Showsight August 2020



A s every fancier knows, the French Bulldog comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns—some of which are acceptable according to the AKC stan- dard and others that are not. The colors found in the French Bulldog are masked fawns, fawns, and creams. The patterns found in French Bulldogs are piebald and brindle. Urajiro markings (pale tan or cream to white markings similar to the tan points on black and tan dogs—except they appear in fawn color coats as well as in black and tan coats) are also known to occur in French Bulldogs, but are extreme- ly rare. Tan point and cross-bred merle Frenchies are favorites of “color breeders.” The alterations to pigment caused by the autosomal recessive genes on the D (Dilute) Locus and B (Brown) Locus, much sought after by color breeders and commonly referred to as “blue” and “chocolate” or “liver,” have the ability to alter the appearance of each of the patterns and colors previously noted. It is enough to make a breeder’s head spin, so it is best to start the exploration of coat color genetics with the most common color/ pattern found in French Bulldogs—brindle. As a starting point, it is important to note that all brindle dogs are genetically yel- low, a result of inheriting a dominant gene for yellow at the A (Agouti) Locus as well as a dominant gene for masked fawn or fawn at the E (Extension) Locus. The combina- tion of these genes allows for the expression of pheomelanin, or red/yellow pigment, while also permitting black pigment in the coat. All brindle French Bulldogs would be a masked fawn or fawn if a brindle gene had not been inherited. The brindle pattern normally appears as black stripes (the result of the black pig- ment eumelanin) which partially extend over the body of the dog. The stripes can vary in quantity from a few to very many. Dogs can have so few or such faint brindle mark- ings that they may not be recognized as being brindle. Such dogs are called “cryptic brindles,” and will be registered as masked fawns or fawns, and will produce brindle offspring. Alternatively, dogs may be so heavily marked that they may appear to be black. There has always been concern that the very heavily marked brindle Frenchies might somehow or another mutate to black, so the standard disqualifies what appears to be black French Bulldogs. It is important that French Bulldogs have enough fawn hair to satisfy the standard requirements. To determine whether or not fawn hair is present, look closely at individual hairs on dogs that initially appear to be completely black. If light colored hairs are seen—however sparse they might be—then it is evi- dence of the underlying fawn color. This is especially important in evaluating heavily brindled pied dogs. A stripe pattern in the lighter colored hair is not required to satisfy the standard, nor are light colored hairs required in each brindle spot of a brindle pie- bald. In addition, there are “seal brindle” French Bulldogs just as there are seal Boston Terriers, where the fawn and black hairs are so evenly distributed and intermixed that the dog appears to be an off-black color.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Linda J. Moore has bred dogs for over 40 years and has judged French Bulldogs since 2006, with assignments on three continents. As a pre-teen, she bred Shetland Sheepdogs and mastered the inheritance of coat colors in that breed. She then went on to have a lifelong interest in genetics and coat color inheritance in dogs. As an undergrad at the University of Tulsa, she studied genetics while pursuing her BS in psychology. On occasion, she writes articles for publication on coat color inheritance.


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