The French bulldog is the UK’s most popular dog breed, with French bulldogs in great demand among puppy buyers all over the UK. They are also one of the most expensive dog breeds to buy, with Kennel Club registered dogs changing hands for an average of £1,526, and unregistered dogs for an average of £1,341. However, it is not at all uncommon for dogs of the breed to cost over £3,000, and figures well north of the £10,000 mark are not particularly unusual either.
Some of the most expensive French bulldogs for sale command the very highest prices because they are so-called “rare” colours, which again, are in great demand among buyers. However, if you are considering buying a French bulldog advertised as a rare colour, it is important to get the facts – and know what you are getting into.
There are only three core permitted colours for French bulldogs under the breed standard, and dogs of other colours are not eligible to win awards in Kennel Club breed shows and other events. The reason that other colours are not formally recognised is because these unusual colours come with the added risk of health issues or causing problems across the breed as a whole – and these are facts that all prospective French bulldog buyers should be aware of.
In this article, we will outline the permitted colours under the French bulldog breed standard, and explain what colours are not permitted – and why. We’ll also examine the limitations placed on French bulldogs of undesirable colours – and what it means if you buy a puppy that is Kennel Club registered with an unrecognised colour. Read on to learn more.
There are only three main colour groups that are recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK, and these are fawn, brindle and pied. White dogs are permitted too, but they are classed as pied.
Dogs of other colours such as pure black, black and white, chocolate, grey, blue, merle and lilac are not permitted under the breed standard, and are not considered to be appropriate colours for dogs of the breed by either the Kennel Club, or responsible French bulldog breed clubs.
The full list of all of colour variants that are accepted by the Kennel Club are:
There are a huge range of other colours that have been bred into the French bulldog breed over time, which may be described as shades like blue or any variation of blue (such as blue fawn or blue pied) slate, lilac, steel grey, and shades of liver, chocolate and tan – as well as merle. Merle is a completely forbidden colour within the breed, and the Kennel Club will not register merle puppies at all.
Many of these colours are of course very beautiful as well as distinctive, which means that they’re often in great demand among puppy buyers – but there is more to these colours than meets the eye, and there is a very good reason why they are not desirable within the breed, despite their demand among buyers.
Colours in the blue spectrum come with an increased risk of health problems in dogs – because the gene that causes the blue shade does more than just produce a certain colour.
Within the French bulldog breed, blue colours increase the risk of a health condition called colour dilution alopecia (sometimes known as blue dog alopecia) that leads to chronic inflammation of the skin, and patchy hair loss across the coat of affected dogs.
This is serious enough in and of itself, but colour dilution alopecia can also cause much more acute issues too; including sore and cracked skin, which in turn increases the risk factors for skin infections as well. The effects of the blue colour gene can even cause a serious immune disorder in some breeds that proves fatal to pups soon after birth.
Other so-called rare colours like liver, chocolate, or black and tan aren’t naturally found within the French bulldog breed – which means that other breeds were brought into the breeding program at some point in the past in order to achieve these colour variants. Black and tan is also a dominant colour – which means that if dogs of that colour are bred from, it will contribute to the colour’s spread and potentially compromise the prevalence of the permitted colour variants across the breed as a whole in the future.
The merle colour is perhaps the greatest risk to the breed as a whole, because the merle gene carries a high risk of associated vision and hearing problems in dogs. This is such a problem that the Kennel Club won’t even register merle French bulldogs at all, even if their pedigree is otherwise impeccable.
Aside from merle French bulldogs, which the Kennel Club will not register, all of the other colours we have mentioned as highly undesirable (and yet, that are often marketed as “rare” and much in demand) can be registered as pedigrees – with some caveats.
Colours other than those listed as acceptable variants of pied, fawn and brindle are registered as “colour not recognised by the Kennel Club.” This means that the dog can still be registered as a pedigree and receive their formal Kennel Club paperwork, but indicates that the dog’s colour falls outside of the breed standard and is highly undesirable.
If you are considering buying a French bulldog puppy that is registered as “colour not recognised,” be very careful – they may have an increased risk of health problems, as well as being very limited in terms of their potential and formal recognition within showing circles, the Kennel Club, and French bulldog breed clubs.
All reputable breed clubs have their own codes of ethics for their members, and these will almost invariably include reference to undesirable colours, which may mean that neither you nor your dog will be eligible for membership – particularly if you intend to breed from your dog.
If your dog is a pedigree French bulldog with the appropriate paperwork to prove it, they are eligible to be entered in formal Kennel Club breed shows. However, judges are provided with very strict guidance that states that undesirable and unregistered colours must not be rewarded in the show ring – and so there is little point in entering.
If you to attempt to show a dog of an unrecognised colour, the judge will probably take a very dim view – as will other competitors who are showing dogs of approved colours and without corresponding health issues.
Not all prospective puppy buyers know that certain colours are unrecognised under the breed standard and that they may come accompanied by health issues – and breeding and selling so-called rare French bulldog colours is big business. Many such sellers market their dogs as highly desirable rare shades with a corresponding high price to match.
Unscrupulous breeders like this will often go to great lengths to keep it from their buyers that these colours are not only not permitted, but also potentially harmful to the dogs’ health, and the breed as a whole.
If you want to own a healthy dog that will not contribute to the ongoing problem of health issues within the breed, or outcrossing to unrelated breeds simply to achieve a different colour, avoid buying so-called rare or unrecognised colours.
Don’t fall for the hype, nor be taken in by the claims of unscrupulous sellers, who are often very persuasive and will say anything to convince you to make a purchase – there is a lot of money at stake for them if they succeed, after all.