Brindle is the term used for the 'tiger-striped' coat pattern found on dogs. Boxers or Greyhounds often spring to mind when this type of coat is mentioned, but many breeds can have these distinctive markings.
Dogs born with this pattern in their coat carry a particular recessive gene. Typically, these markings feature shades of red as the base color, with black stripes on top. However, the extent of brindle that appears on the coat and the patterns can vary considerably, depending on the other genes that are present. For example, some brindle dogs have silver, liver, tan or blue stripes or points. The red base can go from a light cream to a deep red. The brindle marking might only be on part of their body, and sometimes the pattern can be flecked.
When the stripes are broken into shorter lengths or spots, this is referred to as brindle merle, and it can be a very subtle distinction. When lighter stripes feature on a darker base coat, this is referred to as 'reverse brindle'. The brindle markings don't have any bearing on a dog's personality. So, if you're attracted to a dog with this coat pattern, it's important to consider whether the breeds typical traits will be right for your family and lifestyle.
Below are ten breeds that carry the brindle gene. You'll see they vary greatly in size, drives and temperament.
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The Basenji is an ancient breed that bears a striking resemblance to dogs painted on the tombstones of Egyptian Pharaohs. Up until the eighties, 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. Several dogs were imported from Central Africa, and they brought the brindle gene across with them. Basenji enthusiasts are drawn to their typically loyal, calm and gentle personality. They also tend to be clean and quiet, and this makes them a popular choice for apartment living.
Although they form strong bonds with their people, this breed can be aloof with strangers and independent. Basenjis are agile climbers and will entertain themselves if bored. To prevent destructive behavior, the breed needs plenty of exercise and in-home enrichment.
Height: 16 to 17 inches
Weight: 20 to 25 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Smooth, short coat in chestnut red, black, brindle, or tri-color (black and red); all have white feet, chest and tail tip; may have white legs, blaze, and collar; tail is curled over onto the back
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Brindle markings are very common on one of North America's most popular dog breeds—the Boxer. Known for being fun-loving, energetic, clever and affectionate, Boxers can be great family pets. The breed can be a little over-exuberant at times, and given their power and size, encouraging calm behavior and working on loose leash walking skills will be important.
Height: 23 to 25 inches (male); 21 to 23 inches (female)
Weight: 65 to 80 pounds (male); 50 to 65 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, square-built dog with a blunt muzzle; short, shiny and smooth coat that is most commonly seen in fawn or brindle coloring; white boxers sometimes seen
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Brindle Cairn Terriers are common. Because their coat tends to be wiry and shaggy, the pattern isn't as distinct as it can be on breeds with naturally shorter coats. The color tones can also lighten as the dog ages. Confident and loyal, these smart, adaptable and independent little dogs have bags of character.
They won't suit every household, though. Cairns can be prolific alert barkers and, as you'd expect from a traditional terrier, they often like to chase small furries. You might also need to provide your Cairn with a sandpit or designated spot in the garden - they can be prolific diggers.
Height: 9 to 10 inches
Weight: 12 to 15 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Small and double-coated, with a wiry outer coat that comes in a wide range of colors, including brindle
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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 they 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 fun-loving.
The breed can be wary around strangers, and their alert barking can be a problem. Working on training alternative more desirable behaviors and ensuring your dog is getting enough exercise and enrichment can be beneficial.
Height: 10.5 to 12.5 inches
Weight: 25 to 38 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A low-set, deep-chested, sturdily built dog with a full, brush-like tail and large, erect ears; has a medium-length, dense, water-resistant double coat which comes in Red, sable, brindle, black or blue merle, with or without white markings on the neck, chest, legs, muzzle, tail and faceContinue to 5 of 10 below.
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Dutch Shepherds are the only breed on this list that is only found with brindle markings. They're usually shades of silver or red gold.
Like the GSD and Mali, the Dutch Shepherd is a highly intelligent, energetic and driven breed. Despite being less common, Dutchies are generally regarded as being easier to train than both of these breeds.
Affectionate, people-pleasers, they can make good family pets providing they get enough exercise and enrichment. You might need to work on channelling their instinctual herding behaviors in a healthy way too.
Height: 22.5 to 24.5 inches (males); 21.5 to 23.5 inches (females)
Weight: 45 to 75 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Short, long and rough-coated varieties and brindle coloring
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French Bulldogs have quickly grown to be one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and they're commonly found with brindle markings. Their popularity stems from their unique appearance and their goofy, fun-loving and friendly natures.
Unfortunately, the Frenchies appearance also creates problems. Their squat faces mean they're prone to breathing difficulties, and it can cause them to overheat more easily. This breed isn't suited to living in extremely hot climates.
Height: 11 to 13 inches
Weight: 19 to 28 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Small, squat and muscular dog with a wide head, short snout and large, bat-like ears; short, smooth coat in brindle, fawn, white, or combination of brindle and white or fawn and white
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Although fawn is thought to be the most popular color Great Danes are found in, brindle markings are also widely seen.
These huge dogs are known for being warm-hearted, soppy and eager to please. Despite their size, they tend to get along well with respectful children and other household pets.
Living with a Great Dane, however, can have its drawbacks. You'll need plenty of space and a considerable budget for their food bills. Plus, sadly, you might not get as many years with a Dane as you would with some smaller dogs. Their lifespan is considerably shorter than the average breed.
Height: 30 to 32 inches (male); 28-30 inches (female)
Weight: 140 to 175 pounds (male), 110 to 140 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Regal and muscular, with a deep muzzle; short coat in brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin (white with black patches), or mantle (black and white)
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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 chilled housemate. Once they have a comfy spot on the sofa, they tend to be quite happy.
Greyhounds, however, can have a strong in-built prey drive and they might not live peaceably alongside small furries. Unless they have a rock-solid recall, they'll have to kept on a leash, and sometimes even muzzled, to prevent them from giving chase to wildlife, cats and birds outdoors.
Height: 25 to 30 inches
Weight: 60 to 80 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Long legs and athletic, thin body; long and narrow head with pointed muzzle; short, smooth coat in many different solid and brindle colorsContinue to 9 of 10 below.
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The gentle and giant English Mastiff can often be found with striped markings. Despite being one of the biggest breeds around, Mastiffs can make wonderfully affectionate, calm, protective and loyal family members.
These dogs, however, aren't going to suit every household. For starters, they need a lot of space, and your food budget will be big. Mastiffs are also powerful dogs, and if they don't get the right training and socialization this can make them a challenge to handle.
Known for being prolific chewers, you'll need to ensure your Mastiff is kept entertained if you don't want to see chair and table legs being gnawed on.
Height: 30 inches and up (males); 27.5 inches and up (females)
Weight: 150 to 220 pounds (males); 120 to 180 pounds (females)
Physical Characteristics: Short and sleek coat; colors are fawn, apricot, or brindle, all with a dark mask on the muzzle, ears, and nose
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Staffies are often found with brindle markings, and sometimes the shades can be very dark. This breed, along with their relative the American Pit Bull Terrier, has garnered an unfair reputation as a result of their legacy as a fighting dog.
They can, however, make exceptional family pets in the right home. Known for being devoted to their owners and incredibly affectionate, it's not unusual for a Staffie to climb onto your lap seeking attention. Staffies thrive in company, and they aren't suited to living in a household where they are left alone too often. Separation anxiety can be a problem with this breed.
Known for being very people-orientated, they can suit being part of a one-pet household. That's not to say that this'll be the case for all Staffie's. Some love the company of other dogs too.
Height: 14 to 16 inches
Weight: 24 to 38 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized powerful-looking; short, smooth coat in solid red, fawn, white, black, blue or brindle; broad head set on a short, muscular neck
The dogs listed above are ten of the most common breeds that can have brindle markings. Several other breeds can be found sporting these striped patterns in their coat too.
And let's not forget all the mixed-breed dogs out there sporting brindle coats. There will be lots of wonderfully deserving tiger-striped mutts in shelters across the country looking for homes right now too.