Calico Dog


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If you have been browsing the internet for popular dog breeds but haven’t found the calico dog on the list, it is probably because it doesn’t exist!

Calico dogs belong to a category of dogs renowned for their strikingly colored coats that are scattered all over their body in intricate patterns. 

So, what are calico dogs? Are they similar to calico cats? If so, do they belong to any specific breed? In this article, we will debunk all these myths!

What is the Meaning of ‘Calico’? 

The term ‘calico’ broadly refers to the color pattern of a dog’s coat. We have already established that calico is not a dog breed, so it is rather confusing when people refer to it as one.

Calico patterns are vibrant and usually attributed to different dog breeds as well as their feline friends. 

Several terms are used synonymously to substantiate calico coloring. For calico dogs, terms like tricolor and piebald are interchangeably used to describe their distinctive patterns. 

Calico is an all-cotton cream-colored fabric with intricate designs in one or more colors.

This term is derived from the elaborate weave patterns, and it traces its roots back to the textile terminologies that were coined in India. 

What are Calico Dogs? 

Calico dogs have a matted coat with three or more shades on their fur. Calico coloring usually varies from white, black, and orange – with white being the most dominant color. 

Such patterns emerge due to genetic mutations or cross-breeding by breeders. Calico dogs come in an array of dog breeds and are characterized by their distinctive tri-colored coats.

According to the American Kennel Club, it is imperative to distinguish between the different dog breeds in accordance with their specific coloring. Some of them are listed below. 

Their unique coat colors of course, do not really affect how easily trained they are - this is simply a genetic coloring of their coats.

Solid Color 

A dog breed with only one fur color with varying shades is a solid-colored dog.

These dogs generally do not have any intricate patterns on their fur. Some examples include Golden Retriever, Maltese, and Rhodesian Ridgeback.


These dog breeds have one primary color dispersed on their fur and punctuated by large patches of another color. 

They are also known as piebald dogs.


Bi-colored dogs have two equally distributed colors covering the length of the fur.

Some examples of bicolor dogs include German Shepherds and Rottweilers.


Tricoloured dog breeds usually fit into the category of calico dogs.

Any dog breed can identify as a calico dog as long as they have 3 or more colors on their furry coat. Calico dogs even have exquisite color patterns, which are known as calico patterns.

Some examples include Australian cattle dogs, Beagles, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

How Do Calico Dogs Get Their Color? 

As dog owners, it is important to know whether your dog belongs to the calico dogs category. Since they do not belong to any specific dog breed and are quite relative, it can be difficult to identify them. 

Dogs get their color from 2 common pigments responsible for determining colors. The first pigment, eumelanin, gives the black color to furs, and the shade varies from brown to grey depending on the dog’s genes.

The second pigment, pheomelanin, imparts yellow or gold colors, respectively. As a result of gene mutation, dogs can assume yellow, orange, or cream colors.

In the absence of this pigment, dogs obtain a dominant white color. 

With respect to calico dogs, the exquisitely designed coat is obtained due to the 2 pigments, but there are genetic mutations involved that alter the gene.

Both dominant and recessive genes of the parents play a significant role in determining the coat color.

There is also another way known as intentional cross-breeding or artificial mutation techniques, where breeders perform genetic mutations to get the calico coloring. 

However, a known fact is that dogs with calico coloring tend to have more genetic issues as well, such as deafness [source]

Dog Breeds with Calico Coloring

Dog owners that have a calico dog are aware of how a dog’s coloring is not restricted to its specific breed.

Though calico dog breeds is a generalized term that has no meaning, it is imperative to know the specific dog breeds that usually exhibit certain characteristics. 

Some of them are mentioned below. 

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an active yet resilient dog breed that weighs up to 30 pounds. The coat comprises medium-thick fur, which comes in 4 standard colors - black, tan, red, or fawn. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has different color combinations across the length of its body, and they are generally very active and loyal.


Entlebucher Mountain Dog


Entlebucher Mountain Dogs have a distinct coat covered in calico patterns. This medium-sized dog carries the tricolor coat pattern in close proximity to the torso, which is usually dense. 

These dogs look very similar in color (and looks!) to the Swiss mountain dog.



Beagles look like small furry delights due to their big soft brown eyes and clownish, pleading expressions. In addition to their friendly and loving temperament, Beagles have impeccable coats comprising white, black, and tan colors. 

Australian Cattle Dogs


Lastly, Australian Cattle Dogs are indigenous to the Australian Shephard Breed. These large hunks are not as intimidating as they look, and you can often find them guarding sheep and cattle on farms.



Why are Calico Dogs Expensive? 

Calico dogs are expensive because they are not easy to find. Hence, the reason why breeders intend to crossbreed dogs as they prove to be more expensive. 

Are Calico Dogs Similar to Calico Cats? 

Just like dogs, calico cats even sport enthralling coats full of calico coloring and patterns. The only difference between the two animals is that both female and male dogs carry the calico gene, while only female cats exhibit traits of calico patterns.

A calico cat is predominantly white with orange or black patches.  

Final Note 

Calico dogs are extremely attractive dogs, and their universal appeal clearly attests to their rising popularity. While they do not exhibit specific traits belonging to any breed, their beautiful coat comprising 3 or more colors will always stand out from the crowd! 

We hope that the article cleared some misconceptions about calico dogs and gave you an insight into its various breeds.

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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