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Is there a tuxedo dog breed?

Is there a tuxedo dog breed?

There are many dog breeds that feature the distinctive black and white “tuxedo” coat pattern, but is there a specific breed that is known as the “tuxedo” dog? The answer is no, tuxedo is not a recognized dog breed in itself but rather refers to a particular coat color pattern that can occur in many breeds. However, some breeds are more likely to have the tuxedo pattern than others.

The tuxedo pattern refers to a coat that is primarily black with white patches on the chest, paws, and sometimes face or tail. It creates the look of a dog wearing a tuxedo suit. This striking color pattern stands out and is quite popular among dog owners.

While multiple purebreds and mixed breeds can have a tuxedo coat, certain breeds are more predisposed to displaying this look. Some breeds that commonly feature the tuxedo pattern include Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature and Standard Schnauzers, Papillons, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus. However, this is not an exhaustive list, as even Labradors, Poodles, Terriers, and many mutts can also sport the tuxedo look.

Breeds Prone to the Tuxedo Coat

Here is more information on some breeds that often display the distinctive tuxedo pattern in their fur:


Chihuahuas frequently have the black and white tuxedo look. Their small size coupled with the high-contrast color scheme makes Chihuahuas extra eye-catching. It is an especially common pattern in the Short Coat Chihuahua.

Cocker Spaniel

The tuxedo pattern is quite prevalent in Cocker Spaniels, being one of the breed’s more popular color variations. It contrasts nicely with their lush, silky fur. The black and white color scheme is common in both American and English Cocker Spaniels.


With their elongated bodies, short legs, and variety of coat colors and patterns, Dachshunds are already an unusually designed dog. Among their color offerings, the tuxedo pattern is frequently seen, especially in their signature Short Haired variety.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog’s stocky, compact build allows its black and white tuxedo coat to really stand out. This pattern occurs in about one quarter of all French Bulldogs, making it a relatively common look within the breed.

Jack Russell Terrier

These energetic terriers were originally bred for fox hunting and remain a very active breed. Their short, dense coats come in a variety of color combinations, including the striking tuxedo pattern formed by solid black mixed with white fur.

Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog breed with a wiry, thick coat that does not shed. This terrier-like dog comes in several color variations, including the tuxedo look created by a salt-and-pepper pattern alongside white fur accents.


The Papillon is a toy dog breed weighing 5 to 10 pounds. Its long, fringed ears give it a distinctive look. Papillons can have either short or long fur, and the tuxedo pattern is common in the breed, contrasting nicely with its fluffy coat.


Pomeranians are tiny, fluffy dogs that look like small foxes. Their thick, double-layer coat comes in many colors and patterns. The tuxedo variation of black and white is popular among Pomeranian owners.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an ancient dog breed known for its long, flowing coat. Weighing 9 to 16 pounds, this playful companion dog is a great size to show off the black and white tuxedo coat pattern, which occurs regularly in the breed.

Origin of the Tuxedo Coat Pattern

So why do dogs across various breeds exhibit this distinctive black and white tuxedo pattern? The genetic basis lies in piebald genes. Piebald refers to an animal having unpigmented white spotting throughout its otherwise pigmented coat. This white spotting occurs due to the absence of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells, in those particular areas.

All domestic dogs share common ancestry from the grey wolf. Piebald spotting occurs naturally in wolves and was passed down to dogs through the domestication process. Selective breeding of dogs then propagated some piebald variations more than others. For example, breeding Merle dogs expanded white spotting. The tuxedo pattern appears to result from moderate and balanced piebald expression.

The amount of white versus pigmented fur is determined by various versions of the MITF gene. Different variations in this gene lead to differing levels of white spotting and pigment dilution. Selective breeding has favored the two-tone tuxedo look in certain breeds. So while the tuxedo coat pattern hails from natural piebald genetics, concentrated breeding perpetuated it in breeds like the Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer.

Is Tuxedo a Recognized Marking?

While tuxedo is not officially a distinct dog breed, it does appear in breed registries as an accepted marking. For example, the American Kennel Club includes tuxedo along with other coat patterns like brindle, merle, and sable in records on individual breeds. The UK Kennel Club also denotes tuxedo as a recognized coat pattern occurring in various breeds.

So in summary, tuxedo is considered a legitimate coat color pattern but not a separate breed itself. It is most prevalent in small dog breeds like Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Papillons, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus. However, tuxedo patterning can turn up in bigger dogs too, including Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Jack Russell Terriers, and many mutts. No matter its origins, this stylish black and white look remains a favorite among dog lovers!

Tuxedo Coat Genetics

The distinct tuxedo coat pattern seen in dogs stems from the interaction of two genes:

The S Locus Gene

The S locus gene controls solid black versus white spotting. It has multiple alleles, including:

  • S – Produces solid color fur
  • sp – Creates white spotting and markings
  • sw – Creates extreme white coat

Dogs with the sp allele will have white paws, chest, tail tip, etc. Sw produces an overall white coat.

The E Locus Gene

The E locus gene controls the distribution of black pigment. Its variants include:

  • EM – Allows full expression of black pigment
  • E – Limits black pigment to points of the body
  • e – Prevents any black pigment

EM paired with sp delivers the tuxedo look. E with sp causes tan points. Little to no black results from e.

Piebald Alleles

Together, certain alleles from the S and E loci interact to generate the tuxedo pattern:

  • sp results in white spotting
  • EM allows full black pigment

This genetic combination restricts white fur to specific points like the paws and chest, leaving the rest of the coat black.

Origins of the Name “Tuxedo”

The term “tuxedo” emerged in the late 1800s after the trend of wearing black and white tuxedo jackets became fashionable. Before then, the pattern was simply called “black and white” or “magpie.”

In 1888, the elite Tuxedo Club opened 40 miles northwest of New York City as a posh country retreat for Manhattan’s high society. The club enforced a black-tie only dress code in the dining room. This sparked the trend of wearing black jackets with contrasting white shirts for elegant occasions.

Around this same time, the black and white coat pattern was becoming popular among various dog breeds through selective breeding. Fanciers began referring to these dogs as “tuxedo” after the stylish new men’s garment from the Tuxedo Club. The name stuck as a way to describe the striking two-tone coat pattern.

The tuxedo look will likely remain a favored style among dogs and their owners alike! This dashing coat hearkens back to the elegant fashions of New York high society in the late 19th century.

Tuxedo Coat Controversy

While many find the black and white tuxedo pattern visually appealing in dogs, some animal rights activists allege it is the product of unethical breeding practices. By intensely focusing on coat color, they argue that breeders overlook more important qualities of health and temperament.

However, responsible breeders counter that the tuxedo pattern can be safely propagated through:

  • Genetic health testing of breeding dogs
  • Only breeding dogs with sound conformation and temperaments
  • Outcrossing to maintain genetic diversity
  • Prioritizing health and function over coat color alone

Reputable preservation breeders strive to balance all aspects of their breed, including coat qualities. They reject excessive practices like heavy inbreeding to produce color patterns.

The takeaway is coat color alone should never override other vital breed traits like health, athleticism, intelligence, and behavior. Ethical breeders look at the total dog, but that does not preclude continuing attractive coat colors that occur naturally like the classic tuxedo pattern.

Popularity of the Tuxedo Coat

The tuxedo pattern has become one of the most popular coat designs in dogs. This striking two-tone look offers multiple appeals:

Visual Appearance

The balanced patches of black and white fur have an instantly recognizable and classy look. Many owners feel it enhances a dog’s natural grace and beauty.

Breed Association

For some breeds like French Bulldogs, the tuxedo coat has become tied to the image and identity of the breed itself. It connects the dogs to their lineage.

Personality Perception

Surveys show most people perceive the tuxedo pattern as conveying a fun, approachable personality in dogs. The contrasting colors give these dogs added liveliness.

Standard Recognition

The consistent appearance makes tuxedo an accepted marking in many breed registries and standards. This grants the coat pattern legitimacy in the dog fancy world.

Ease of Training

The high contrast of the tuxedo look is very visually engaging and easy for dogs to recognize themselves. This can help in obedience training.


In conclusion, the tuxedo is not technically its own distinct dog breed but rather a striking coat pattern occurring in many breeds. Selective breeding has propagated the beloved two-tone look in breeds like the Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, French Bulldog, Jack Russell Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and more. Responsible breeding practices remain imperative though to prevent extreme practices solely for coat color. Overall, the classic tuxedo style remains a favorite among dog enthusiasts for its style, recognizability, and lively personality associations.