There is a lot of controversy over the Chocolate Colored French Bulldog (FB). This article will most probably upset many FB breeders, BUT, science is science and cannot be denied. This page will include experienced opinions from breeders and scientific fact from Genetic tests and input from Geneticists and Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, professionals in the field.
Our main topic here is testable and non-testable chocolate color in French Bulldogs. This has now been found and is called the Cocoa Variant. The Normal Chocolate is the same test that has always been around for chocolate (brown) for years and is used in many breeds.
For many years there have been visually chocolate FB’s that have tested BB…non chocolate, so there ARE chocolate FB’s that definitely have chocolate hair and a chocolate nose that test BB. We now know these dogs are full Cocoa aka coco. Recently, we have quite a few FB lines that do test Bb or bb, and the dogs in those lines that test bb actually look Chocolate as you can see in the photos included herein.
A lot of people/breeders claim that these lines are mixed with other breeds to have brought the testable b in, even though these dogs are visibly chocolate, which is ironic since these same ones claim they have chocolate FB’s that test BB and also do not look chocolate but rather, black, faded black, or seal with a bronze or other color undertone. Not one of these ones can produce any proof that the testable lines are mixed, while at the same time, many of these Bb or bb dogs have been parentage DNA tested and have been found to be 100% FB. Therefore this claim of mix breeding is 100% unsubstantiated.
From the Geneticist: "The French Bulldog has two ways to be chocolate. One we can test for, but has been historically rare in the FB, and one that has just been discovered, and seems to be the most common way the FB are chocolate. Recently, we are seeing more FB show up with the testable chocolate."
UPDATE! 2020 There has been a new Variant discovered that can be tested for, which explains the many Chocolate French Bulldogs that tested BB. It is called the Cocoa Gene.
Non-Testable (now testable): coco
Pre 2020: The French Bulldog and Chocolate Color
Our main topic here is testable and non-testable chocolate color in French Bulldogs. For the purposes of this article, we will use the term “Normal Chocolate” for the testable, and “Mutated Chocolate” for the non-testable. The Normal Chocolate is the same test that has always been around for chocolate (brown) for years and is used in many breeds. The Mutated chocolate is actually more common in FB, but the gene/mutation/modifier has yet to be found.
For many years there have been visually chocolate FB’s that have tested BB…non chocolate, so there ARE chocolate FB’s that definitely have chocolate hair and a chocolate nose that test BB. This Mutated Chocolate Gene or Modifier for this type chocolate has yet to be discovered and therefore no test is available at this time for those dogs. Recently, we have quite a few FB lines that do test Bb or bb, and the dogs in those lines that test bb actually look Chocolate.
A lot of people/breeders claim that these lines are mixed with other breeds to have brought the testable b in, even though these dogs are visibly chocolate, which is ironic since these same ones claim they have chocolate FB’s that test BB and also do not look chocolate but rather, black, faded black, or seal with a bronze or other color undertone.
Not one of these ones can produce any proof that the testable lines are mixed, while at the same time, many of these Bb or bb dogs have been parentage DNA tested and have been found to be 100% FB. Therefore this claim of mix breeding is 100% unsubstantiated.
From the Geneticist: "The French Bulldog has two ways to be chocolate. One we can test for, but has been historically rare in the FB, and one that is still unknown, and seems to be the most common way the FB are chocolate. Recently, we are seeing more FB show up with the testable chocolate."
Not unknown any longer! Read on.
Cocoa: A brown coat color resulting in a slightly darker coat than the brown color caused by other variants. This color is seen in French Bulldogs and was previously referred to as non-testable chocolate.
NN: does not have the cocoa variant.
N/co: carries one copy of the Cocoa Variant
co/co: carries 2 copies of Cocoa
PARTIAL EXCERPTS FROM UCDAVIS
There are several known variants that result in the chocolate color in dogs. These known variants do not account for all chocolate in dogs.
The cocoa variant is a different gene and is therefore not TYRP1.
In French Bulldogs, a variant associated with a visually distinct chocolate phenotype was identified in the Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome 3 (HPS3) gene. Dogs with the HPS3 gene variant are visibly darker brown than the phenotypes associated with the previously described TYRP1 brown allele (b).
The canine cocoa variant is a single base change in the HPS3 gene.
The variant associated with the cocoa phenotype is recessive. Thus, two copies must be present for the dog to appear chocolate.
Data suggest one copy of cocoa (carrier) and one copy of any of the previously described gene variant (carrier) for brown will not result in a brown phenotype. Dogs with two copies of the cocoa variant may be cocoa, however the final phenotype of the dog is dependent on the alleles at other coat color loci.
At this time the interaction of cocoa and the other brown allele is not understood. Therefore, it is not yet possible to predict the phenotype of a dog with two copies of cocoa (co) and two copies of the TYRP1 brown (b).
At this time, it is also unknown if the cocoa variant is found in other dog breeds.
I have personally found about 23 other breeders with unrelated lines that have Normal Chocolate. Duglas Andy Pankratz had his first Normal Chocolate in 2007 and his first Lilac (also called Isabella) in 2009. Everyone has a theory on how the gene came to be or why it hasn't really been highlighted until recently. My simplest explanation is its a recessive gene that doesn't work with the more common mutated gene so if someone is producing the opposite colors and sells chocolate carriers to each other and all you get are black dogs, well, the breeder thinks they got ripped off, but in actuality they might have created dual chocolate carriers.
Hershey, pictured above and his sister, pictured to the right, are DNA testable Lilac French Bulldogs, leaving no question as to whether they are TRUE LILAC.
When you have a visually brown/chocolate dog the color can come from 2 different genes. The most common right now is the Mutated chocolate which just means the gene that causes the color change is not the traditional chocolate and has risen from a DNA mutation. The location for this type has not been found and currently cannot be tested for. The other less common in the FB (but found in most other dog breeds) is the Normal Chocolate. It is called Normal chocolate because it is what you normally see in most dog breeds and you can actually DNA test (bb) to verify if the dog has that DNA.
Even a carrier of that type of chocolate will show up as Bb. The Normal Chocolate also has a consistent true chocolate color. They do not get dark almost black fur or noses that are almost black. You can visually tell they are chocolate. Some Mutated Chocolate dogs will be hard to distinguish from a black dog.
Normal Chocolate: a dog that exhibits the colors of brown skin pigment (such as the nose) and eumelanin fur. All black pigmented fur will show as brown/chocolate color. This type of chocolate will always test as bb on the chocolate DNA panel.
Mutated Chocolate: a dog that may exhibit a brown tone to fur or pigment. This type of chocolate will not show up on a DNA test so the results will show BB.s.
I have a problem when people state a hypothesis as a fact. There are no facts to support anyone saying that Normal Chocolate never existed in FB’s and that the bb dogs are mixed. Before the explosion of the internet there were so many things that were never publicly known about a lot of lines, breeds, breeders, etc. The mutated chocolate that cannot be tested for has not been documented as far back as the Normal Chocolate. I have both types of chocolate and have puppies that actually carry both types. I would really like to produce a puppy that is homozygous for both types of chocolate. Once the location of the allele is found for the Mutated Chocolate, then it can be correctly labeled. Not all lines are DNA tested so it is impossible to prove any of the hypothesis that people have stated. Keeping that in mind I do believe that some breeders may have infused the color unethically, but there are many ethical breeders who have not. I feel there are a lot of purebred dogs that have and still show up with DNA that we may not have expected. Hershey, pictured above and his sister, pictured to the right, are DNA testable Lilac French Bulldogs, leaving no question as to whether they are TRUE LILAC.
This photo is the original chocolate FB that anti-color breeders of FB’s have been posting, it is the kind of chocolate you can tell by visual verification. Breeders started noticing the blue in FB’s were selling for so much money, so they started to selectively breed for chocolate, the Mutated Chocolate. So the FB’s that carried Normal Chocolate were not used as purposeful, and it became less and less common. Therefore people in the FB community got educated on the Mutated Chocolate and the Normal Chocolate gene got forgotten. Most of those that did test for b were hushed by others thinking that they weren't true. People started incorrectly believing that being a FB could not be DNA tested for chocolate. The truth is that the mutated type of chocolate is what cannot be tested rather than the breed.
FB’s are found to have a few genes not common in other breeds. Now some of the Normal Chocolates have come into the public eye rather than being hidden. The Bondar/Duglas line has become very populous and people are starting to find out about them again. Just because it is a different chocolate than some have been breeding for, does not mean they are any less a FB than any other FB out there. There are recessive traits that can hide behind certain lines for years before they are known. They can be there for 1 generation or 20 generations. I have a separate line that carries the same type of chocolate. Because mine were only carriers, the DNA has been running behind the generations unknown. I was unaware until one of my dogs had a full panel DNA test and surprised it was there. There are multiple dogs around that do test positive for the chocolate gene but are carriers so unless the ones that have these dogs tell people, no one would know.
That being said, it is a pet peeve of mine when people say they are mixed or say they are not true chocolate FB’s. This type of chocolate has been documented long before the Mutated Chocolate ever was. Eventually scientists may find the gene responsible for the Mutated Chocolate gene (which is also documented in some lines of beagles). But until then we won't be able to test for it.
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