One of the most popular breeds in the world (currently ranked at #4 by the AKC), the French Bulldog is an iconic city dog. Known for their portability, but perhaps more so their squished faces, Frenchies are a beautiful breed. While they are most often known to be a mix of black and white, these dogs can actually be bred in a variety of coat colors, including the delicately named Isabella French Bulldog.
1. An Isabella French Bulldog is just like any other French Bulldog, but with a unique coloring on its coat
It’s very similar to a liver-colored coat, but with a gray-blue hue to it. In fact, it is often compared to lilac or blue and looks very similar to any Frenchies described as such. Their eyes are light brown or blue and the skin around their nose, mouth, and eyes tends to be pink rather than black.
2. Lilac vs Isabella
You’ll often hear Isabella French Bulldogs called Lilac French bulldogs. These two terms are interchangeable and refer to the same coloring and coat.
3. In order to breed an Isabella Frenchie, both parents need to both have a blue and chocolate gene.
They should be Isabella-coated themselves, or carry the blue gene. As you can see, it comes down to heritage. Passing this recessive gene down through litters from both parents gives the better chance of making sure the pups inherit this unique hue. The key for Isabella Frenchies is that the chocolate gene needs to be testable, meaning that a qualified vet or geneticist can prove that the French Bulldog carries the gene (rather than just looking at the dog and saying, “yup s/he looks chocolate to me”).
(Related: Teacup French Bulldogs – 13 Things You Should Know Before Buying or Adopting)
4. Like all good names, there’s a legend behind the name “Isabella.”
This one isn’t romantic, though. Far from it. The story goes that during the Eighty Years War, the daughter of the king of Spain, Isabella, refused to change her underwear until Spain won a victory over the fortress in Ostend, Belgium. The siege of the fortress lasted for three years and Isabella held true to her word. Kids, eh? Just kidding: she was a 40 year old adult woman at the time!
Now what does this have to do with French Bulldogs? The color of her underwear turned a very questionable fawn color, to put it gently. We’re as nauseated as you are – and wondering who in the world thought it was a good idea to name a dog after such a thing …
But it could be a bunch of baloney! Many people (thankfully) dispute this origin story. The term Isabella is better explained through a corruption of preexisting words. Zibellino was the term for a pelt of fur women would wear back in the 1400s. Izah is an Arabic word meaning lion-colored.
Either term could easily have been corrupted into sounding like Isabella, which then stuck. We prefer this explanation. It’s much cleaner.
5. In regards to the AKC, Isabella Frenchies are not accepted.
The AKC is very strict on their Breed Standards. Some haven’t changed since the ‘80s, if not earlier. While Isabella isn’t mentioned directly, the AKC is clear on which colors they accept and which they do not, even stating “[a]ll other colors, markings or patterns are a disqualification.” Liver is the closest to Isabella and therefore not accepted. They also disqualify Frenchies with blue eyes. While Isabella French Bulldogs could have light brown eyes sometimes, their coat would disqualify them nonetheless.
6. With this recessive gene, some particular health problems can arise.
It’s possible that the dog can suffer from malformed spines or alopecia, on top of the usual health problems French Bulldogs as a breed can face.
A Frenchie’s adorable snub nose actually causes the dog some respiratory issues. Breathing can be especially difficult for them. This same flat face feature can make them very sensitive to anesthesia, something to be mindful of when they go to the vet.
Reasons they may have to see the vet are:
- Cherry eye
- Juvenile cataracts
- Skin allergies
- Autoimmune skin disorders
There is a positive aspect to the Isabella Frenchie, though. Reports say that these blue-hued dogs don’t seem to shed as a much as the other colored coats.
Other problems French Bulldogs face are in childbirth. This makes it common, if not necessary, for a dog to have a C-section when it’s her time!
None of these are seriously life-threatening.
7. The most dangerous thing for your Frenchie would be – and we’re dead serious here – to let it go swimming.
They can not swim, despite being canines. It’s because they’re front-heavy and would not be successful in even the shallowest body of water. It’s an easy misfortune to avoid, so please don’t try it.
8. French Bulldogs in general are extremely sociable and friendly.
Unlike other little dogs, they don’t see to have that same Napoleon syndrome, nor do they tend to bark incessantly. They’re playful, but also love cuddling up in your lap. While they’re obviously not good guard dogs (look at the size of them!), they can make pretty good watch dogs, underlining their loyalty by keeping an eye out for you.
9. Frenchies are good with other dogs.
They are known to be stubborn though and especially if yours is particularly troublesome, it may be good to practice some controlled socialization before letting them loose with other dogs. While they may get territorial sometimes, they’re not as bad as other breeds.
10. Exercise requirements are low.
French Bulldogs are small and genetically pre-disposed to breathing difficulties so you won’t be running 5ks with your dog any time soon. This doesn’t make them couch potatoes, though. Frenchies like getting out and having a bit of a run-around. They have proven to be keen on dog agility and rallies. Make sure they don’t over exert themselves, as they could wind up gasping for air. Especially when it’s warm and humid out.
Isabella French Bulldogs eat all the things your regular French Bulldog eats. They are prone to obesity, though, so being conscious of the amount of food you give them and how often is important. You don’t have to count the calories exactly, but do be wary of over-indulging your pup. Be especially careful if feeding them table scraps, as they can choke on cooked bones. There is some food that exists that is specially tailored for brachycephalic dogs, or ones with flat faces.
11. Breeders of the Isabella Frenchie consider it to be the rarest color combination possible on a French Bulldog.
As we mentioned, birth can be difficult for Frenchies. Add this to the fact that they often only have 2 or 3 pups in a litter, and the rarity multiplies. Add to this the fact that Isabella Frenchies are dependent on a recessive gene and … you do the math. They’re rare.
This is because of the very specific breeding needed to produce the admirable color. Other rare colors of Frenchies include brindle and merle.
12. The cheapest Isabella French Bulldog pup we found was $4,500.
Another breeder who priced the dogs differently between males and females spanned just about $9,000 to $11,000. Some sites claim finding puppies priced at $50,000! The most expensive we came across was $15,000.
Despite being so rare, Isabella French Bulldogs are actually quite easy to buy. Google the name and pages of breeders come up. Many outline their breeding standards and adoption policies clearly, so you have the luxury to shop around to find the breeder that suits you. It is now common to ship dogs (even internationally!) so you can adopt from out-of-state.
13. Since Isabella isn’t recognized by the AKC, we do recommend caution when looking for your new best friend.
Breeders outside the AKC circle aren’t always held accountable for their practice. Don’t hesitate to get all the information you can from a breeder before exchanging money.
14. The breeds of dog that can be born with Isabella coats is limitless. From German Shepherds to Dachshunds to Border Collies – and French Bulldogs, of course!
It’s all about color genetics, so as long as a breed is capable of having blue and chocolate coats, they should be capable of being bred to Isabella.
We’re still recovering over the legend and the prices. If you can stomach both, an Isabella French Bulldog could be a worthy investment. Just because they’re pricey doesn’t mean you’ll have to question the loyalty of man’s best friend.