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Merle French Bulldog Guide

What is a Merle French Bulldog?

You may know the typical Frenchie colors like Fawn, Black, and Brindle… but have you heard of Merle Frenchies?

“Merle? I’ve never heard of that color!”

Well, Merle isn’t actually a colorit’s a color pattern.

Merle is a color pattern that creates a mottled or speckled appearance.

It can consist of a mix of a whole bunch of colors such as black, gray, white, and brown.

The Merle gene affects the distribution and amount of melanin, the pigment that gives color to the hair

They’re one of the “rare” French Bulldog colors and words alone can’t describe how they look — you’ve just gotta see it for yourself!

A Merle French Bulldog Puppy

Merle Frenchies are…

  • Expensive — they can be quite pricey… more then your average Frenchie
  • Rare — it’s one of the rare French Bulldog colors; you don’t see them often
  • Prone to health issues — they have their own health issues to deal with on top of your typical Frenchie issues
  • Not AKC-recognized — Merle is not recognized by the AKC, so they can’t compete in any dog shows or be AKC registered
Is a Frenchie right for you?
Pros & Cons of Owning a French Bulldog

Are you trying to decide whether or not a French Bulldog is the right breed for you?

Here’s what to know before getting a French Bulldog.

Learn More about Owning a Frenchie

Read on to learn…

  • Appearance — how to spot a Merle Frenchie (it’s not hard!)
  • Colors — the colors seen in Merle coats (there’s a lot)
  • Variations — the different types of Merles
  • Price — how much they cost (they’re more than your average Frenchie!)
  • Genetics — how they’re bred (for breeding nerds out there)
  • Health — some health problems are specific to Merles

How to spot a Merle Frenchie

Merle Frenchies are easily distinguishable by their coats — random splotches of dark fur over a lighter base coat

Merle Frenchies have the most unique coats — don’t believe me? Just look for yourself!

A Merle French Bulldog
A Cute & Cozy Merle French Bulldog

There’s lots of variation

With that being said, there is lots of variation in Merle Frenchies… so one might look nothing like another. Just compare the Frenchie above to the next one below!

Common Merle Colors

Common colors in Merle Frenchies include: tan, white, black, red, and blue.

  • Tan
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • (and more!)

What a Merle French Bulldog Looks Like

A Merle French Bulldog
A Full-Grown Merle French Bulldog

Merle French Bulldog Traits

Commonly have: Bright blue eyes, dark brown eyes, tri-colored coat

Rarely have: Bi-color coat, odd-colored eyes

Types of Merle Frenchies

Merle can affect all coat colors, but these are some popular variations of the Merle coat.

Merle variations include…

  • Merle Frenchie: A Merle Frenchie is a French Bulldog with a Merle coat pattern. The Merle pattern results in patches of color that are lighter or darker than the base coat color, and can also cause speckling or mottling.
  • Blue Merle Frenchie: A Blue Merle Frenchie is a French Bulldog with a Merle coat pattern that has a blue-gray base color. Blue Merle Frenchies can have patches of lighter or darker blue, and may also have white or tan markings.
  • Fluffy Merle Frenchie: A Fluffy Merle Frenchie is a French Bulldog with a Merle coat pattern and longer, softer fur than the traditional short, smooth coat of Frenchies. They can be seen in the other Merle variations such as Blue Merle & Chocolate Merle.
  • Chocolate Merle Frenchie: A Chocolate Merle Frenchie is a French Bulldog with a Merle coat pattern and a chocolate-colored base coat. Like other Merle Frenchies, Chocolate Merle Frenchies can have patches of lighter or darker color, as well as white or tan markings.

Different Types of Merle Frenchies Explained

This video by Woodland Frenchies shows & explains the different types of Merle Frenchies better than I can… check it out!

How much are Merle French Bulldog Puppies?

A Merle French Bulldog will cost more than your average Frenchie — expect to pay $6,500 or more for a well-bred Merle Frenchie from a reputable breeder.

A good breeder will not be cheap, but don’t overpay for a Frenchie

Unlike most dog breeds, Frenchies require to be artificially inseminated & undergo a c-section to give birth.

Frenchies require…

This means that you’re going to pay at least a couple thousand dollars for a well-bred Frenchie… did you know that the average cost to breed a Frenchie is $7,000!

Why Frenchies Cost So Much
How much is a Frenchie?!

Did you know the avg. price of a Frenchie is $3500?

Check out our Frenchie Price Chart, why they cost so much, & the most expensive Frenchie in the world!

More About Frenchie Prices

Are Merle Frenchies Rare?

Yes! Merle Frenchies are one of the rarest French Bulldog colors, along with Blue, Blue Fawn, and Platinum.

How are Merle French Bulldogs Bred?

The Merle pattern in French Bulldogs is caused by a dominant gene known as the “M” allele.

This “M” allele is responsible for producing the distinctive Merle coloring in a dog’s coat.

Dogs with one copy of the “M” allele (Mm) are considered Merle, while those without the allele (mm) are considered non-Merle.

Finding a Reputable French Bulldog Breeder

Struggling to find the perfect Frenchie Breeder?

Learn the important questions to ask your breeder, the 11 breeder red flags, and everything else!

Learn how to Find a Good Breeder

Merle Genotypes

Non Merlemm
Double MerleMM

Merle Inheritance

When a Merle French Bulldog (Mm) is bred with a non-Merle French Bulldog (mm), on average, half of the puppies produced will inherit the “M” allele and be Merle (Mm) and half will inherit the non-Merle allele and be non-Merle (mm).

This means that a breeding between a Merle and a non-Merle will produce a mix of Merle and non-Merle puppies.

Double Merle Breeding

It’s important to note that breeding two Merle French Bulldogs together (MM) can result in the production of double Merle puppies, which are associated with a higher risk of health problems.

Merles should be bred with other colors

That’s why it’s generally recommended to avoid breeding two Merle dogs together, and instead breed a Merle dog with a non-Merle dog.

Phantom or Cryptic Merles

It’s also important to note that some solid-colored French Bulldogs may actually be “cryptic” or “phantom” Merles, meaning that they carry the Merle gene even though they don’t appear to be Merle.

These dogs can produce both Merle and double Merle puppies if not carefully bred.

Genetic testing can be done to determine if the dog carries the Merle gene so healthy puppies can be bred.

Merle French Bulldog Health Problems

All Frenchies have a higher risk of health issues when compared to the average dog breed.

But Merle dogs — especially “double Merles” — are prone to even more problems!

A double Merle is usually the result of breeding two Merle dogs together — a practice that is generally frowned upon by breeding organizations and veterinarians due to their health issues.

Merle Frenchies are prone to the following…

  • Eye issues — these include off-centered pupils, iris hypoplasia, small eyes, and more
  • Deafness — can be in one or both ears; double Merles have an even higher risk of deafness
  • Skin issues — sun sensitivity and higher rates of skin cancer due to their lighter skin pigmentation

Merle Frenchie Eye Problems

  • Corectopia: a condition in which the pupil is off-centered which can lead to problems with vision & eye movements
  • Iris hypoplasia: underdevelopment of the iris (the colored part of the eye) that can cause problems with vision & increase risk of cataracts
  • Microphthalmia: small eyes — severe cases can cause blindness at birth; causes a higher risk of other eye problems such as cataracts, colobomas, and retinal detachments

Read more about Merle coats & eye issues.

Merle Frenchie Deafness

Merle TypePrevalence of Unilateral DeafnessPrevalence of Bilateral Deafness
Single Merle2.7%0.9%
Double Merle10%15%


Regular Frenchie Health Issues

French Bulldogs in general (not just Merle) are prone to a whole bunch of health issues

Among Frenchies’ many health issues, joint & breathing problems are the most common.

These include…

  1. Allergies: French Bulldogs can develop allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, dust, and certain types of food. Common symptoms of allergies in dogs include itching, skin irritation, and digestive issues.
  2. Breathing issues: Due to their short snouts and flat faces, French Bulldogs can experience breathing problems. Stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils), elongated soft palate (a condition where the soft palate obstructs the airway), and tracheal collapse (when the trachea collapses or flattens) are all common respiratory problems in Frenchies.
  3. Joint problems: Joint problems are among the most common health issues in French Bulldogs. Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation (knee joint dislocation), and arthritis are all conditions that can affect Frenchies and cause pain and mobility issues.
  4. Spinal issues: French Bulldogs can also be prone to spinal problems such as hemivertebrae (a spinal deformity), intervertebral disc disease (a condition where the discs between the vertebrae in the spine degenerate or rupture), and degenerative myelopathy (a progressive disease that affects the spinal cord).
  5. Eye problems: Cherry eye (a condition where the tear gland in the eye protrudes from its normal position), cataracts (cloudiness in the lens of the eye), entropion (a condition where the eyelid rolls inward), and distichiasis (an abnormal eyelash growing from the wrong location) are all eye problems that can affect Frenchies.
Frenchie Health Guide
21 Most Common French Bulldog Health Problems

An in-depth guide on nearly every health problem affecting Frenchies.

Learn about the most common health problems & what you can do to manage them.

Learn about Frenchie Health

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Merle French Bulldogs Recognized by the AKC?

No, Merle Frenchies are not one of the official colors recognized by the AKC.

Therefore, you are unable to register your Merle Frenchie with the AKC and/or compete in any AKC conformation shows.

Are Merle Frenchies purebred?

No, there is no such thing as a Purebred Merle Frenchie, as Purebred Frenchies don’t carry the Merle gene unless they’re bred with another breed.

Do Merle Frenchies have more health issues?

Yes, Merle French Bulldogs genetics make them prone to some Merle-specific health issues — these include: deafness, blindness, neurological, and immune problems. The risk increases even further for “Double Merle” Frenchies.

Are Merle French Bulldogs rare?

Yes, Merle Frenchies are considered one of the “rare” colors and tend to be more expensive than other coat colors & patterns.

Colors officially recognized by the AKC

These 8 colors are officially recognized by the AKC as an “official” French Bulldog color — any others aren’t officially considered a Frenchie to the AKC.

  1. Cream
  2. Fawn
  3. White
  4. Fawn & White
  5. Brindle
  6. White & Brindle
  7. Fawn Brindle
  8. Fawn Brindle & White


Tuesday 7th of November 2023

I just bought a Merle Frenchie (yeah he’s a Frenchie) and he’s awesome! Super sweet, super smart, and super healthy.

People get weird about breeding… for me owning a dog is about companionship and love. All of the obsessing on if it’s pure bred, reputable breeding, etc… is mostly non-sense, based in - frankly - bigoted ways of thinking.

Btw - the article above notes Merles aren’t pure bred, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t frenchies. It’s a matter of time before they are AKC recognized.


Tuesday 21st of November 2023

@Bob, no. People that get upset about these types of breeding habits are upset because it is unethical breeding. Buying a merle frenchie is buying a backyard bred mutt. If you want a dog for companionship, then color shouldn't be what you're looking for-temperament is. Comparing people standing up against byb to bigotry is completely ridiculous and you should be ashamed, not only for that comparison, but also for actively supporting backyard breeders.

Ronnie Cottrell

Saturday 23rd of September 2023

Merle french bulldogs CAN be registered with AKC.They can not be shown in competition.


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

You say to expect to pay a lot for a well bred merle Frenchie from a reputable breeder but there is no such thing. If a breeder breeds Merle frenchies then that proves they are nor a reputable breeder, and it's not a well bred dog. It's not even a frenchie. The only way to get a Merle is to cross breed with a breed that naturally carries Merle

Claire Johnson

Sunday 28th of May 2023

@Christina, these is no such thing as a well bred merle Frenchie. The terms are mutually exclusive.

Jennifer Darcy

Monday 28th of November 2022

No one should buy a Merle French Bulldog and it is completely irresponsible to breed them. There are numerous health issues associated with this color. Do your research.


Tuesday 9th of May 2023

@Jennifer Darcy, to everyone that supports their own ignorance towards the breeding of Merle’s please… at least support Rachel Keech of Facebook who takes in the damaged puppies of your breeding Merle’s. Don’t breed Merle’s!

Renee Rettig

Tuesday 9th of May 2023

@Jennifer Darcy, agree


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

@Jon Doe, Did you not read the article? This article even says that there's more health problems associated with Merle. So how is it a lie? Also please don't dilute the term gaslight. If you don't know what it means please don't use it. A purpose bred mutt is one thing. But cross breeding with a breed that already has substantial health issues to get a not naturally occurring colour associated with even more health issues does NOTHING to benefit the breed. It is irresponsible, has a hugely negative impact on the breeds longevity, and dilutes the breed so preservation is more of an issue. It puts a huge risk out there for double Merles because people let them breed because they're uneducated and have no business breeding and have no idea how bad it is, or they do it to get more Merle puppies cos they can get $10k+ per puppy. Buying Merle frenchies is is just paying way too much for a mutt, that's likely gonna have a rough life, and it supports backyard breeding which should be made illegal at this point. If you want a Merle dog, get a breed where Merle is naturally occurring.


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

@Renee, if it's Merle, it's not a frenchie. Frenchies can't be Merle without crossbreeding. You esentially have a backyard bred mutt. There's no such thing as a well bred Merle frenchie. And no reputable breeder will breed designer colours not naturally occurring in the breed.


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

@Jon Doe,

I agree. I own 2 beautiful French Bulldog merles and they are healthy and sweet. I wasn't looking for a merle but based on their disposition and excellent health I couldn't go home with one. I am not breeding or showing but only loving them crazy.