You might not be able to identify merle, dapple, or harlequin coloring but the moment you spot a brindle dog, you know it. The most common refrain: “It looks like a tiger!”
Brindle dogs are common. The color pattern can be found in breeds ranging from Dachshunds to Irish Wolfhounds and in colors ranging from brown and black to red and blue.
What is a Brindle Dog?
Brindle is not a breed – it’s a coat color pattern that consists of a solid color coat marked with darker stripes. Most brindle dogs have fawn or red coats with darker stripes in colors like black, brown, or darker red, according to Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Some of the most common colors of brindle dogs include:
- Blue brindle
- Brown brindle
- Black brindle
- Fawn brindle
- Red brindle
- Liver brindle
- Blue fawn brindle
- White and blue brindle
- White and fawn brindle
- White and red brindle
Brindle Color in Dogs
Some brindle dogs have the color pattern all over their bodies while others have brindle patches on parts of their bodies. Although the color pattern on brindle dogs is often referred to as tiger stripes, the color patterns are more blended or mottled and less distinct than the stripes on a tiger.
Klein notes that “a complex gene process” creates the brindle color pigment with multiple genes playing a role in the overall pigment.“Brindling is very difficult to test for and there are currently no commercially available tests that can detect brindle,” he adds.
The color pattern is created by recessive genes in dogs.
“A dog typically must have two of the brindle genes in order to present with a brindle coat,” explains Dr. Carley Faughn, senior strategist-lifesaving research at Best Friends Animal Society.
Brindle dogs might share common genes or color patterns but the breeds with this distinct coloring are as diverse as the markings on each individual dog. Brindle dog breeds range from large, short-haired dogs like Boxers, Greyhounds, Great Danes and American Staffordshire Terriers to small dogs like Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers to Akitas, Irish Wolfhounds and other long-haired breeds.
14 Brindle Dog Breeds
The Japanese breed has multiple colors, including brown brindle and fawn brindle and their thick, double coats require regular grooming. Akitas are part of the “working dog” group and were bred as guardians. Klein describes the large dogs as “strong-willed and protective by nature.”
American Staffordshire Terrier
The medium-sized, short-haired dog that can have multiple coat colors, including blue brindle, brown brindle, fawn brindle, red brindle, black brindle, liver brindle and blue fawn brindle. Faughn notes that “AmStaffs” are best described as “playful, gentle and tolerant.”
The Boxer is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. The breed weighs 65 to 80 pounds and brindle is one of the most common coat colors.
“Boxers are loyal, athletic, affectionate dogs,” says Klein. “Their patience and protective nature make them good with children.”
Their large, imposing appearances make Bullmastiffs popular guardian dogs. In fact, the breed has been described as “fearless at work” for their skill in protecting game preserves from poachers. Despite weighing up to 130 pounds, these short-haired dogs are great family companions. Klein calls the brindle breed, “docile, affectionate, devoted companions.”
The Bull Terrier is known for its long oval head and stubborn disposition. The dogs, who can be white or brindle in color, are strong and muscular and, owing to their tendencies to be suspicious around strangers, make great guardians. With their families, Faught says, “They tend to be calm, easy-going and affectionate.”
The breed dates back to the Roman Empire where their sheer size and stature made them imposing guardians. In addition to black, red and fawn coloring, Cane Corso dogs can also be gray brindle, black brindle, or chestnut brindle. While the Cane Corso can be docile and affectionate at home, Klein notes that the breed “has strong protective and territorial instincts [and] early training and socialization are very important.”
Short in stature and big in personality, dachshunds were bred to burrow into badger dens and retain that same active, curious, fearless nature required to get the job done. The breed comes in different sizes, coat lengths and coat colorings, including brindle.
“Dachshunds are bold, independent dogs,” says Klein.
The long-haired, medium-sized dog hails from the Netherlands where it was used as a farm dog, tending sheep, herding cows, pulling carts, and minding children. Their silver brindle or gold brindle coats can be short, long, or rough-haired and require regular grooming.
“This independent herding breed is lively, athletic, and smart,” Klein says. “Dutch Shepherds need mental and physical exercise to be happy.”
Weighing in at under 28 pounds with the ears of a much larger dog, French Bulldogs are affectionate, outgoing, and playful.
“Frenchies are often loving lap dogs who enjoy lounging with their owners,” Faughn says.
French Bulldogs can have brindle and white, fawn brindle and white, or white and brindle coats. It’s a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed that can overheat easily so avoiding overexertion, especially in warm weather, is essential, says Faughn.
Weighing in at up to 175 pounds, the Great Dane is considered one of the largest dog breeds in the world. Their size earned them a reputation as guardian dogs—a role Great Danes still perform. The breed comes in multiple colors and patterns, including harlequin, merle, and brindle.
“Great Danes are known to be sociable and affectionate with good house manners when fully mature [and] they are courageous and protective with a sensitive, gentle nature,” says Klein.
“Although they are bred for racing, greyhounds are not actually high-energy dogs and are often known as ‘45 miles per hour couch potatoes,’” Faughn says. “They are happy to nap most of the day and do not need a lot of exercise other than daily walks and occasional runs in secure, fenced-in areas.”
Greyhounds weigh up to 70 pounds and are regarded as independent and gentle. Blue brindle, red brindle, black brindle, and red brindle and white are among their colors.
This ancient breed was used for hunting. Despite their reputation as fierce hunters that were skilled in taking down prey, the breed became a popular family companion hailed for its calm demeanor and agreeableness. The Irish Wolfhound stands at least 30 inches tall and weighs up to 180 pounds and their wiry outer coats come in a combination of colors, including gray and brindle and wheaten and brindle.
“They have plenty of endurance and need a fenced-in yard to run,” says Klein.
The large scent hounds were bred to hunt bears. One of the coonhound breeds, the Plott Hound was developed in North Carolina and, true to their rural roots, love having space to roam. Klein describes the breed, which weighs 40 to 75 pounds and comes in multiple colors, including brindle, as, “bold, fearless hunters and loyal, intelligent companions that are eager to please.”
“Descended from Greyhounds, Whippets tend to be friendly family pets who are generally good with children and other dogs,” says Faughn.
The breed has a similar appearance to the Greyhound with their deep chests, thin waists, long legs and brindle color pattern but reach just 18 to 22 inches tall and weigh under 40 pounds. Whippets are fast, high energy dogs that need a lot of mental stimulation to be happy.
How to Care for Your Brindle Dog
Since brindle is a color pattern, not a breed, there is no one-size-fits-all care requirement for these dogs. Brindle dogs can be large or small, long-or short-haired, energetic or laid back.
“While some breeds do have some characteristics that may inform how much exercise or mental stimulation they need…it’s important to remember that every animal [has] individual needs and desires,” says Faughn. “Shelter staff and volunteers are very knowledgeable about the temperament, behavior and history of the dogs in their care and can help make an appropriate match based on lifestyle.”
All dogs, including brindle dogs, require complete and balanced diets, routine vet care that includes preventives for heartworm, fleas and ticks, exercise, and loving homes.