This article concerns animal color. For the village in England, see Brindle, Lancashire
Brindle, Lancashire
Brindle is a small village and civil parish of the borough of Chorley, Lancashire, England. It is in the centre of a triangle between Preston, Blackburn, and Chorley. The area has little industry. Brindle is one of the most affluent areas in Lancashire , with average earnings over 33% higher than...


Brindle is a coat
Coat (animal)
Coat, or the nature and quality of a show mammal's pelage, is important to the animal fancy in the judging of the animal, particularly at conformation dog shows, cat shows and horse shows...

 coloring pattern in animals, particularly dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s, cat
The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...

s, cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

, guinea pigs, crested geckos and, rarely, horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s. It is sometimes described as "tiger striped", although the brindle pattern is more subtle than that of a tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

'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.


The brindle pattern may also take the place of tan in tricolor coats of some dog breeds (such as Basenji
The Basenji is a breed of hunting dog that was bred from stock originating in central Africa. Most of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world place the breed in the Hound Group; more specifically, it may be classified as belonging to the sighthound type...

s). 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
Merle (coat colour in dogs)
Merle is a pattern in a dogs coat, though is commonly incorrectly referred to as a color.- Description :Merle can affect all coat colors but the colors most commonly seen that are affected are brown and black, when affected by merle they are usually called liver and blue, though some call liver red...

 in the points, or as a brindle merle, in breeds such as the Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh corgi is one of two separate dog breeds known as Welsh corgis that originated in Wales, the other being the Pembroke Welsh corgi. It is one of the oldest herding breeds.-Characteristics:...

, 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).

Guinea Pigs

Brindle is an old variety in guinea pigs. They are difficult to breed to perfection as the black and red hairs should intermingle evenly all over. Brindle guinea pigs' fur type is Abyssinian
Abyssinian may refer to:* Abyssinian, Habesha people and things from parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea, formerly known as Abyssinia* Abyssinian , a cat breed* Abyssinian, a breed of guinea pig* The Abyssinians, a Jamaican roots reggae group...



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
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

, with the brindle pattern being an expression of two different sets of equine coat color
Equine coat color
Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them.While most horses remain the same color throughout life, a few, over the course of several years, will develop a different coat color from that with which they were born...

 genes in one horse. In some horses, the pattern seems to be inherited, indicating that one or more genes are responsible. To date, 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 19th century at the Zoological Museum of Academy Sciences, a Russian cab horse of brindle coloring was mounted and put on display in the Zoological Museum in Leningrad, Russia.


The brindling pattern found in horses could be described as vertical 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. Some brindle-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 any color, but recorded examples have been bay, chestnut
Chestnut (coat)
Chestnut is a hair coat color of horses consisting of a reddish-to-brown coat with a mane and tail the same or lighter in color than the coat. Genetically and visually, chestnut is characterized by the absolute absence of true black hairs...

, palomino
Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a "red" base coat...

, and dun
Dun gene
The dun gene is a dilution gene that affects both red and black pigments in the coat color of a horse. The dun gene has the ability to affect the appearance of all black, bay, or chestnut -based horses to some degree by lightening the base body coat and suppressing the underlying base color to the...

. Earliest documented cases 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.

Other animals

Brindle coloring exists in cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

. For Crested Gecko
New Caledonian Crested Gecko
The Crested Gecko, New Caledonian Crested Gecko, Guichenot's Giant Gecko or Eyelash Gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is a species of gecko native to southern New Caledonia. This species was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994...

s, the term "brindle" is used to describe an extreme tiger morph
Polymorphism (biology)
Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or 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 opening of Act Four, Scene One of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

 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."
  • A brindle horse was mentioned in the book Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen.

  • "Jock of the Bushveld
    Jock of the Bushveld
    Jock of the Bushveld is a true story by South African author Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick. The book tells of Fitzpatrick's travels with his dog, Jock, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, during the 1880s, when he worked as a storeman, prospector's assistant, journalist and ox-wagon transport-rider in the...

    " was a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier
    The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, short-coated, old-time breed of dog. It is an English dog, where it is the 5th most popular breed, and related to the bull terrier...

     mix and the companion of Percy Fitzpatrick in their travels around the South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    n veldt in the 1880s. Fitzpatrick later collected tales of their adventures into a popular book of the same name.

  • "Jack" was a brindle bulldog
    Bulldog is the name for a breed of dog commonly referred to as the English Bulldog. Other Bulldog breeds include the American Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge and the French Bulldog. The Bulldog is a muscular heavy dog with a wrinkled face and a distinctive pushed-in nose...

     featured in the Little House on the Prairie
    Little House on the Prairie
    Little House is a series of children's books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that was published originally between 1932 and 1943, with four additional books published posthumously, in 1962, 1971, 1974 and 2006.-History:...

     books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family...

    . 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
    By the Shores of Silver Lake
    By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was first published in 1939 and is the fifth of nine books written in her Little House on the Prairie series, also known as "The Laura Years." The book begins when Laura is twelve years old and the family moves to what will become De Smet,...


  • In the poem "Pied Beauty
    Pied Beauty
    "Pied Beauty" is a curtal sonnet by the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins . It was written in 1877, but not published until 1918, when it was included as part of the collection Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins....

    " (1918), by Gerard Manley Hopkins
    Gerard Manley Hopkins
    Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous 20th-century fame established him among the leading Victorian poets...

    , the concept occurs in the opening, where he states "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..." .

External links

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