
    It is true that solid black is dominant, however the tan point pattern is recessive. A recessive gene cannot ‘take over a bloodline’ unless you breed for it and try to produce it on purpose. Same with black – you don’t let it ‘take over’ your breeding program by NOT breeding from solid black individuals. Controlling a color or pattern is no different than breeding away from any other undesirable traits like floppy ears or sickle hocks.

    5) The blue color is the biggest trend of all for Frenchies. They’re being bred and sold so quickly that there are waiting lists for the puppies. Blues (colored like a Weimaraner) have been more of an issue with the breed than any other fad color. This color tends to produce yellow- or green-eyed dogs, which as noted above can lead to blindness. In addition, the color carries a genetic disorder that causes dry, scaly skin and hair loss.

    This is simply not true. While DILUTES can carry Color Dilution Alopecia, again, IF present in a blue or dilute specimen you do not use that animal in a breeding program. There are many blue and dilute dogs being bred in other breeds without issue; the French Bulldog is no different.

    I will agree with this statement:

    A good breeder will never risk a dog’s health, AND a good owner has the responsibility of researching the breed they are getting…

    I think it is important to recognize that there ARE many, many breeders of French Bulldogs in colors and patterns that are NOT recognized by the AKC, UKC and CKC. There are also other registries that DO recognize the existence of, and allow in the ring, non-standard colors and patterns. Using an article with blatant falsehoods is not going to discourage people from purchasing a non-standard color French Bulldog, not in this day and age when they can easily do their own research on color genetics and see for themselves that this article is not by any means accurate.
    Breeders – if you breed to the AKC standard, be mindful that solid black does tend to dominate and be careful if you have one in your breeding program; use DNA testing to identify JC carriers and not breed from JC affecteds; and don’t forget about BAER as deafness happens in ALL colors of the French Bulldog.

  6. I agree with you totally. I am so sickened by what is going on with dog breeding. These babies already have issues even in there recognized colors. Breeding for all these fad/rare colors is all about money and no the welfare of the dogs. It sickens me on how the merle frenchie has come about. If you are going to spend 8 to 10,000 on a rare dog you better have a good vet bill savings account or buy insurance. 30 years ago I had my first frenchie and would have never ever seen these rare/fad colors and the dogs were healthier. Wake up people.

  7. BouledogueFrancais

    The dog in the photos is a non-recognised colour! You won’t find cream, or the other colours mentioned in the breed standard, and I can’t see the SCC or CBF condoning any of them one day soon. Sometimes tradition is enough

  8. How do I find a reputable breeder who is doing everything correctly with the dogs health the priority. My family wants a dog for us not for shows and are drawn to the “rare” colors because to us they look better. I won’t support anything harmful to the dogs health. I want to make sure we buy from a reputable breeder. Are there certain questions I should ask to see that will help identify any red flags with the breeder? I live in VA but am happy to travel to get one.

    1. Hi Mani,
      Thanks for reaching out. If you’re interested in getting your dog from a breeder, please carefully do your research.
      Some reputable breeders and advice for finding reputable breeders can be found here:
      https://www.dogster.com/purebred-hybrid-dog-breeds/
      https://www.dogster.com/dogs-101/dog-breeding-facts-and-basics
      https://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/finding-a-responsible-dog-breeders-guide

    2. Know the breed standard and the health issues for your breed. Go to the national website for your breed. They will have a list of breeders. Call the breeders that are convenient for you. Ask if they test for the health issues for the breed and ask to see certification for these tests.(Alternately, go to www.ofa.org and type in the name of the sire or dam, testing reported by ofa will be shown for the dog you entered and more.) If the breeder does not do testing and or is not aware…do not buy a puppy. I would only buy a puppy that has registered parents and is itself eligible to be registered.

  9. Chrissy Stewart

    I’m baffled as to how people can make statements on health related issues , and get it printed as fact, with no supporting evidence or links to scientific studies !! New Zealand Kennel club ban the “rare” coloured French and British Bulldogs with no studies backing their claim that black, blue, chocolate and lilac colours are detrimental to the dogs health. It’s well known that breeding a merle over another merle can have serious health issues, however, it is also clear (through scientific research) that extreme pied Frenchies and pure white Frenchie and British Bulldogs are genetically at risk of hearing and or sight issues, yet these colours remain acceptable within the breeders and the NZKC !! When questioning any breeder and/or club member I’m met with hostility and quickly banned from their group! Shocking.

  10. I so think that there is good and bad on all sides.

    The reason I hate the restricting of breeding any colour is that inbreeding occurs by those trying to get a dog that will win a ribbon or trophy!!!!

    As long as the dog is put first and is healthy and loved I say everyone knock yourself out if it floats your boat. 🙂

    1. Inbreeding and line breeding will lock in good traits by those who study pedigrees and know what they are doing.. but you are applauding those who want to make money by trying to flog their poor quality but weird colored pups and denigrating decent breeders. I would rather have a puppy from a breeder who shows and does health testing that from a pet breeder who has not a clue about genetics and whose dogs bear little resemblance to a quality dog when put side by side.

        1. This is simply impossible without some kind of time-travel, and the causality paradox would be mind-boggling.

          A better example of inbreeding would be where a dog is both father and uncle to a puppy.

  11. I agree with you on these issues, actually. All the genetic testing that is available nowadays can, and often does, rule out hereditary issues as well as keeping a certain color from becoming predominant. However, I also know that many, many breeders are not having genetic testing done for either health or color reasons, and are breeding dogs simply because they have dogs to breed. These are the ones causing problems and allowing hereditary issues to run rampant within any breed of dog. Cautioning what *can* happen, I feel, is a good idea. Unfortunately, those who need to read this and take appropriate action, most likely aren’t.

    1. Why not write a truthful article then? The above is not factual. There are breeders in any registry, breeding standard and non-standard colors and patterns (they are NOT rare!) who place profit over health. So if you are honestly concerned about what can happen, be factual- not political. Bad health in dogs is about ignorant and careless breeding choices, NOT colors or patterns.

  12. Wow, you know nothing about the genetics behind dog breeding. The only coat colour proven to lead to deaf and blind dogs is merle (white or dapple white). Cataracts and blindness has nothing to do with eye colour. Heritable cataracts can be tested in french bulldogs as well as Progressive retinal atrophy which causes blindness.

    The black you refer to that will harm your dog, will do no such thing. These black dogs carry a dominant black gene that masks any other colour yet can be bred with other colours to eventually produce non-black dogs. Two dominant black dogs can also be crossed to produce non-black dogs if they carry only one copy of the dominant black gene each.

    I am very sad that people like you propagate such lies. You and breeders like you are why strange coloured puppies are killed at birth and dogs are so extremely inbred. Please do your research before you post lies on the internet.

    1. Deaf and Blind is not the only health risk with fad colors.

      Blue/Mouse/grey colors have a risk of CDA.

  13. Such a huge lie! Misleading the public because you support a cause!
    Standard color frenchies and bulldogs are always in the vet hospital for numberous issues. Haven’t you ever heard of brachycephalic syndrome

    The breed specific genetic issues aren’t apart of the color coat of the dog! That is a huge fallacy!

    I cringe at all these article that spew out hatred Particularly targeting the coat color of a dog!

    Genetic health tests can detect carriers of certain defects. It is now know to be recessive in nature and can be bred out or avoided by ethical breeding practices and genetic screening!

    How about write an article on what UC DAVIS or animal genetics are doing to stop what you call “good breeder” which is a total false since all I see Are brindle l, red, fawns dogs in hospitals being treated for every ailment under the sun!

    They provide a service to Breeders to health test thier dogs and they match those to other dogs that are cleared to provide a healthy and happy either standard or color frenchie or bulldog…period!

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

    1. It is you who are trying to keep to a fad and promote breeding for financial gain.

      There is ample evidence that these fad colors cause added health problems to a breed that already suffers from breed specific ailments. Why would you risk further hurting the breed?

      These genes for blue and merle come with increased chances of illness.
      I cringe at your ignorance.

    2. I agree to your comments completely. Unless someone can show actual statistics on health issues described above on blue or lilac and tan etc then the above is just lies and ignorance. All Frenchies have health issues. Breed standards are just created and can be updated at anytime. Just as new breeds are recognized at anytime.

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