Immediately identifiable by their unique coats, the brindle dog can be found across a multitude of common -and not so common- household breeds.
On the one hand, that’s great news. If the striking appearance of a brindle dog is one of your top priorities when it comes to bringing home a new pet, then you’ve got plenty of options to choose from.
On the other hand, it can make your selection process a little trickier.
A brindle coat doesn’t have much bearing on a dog’s temperament, personality, or care needs.
So, if you are looking to welcome a brindle into your home, it pays to first consider the typical traits of the most common brindle dog breeds and choose one that’s going to be a good fit with your lifestyle and that of your family.
That’s where we come in.
In this complete guide, we’ll look at the most popular breeds that carry the brindle gene, discussing everything you need to know to help you decide which brindle is best for you.
What is a Brindle Dog Coat?
Brindle is a certain type of coat pattern that is frequently referred to as being akin to tiger stripes.
This distinctive pattern usually takes the form of a lighter base color with darker stripes, though in rare instances, you may find the opposite; a dog with a darker base color and lighter stripes. This is known as a “reverse brindle” coat.
Though it’s far from exclusive to dogs (horses, cats, and other animals can have brindle coats too), it is found across a wide range of well-known breeds, albeit often in small numbers. In other words, just because a certain breed can have a brindle coat doesn’t mean all dogs of that breed will.
What Causes a Brindle Coat?
There’s no definitive answer to this question, though most experts agree that a genetic mutation causes it. While that may sound worrying, this mutation is benign, and really only affects the coat pattern.
Only in very rare instances will a brindle coat play a factor in a dog’s health conditions, and we’ll discuss those instances later in this guide.
Size and Appearance of Brindle Dogs
It’s a common misconception that brindle coats are found exclusively on certain big dog breeds, particularly burly, muscular ones like boxers and terriers.
While it’s true that these dogs can carry the brindle gene, the fact is that it can also be found in dogs of all shapes and sizes, from the greatest of Great Danes to the cutest of corgis.
That said, most brindle dogs do have one thing in common when it comes to their appearance; they’re almost exclusively short-haired breeds.
Most Common Brindle Dog Breeds
As we’ve already discussed, just because a certain breed is more likely to carry the brindle gene doesn’t mean that every dog belonging to that breed will have this striking coat pattern.
That being said, these are the most common brindle dog breeds, each one with their own unique needs, traits, and personalities.
Buoyant, playful, and with boundless energy, boxers are clever, friendly dogs that are well-known for getting on great with children.
Though this can make them a wonderful addition to your family, it’s worth noting that most boxers don’t know their own strength.
As a result, the combination of their excitable personality and strong physique can mean they easily overpower small children, and what your boxer sees as playtime can cause a few tears for your toddler.
This is one of the reasons why it’s often recommended that boxers receive lots of exercise, keeping them happy, (relatively) calm, and well-behaved.
Brindle coats are pretty common in boxers, which can add to their already handsome appearance. However, their short-haired coat can leave them prone to heatstroke, so be mindful of the need to keep them cool.
Boxer Dog Stats:
Typical Height: 23″ – 25″ (male) / 21″ – 23″ (female)
Typical Weight: 65 lbs – 80 lbs (male) / 50 lbs – 65 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 10 – 12 years.
2. Great Dane
Great by name, great by nature, these gentle giants can grow to over 3 feet from head to toe and weigh over 140 lbs. Yet as big as they get, Great Danes are also well-known for their warm, cuddly, and passive nature.
Providing they’re trained well from being a puppy, they fit in well with families and remain relaxed even around young children.
Still, a Great Dane isn’t the ideal household pet for everyone. Given their enormous size, you’re going to need plenty of room to house them comfortably and a decent budget as they can be pretty expensive to take care of.
Sadly, like most extra-large dogs, Great Danes have a relatively short life expectancy compared to other dogs, rarely reaching more than ten years old before passing on to doggy heaven.
On a brighter note, they really are magnificent creatures, especially those with a brindle coat.
Typical Height: 30″ – 32″ (male) / 28″ – 30″ (female)
Typical Weight: 149 lbs – 175 lbs (male) / 110 lbs – 140 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 8 – 10 years.
Brindle markings aren’t as common in greyhounds as they are in other dog breeds, yet thanks to their extremely thin coats, when you do get a brindle greyhound, it’s very noticeable indeed..
This, plus the fact that the stripes come in an array of colors (black, fawn, red, and grey-blue being the most common) means that a brindle coat on a greyhound can give it a uniquely attractive appearance.
Of course, greyhounds are best known for being the Usain Bolts of the dog world and are capable of reaching 40 – 45 miles per hour. Despite this, these gorgeous animals are actually pretty chilled out creatures and are more than happy crashing on the sofa with you while you binge-watch Netflix or snuggling up for a comfy night’s sleep.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t need their exercise. A good 30-40 minutes a day of physical activity (even if it’s only running around the garden) will do them a world of good and stop them from falling into destructive habits.
As relaxed and docile as greyhounds may be in general, they do need some level of training and control.
When out for walks, it’s often a good idea to keep them on a good-quality no-pull dog harness as they’re not above chasing after anything and everything in sight.
If your greyhound is a retired racing dog, then you may also find that they’ve been mistreated in the past.
This can cause some long-term behavioral issues that first-time dog owners may struggle with, so think carefully before choosing this otherwise gorgeous and gentle brindle dog breed.
Typical Height: 27″ – 30″ (male) / 25″ – 29″ (female)
Typical Weight: 65 lbs – 85 lbs (male) / 50 lbs – 65 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 10 – 14 years.
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Like the Great Dane, Mastiffs are seriously massive dogs, often growing to over 200 lbs. Although regularly found in fawn or apricot colors, it’s not that uncommon to find them with a brindle coat.
They’re even one of the few dog breeds where you’ll see a reverse brindle coat as much as you’ll see the regular kind.
This beautiful coat is just one of the reasons why we love mastiffs here at Canine Weekly. Looks aside, they’re also incredibly loving and affectionate, not to mention loyal, and -providing you’ve got the space and food budget to take care of them- tend to make wonderful family pets.
Mastiffs aren’t the most active of dogs either and will be quite content to spend a long time napping. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be exercised at all. A gentle walk of up to an hour in length a day will help prevent them from piling on the pounds.
On the downside, mastiffs tend to do best when they’re with an owner used to handling really large dogs, so they may not be a perfect choice for a first-time pet. Also, much like Great Danes, they tend to have a relatively short life expectancy which can be heartbreaking.
Typical Height: 30″ – 35″ (male) / 27.5″ and up (female)
Typical Weight: 150 lbs – 200+ lbs (male) / 120 lbs – 180+ lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 6 – 12 years.
5. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
From those magnificently massive mastiffs to the cute and compact corgi next. These pint-sized pups may not be the first breed you think of when it comes to brindle coats, but the cardigan welsh variety are commonly found with the distinctive stripes in red, blue (grey), or black.
Perhaps the main reason why we don’t tend to associate these dogs with brindle coats is that Cardigans are far less popular than the Pembroke corgi breeds, which are the type associated with England’s Queen Elizabeth II.
If you ask us, this is a shame, because apart from being adorable, cardigans are remarkably loyal and incredibly clever.
In fact, as one of the smartest dog breeds around, they pick up new commands very quickly but can also be stubborn and take a while to train.
It’s for this reason that many cardigan corgi owners look for safe, cruelty-free dog training kits to help them coerce their little bundle of fur into adopting good habits.
We should also bring to your attention the fact that corgis are well-known heavy shedders, so be prepared to fur-proof your home if you’re introducing one to your family.
Typical Height: 10.5″ – 13″ (male) / 10″ – 12.5 (female)
Typical Weight: 30 lbs – 37 lbs (male) / 24 lbs – 33 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 12 – 15 years.
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6. Staffordshire Bull Terriers
Staffies often get a bad reputation thanks to their association with dog fights, but the truth is that although they can be an aggressive dog breed (especially around other dogs) if mistreated, they can also be very loyal, soft, and affectionate when trained and exercised properly.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier generally does well when it has lots of attention and interaction, so it’s not the kind of dog you can leave at home all day while you go out to work.
In terms of their coat, Staffies are one of the most common brindle dog breeds, often found in a variety of tones, patterns, and colors.
Typical Height: 15″ – 17″ (male) / 13″ – 15(female)
Typical Weight: 28 lbs – 37 lbs (male) / 24 lbs – 33 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: 12 – 14 years.
7. French Bulldogs
Like Staffies, French Bulldogs are regularly found with brindle coats, particularly with fawn and dark-colored stripes.
Surprisingly muscular for a dog of such small size, the Frenchie’s powerful physique belies their fun and playful nature. This positive personality makes them a great family dog, and they do get along very well with kids of all ages.
However, as with boxers, they can get a little over-exuberant, so it’s best to keep an eye on them in the presence of smaller children.
As loving and friendly as they can be with their humans, Frenchies do tend to have a high prey drive. So, while they may be fine with any other pets they’ve been raised alongside, they’re likely to dart after small animals they’re not familiar with.
Another issue is that French Bulldogs tend to struggle in hot weather.
While a quality dog cooling pad might help them out on the occasional hot summer day, it’s not recommended that you get a Frenchie if you live in an area known for its year-round high temperatures.
Typical Height: 11″ – 12″
Typical Weight: 20 lbs – 28 lbs (male) / 16 lbs – 24 lbs (female)
Typical Lifespan: Up to 15 years
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A relative of the greyhound, whippets were originally bred for hunting and racing, but these days tend to be kept solely as beloved family pets.
We do mean beloved, too.
Whippets can be very sensitive, affectionate creatures and will happily come up on the sofa for a cuddle.
What’s more, they also make a great choice as a first-time pet as not only are they very obedient, they’re also very light shedders and stay healthy providing they get the recommended hour of exercise per day.
Typical Height: 18″ – 22″ (male) / 17″ – 20″ (female)
Typical Weight: 18 – 48 lbs.
Typical Lifespan: 15 years
Health Problems in Brindle Dog Breeds
Though brindle coats are caused by a genetic mutation, this mutation is generally harmless as it doesn’t affect the dog’s health in any noticeable way.
That said, it can cause issues when dogs with the brindle gene are bred with dogs of different coat-related genes.
For example, the merle gene can lead to some beautiful-looking coats when mixed with brindle, but it can also cause dogs to suffer from visual and aural defects, so it’s best to be avoided.
As with breeding any dogs, good care and attention should be taken with brindle dog breeds and proper testing should be done to prevent these kinds of problems from arising.
Other than that, you’ll likely find your brindle dog is only going to be affected by the kind of common health problems typical for their breed.
The Final Word on Brindle Dog Breeds
Brindle dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from mammoth mastiffs to pocket-sized pooches like the adorable Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Yet while all of these dogs have their unique and often gorgeous appearance in common, their personalities and care needs can be wildly different.
With that in mind, if there’s only thing you take away from this guide today, let it be this:
The most important factor in choosing a brindle dog breed is ensuring it’s a good fit for your home, your family, and your lifestyle.
If you currently live in a small apartment, for example, then the limited amount of space is hardly going to make an ideal home for a colossal Great Dane.
Likewise, if you’re going to be out at work all day and leaving your pet home alone for long periods, then dogs that need a lot of attention like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier may be out of the question.
On the other hand, if you and your family have a lot of love to give, and a lot of time in which to give it, brindle breeds like the buoyant boxer or the fun-loving frenchie will make a perfect addition to your home.