I thought I’d write a second part to my article on French Bulldog coat colors, since it gives me a chance to get a terrible burden off of my chest –
I’ve been perpetuating a lie.
Yes, it’s true. All over the web, you’ll find sites parroting this line, from my initial article on coat colors and the French Bulldog FAQ –
“French Bulldogs come in a myriad of colors”
This is, I’m afraid, completely untrue. French Bulldogs, in actual fact, only come in one single coat color – the Golden Sabel/Dominant yellow of the Agouti or ‘A’ series. It’s carried as ay. Everything else we see, from brindle pied to fawn pied to ‘tiger’ brindle to blue fawn to ‘white’, is not a color, but a marking pattern, overlaying or somehow modifying that base coat color of Golden Sable.
It’s true. The genetic ‘base color’ of the French Bulldog is golden sable – think deep golden cream. All of the varying shades and colors in between – from vivid reds to pale buttery yellows to black tipped sable, are just variations on this initial color, thanks to modifiers such as the E Extension series or D Dilute series. It’s theorized that so called ‘blue’ or ‘mouse’ French Bulldogs are a result of the D series dilute gene (dd), but this is just conjecture.
While French Bulldogs might not have a wide variety of colors, what we do indeed have is a staggeringly large variety of marking patterns and modifiers to change the appearance of this one color. The basic patterns are –
Brindle, then, is a pattern of black stripes of varying thickness and degree of repetition, overlaying this base golden color.
Pied is a pattern of white markings interspersed with either self colored areas (fawn pied) or brindled areas (brindle pieds)
Heavily marked brindle or fawn dogs, which seem to sit on the fence between dogs with white markings, and pieds, are likely dogs carrying the si or Irish Spotting allele of the S series.
Black masked dogs are dogs of whichever color/pattern, carrying the black masking gene.
Of course, since Frenchies are Frenchies, and nothing can ever be simple in this breed, we have to deal with the appearance of Liver colored dogs, as well as those of Black and Tans. Both patterns are beyond my scope, or that of my outdated “Genetics of the Dog’ reference book, to explain, but I’m sure someone out there can give us a possible explanation for their occasional appearance.
All of what we know about French Bulldog coat color genetics is currently up in the air. Old theories are being overturned, new ones posited, and differences of opinion over the placement and indeed actions of the various alleles are apparently now commonplace.
What’s heartening is that new genetic testing is becoming available which will soon allow us to run a simple test and determine what color and patterns our dogs are without having to rely on the subjective appearance a dog seems to be – something that no two breeders can ever seem to agree on.
Perhaps soon, when asked what ‘color’ my dog is, I can reply by handing you a copy of his genetic blueprint. It would sure save a lot of arguing!