If you've been thinking about bringing home a new furry family member, you may be surprised to find out how many breeds there are to choose from. Some breeds have been used for selective breeding to capitalize on certain traits that their parents exhibited. As a result, some puppies, and dogs, have been bred to exhibit rare and exotic patterns or colors. These unique colors can seem attractive and tempting, especially for owners who want their companion animal to be as unique as they themselves are. However, these colors and patterns can also signal something more problematic – health issues.
Unfortunately, to get such a rare color, breeders and owners often ignore the health issues associated with these abnormalities. For example, a merle-colored dog, which can often be found in Australian Shepherds and Great Danes, is often born deaf or with eye issues.
Another type of rare colored dog is the blue or lilac dog. Like merle dogs, this exotic color is not without its faults.
You may be wondering how to tell if your dog is lilac. There are genetic tests to help determine whether your dog is lilac or not. These tests are usually $50 per animal, with an increased price for additional tests. There’s at least a 15-business day turnaround time for results.
Lilac Dog Characteristics
Dilute coloration, which is what causes rare and exotic colors in dogs, is caused by gene variants. Several variants result in dilute colors, which are often light and pale shades of other colors. For example, chocolate can become silvery red or lilac, and black can become gray or blue.
As their name implies, the lilac dog coat often has lilac or blue coloring, resulting in a silvery or gray look. The color comes from a recessive gene inherited from its parents.
Lilac dog breeds
Several dog breeds can be affected by color dilution. Some well-known breeds include:
- Australian shepherd: Australian shepherd dogs are medium-sized dogs often kept on farms where they’re used to herd cattle and sheep. They have great attention spans, are easy to train, and have great intelligence, strength, stamina, and agility. They often come in blue merle, red merle, solid black, and solid red colors. However, these dogs are not excluded from the dilution gene, which can result in them having a lilac coat.
- Boxer: Boxers are a loyal, intelligent, and affectionate breed with a strong work ethic and attractive looks. Thanks to their bright and alert behavior and their sometimes silly but always courageous demeanor, these dogs are a popular companion for many households. The normal colors include brindle, fawn, and white, but they can also be bred into exotic colors.
- French Bulldog: The French Bulldog is one of the most popular smaller dog breeds in America, possibly thanks to their cute look, which is made up of an even disposition and large bat-like ears. Though they aren’t big barkers, they still make excellent watchdogs. Unfortunately, the popularity of the French bulldog has made it a popular choice for selective breeding, which includes the breeding required to get rare and exotic colors. However, these colors, which are also known as fad colors, have been disqualified by certain standards, including the FBDCA/AKC French Bulldog Breed Standard.
- Great Dane: Great Danes – the gentle giants of the dog world – are an easygoing breed and are known to be excellent companions. They come in many colors and patterns, including black, fawn, merle, silver, and white, and rare colors such as blue and lilac.
When affected by diluted color, puppies usually start out as black. For example, lilac bulldogs are born black but dilute twice: once by the chocolate gene and once by the blue gene. The bb gene mutates from black to brown and the dd gene mutates from black to blue. As this occurs, blue and brown are mixed, and what remains is lilac.
Lilac Dog Health Issues & Considerations
As with most rare colors and patterns, lilac-colored dogs have their own set of health issues. One health issue associated with lilac dogs is known as color dilution alopecia, which causes hair loss. Puppies born with this condition often exhibit textured coats at birth but then start losing their fur at around 6 months of age. The alopecia leaves patches of skin exposed, which can become scaly and itchy.
Color dilution alopecia has no cure, but there are medications to help with some symptoms.
While not all rare-colored dogs will have health issues, and some can even live perfectly healthy lives, it’s not wise to support breeders who specialize in rare breeds. Often, they sacrifice the well-being of their dogs and puppies to breed rare and exotic colors. If you choose to buy from a breeder, make sure you’re buying from a reputable breeder. Ask about their genetic testing procedures and meet the mother dog. These are ways to ensure that the puppy you’re purchasing has been treated and bred with respect.
Since exotic colors are still a new fad, these breeds’ health issues are unknown. The French Bulldog is a popular breed with exotic colors that seem to have gotten much attention. This breed already has its fair share of health issues, so breeding them to exhibit rare and unusual colors, such as lilac, can contribute to these dogs' health issues. Once they become aware of the health issues associated with rare or exotic-colored dogs, many owners relinquish their rights to their pets and turn them over to their local humane society or rescue.