Lilac Merle French Bulldog – Everything you Need to Know

Lilac Merle French Bulldog

What is a Lilac Merle French Bulldog

This refers to a specific coloring and pattern combination which can be present on a French Bulldog. The color requires a combination of two sets of recessive genes. Merle on the other hand only requires one copy of the dominant gene to be displayed.

In order for the Lilac color to appear it requires the two following sets of recessive genes. The first is called the Dilution gene which is located in the D Locus, this can also be referred to as the Blue gene. Due to this being recessive it requires a copy of the gene to be passed on from both parents, this means if a Frenchie without this gene is bred then it will not be able to produce offspring which can be Blue.

The second gene required is the chocolate gene this is also referred to as the Cocoa gene. There are two different ways a Frenchie can be chocolate but it is only the Cocoa gene that produces Lilac. Similar to the Blue gene it requires both parents to pass on a copy of the Cocoa gene in order for the Chocolate color to be present. It’s the combination of both Blue and Chocolate being present which leads to the Lilac color.

Lastly the Merle gene affects the pattern present on the Frenchie. This leads to patches of darker fur shown across the coat creating a striking pattern effect. This will usually display itself as smaller patches around the face and larger patches across the body. There is however no uniform approach to this patterning which will make all Merles have their own unique look. Unlike the color genes the Merle gene only requires on copy of a positive gene to be present.

Double Merle

Whilst the Merle effect only requires one dominant Merle gene it can also have two copies of this gene. When this is present it is referred to as a Double Merle which unfortunately comes with a wide range of health issues. Due to this it is highly irresponsible to breed a Merle dog with another Merle, this is due to there being a 1 in 4 chance of a Double Merle being produced.

Are Lilac Merles Rare?

Due to the recessive color combinations and responsible breeders not breeding two sets of Merle dogs, Lilac Merles are considered rare. In isolation purchasing a Lilac Frenchie without Merle commands a premium price tag. In addition Merle can also be seen to command a premium price tag. The price of a French Bulldog is often a guide towards it’s rarity due to their not being enough of them to meet demand. These rarer combinations are becoming more commonplace however due to targeted breeding programs where these rare combinations our bred to each other (Merle excluded) to produce more of these unique colorings.

How can I tell if my Puppy is Lilac?

The best way to be sure a puppy is lilac is through DNA testing. This does not necessarily mean the puppy needs to be tested as if both the parents are confirmed as Lilac then the puppies will also be Lilac. If a DNA test is carried out the genes which will represent that a puppy is a Lilac will be referred to as coco (Cocoa gene) and dd (Dilution/Blue gene) the presence of capitalization in either of these sets of genetics indicates that the coloring is not present.

Outside of a DNA test there are signs which can help identify a Lilac Frenchie. The signs are usually in areas around their facial features. The first is the eyes, these are often Blue, Light grey or Amber. In addition to this the nose is often not the solid black color but a lighter grey color with pink markings around the eyes and mouth.

Is Lilac and Isabella the same?

Whilst these colors appear very similar to the eye there are genetic differences which separate the two. This is due to there being two different ways in which the Chocolate coloring can appear on a French Bulldog. The first being the Cocoa gene which leads to the Lilac color. The second is located in the B Locus and is referred to in a variety of ways. It is often called Testable Chocolate this is due to Cocoa formerly not being testable but this has recently changed, in addition it can also be referred to as Brown.

Telling the difference between the two is usually best left to a DNA test. As this will show the difference between whether Cocoa is present or Testable Chocolate. It is worth noting that only around 10% of Frenchies with this coloring are likely to be Isabella with Lilac being much more common.

Can Lilac Merle French Bulldogs be registered with a Kennel Club?

Merle French Bulldog Puppy

No, Lilac Merles can’t be registered due to a couple of different issues. The first relates to the Lilac color itself and the second due to the presence of the Merle gene.

Lilac is not able to be registered to the AKC and is classified as a fad color. This means they believe the color falls outside of the expected standard for French Bulldogs although this can change over time. In addition to this it is observed that Frenchie’s containing the dilution gene (Blue gene) can have additional skin issues. As Lilac requires this gene to be present they it also possible for this to be the case. As Kennel Clubs encourage breeding to be done to enhance attributes such as Health & Temperament it does not encourage breeding of Lilac.

Merle itself comes with additional health issues. Whilst there is the risk of producing Double Merle offspring which come with significant health challenges. There is also the risk that a Single Merle gene can also have a risk of health issues. Whilst no definitive study has been done into French Bulldog Merles a wider study took place into Merle. The results of this can be found here and evidenced a number of Single Merles to have hearing issues. This also rules Merle dogs out based on Health grounds.

Merle Health Issues

The below are issues which are almost always present in Double Merles but are also believe to be an increased risk in Single Merle dogs.

  • Deafness – There is an increased risk of deafness or hearing issues compared to a regular Frenchie
  • Blindness – Dilation of the pupils can be an issue which can lead to night blindness and in some cases complete blindness.
  • Further Eye Issues – There is also a risk of eyes being off centre, additional eyelids, missing tissue or in some cases being born without eyes.
  • Immune Deficiency – A high risk of a having a weakened immune system.

The above are all additional risks on top of those found in regular French Bulldogs. Before buying a Merle Frenchie it adds extra importance to checking the health of the puppy and parents.

Lilac French Bulldog Health Issues

It is widely accepted that French Bulldogs have a large number of health concerns. Whilst good breeding can alleviate some of the issues below is a list of common health problems, how to spot them and manage them if possible.


Whilst not unique to Frenchies they are known to suffer more than other breeds. This will usually display in red/raw patches often around their paws. Also it can show through watery eyes, ear infections or sneezing. If you suspect allergy issues it is best to discuss with a vet around possible treatments.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)

Due to their short snouts it can lead to issues around their breathing. This usually results in snoring and noisy breathing. It can however lead to retching, regurgitaion and vomiting and it certainly lowers their tolerance to heat. Due to this it’s best to ensure they are not over exposed to heat as this can quickly turn into heat stroke due to their inability to cool themselves quickly.

Skin Fold Dermatitis

Whilst we love their wrinkles and skinfolds it can lead to issues within these folds. It is important these areas are checked for redness and sores, you will usually see your Frenchie attempting to lick/scratch any irritated areas.

Ear Infections

Due to the shape of the French Bulldog they can have issues in keeping their ears clean. Often these areas become breeding grounds for bacteria. In order to clean them the first rule is not to put anything inside the ear, this often just compacts any dirt within the ear. It is best to use an ear cleaner to break down the dirt.

Corneal Ulcers

As a result of the eyes standing more predominately on their face they are at risk of eye issues. They can also be born with small amounts of tissue sticking out of their eye. If you notice this or any redness/lumps around the eye your best bet is a trip to the vet.

Back and Spine issues

Unfortunately it is more common in Frenchie’s for them to have issues around their back and necks. This often results in back pain and sometimes slipped discs. Often these issues will display themselves later in life and it is best to consult a vet.

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