Do American bullies change color?

American Bullies are a popular breed known for their stocky yet muscular build, loyalty as companions, and often, their signature blue-grey coating. Many prospective bully owners wonder if and how much these dogs change colors as they mature from rambunctious puppies to adult dogs. The short answer is yes – most American bullies undergo notable coat color changes and lightening starting from six months old into their second year. However, the amount of fading depends on genetics, diet, grooming, and sun exposure.

Typical Coat Colors of American Bullies

Typical Coat Colors of American
(Image Credit: Istock) A young brown American bully is outside.

The American Bully breed standard recognizes a range of coat colors. The most common colors include:

  • Grey
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Red
  • White

There are also merle American Bullies, which have a marbled coat pattern, and less common tri-color Bullies with three coat colors instead of the usual one or two.

Grey and blue bullies make up the majority of the breed. Most mature bullies wind up with a blue-grey hue – even if they started out black as puppies.

Do American Bully Puppies Change Color?

do american bully change color
(Image credit: Istock) Two white American bully puppies are playing in the park on green grass. Medium-sized dog with a compact, bulky muscular body, blocky head, and heavy bone structure.

Yes, American Bully puppies almost always undergo changes in their coat color as they shed their puppy fur and the adult coat grows in. The most dramatic changes are:

  • Blue Bullies fading to a lighter blue-grey
  • Black pups developing a slight red or brownish tint over time
  • Merle pups keeping their unique pattern but softening in color

Here’s a chart showing examples of how Bully puppies change color:

Bully Puppy Coat ColorAdult Bully Coat Color
Jet blackBlack with red tinge
Dark blue-greySoft powder blue-grey
Fawn merleFaded silver merle

The reasons behind these American Bully color changes have to do with genetics, exposure to sunlight, skin pigment alterations, and simple maturation of the hair follicles.

Reasons for American Bully Color Change

Lovely american bully puppies looking away confused while laying down on pink furry background
(Image Credit: Istock) Lovely american bully puppies looking away, confused, while lying down on pink furry background

There are several contributing factors as to why most American bullies undergo progressive lightening in their coats, starting as young puppies:

Genetics and Recessive Genes

While American bullies meet a breed standard for desired traits, there is still considerable variety when it comes to genes being passed down from parents to offspring. Even purebred bullies carry recessive genes that get expressed over time. Blue coats and merle patterns are linked to genetic factors that get diluted as the dog matures.

Sun Bleaching Effects

Exposure to sunlight – especially in lighter colored dogs – causes the fur’s pigment to get bleached, resulting in faded tones. This photochemical reaction is more pronounced in areas of the body that get more direct sun exposure like the back and sides. A blue Bully that spends a lot of time outdoors may turn almost grey compared to a mostly indoor counterpart at the same age.

Skin and Hair Follicle Changes

During the first year especially, an American Bully is still undergoing rapid development. Skin pigment cells and hair follicles are maturing, which influences the coat color. Even black or blue Bullies that appear dark as puppies will develop faded hues if they carry dilute genes. Only dogs that inherit dominance for black hair pigment retain deep black coats through adulthood without fading.

At What Age Do Bullies Change Color?

At What Age Do Bullies Change Color
(Image Credit: Istock) american bullies in front of white background

For most American bullies, coat color transitions really kick into high gear around 6 months to 1 year old. However, gradual lightening typically starts happening much earlier.

Here’s a timeline of the American Bully color change phases:

  • 8 – 12 weeks old – Puppy coat emerges, no change yet
  • 3 – 6 months old – Slight lightening of the ears, paws, muzzle
  • 6 months – 1 year old – Major puppy growth spurts lead to drastic fading
  • 1 – 2 years old – Adult color settles, most dilution has occurred

Puppies also tend to lose their reddish tinge by age 1, while blue Bullies hold onto deep charcoal pigments the longest before meeting their final muted blue-grey shade after the 2-year mark.

Do All American Bullies Change Colors?

american bullies in front of white background
(Image Credit: Istock) american bullies in front of white background

While a great majority of American bullies undergo some level of pigment dilution and coat fading as they mature past puppyhood, not all bullies change colors drastically.

Factors like genetics, whether they are indoor or outdoor dogs, health, and diet impact color changes. Some patterns include:

  • Solid black Bullies are least likely to turn grey, red, or brown. But many still develop subtle reddish highlights.
  • Blue fawn and lilac Bullies tend to experience the most dramatic shifts from dark grey to powder blue over time.
  • Merle pups maintain their unique patterns but often fade to pale hues of grey or red by age 2.
  • Indoor bullies hold onto rich dark pigments longer since they are not exposed to bleaching from sunlight.

So while most bullies will fade or shift in tone at least slightly, dogs with strong dominant genes for black hair can override the dilute genes and minimize lightening.

Tips to Keep Your Bully’s Coat Color

Serious looking American Bully frowning and staring into distance with its mouth closed while sitting on outdoor background
(Image Credit: Istock) Serious looking American Bully frowning and staring into distance with its mouth closed while sitting on outdoor background

If you want to help your American bully hold onto his beautiful youthful colors, here are a few tips:

  • Feed a high-quality dog food with nutrients for skin and coat health.
  • Groom frequently with brushing to evenly distribute the fur’s natural conditioning oils.
  • Limit excessive sun exposure during peak daylight hours.
  • Consider a dog coat in extreme cold or if they spend several hours in the sun daily.

The Bottom Line

In closing, most American bullies undergo changes in their coat colors, especially the highly anticipated shifts from deep navy to powder blue. Solid black dogs fade the least, but a red tinge often emerges. While genetics primarily drives the transformation, diet, grooming, and avoiding UV ray damage can help your bully stay vibrant for years to come. As long as you know what to expect, the trait should only add character as your bully grows up!


Do some American bullies stay one color?

While most bullies lighten at least a small amount as they mature, some bullies with strong genes for black hair pigmentation stay extremely dark without fading to grey or red tones. Solid black and dark chocolate bullies are most likely to retain a single coat hue.

What causes an American bully’s nose to change from black to pink?

Environmental factors like extended sun exposure can cause an American bully’s nose to transform from black to pink over time due to a loss of pigment. To help prevent this, apply dog-safe sunblock to their nose when going out for long periods of time.

Why does my blue American bully have red toenails?

It’s common for blue American bullies to have dark nails that take on a reddish hue at the base or edges. This is caused by genes for both black and red color being expressed to varying degrees across their coat and nails. It’s normal for blue dogs.

Why does my bully puppy have white spots on his toes?

White spotting, even on non-merle American bullies, is relatively common on paws due to normal genetic variation. If the spots don’t cover more than 20% of the body in adulthood, it’s considered acceptable by breed standards. These markings typically don’t spread much past initial puppyhood.

At what age is an American bully fully grown?

American bullies are considered fully mature physically between 12 and 18 months old, at which point their growth plates have sealed. Smaller females may finish growing a few months sooner than males and XL bullies, who fill out over 18 months. Most have adult builds by age 2.

Do red American bullies change colors?

Red American bullies can lighten over time into more of a reddish tan versus a deep, vibrant red. Time outdoors in the sun often accelerates this lightening process. But they usually hold onto reddish hues more than blues or blacks, who experience grey fading over time.

Why is my American Bully puppy shedding so much?

As American Bully puppies transition from their baby coat to the thicker, longer adult fur texture around 8–12 months old, it’s normal for them to shed extensively during coat change as the undercoat comes in. Brushing frequently helps remove loose hair during this phase.

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