Isabella Vs Lilac French Bulldog Guide (Before Buying)

Isabella and Lilac French Bulldogs are considered rare Frenchie color variations but are slightly different from each other.

Lilac French Bulldogs have a darker coat than Isabella. Isabella Frenchies are dusty pale brown, but Lilac is a lighter shade of purple. These muted colorations occur on French Bulldogs with two sets of mutant genes that change and dilute the skin and coat color.

Without dilution, an Isabella Frenchie would be brown/chocolate, but a lilac would be cocoa/liver- A darker shade of brown.

Simply put, Lilac is due to the dilution of Cocoa/liver French Bulldog, while Isabella is the dilution of brown/chocolate Frenchie.

For a deeper understanding of these dilute Frenchies, Read on!

Isabella VS Lilac: An overview

Genes are responsible for a dog’s appearance, including coat color and texture.

Two copies of a gene, one from each parent, are required for recessive traits such as coat dilution, but only one for dominant ones such as the black coat. Dominant genes are represented in capital letters, while recessive genes are by lowercase letters.

A pair of dilution genes (d/d) is required to alter a black coat to blue, as explained in the Blue Frenchie guide. The same set of genes also turns a Cocoa Frenchie lilac and a brown Frenchie to Isabella by reducing the intensity of eumelanin pigmentation.

Eumelanin pigments (black melanin pigments) are responsible for black coat color. When genes aiding in the production and distribution of eumelanin mutate, changes in color and dilution occur as pigment production is restricted, reducing the color intensity.

It also affects the eye irises, nose, and paw pads which become lighter.



Dilution mainly affects the eumelanin pigments responsible for the brown, cocoa, or black coat colors, reducing their intensity.

Mutant variants of the melanophilin gene (MLPH gene) on the dilution locus (D-locus) cause the dilution. The MLPH gene aids in the transport and distribution of melanin-containing cells (melanosomes). Melanosomes are bonded to melanocytes to synthesize and attach melanin to the coat and skin.

These mutant dilution genes, denoted as “d,” disrupt the proper distribution of melanosomes lightening any other body part containing the pigment eumelanin, including the skin, nose, and so on. Black turns to grayish-blue/slate, brown to Isabella (pale brown), while cocoa turns to lilac (light purple).

Two dilution genes “d/d” are required for dilution as it is a recessive trait. Each parent contributes a copy of the gene. A dog with the genotype “Dd” or “DD” will display the usual color.

DNA test results:

D/DNot dilute and cannot produce dilute pups
D/dNot dilute but is a carrier. Can pass a dilute gene to the offspring
d/dIt has a dilute coat color and passes a dilute gene.

Isabella French Bulldog (bbdd)

An Isabella Frenchie has a dilute brown/chocolate coat and occurs in 2 stages.

First, one set of genes (b/b) turns the default black pigments brown before the brown is diluted to a pale brown color (Isabella) by a pair of dilution genes (d/d) for a “bbdd” genotype. Both d/d (MLPH) and b/b (TYRP1 genotype) are recessive. As such, two copies of each create an Isabella offspring.

The brown color is due to the changed eumelanin pigment structure, essentially changing how the pigments reflect light for the brown/chocolate appearance. It results from mutation of the Tyrosinase-protein 1 gene (TYRP1), which occurs at the B-locus and plays a role in Eumelanin pigment creation. The mutation disrupts the normal synthesis of pigments and produces immature brown pigmentation.

The mutant gene is recessive (“b”), and two copies (“b/b”) are responsible for browning. B is dominant black while b is brown. Thus, “B/B” and “B/b” will be black, while “b/b” is brown.

A pair of d/d genes dilute brown to Isabella (pale brown). Irises become amber and may have a red glow under light. The nose may be light pink to darkish brown.

DNA test results;

B/BDoes not express a brown base color and cannot have a brown offspring
B/bIt is a b-allele carrier but does not express a brown color but can pass a gene to an offspring
b/bIt has a brown coat color and can pass a copy of the “b” gene to an offspring.
Isabella Frenchie

Lilac French Bulldog (cocodd)

Lilac Frenchies are a result of diluting cocoa/liver Frenchies- in two stages. First, a brown color (liver/cocoa) develops, followed by dilution to lilac (a pale shade of purple).

The cocoa pigmentation results from two copies of recessive mutant HPS3 alleles (cocoa genes) denoted as co/co. The HPS3 gene is involved in the maturation and transportation of TYRP1 protein to the pigment-producing cells for eumelanin (black pigmentation) synthesis.

Mutation of HPS3 lowers the number of mature pigments or leads to the creation of immature pigment due to the lower number of TYRP1 reaching the pigment cells. It results in a darker brown shade known as cocoa.

The darker shade is because melanin synthesis is only partially blocked compared to TYRP1 mutation for a darker shade. 2 copies of the dilution gene then lighten the color to a lighter shade of purple known as lilac.

A combination of co/co and d/d is required to make a French Bulldog coat lilac hence the “cocodd” genotype.

DNA test results;

“CO/CO”No cocoa pigmentation
“CO/co”Is a carrier and does not display a cocoa pigmentation but can pass a copy to a potential offspring
“co/co”Displays a cocoa coloration

Appearance and personality traits

Height11-13 inches
WeightUnder 28 pounds
Lifespan10 to 12 years
PurposeCompanion dog
TemperamentEasy-going, loyal, loving, friendly, Playful, and Affectionate, but can be destructive when bored.

The genetic mutation affects the eumelanin pigmentation and not other physical or personality traits.

These dogs will have features similar to other Frenchies, such as;

  • Smooched, wrinkly faces, and compacted airways
  • Bat ears
  • Stocky and muscular bodies
  • Short and stumpy tail
  • Smooth short coat
  • Large round eyes

The eyes can be amber to light blue and may exhibit a red glow at certain angles. Their noses, skin, and paw pad colors also dilute to a lighter purple shade or pale brown.

Coat patterns such as brindle with black pigmentation are also affected by the mutations and will display lilac or isabella depending on the base color.

Personality traits

Generally, Frenchies are eager to please, loving, and loyal. They have a lovely and gentle demeanor and will love warming up your laps.

They are also extremely playful and love sleeping after play and exercise sessions.

He is suited for apartment living and gets along well with children. However, they should never be left alone unsupervised with young children who may unknowingly harm them during play.

That aside, these lilac and isabella mutations do not affect the dog’s temperament. It comes down to how the pup is brought up and socialized and the traits inherited from the parents.


A Lilac or Isabella French Bulldog is a premium pup that can cost anywhere from $2500 to $10,000 depending on the breeder, location, demand, and so on.

This cost is due to the dog’s rarity and breeding complications. Usually, the dam breeds via artificial insemination and pups are born via cesarean section.

Find a reputable breeder that cares about their pups’ well-being and breeding conditions.

It’s easy to fall prey to unethical breeders, especially on the internet hence the need to meet the pups in person and check the breeding conditions. Ask to meet the dam (mother) and ask for her vet records to ensure she is healthy.

Health problems

Most lilac or Isabella French Bulldogs are healthy but may suffer from Color Dilution Alopecia which affects the coat texture and length.

Dogs with this condition are susceptible to skin infections, flaky skin, and hair loss lose hair. However, only a handful of diluted Frenchies are affected.

Take these doggos for regular check-ups to prevent paying high premiums by detecting and treating any issues early.

To Wrap Up

The Isabella French Bulldog is a perfect dog for anyone looking dog a companion pet and is fit for families, single people, and even seniors.

They are expensive and are considered rare. However, a breeder that uses the rarity of the pup as a selling point should be dealt with carefully.

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There you go, WOOF!

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