Across all the different dog breeds, there are several different coat textures that come in a variety of hair types, lengths, colors and patterns. A brindle dog coat is a very distinctive “tiger stripe” of darker streaks over a lighter base coat color running along a dog’s back. Brindle is a coat pattern and not a dog breed; there is no brindle dog breed.

Why do some dogs have brindle coats?

Just like other features on a dog, a brindle dog coat is a matter of genetics. A dog inherits half his genes from his mother and half from his father, and this makes up the dog’s unique genetic data, including the resulting coat color and pattern.

Only eight genes make up a dog’s coat color. One of these, known as the agouti gene, must be present to produce a brindle coat pattern.

A dog’s coat color is made up of only two pigments: black (eumelanin) and red (phaeomelanin). The amount of melanin in the dog’s body will determine all the fabulous color variations in between the dark and red colors.

The brindle color chart: a range of darks and reds

The black pigment on a dog’s coat produces color variations, such as a range of browns referred to in the dog fancy as “liver” and grays that are called “blue,” along with a range of diluted versions of these colors. Similarly, the red coat colors range from deep red to orange, creams, yellows and tans.

The distinctive brindle coat “tiger stripe” can be found in all these color ranges. Even though the coat pattern is described as a stripe, it’s sometimes blended into the fur and isn’t particularly distinct. The brindle pattern can even appear in blotches, too.

The terms ‘reverse brindle’ and ‘black brindle’ are used to describe a brindle dog coat with a high concentration of darker stripes. This causes the brindle pattern to look reversed. Interestingly, a brindle coat can develop as your dog ages. So, a solid-colored pup could develop stripes as he gets older.

These dog breeds are known for having brindle coloring:

  • Boxer
  • French Bulldog
  • Greyhound
  • Whippet
  • Dutch Shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Akita
  • Russell Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Cane Corso
  • Bullmastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Plott Hound
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Mixed breed dogs can also carry the brindle gene.

Brindle dogs in books

Dogs with brindle coat patterns are often sought-after and have appeared throughout literature. Some of the more famous brindle dogs include Jock, a brindled Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix and the companion of author Percy Fitzpatrick, who wrote a book, Jock of the Bushveld about their travels in the South African bushveld.

Author Laura Ingalls Wilder also featured a brindled Bulldog named Jack in the early books of The Little House on the Prairie series.