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My theme has a static front page. When I choose a new page for my blog posts to show, the page template drop down disappears from the page options only for the page I have selected to show my blog posts. (Its still there for all other pages)

Is this normal behaviour?

I want to select a custom template for the blog and not have it use index.php by default.

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It's normal because custom page templates are only for pages. Once it becomes the page for posts it's no longer displaying Page content. It's displaying a list of posts. A Page Template wouldn't be designed, built, or optimised for displaying a list of posts.

If you want the main blog page to appear different to the index template, then you just need to create a home.php template, as you can see in the Template Hierarchy.

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