Dog breeds come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, but there are some breeds that are known for their classic color combinations and patterns. Tri color dog breeds are some such dogs, with a color combination that is not only beautiful but also a defining feature of the dog.
But how often do we really think about tri color dog breeds, and which dog breeds are available in three-color patterns?
Join us today as we look at 15 tri color dogs you have to see to believe!
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Tri Color Dog Breeds – The Genetics Behind A Tri Color Dog
There are many tri color dog breeds in the world.
Tri color dog breeds are simply dog breeds that have coats with three different colors. There is a classic color combination that seems to be most common when it comes to tri color dog breeds, including brown, black, and white.
However, there can be other tri color combinations and even tri color patterns, with dogs coming in coat color patterns that are brindle or merle.
And while it may seem like tri color dog breeds are quite common, the truth is that the gene that produces a tri color dog is actually a recessive gene. This means that in order to produce a tri color dog, both parents have to carry the recessive gene.
The gene responsible for a tri color coat in dogs is the A-Locus gene, and most often produces the black and tan coat color, with white as the “absent” color (as white is most often considered a lack of color pigmentation rather than an actual color.
For the most part, tri color dog breeds are no different from any other dog of any other coat color, and their coloring should not impact their lifespan, health, or temperament.
With that said, there are some exceptions to this rule and a gene that leads to some coat colors which can impact a dog’s health. The merle gene, for example, which produces a coat pattern that is spotted, can lead to dogs that are more susceptible to suffering from congenital deafness.
Dog breeds with the merle gene that might also be considered tri color dog breeds include Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Corgis, and Shetland Sheepdogs.
You can help reduce chances of congenital deafness in dogs by making sure you go through reputable sources when obtaining your tri color dog, but it’s also important to know that many dog owners point out owning a deaf dog is hardly different than owning a hearing dog, with a few exceptions.
So, with all that noted, let’s now talk about 15 tri color dog breeds we love! Keep reading!
1. The Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a dog hailing from the Swiss Alps.
Let’s start off our list of tri color dog breeds with a family favorite – the Bernese Mountain Dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of our tri color dog breeds that is stunning both inside and out.
This gentle giant is famous for his gorgeous coat, which can grow long and wavy, and comes in a tri color scheme of tan, black, and white. This dog is a shedding breed, with a thick double coat that sheds most during shedding season in spring and fall.
Bernese Mountain Dogs hail from Bern, Switzerland, where they were used as herding dogs in the cold Swiss Alps.
Devoted, friendly, and gentle in nature, today’s Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent family companion. They become very attached to their owners, so they are best suited for families with flexible schedules who can be around their dogs often.
These dogs are also quite large. They stand between 23 and 28 inches and weigh between 84 and 110 pounds. Due to their large size and unique health implications, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not particularly long-lived, with a lifespan of just six to eight years.
2. The Beagle
Beagles are famous for their family-friendly nature.
The Beagle is a canine staple, starring in movies and television shows throughout history. These tri color dog breeds are famous not only for their adorable appearance but also for their unique bark, which helped to establish their name.
Like many tri color dog breeds, the Beagle sports a classic coat color of black, tan, and white. They originated in England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom where they were used as scent hounds.
These small foot hounds were ideal for hunters who preferred to hunt on foot, with their Beagles running alongside them hunting hare.
Small and hardy, Beagles are perfect family dogs and do very well with families with children. They are cute, friendly, outgoing, and just compact enough that they make excellent travel buddies.
Beagles stand between 13 and 16 inches and weigh between 20 and 24 pounds. They are relatively healthy dogs, with a lifespan of between 12 and 15 years.
Along with coming in classic tan, black, and white coat colors, Beagles are also available in lemon and white, white and tan, red and white, orange and white, chocolate tri color, and white and chocolate.
3. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog
This beautiful dog is known for his intelligence and work ethic.
Also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a bred herding dog hailing from Switzerland in a region known as Entlebuch.
These tri color dog breeds roamed the Swiss Alps, much like their cousins the Bernese Mountain Dog. Temperamentally, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a confident, loyal, and athletic companion, though they are more independent than a number of these tri color dog breeds on our list.
Though mostly black from head to tail, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog has tan markings on his face, arms, and legs, with white along his chest, muzzle, and the tip of his tail.
His coat is short and sleek, and this is a shedding dog, though he may not shed as profusely as the Bernese Mountain Dog.
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is also a relatively healthy dog, with a lifespan of between 11 and 15 years. He’s a medium-sized working breed, standing between 17 and 20 inches and weighing between 45 and 65 pounds.
Intelligent and work-oriented, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is one of our tri color dog breeds that is best suited for active dog owners who are able to keep this breed busy, active, and engaged to rescue potential behavioral issues that could stem from boredom.
4. The Bull Terrier
Bull Terriers have a distinctive look outside of their tri color coats.
A true Terrier, the Bull Terrier is known for much more than his tri-color coat type. His unique appearance and skull shape makes him a difficult dog to miss, and his recent appearance in Target commercials as the canine mascot for the franchise has led to this dog being very well known.
The Bull Terrier is one of our tri color dog breeds that not only comes in the classic tri color of black, tan, and white, but he is also available in fawn and white, red and white, all white, brindle and white, and white and black brindle.
Hailing from England, The Bull Terrier was once bred primarily for dog fighting when blood sports were legal. However, today they have made a full rebound from their bloody and controversial history and today make beloved, friendly, and sweet-natured companions.
Standing between 18 and 22 inches and weighing 49 to 84 pounds, the Bull Terrier is a devoted and protective companion. They can have a stubborn streak, but with a dedicated owner, they are highly trainable and eager to please.
5. The Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is not actually Austrlain. In fact, he is a Calfornian-bred dog.
Australian Shepherds are arguably some of the most beautiful tri color dog breeds on our list, coming in not only a variety of coat colors and patterns but even different eye colors.
Also known as Aussies, the Australian Shepherd is not actually an Australian dog at all. Instead, this beautiful canine was bred and perfected in California, where they were quick to become known as a cowboy’s best friend.
Australian Shepherd dogs are such talented ranch dogs that they continue to be some of the most popular and versatile working dogs to date.
Their coat colors come in a variety of options, including black, white, and tan, as well as black, merle, red tri color, black tri color, blue merle, red merle, and red.
These medium-sized tri color dog breeds make wonderful companions for the right owner, but they are very work-oriented and require owners with an understanding of the history and needs of working breeds.
Without the proper care, training, mental stimulation, and exercise, the Australian Shepherd can become bored, destructive, and depressed.
The ideal owner of this dog would be an active owner or family with plenty of land or a very large backyard where their dog can roam and play freely.
6. The Pomeranian
Pomeranians come in almost 18 color variations.
Most people think of Pomeranians in their classic red or orange color, but these dogs actually come in a good variety of 18 coat colors and combinations, including tri color variations.
The smallest of the Spitz-type dogs, Pomeranins are close relatives to their much larger cousins like Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, and Alaskan Malamutes.
Standing just 7.9 inches and weighing between four and seven pounds, the tiny Pomeranian maintains its classic Spitz coat type, which is double-layered and very fluffy. They are bred companion dogs, so they do well with owners who are able to devote time and attention to them, though they are also more energetic, playful, and independent than many other toy breeds of the same size.
Their tri color coats come in the classic black, tan, and white, but they are also available in brindle, merle, and other patterned colors.
7. The Pitbull
Tri color Pitbulls can come in many colors and patterns.
The tri color Pitbull is a rare Pitbull color type, thanks to the recessive genes it takes to produce such a color pattern in this breed.
The most classic coloring is the usual one you might expect – white, black, and tan, though other tri-color options for this dog could include gray, tan, and white, or blue, tan, and white.
Tri color Pit Bull dogs are large, muscular dogs with lots of energy. Though they are surrounded by controversy thanks to their history as fighting dogs, Pit Bulls are generally known today to be friendly, devoted, and energetic companions.
They are best suited for dog owners who are able to devote plenty of time to training, socializing, and exercising this dog to reduce potential behavioral problems that could stem from boredom or anxiety.
8. The Basenji
Basenji dogs are believed to be closely related to wild Dingos.
Basenji dogs are quite unique, especially for those interested in dogs with a wild ancestor. The Basenji dog is one of our only tri color dog breeds on this list with close ties to the wild Dingo.
Perfected in Central Africa, Basenji dogs were bred for hunting. Along with their unique tri color coat type which can come in brown, tan, and white, these dogs are famous for their unique bark (or lack thereof). In fact, these dogs produce a yodel-like yelp as opposed to a bark, which is attributed to their uniquely shaped larynx.
Basenji dogs also come in black, brindle, black and white, tan, and red. They have a lifespan of between 12 and 16 years and, though they have big temperaments, are surprisingly compact. They stand just 15 to 17 inches and weigh just 20 to 26 pounds.
Basenji dogs are shedding dogs, though their coats are sleek and smooth, and they are known for their intelligent, affectionate, and confident personalities.
9. The Collie
The Collie is not only one of our most beautiful tri color dogs, but also one of our most intelligent.
Anyone familiar with Lassie already knows that the Collie is one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. Collies are also some of our most popular tri colored dog breeds to date, with a beautiful, long coat that comes in black, white, and tan.
Of course, Collies can also come in other color variations including white, blue merle, sable merle, sable and white, and sable.
Famous herding dogs, Collies originated in Northern England and Scotland, where these medium-sized dogs were highly coveted for their talent at herding sheep and livestock.
Collies have a decent lifespan of between 10 and 14 years and stand between 19 and 22 inches. They weigh between 31 and 75 pounds and are best suited for active dog owners who have a good understanding of the unique needs of working dogs.
It should also be noted that Collies are shedding dogs, so they may not be the ideal tri color dog breeds for those who struggle with allergies.
10. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Though they look similar to the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain dog is much larger.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is another of our tri color dog breeds that joins dogs on this list like the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog as dogs bred and perfected in the Swiss Alps for herding.
In fact, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog bears an uncanny resemblance to the Bernese Mountain Dog, with very similar coloring and sizing. However, this dog is distinguished by his coat type, which is short and sleek.
He comes in one classic tri color combination that includes black, tan, and white, and he stands between 24 and 28 inches. Larger than the other mountain dogs on our list, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog weighs upwards of 150 pounds.
Though larger than his Bernese Mountain Dog cousin, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have longer lifespans of between 10 and 11 years. They are working dogs at heart, with a temperament described as confident, loyal, fearless, and protective.
11. The Papillon
The Papillon is named for his fringed ears, which resemble butterflies.
The Papillon is a lovely little dog with a name as magical as his appearance. Papillon, which is a name that translates to butterfly, was given to this darling dog thanks to the dog’s large, feathered ears, which closely resemble butterfly wings.
Also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon is a small, sweet-natured, and people-oriented dog standing under 11 inches in height and weighing no more than 10 pounds once mature.
Along with coming in a lovely tri-color that includes black, tan, and white, the Papillon is also available in red and white, white and chocolate, white, black and white, fawn and white, and sable.
12. The Basset Hound
Basset Hounds are talented scent hounds bred for hunting hare.
Those long ears, sad eyes, and short little legs are clear indicators you’re looking at a Basset Hound. This adorable and unique-looking dog breed is one of our tri color dog breeds we simply couldn’t leave off of our list.
Bred and perfected in France and Great Britain as scent hounds, Basset Hounds have an incredible sense of smell that helped these dogs when it came to tracking down hare for their masters on foot.
Basset Hounds come in a variety of coat colors outside of the classic tri color we know and love, including lemon and white, black and brown, black and white, white and chocolate, and red and white.
They make wonderful, sweet-natured companions for families, singles, and seniors alike. They are friendly and calm, with easygoing temperaments perfect for laid-back dog lovers.
These little dogs can have some health issues, however, especially when it comes to bone and joint health due to their unique build. Overall, though, these tri color dog breeds have a decent lifespan of between 10 and 12 years.
13. The Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle dogs are tri color dogs bred for herding and cattle droving.
Australian Cattle Dogs are Australian-bred dogs, as their name suggests. Highly intelligent, these dogs were bred for herding and cattle droving, maintaining excellent stamina as they traveled across miles of rough terrain in Australia.
As such, these dogs are surprisingly energetic and work-oriented, and they are happiest when they have a job to do. For this reason, Australian Cattle Dogs are still some of the most commonly used dogs for ranching in Australia today.
Their tri color coat is also unique, as they come in both red and blue tri colors, as well as a dual color and merle combinations.
Medium in height and weight, the Australian Cattle dog has a lifespan of between 13 and 15 years. They are intelligent, trainable, and protective, and are best suited for active dog owners who understand working breeds.
14. The Boxer
Boxers make friendly, fun-loving companions.
If you’re looking for more family-oriented tri color dog breeds, look no further than the fun-loving, goofy, and somewhat clumsy Boxer. These tri color dogs also come in other colors and variations, including white, brindle, and fawn.
They stand between 21 and 25 inches and weigh between 55 and 71 pounds.
Boxers are excellent family dogs with their sweet nature and fun-loving temperaments. They can be overwhelming for families with smaller children, however, as they are quite energetic and need plenty of training, early socialization, and exercise to ensure they grow up happy, healthy, and well-rounded.
Originating in Germany, Boxers were bred for bull-baiting. They soon became multi-purpose working dogs thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please, and today they make excellent companions for more active dog owners.
15. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the perfect lap dog for laid back owners.
Last on our list is the darling Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This sweet-natured, affectionate, and family-oriented spaniel type comes in four color options, including tri color, Blenheim, ruby, and black and tan.
They are known for their lovely, long coats that shed, and their gentle nature with children and other pets alike.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a smaller Spaniel, standing under 13 inches in adulthood and weighing under 18 pounds.
They have a decent lifespan of 9 to 14 years and originated in the United Kingdom, where they were primarily bred as a companion dog. In fact, he was specifically described as a lap warmer ideal for traveling along with his owners on cold carriage rides through Northern Europe.
Is A Tri Color Dog Breed Right For You?
Tri color dogs are beautiful, but the are so much more than their coat color.
When looking to invest in a dog, it’s important to remember that you’re not just investing in a coat type or coat color. Though tri color dog breeds are especially lovely, each dog is also unique in what it needs in order to thrive.
Before you decide which of our above tri color dog breeds is right for you, we recommend doing more research to make sure that the dog of your dreams is really the right dog for you, your home, and your lifestyle.
With all that in mind, we want to hear from you which of our above tri color dog breeds most pulled at your heartstrings. Tell us below in the comment section!