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This article concerns animal color. For the village in England, see Brindle, Lancashire.
A Great Dane with the brindle color pattern.

Brindle is a coat coloring pattern in animals, particularly dogs, cats, cattle, crested geckos and, rarely, horses. It is sometimes described as "tiger striped", although the brindle pattern is more subtle than that of a tiger's coat. The streaks of color are usually darker than the base coat, which is often tawny or grayish, although very dark markings can be seen on a coat that is only slightly lighter.



File:Akita Inu brindle portrait.jpg
Brindle Akita Inu, Brindle coloration is less distinct on longer-haired dogs

The brindle pattern may also take the place of tan in tricolor coats of some dog breeds (such as Basenjis). This coloration looks very similar to tricolor, and can be distinguished only at close range. Dogs of this color are often described as "trindle". It can also occur in combination with merle in the points, or as a brindle merle, in breeds such as the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, although the latter is not acceptable in the show ring. The "dark" markings are black or the dilutions gray (called blue) or brown (sometimes called red).


A brindle chestnut
Brindle horse with dark bay base coat

In horses, brindle coloring is extremely rare and may be either caused by or somehow linked to chimerism, resulting in an animal with two sets of DNA, with the brindle pattern being an expression of two different sets of equine coat color genes in one horse.[1] In some horses, the pattern seems to be inherited, indicating that one or more genes are responsible. However some say that there is no evidence that there is an actual gene in the Equine species that causes the Brindle pattern. If there is a gene for brindling in equine, it has not yet been isolated.

It consists of irregular stripes extending vertically over the horse's body, as well as horizontally around the legs. Brindle horses can also have a dorsal stripe. It usually does not affect the head and legs as much as the body, with the heaviest concentrations of brindling being on the neck, shoulders and hindquarters. The coloring has been documented in the past. In the early 1800s at the Zoological Museum of Academy Sciences, a Russian cab horse of brindle coloring was mounted and put on display.

History of Brindle Pattern

The first documented sighting of the brindle pattern was on a Russian cab horse in the 1800s. It was so uncommon and striking that it was later preserved and displayed in the Zoological Museum in Leniningrad, Russia. [2]


The brindling pattern found in horses could be described as stripes that are found along the neck, back, hindquarters, and upper legs. The horse's head is usually a solid color and is not affected by the striping. The brindling pattern has no effect on dark points on horses, such as a bay colored horse.[3] Some brindled colored horses are more eye- catching than others.

With this rare coat pattern there is a base coat that covers the entire body of the horse. This base coat color can be bay, brown, chestnut, palomino, grey, red dun, and grulla. However when these unique colored horses were first documented most were said to have red dun or grulla as a base coat. Over top of the base color is either a lighter or darker color over top giving the appearance of stripes.

The striping pattern of brindled horses is sometimes confused with the striping patterns of dun colored horses. However both are unrelated to each other. [2]


The brindling coloration is not kept within one specific breed. In fact many breeds have the capability of fabricating a brindle. For example, Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, Thoroughbreds, Paso Finos, Quarter Horses, Warmbloods, Miniature Horses, and even donkeys have been reported to generate the brindling pattern

There is discussion about how the brindle pattern is inherited. Some sources say there is no evidence there is an actual gene that creates the pattern.[4] Other sources argue that the gene is dominant.[5] While some dispute the more than one gene is responsible for producing the striping pattern.[2]

Brindles in Literature

“The man on the PA introduces us—Annemarie Zimmer on Highland Harry, with a commanding lead and yadda yadda yadda—but no one's paying attention because they're staring at Harry. No gasps or murmurs this time, not on day three, but then someone goes and wrecks it because I hear some bastard man say, "Now there goes a horse of a different color," and I know from that one remark that he's missed days one and two and I hate him because I know he feels clever for the remark. But I suppose I'd say it too, since you don't see many or any striped horses out there, and before Harry I never knew such a thing existed, but here he is, and there's no denying that. Not today. Not here.” [5]

"Jock of the Bushveld" was a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix and the companion of Percy Fitzpatrick in their travels around the South African veldt in the 1880s. Fitzpatrick later collected tales of their adventures into a popular book of the same name.

"Jack" was a brindle bulldog featured in the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. He was the companion and household protector of the Ingalls Family in their early pioneering travels. He dies of old age at the beginning of By the Shores of Silver Lake.

In the poem "Pied Beauty", by Gerard Manley Hopkins, we have the lines "Glory be to God for dappled things / For skies of couple color as a brindled cow; / For rosemoles all in stipple upon trout that swim..." .

Other animals

Brindle coloring exists in cattle. For Crested Geckos, the term "brindle" is used to describe an extreme tiger morph, can be used in conjuncture with any of the morph colors

Etymology and Literature

The word brindle comes from brindled, originally brinded, from an old Scandinavian word. See Wiktionary. The concept occurs in the opening of 'Pied Beauty' (1918) by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a poem about dappled, streaky, subtly-varied Nature, where he compares 'skies of couple-colour' to a 'brinded cow'.

The opening of Act Four, Scene One of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is often thought to refer to a brindled cat because it contains the word brinded: "Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd." However, in this context, the word "brinded" means branded, as if with fire. The Elizabethan word for "brindled" is "streaked."[6]

See also

  • dog coat


  1. Image of brindle horse (no free images currently available)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 1
  3. 4
  4. 2
  5. 5.0 5.1 5
  6. Kenneth Muir, The Arden Shakespeare: Macbeth, 1962, p.108

www.equisearch.com www.equinecolor.com www.elcascabel.com Evans, Warren Horses third edition p. 647 Gruen, Sara Riding Lessons

External links


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