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Types of brindle dog coats

Updated July 20, 2017

Brindle is a striped coat pattern seen in many breeds of dogs. Brindled dogs are often described as being tiger-striped although the striping on a brindled dog is not nearly as solid and clearly defined as that on a tiger. The striping on a brindled dog can be fine and sparse or so dense that the light stripes are barely visible. Brindle can also be accompanied by different colour patterns, including white markings.

Coat Length

Brindled dogs are of many different breeds and mixes, so they have the typical coats of their breeds. The length and texture of a dog's brindled coat strongly influences its colours. Greyhounds and Boxers have short, sleek coats so their brindle colouring is very clear, pronounced and striking. Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhounds, have longer coats and Afghan hounds, much longer still. The long hair mutes and blurs their brindle colouring even if the colours are exactly the same as on a short-coated dog.

Agouti, Sable and Masks

Brindled coats can also be overlaid by agouti or sable colouring. Agouti hairs are themselves banded. Along the length of the hair shaft, there are bands from when the production of black pigment started, stopped, and started again. Sable hairs are tipped black at the end. Agouti and sable are primarily seen on brindled dogs with longer coats, such as Afghans, Borzoi, Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds. A mask is just that: the dog has a mask of tipped hairs over its face.

Dilutes and White

Dilute comes in two basic varieties: red and blue. Red dilution turns, or dilutes, black pigment into reds and browns, and red pigments to tans. Blue dilutes black to blue, and reds to silvers and creams. Dilutes can combine with brindle: Great Danes, for example, may be blue brindle. White on a brindled dog can range from a white toe or tail tip to a white chest to a body that is mostly white with brindled markings. In many breeds, excessive white is associated with deafness.

Colour Genetics Among Breeds

Some breeds have very restrictive colour standards. Boxers, for example, may only be fawn, with or without brindle stripes or white markings. For that reason, Boxer colour genetics are very simple. At the other extreme, the American Kennel Club Borzoi breed standard permits "any colour, or combination of colours" so Borzoi colour genetics can be very complicated.

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About the Author

Erin Solaro has been writing since 2004 for the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer." She also published "Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know about Women in the Military." Solaro holds a B.A. in history from Indiana University and an M.A. in diplomacy and military science from Norwich University.