The pit bull comes in many colors, including brindle.
Brindle pit bulls have a complicated history as there is some confusion regarding what constitutes a pit bull and breed organizations’ different names for them throughout time. Pit bulls are generally recognized as a type of dog descended from the mixing of terriers and bulldogs in the United Kingdom. A brindle pit bull is not a different type of pit bull, but simply one with a certain color pattern.
The American Kennel Club does not recognize the name “pit bull.” In the organization’s early days, they did not admit pit bulls because of the dog’s social stigma. In response, the United Kennel Club was formed in 1898 by C.Z. Bennett specifically for registering the pit bull with the formal name of “American pit bull terrier.” The American Kennel Club later admitted pit bulls in 1936, but under the name “American Staffordshire terrier.” The American Kennel Club chose “Staffordshire” because it was believed by many that the breed was first created in the City of Staffordshire. The dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club as American Staffordshire terriers were all dogs registered as American pit bull terriers by the United Kennel Club. Brindle pit bulls and pit bulls of other coloring are thus officially referred to as American pit bull terriers or American Staffordshire terriers.
A brindle pit bull is one with a dark, yellowish-brown to gray coat that has darker streaks of color running through it. Brindle, along with fawn (light yellowish-brown), are two of the most common colors for pit bulls. Coat color is determined by several genes, each of which is found at a certain location (locus) of the dog’s genome and has at least two versions (alleles). The primary locus responsible for the brindle color is the dominant black K locus. The K locus has three alleles: K with “b” (black), K with “br” (brindle) and K with “y” (fawn). Black is dominant to brindle, while brindle is dominant to fawn. This means that a brindle pit bull is usually not descended from a black parent. If one parent is brindle and the other fawn, it has at least a 50-percent chance of being brindle. Two brindle pit bulls will always breed a brindle pup. The early breeders thus developed brindle pit bulls by breeding a brindle dog with another brindle or with a fawn dog.
Brindle pit bulls have been in existence for as long as the breed. The brindle pit bull was developed in the 19th century when a brindle or fawn bulldog mated with a brindle terrier (or vice versa). According to the United Kennel Club, the American pit bull terrier was developed in the 19th century by breeders in Ireland, Scotland and England who wanted a dog that combined the characteristics of the bulldog and terrier. They wanted a dog that had both the athleticism and strength of the bulldog, and the aggression and determination of the terrier. They did not breed brindle pit bulls specifically for their color because strength, personality and intelligence were the most important characteristics for this new breed. Immigrants later brought the brindle pit bulls with them when they came to the United States, where they were quickly used by ranchers and farmers as hunting, working and companion dogs.
As it is used today by the public and government bodies, the name “pit bull” can encompass several different breeds that share the same physical characteristics. Proposed government bills and ordinances concerning pit bulls have considered a dog a pit bull if it is an American Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or any dog that displays the same physical characteristics of these breeds. The history of the brindle pit bull can thus vary depending on what is considered a pit bull.