The Merle Gene is a genetic mutation which is often linked to health issues. It displays itself as patches of mottled fur in a differing color to that of the main coat.
How do you get a Merle French Bulldog?
It is important to understand the genetics around Merle to fully understand how Merle Frenchie’s are produced. The Merle Gene itself is not related to the coloring of the coat. It alters the way it is displayed resulting in lighter patches of mottled fur creating a patterned effect of darker and lighter colors.
The Merle Gene is located in the M Locus which can be either positive or negative. This can result in three different genetic combinations. MM (Double Positive) this is often referred to as Double Merle this is a dangerous combination which I will cover in more detail further down the article. Mm or mM this is where one positive and one negative Merle Gene is passed on. This is the combination which comes to mind when people think of and picture Merle. This will result in the Mottled patches of lighter fur with the color dependent on other parts of the Frenchie’s genetics. The last combination is mm this will result in no Merle patterning being present despite the gene still being available to pass down to any offspring.
There is a further way dogs can inherit the Merle look. This is through a set of genes referred to as Cryptic. These Frenchie’s can often be secret carriers of the Merle gene without the expected look. Frenchie’s with the Cryptic gene will usually be solid colored. Due to this gene it is possible for the Merle look to be supressed and for Merle Puppies to be produced from Non-Merle parents.
Are Merle Frenchies rare?
Whilst the Merle gene is dominant it is still considered rare to see a Merle Frenchie. This is due to the majority of breeder programs having the aim to eliminate the Merle gene from their programs. This relates to the additional health concerns related to the Merle genetics.
There is debate around responsible Merle breeding it is widely accepted that two Merles should not be bred together. However there is a lot more debate around whether a Merle should be bred with a solid colored Frenchie as this won’t result in a Double Merle.
What’s a Double Merle French Bulldog?
A Double Merle French Bulldog refers to two positive Merle Genes being present. Any dog with this genetic combination unfortunately will have a range of complex health issues. Visually these will appear with the opposite patterning you would expect in a typical Merle Frenchie with larger areas of mottled fur. In addition they will likely have visual disabilities such as missing or misshapen eyes and deformities around their ears combined with deafness.
Merle French Bulldog Health Concerns
Whilst there is debate around the health implications of a single Merle there are claims of a number of extra health concerns that can present themselves. A study into the Merle gene and it’s origins shows a clear link between hearing problems and a single Merle gene. You can read the study published in the US National Library of Medicine here.
- 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.
What different Merle Colors can a Frenchie be?
Due to Merle being a patterning it opens up a wide range of possible color combinations under the Merle terminology.
Blue Merle French Bulldog
In order to to produce a Blue Merle Frenchie it needs to possess the dilution gene. The Blue coloring is a combination of the standard Black coloring in combination with the dilution gene. This leads to a lighter shade often referred to as Blue/Grey. When the Merle patterning is applied this will display as darker patches of Blue mixed in with the base Blue.
Lilac Merle French Bulldog
This is produced by combining the recessive dilution gene with the base coloring of chocolate. When the Merle effect is applied to this shade it will result in darker mottled patches of lilac fur mixed with the base coat.
Chocolate Merle French Bulldog
When a Frenchie has a Chocolate base coat in combination with merle gene. The chocolate merle effect will result in darker patches of mottled fur.
Pied Merle French Bulldog
This will usually display itself with a mainly white coat with the normal Piebald spots. The Merle gene interacts with this by producing darker patches across the body. This will result in additional smaller patches along with the Piebald effect.
Black Merle French Bulldog
This appears when the base coat of the Frenchie is Black in color. This will result in Mottled patches of fur appearing usually white in color.
Fawn Merle French Bulldog
Fawn itself is a recessive gene but when present in the base coat coat along with the Merle Gene it produces a Fawn Merle. The Merle effect will display as darker patches across the Frenchie.
Isabella Merle French Bulldog
Isabella is a very rare coloring in Frenchies. To achieve the Isabella coloring it requires the dilution of the rare liver color. If this then combined with a positive Merle gene it will result in a Isabella Merle.
Can a Merle French Bulldog be KC Registered?
No, a Merle French Bulldog can’t be Kennel Club registered. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason relates to the health issues around the Merle gene. Kennel Clubs encourage the breeding to enhance the genetics of the breed mainly around health. Due to their being no discernible health benefits of breeding the Merle gene and at worst debatable health defects from Merle they are not recognised.
The second reason relates to how the Merle gene was bred into French Bulldogs. It is not believed that purebred Frenchies carry the Merle gene. This must mean that any Frenchie carrying Merle genetics isn’t a purebred Frenchie and therefore isn’t recognised. It is believed the most likely source of the Merle genetics has come from Chihuahuas.
How Much does a Merle French Bulldog cost?
The below are the ranges of costs seen from various breeders, they do not necessarily reflect future prices.
|Puppy Color||Expected cost|
|Blue Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Lilac Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$4,000 – $6,000|
|Chocolate Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Pied Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Black Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Fawn Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Isabella Merle French Bulldog Puppy||$6,000 – $10,000|
It is important to consider if you are prepared for additional health issues before buying a Merle. In addition to this you will also be funding breeding programs which will likely continue to produce them. If you ever see puppies being produced by two merle parents this should be a red flag. If you are looking to breed yourself again I would strongly encourage you not to breed to produce Merle offspring.