A Guide to the Tri-Colored American Bully (All Questions Answered!)

American Bullies look distinct as they are, but with the tricolor on them, they truly look very distinct. There is a good reason for that; you don’t see a lot of them, so when you do, they are a sight to behold.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding tricolored bullies, and so, I’ll try to explain things as simply as I could to explain why they are actually quite unique dogs. Let’s start with the basics, first.

So, what is a tri-colored American Bully? Tricolored Bullies are American Bullies that have three colors on their coats where it’s normally one or two. They are rare and can have different patterns including Black, blue, lilac, choco, ghost, and ticked tri. There are no health issues associated with the coat pattern of tricolored bullies.

This should answer the question of why they are quite unique, so now let’s start covering the basics of tricolored American Bullies, their characteristics, health, and myths. Keep reading… and maybe grab a cup of tea.

Is The Tri-Colored American Bully Rare?

Tri-Colored American Bully

The tricolor American Bully is actually quite rare as it doesn’t occur naturally often. In recent years, they have also been gaining in popularity among dog owners.

New dog owners that are looking for a unique-looking dog seem to find the tricolored American bully quite special and they fall in love with the dog, which has increased the dog’s popularity.

Why is the Tricolor Bully So Rare?

The Tricolor Bully is rare because of these reasons:

  • The tricolor coat pattern doesn’t commonly appear by nature in American bullies as the gene pool of bullies just doesn’t produce them as often
  • For generations, breeders didn’t want to breed tricolored American Bullies because they were undesirable
  • Breeding for tricolored bullies is difficult and complicated as some genes are recessive and will pop up unexpectedly, so it can become a numbers game for a breeder to produce a tricolored Ameircan Bully, (which doesn’t make much economic sense).

For Generations, people actually viewed the tricolored American bully as a mixed dog, which is not true, and so they valued them less than their counterparts without the tricolor coat pattern.

This means that not only was there little demand for them, they also didn’t “sell well”, and so breeders were less motivated to breed them, which is why we now have a supply-demand gap for the rare tricolored dogs that are increasing in popularity but there are just not many of them to go around.

Why Do Some American Bullies Have a Tricolor Coat Pattern?

The reason some American Bullies have a tricolor coat pattern is the same reason any dog has certain coat colors and patterns; genetics.

Basically, there are two pigment types that give canines their coat colors, these are the pigments that give each hair strand its color, and these pigments will each have default color.

In American Bullies, these default pigment colors are black and red.

Both these pigments are forms of melanin, and they can both be affected and changed by various genes.

A number of genetic factors will affect these pigments and the result will be tan points, but how these two pigments interact in the dog’s coat is controlled by the Agouti (A) gene series locus.

In American bullies, the traditional tan points and tricolor coat patterns are caused by what is called the Tan Point allele  (at), and it’s just one of four genes that are found in the Agouti locus of the American pit bull terrier family.

However, this tan point genetic trait is recessive, so it requires two copies of  [(at)/ (at)] for the tricolor pattern to pop up. One copy will be inherited from the dam and the other from the sire.

Because this is a recessive gene, it will remain hidden for generations and will unexpectedly pop up when two copies are inherited. So, generations of American bullies can carry the gene without expressing those tan points, and that’s why the tricolored puppies come unexpectedly.

But the tan point gene doesn’t cause the color, instead, it causes a pattern of solid color with lighter-colored points that give the pattern its distinct tri-color look. Usually, these points will occur in 13 places in the American bully, including the face, chest, and legs.

While the places where the tricolor pattern usually shows are quite similar in all tri-colored American bulldogs, the patterns themselves and the exact colors are not.

The exact color that is produced by the tan point gene will depend on the color genes that are present at other loci. If the pigmentation is black, the resulting coat pattern will be black and tan, but if it’s blue, it will be blue and tan.

White markings are caused by a completely different set of genes, and they can appear on tri-colored bullies but it’s rare. White markings usually appear the same on a tan point bully as they would on single or bicolor bullies.

Characteristics of the Tricolor American Bully Offspring

The characteristics of the Tricolored American Bully are similar to that of any American bully; the color pattern on their coat has nothing to do whatsoever with their personality, temperament, or intelligence.

The only interesting thing worth mentioning here is that since the tan point gene is a recessive trait, you will not always expect the tricolored American puppy in the litter as the parents don’t have to show the gene to carry it.

However, for a tricolored bully puppy to happen, both parents must have the tan point gene, and the offspring will have two copies of the recessive tan point allele.

The Champagne Tricolored American Bully

The Champagne tricolored American bully is a controversial topic in the community of bully owners. Technically, champagne bullies can’t be tricolor because they have a recessive red (e/e) allele with dilution (d/d).

This genotype causes coat colors ranging from pale yellow, cream, to pearl.

Recessive red hides the pattern that would otherwise be expressed from the Agouti gene series locus, which is why tan points can’t be expressed in champagne bullies which means they can’t be tricolor even if they do have two copies of the tan point allele.

That’s why people consider champagne tricolored bullies to not be tricolored at all.

There are also many people who confuse the lilac tricolored bully, in which the tan points can’t be hidden by the chocolate gene, for the champagne tricolored, which is something even I have done before. When you see them under certain lighting conditions, it’s really hard to tell the difference.

The ghost Tri Color Bully

Sometimes, a black bully will have incomplete dominance of the dominant black allele, and in this case, the dog may express both dominant tan and black point. However, the tan points, in this case, will be faded, and in this case, they are referred to as the ghost tricolored bullies.

Do Tricolored Bullies have health problems?

There are no health concerns associated with the tricolor coat pattern of the bullies and having a tricolored coat pattern and their genetics are in no way detrimental to the health of the American Bully.

That’s because tricolor is just a color pattern, nothing else, unlike something like the merle bullies which do have some health problems. You can read my full guide to merle bullies here and find out what we should do to help.

Breeding the Tricolor American Bully

While you can’t always guarantee a tricolor American bully in your litter, breeders will try to get them by pairing two tricolor bullies or one tricolor bully with another bull that carries the recessive gene even if they don’t show it.

How much does a Tricolor American Bully Cost?

The cost of a Tricolor American Bully in the United States from a reputable breeder (and a quality bloodline) will be around $6,000 – $10,000, and many breeders will require a $1,000 deposit to reserve to show seriousness in getting the dog.

Tricolored American Bullies are expensive, as explained before, and while you may find some breeders that will charge you less than that, you need to always check the paperwork for the pup’s health and their bloodline.

Why are Tricolor Bullies so expensive?

Tricolor Bullies are expensive because they are rare by nature and they have been gaining popularity while reputable breeders simply can’t keep up with this demand, so the prices have been going up.

American Bullies, in general, are quite expensive, because there are simply not many breeders that have good breeding programs for them, and they are not as in-demand as any dog breeds.

The prices of American Bullies range between $1,00 and $5,000 depending on the bloodline, the quality of the breeding, and the class. You can get a non-purebred American Bully for around $500 to $800.

Is there a difference? Look, I don’t think so. If you are not getting one for competition, I really don’t think anyone should pay this kind of money for any dog unless they are engaging in some sort of professional competition or spot and they really do need specific breed standards.

If you are just getting a dog for your family and house, you are honestly better off rescuing a dog from a shelter and saving a life (and a lot of money).

All dogs are good dogs, and every dog is a special one. Please consider adopting from your local rescue or shelter and save a life instead of spending money that will support unethical breeding practices. #adoptdontshop

Conclusion on Tricolor American Bullies

Tricolor American bullies may catch your eyes, but they are not different than other bullies in any way other than their coat pattern. There is no difference in intelligence, temperament, personality, or health between tricolor bullies and other bullies.

Your main concern with bullies should be with their health and not their color, and you should definitely not pay thousands of dollars more for your dog for a specific color – in my opinion, but at the end of the day, it IS your choice and you may choose to get a dog that better fits your aesthetic taste.

Overall, tricolored American bullies are just as wonderful as all other bullies, and they will make for different companions.

Related Questions

How do you get a tri-color bully?

Breeders need to match two dogs with the right gene combination to get a tri-colored dog, but sometimes the breeder will get unexpected tri-colored dogs because the At gene is a recessive gene that will remain hidden for generations before popping up unexpectedly.

If you are asking as a potential dog parent, you can get a tri-color bully from reputable breeders for $5,000-$10,000 depending on the bloodline and class as well as the paperwork and the reputation of the breeder.

Helpful Resources

Understanding Dog Hair Colors and Hair Coat Patterns

Genetics Basics – Coat Color Genetics in Dogs

Canine coat colors and patterns explained

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