Sunday, April 3, 2016

Livestock Guardian Dogs and "The Brindle Factor"

Zaca Tornado Erben 
(Int. Ch. Quanto Tornado Erben x Roxana Tornado Erben)

Brindle dogs of any breed are striking, unique and non-stop attention grabbers.  I've always been a huge fan of brindles.  Their endless variety of tiger-like stripes and exotic appearance make them an oft-coveted color in the dog world, and this includes Livestock Guardian Dog breeds.  Some of the LGD breeds who can come in brindle or brindle spots include Spanish Mastiffs, Pyrenean Mastiffs, Kangals and Anatolians.

One of the most incredibly colored rare black brindles I've ever owned or seen,
Zzeleste Tornado Erben, littermate to Zaca, pictured above.

A partial brindle Spanish Mastiff male I bred
(Furiano de Puerto Canencia x Zaca Tornado Erben)

Mind you I'm no scientist and there is no PhD. hanging after my last name.  So what I'm going to share in this blog post is based entirely on observation and experience.

Over the years I've noticed some unique traits, attributes and temperaments with brindle Livestock Guardian Dogs.  I've dubbed it "The Brindle Factor".  Perhaps if you've owned a brindle LGD breed, you've noticed a difference in the dog from non-brindle dogs, as well.  I've owned and bred many brindle dogs - more than "the average guy" to say the least.   I'm not alone in my musings about brindle dogs.  I've exchanged ideas with Turks in Turkey who noted many of the same attributes in brindle Turkish breeds in their own country.

Xanto Tornado Erben
He personified all that was uniquely brindle in temperament and looks

Encomendador (Jefe) de Puerto Canencia
A reserved, cautious young male I lost to pneumonia as an adolescent

Brindle spotted Pyrenean Mastiff, Atena Alto Aragon
had a solid brindle grandfather, and throws brindle marked pups;
she suffers no fools and is a very serious guardian

Here are some of the marked attributes I have noticed in my brindle dogs over the years:

  • Not as trusting of strangers
  • More suspicious
  • Added sharpness, in some instances aggressiveness
  • Less tolerant
  • Pack leader or high ranking in pack
  • Increased edge to temperament
  • Keenly observant and watchful
  • Sensitive
  • Extremely protective
  • More aloof with people they don't know
  • "Suffer no fools", no-nonsense demeanor
  • Brindle dogs can be average sized, smaller than norm or bigger than norm

Even at this tender age the brindle color was coming out in my "A" litter
out of Furiano de Puerto Canencia x Zaca Tornado Erben

My "B" Spanish Mastiff litter matched the world record at 16 pups born.  It was the only litter Xanto sired.  The dam was Crisa (Loba) de Abelgas.  It takes a brindle to produce brindles; i.e., one parent must carry the brindle gene to produce brindle pups

Cinco Deseos Ranch Beau Beau.  A stunning black brindle version of his sire Xanto

A few of the brindle Spanish Mastiffs I have bred over the years

The men I corresponded with in Turkey regarding brindle colored dogs also cited increased aggression and suspicion of strangers, and a sharper, less tolerant demeanor in their brindle dogs.  

Many years ago when I was raising Catahoula Leopard Dogs I become aware of what "too much white" on a dog's head could bring about: in many cases, impaired hearing or complete deafness.  In fact I had one white-based Catahoula male born completely deaf.  He went on to a special home in the East where he was coddled and cared for, and squired about in his own sidecar on a top of the line Harley Davidson by his proud owner.  

This page has interesting genetic information regarding the brindle gene.

There seems to be very little out there in terms of scientific research on the relationship between the brindle coat color and temperament.  The closest "science" I could wrap my brain around was this page here, wherein they state that "The link between coat color and temperament stems from a relationship between pigment production, hormone chemistry, and neurochemistry."  

That study was based on rats…and not dogs. Regardless, and science aside, from experience, I'm still convinced brindle dog's temperaments are different than their solid colored varieties, and in discussing this with other dog people, I'm not alone in this opinion.  

What has been your experience?  Perhaps after reading this you'll start watching your brindle dog and note some of the same attributes as I and others have!

Zaca and her proud new owner Chuck Avila

Below: more photos of many of my brindle dogs and pups I raised over the years

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