Brindle dogs are instantly recognizable for their distinctive coats. Their dark stripes, which extend all the way down to the skin, are usually genetic, although in some cases the stripes appear as a result of a hormonal imbalance.
Brindles with stripes on their necks, faces, and legs are often referred to as “standard” brindles, while those with stripes everywhere are called “full” brindles.
Brindle dogs are a popular choice for pets around the world, and they come in a variety of breeds.
Brindle Dog Appearance
Brindle is a coat pattern that's described as tiger-striped, though the variations of color are more subtle and blended than distinct stripes. Dogs born with this coat pattern carry a particular recessive gene.
Typically, the pattern features shades of red as the base color with black stripes on top. However, the coloring can vary considerably, depending on other coat genes that are present.
For example, some brindle dogs have a silver, liver, tan, or blue markings. The red base can go from a light cream to a deep red. And the brindle pattern might only be on part of their bodies.
What Is Brindle Coloring?
The brindle coat has been around as long as dogs have been running around on the earth. The Brindle color coat is one of the recessive genes on the K locus.
It’s characterized by either having black coloring/stripes on an orange background where the orange occasionally peeks through or light stripes over a darker background or coat, almost resembling a tiger’s striped coat in some ways.
The darker or heavier brindle coloring is the traditional color that’s typically the most discussed. The lighter brindle coloring is called a “reverse brindle.”
This type of coat has a lighter color being more prominent on the darker background of the dog’s coat.
Some breeds can carry a more grey or “blue” looking color of the brindle color. The orangeish/reddish color coats are “red” brindles, while the fawn colors are a lighter orange, almost tan color.
Causes Of A Brindle Coat Pattern
Just like other coat colors and patterns, the brindle color pattern is a genetic trait, caused by a particular combination of genes.
There are a handful of different places (loci) along your dog's DNA strand that determine her color pattern. These are referred to as gene series, and they are labeled by a letter.
The mutation for the brindle trait is located at the K locus. There are three different variations of genes (called alleles) at this locus.
One makes the dog all black, one essentially defaults to other alleles, and, as you may have guessed, the other one makes the dog brindle. Brindle is dominant over the yellow (default) coloration, but recessive to the black gene.
We should also point out that many different species display a similar color pattern, including cattle, horses, guinea pigs, and some lizards. This doesn’t mean that the conditions are related; it just means that they are visually similar.
Horses usually (but not always) display the brindle color pattern when two embryos fuse – the resulting chimera exhibits multiple colors because it is essentially multiple horses living in the same body.
10 Dog Breeds That Carry the Brindle Gene
There are many brindle dog breeds that carry the color gene, and all of them can look equally beautiful.
While there’s only one breed that’s guaranteed to carry the brindle color every time, many breeds carry the genes in with other mixed colors, most notably a merle coloring which is almost like a marbling of solid colors mixed with a brindle coat.
We’ve carved out over 20 different breeds that can carry the brindle gene.
While this coat coloring does seem slightly more common in some breeds of dogs like the molosser dogs, it can creep up in many other breeds we look at in detail below.
1. Dutch Shepherd
One of our favorite brindle-coated pups is the Dutch Shepherd. The Dutch Shepherd in brindle can be absolutely striking in how they look.
They carry the brindle gene and often carry amber-colored eyes with this coat color combination to boot.Dutch Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs and are often used for police work and military work.
This breed can be harder to train for less experienced dog owners, so make sure you are prepared to invest time and money into the training of your pup to ensure you have a well-behaved family companion.
The Bullmastiff carries the brindle gene. These gentle giants have a relatively high likelihood of having this coat color. Similar to the English Mastiff, this color combo can make them look more imposing than smaller brindle dog breeds. This breed is like the English Mastiff: Stubborn, Headstrong, and can be a bit lazy when they want to be.
They like to downplay their intelligence and can drive any new dog owner crazy with their refusal to listen. On the plus side, they are amazing with kids and other animals if properly socialized. They will also protect their family with their life, making them a great family companion.
3. English & American Mastiff
Both the English Mastiff and the American Mastiff can carry the brindle gene. These huge dogs commonly carry the gene, and the coloring is quite a popular color in the mastiff community. This coloring combined with their size can make mastiffs look even more imposing than the other breeds in this list.
Mastiffs aren’t the best dogs for first-time dog owners, and you should only get one if you are a firm leader with your dog and can spend time training them. Mastiffs are extremely stubborn, and they like to enact that stubbornness regularly which may lead you to think they are stupid. Make no mistake, they are smart and use it to their advantage at any chance they get.
4. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound will often fall into the reverse brindle category. Their wiry coats are always on the lighter side, but you’ll see some tiger striping come through which means they still fall into the reverse brindle bucket. Seeing the Irish Wolfhound with reverse brindle coloring is quite common for the breed, although it’s slightly harder to see because their coat is somewhat rough and dense.
The Irish Wolfhound is another dog that’s not recommended for first-time dog owners.
They are similar to mastiffs in where they can be somewhat standoffish with strangers but open up to them once they are known and invited to be part of the family.
This is another giant dog breed, and they are beautiful with their brindle coloring.
5. Glen of Imaal Terrier
This is a lesser-known dog breed to most common dog lovers in the United States. This breed is in the terrier category, and it's one of four Irish Terrier breeds.
It’s quite common for the Glen of Imaal to carry the reverse brindle coat and like the Irish wolfhound, they have a rougher and more dense coat.
The Glen of Imaal is a dwarf breed with curved legs and has more moderate exercise requirements when compared to other terriers in the same class.
These pups are extremely smart, making them a decent choice for first-time dog owners. They run with a medium activity range, so you won’t be throwing the ball for hours on end like you will if you bring home a Lab puppy.
They are smart and stubborn though, so be prepared to start training right away.
6. French Bulldog
The french bulldog is one of the more popular small breeds in the United States. They resemble a full-sized bulldog minus the fact that they look a little like batman with their ears, which happen to be their strongest feature.
These little guys make great family companions and are affectionate with their owners.
This particular Frenchie has a true brindle coat with some merle blended in. The coloring is beautiful and is offset even more with the yellow eyes that the pup carries.
Brindle french bulldogs are quite common when it comes to coloring, so there’s a good chance you can snag one at your local breeder if Frenchies are your thing!
7. American Staffordshire Terrier
American Staffordshire Terriers are a terrier breed and it’s commonly interchangeable with the American Pit Bull Terrier.
English Staffordshire Terriers were brought up in the 1800s as fighting dogs, which were used for baiting bulls during animal fights.
Am Staffs are the American version of the Staffordshire Terrier and are generally taller and leaner than the English counterpart.
In the US, the Am Staff is most commonly used for fieldwork on farms and is largely kept as a house pet. This Am Staff has a beautiful red brindle coat.
The boxer is another American Favorite that carries a beautiful brindle coat. Boxers are usually pretty upbeat dogs and make for great family pets.
They like to jump up with their front paws, which is how they were labeled a “boxer” dog. They are muscular and powerful dogs, despite not having the size of a giant breed.
Boxers are protective in nature but great with their families. They are not as stubborn as mastiffs and are both intelligent and easier to train than some of the breeds that take more repetitions to learn tricks.
This boxer has a beautiful red brindle coat, and brindle boxers are pretty common when picking your pup.
9. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russel Terriers are another dog that many people don’t realize has the ability to have a brindle coat. This JRT has a beautiful brindle face, with white colorings on the remainder of the body.
Having a brindle coat is slightly rarer in the JRT than other breeds, but it makes for a stunning combination of color and energy.
These pups are extremely smart! They are one of the smartest dogs you can own, and they train as easily as a Golden Retriever, if not easier.
Jack Russells are also great family dogs and have become one of the more popular breeds in the United States. They are small and agile and make great companions for hikes or other outdoor activities.
10. Plott Hound
The Plott Hound is a beautiful hunting dog that falls into the coonhound breeds. They are descendants of German Hanover hounds and are excellent waterfowl dogs.
The Plott Hound is highly intelligent and can be very energetic. It’s good to walk this breed or give it an outlet for regular exercise.
They also have beautiful brindle and reverse brindle coats. They are athletic dogs and are extremely resilient.
If you decide to adopt a Plott Hound, you’ll just want to stay aware of the tedious exercise requirements you’ve signed up for.
6 Best Brindle Dog Breeds
The Basenji is an ancient breed that bears a striking resemblance to dogs painted on the tombstones of Egyptian pharaohs.
Up until the '80s, the Basenjis found in the United States didn't come with brindle markings. Breeders were looking to extend the gene pool of their dogs to combat health problems.
So several dogs were imported from Central Africa, and they brought the brindle gene with them. Basenjis are typically loyal, calm, and gentle. They also tend to be clean and quiet.
2. Cairn Terrier
Brindle cairn terriers are fairly common. But, because their coat tends to be wiry and shaggy, the pattern isn't as distinct as it can be on breeds with short coats. The color tones can also lighten as a dog ages. Confident, clever, and loving, these dogs are full of character. But they can be prolific barkers and diggers, and they love to chase small rodents.
3. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Considered one of the oldest breeds from the British Isles, the Cardigan Welsh corgi is commonly found with brindle markings.
The brindle gene was thought to have been introduced when these dogs were crossed with the now-extinct brindle herder.
Cardigans aren't as popular as their slightly smaller Pembroke relatives, but they're devoted to their family, clever, and playful. 4. Great Dane
Great Danes come in an array of coats, including the brindle pattern. These huge dogs are known for being loving, friendly, and eager to please.
Despite their size, they tend to get along well with respectful children and other household pets. However, living with a Great Dane can have its drawbacks.
You'll need plenty of space and a considerable budget for their food. Their lifespan also is considerably shorter than the average dog.
Because of their short coats, the brindle markings sometimes found on greyhounds are very distinct.
Despite their bursts of incredible speed, this affectionate breed can be a wonderfully chill housemate. Once a greyhound finds a comfy spot on the sofa, it tends to be quite happy.
However, greyhounds generally have a strong prey drive. They often don't live peaceably with smaller household pets, and they instinctively want to chase wildlife.
6. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire bull terriers are often found with brindle markings, and sometimes the shades can be very dark. Known for being devoted to their families and incredibly affectionate, it's not unusual for a Staffie to climb onto your lap seeking attention.
Staffies thrive in the company, and they aren't suited to living in a household where they are left alone often. Separation anxiety can be a problem with this breed.
No matter what breed of pup you are planning on adding to your family, there is one thing for certain – any of these pups listed combined with the brindle color combination can be extremely striking in color.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve captured a few of our favorite breeds with the tiger-striped appeal.
If we missed one of your favorite breeds, feel free to drop a comment below, or drop us a note on our contact page. We will be sure to add any that you point out that we missed out on! Happy hunting for your next Brindle Pup!