Everyone loves a redhead and when it comes to the canine world, this coat color makes for some of the most beautiful and eye-catching hounds.
From shimmery copper and chestnut tones right the way through to fiery ginger, deep mahogany, and rusty red, if a red dog is on your wish list, then there’s plenty to go around.
We take a look at some of the most popular red dog breeds to set your pet-owning life alight.
What Makes a Red Dog Breed Red?
There’s no such thing as a purely red-coated dog breed. It is in fact, genetics that creates the red hue look, which can range from orange-tan through to bright ginger and a deep rusty red. And their fur will also include other shades although the red tone will be the dominant color.
A pigment called pheomelanin is to thank for a red dog’s fur color. All dogs only have two types of pigment in their fur – pheomelanin, which is red, and eumelanin, which is black. In red-hued pooches, pheomelanin is the dominant pigment shade. A dog’s genetics will then determine how ‘dialed up’ this red pigment is, how it’s distributed and the pattern created in their fur.
The fur texture in red dog breeds can also differ, from short and smooth, to long and fluffy, as well as curly. This texture can also affect the overall red tone of a dog’s coat.
Does a Red Coat Affect a Dog’s Health or Behavior?
There is currently no evidence to link a red coat to any health conditions or diseases in dogs. Research has shown limited evidence that red-coated English Cocker Spaniels make be more aggressive than part-colored variants of the breed.
Socializing and Training
However, it’s widely recognized that early socialization and training have the greatest influence on a dog’s temperament and not their coat color. This is good news if you are looking to bring a canine redhead into your home!
15 Gorgeous Red Coated Dog Breeds
So, you’ve decided to see red when it comes to choosing your new pet but not sure which breed to opt for. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to 15 of the best red dog breeds.
We start with one of the largest red-headed canines – the Japanese Akita. Almost bear-like, these large dogs are total fur balls, with a thick, fluffy coat that can make them look quite imposing.
As well as black, white, and chocolate, the Akita coat can also be tan or bright red. Add in a distinctive curled tail and alert, foxlike ears and you have a very handsome canine. Although all that fur means that their red coat needs to be brushed several times a week. The good news, however, is that the Akita is unusual in that it also has a cat-like tendency to groom itself, which should help, no end.
Temperament-wise, the Akita is smart and can be highly protective of their humans so early socialization and training are a must. Their affection levels are more low key but they are loyal athletic dogs. And with the right handling and chance for exercise, they can make rewarding pets.
2. American Foxhound
Easy-going, loving, and with the looks of a larger and longer-legged Beagle, the American Foxhound is an exercise-loving pooch that’s an excellent choice for the active family.
Also known as the Virginia hound – the breed is the official state dog for Virginia – this loving dog is high energy and like all hounds, can be very vocal. They were bred to hunt in large packs and are descended from the dogs who came with the first settlers from England.
Mild-mannered, loving, and playful, this very active dog can, however, be easily distracted by scent and needs a secure home environment so they don’t go walkabout.
When it comes to their coat, the American Foxhound has medium-length fur that’s low maintenance and comes in a choice of colors, predominately tri-colored. The most popular coat color for this gorgeous dog is black, tan, and white, with the tan often a beautifully bright orange shade.
3. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is a hardy animal that’s been bred to be a highly effective herding dog. And with such a strong work ethic, this medium-sized breed is best suited to active, experienced homes.
Also known as the Heeler, you get two color variants – red or blue. Red Heelers can have either a solid red coat or a coat that is a lovely red merle. Their coat is made from short, coarse fur, with a weather-proof double layer. And the Red Heeler is easy to groom, so a weekly session should suffice.
The herding instinct of the Australian Cattle Dog means they are high energy and so require plenty of mental and physical exercise to keep them happy and stimulated and to stave off boredom. This means that they won’t work well in small, confined environments such as apartments as they need plenty of exercises and outdoor space.
4. Australian Shepherd
Another gorgeous red dog breed from the Land of Oz, the Australian Shepherd – or Aussie – is a gorgeous bundle of fluff and fur. Intelligent and trainable, these medium-sized energetic dogs were bred for herding and if socialized early enough make super-obedient and affectionate family dogs.
With looks similar to a Border Collie, the Aussie comes in a wide range of color patterns, including the most stunning red and reddish merle as well as an eye-catching calico mix of red, liver, and cream.
Add in a long, lux coat and, often, blue eyes and you have a very handsome pooch indeed. Although all that fur and outdoor energy mean they do require regular grooming to keep tangles and debris at bay.
As they were bred to herd livestock, Australian Shepherds can have a tendency to be dominant so early socialization is a must. And around 90 minutes of exercise a day will be required – but this herding dog is good with kids so that’s plenty of fun playtime guaranteed!
5. Cocker Spaniel
A breed that is already renowned for its luxuriously soft and flowing coat, the Cocker Spaniel can also be a red-headed beauty!
Amongst the coat colors recognized by the American Kennel Club, tan and red regularly top the favorite list. In fact, the red coat shades you can get in the Cocker vary quite widely, taking you from a shimmery copper and cute ginger right the way through to a vibrant deep red.
The only downside to this remarkable shade is that red English Cocker Spaniels are the only breed where there is a potential link between coat color and aggressive behavior. Although the evidence is limited, more studies are ongoing. And the breed is recognized as a bright and happy pooch that makes for a fun and loving family dog.
Just be prepared for plenty of grooming sessions with this red dog breed as their straight outer coat is long and silky, with plenty of feathering which can be prone to matting and dirt build-up if not kept in tip-top condition.
While more commonly associated with the classic black and tan coat color combo, the Dachshund can also be seen in the most gorgeous crimson shades, from bright, cheeky ginger to a rich, deep red. And with three coat types to choose from – long-haired, short/smooth-coated, and wire-haired – the red sausage dog is a pooch that will always be noticed!
The coat of the red-haired dachshund is also generally easy to care for, as it is not an excessive shedder, although regular grooming is needed to keep any longer fur tangle-free.
Personality-wise, the Weiner can be as bright and bold as its red fur; think the big, energetic dog in a little canine’s body. They are loving and outgoing but do need early socialization, especially if there are children or other dogs in the house, so they can bond and learn to play nicely.
Their activity requirements are surprisingly high too, as this is one of the small dog breeds that need plenty of daily exercises to burn off all that energy.
7. Golden Retriever
While you may think there’s a clue in the name as to what colors a Golden Retriever can be, this hugely popular breed is also recognized as a red. And that is because the standard golden shades can also develop to create deeper, more mahogany tones in their fur. Field-type Golden Retrievers, in particular, often appear redder and have a leaner body and shorter, coarser fur.
Originally bred as outdoor hunting dogs, the Retriever comes with a weatherproof coat that has two layers prone to excessive shedding, especially during the twice-yearly ‘blow’. So you need to be prepared for daily grooming sessions if you are looking to welcome a red Golden Retriever into your life.
But the effort is more than worth it as the Golden Retriever deserves its reputation as a happy, playful, and loving red-coated pup that makes for a wonderful family dog.
8. Irish Setter
Also known as the Red Setter, the Irish Setter is one of the world’s most favorite red-coated dogs, thanks to a silky-smooth coat that can be either rich mahogany or bright chestnut.
This breed is a real red head-turner, thanks to the deep glossy shine on their medium-length coat that is typical of the breed. But they are not low maintenance as regular brushing and grooming are required to keep the handsome Irish Setter looking their best.
Originally bred as gun dogs – they were used to retrieve upland wild birds – the Irish Setter has a lean, long-limbed body with an elegant head. And their loyalty as working dogs, coupled with a playful goofiness, make them fantastic family pets.
Be warned, however, that the Irish Red Setter are energetic red-colored dogs that require plenty of exercises to keep them mentally stimulated. But the pay-off is worth it, as this loving, funny, and protective dog is a joy to have around.
9. Irish Terrier
Bold, cheeky, and always on the go, the Irish Terrier is a little wire-haired dog with a big heart. And with his distinctive beard and red-hued rough coat, he is also totally adorable.
Their coat color comes in three shades: bright red, golden red, and wheaten. Their short curly coat texture is rough and wavy, requiring regular brushing to keep it looking its best. This breed can also benefit from occasional hand-stripping by a groomer to support new and healthy fur growth.
Temperament-wise, this energetic red dog breed makes the ideal companion for an active home that will embrace their adventure-loving, boisterous, and fearless nature. But come snuggle time, the Irish Terrier is a social pup that loves to settle down in the company of his favorite humans.
10. Labrador Retriever
The US’s most popular dog breed, the Lab is known for its yellow, chocolate, or black-furred coat. But it can also come in a stunning red variety, that gives rise to the name, the Red Fox Labrador.
The American Kennel Club breed standard for the Labrador Retriever recognizes that the yellow hue of the breed can range from light cream to a vibrant fox red, although red can be a disadvantage when it comes to the show ring. However, away from the competition, the Fox Red Lab is a delightful variant and adds more than a splash of gorgeous color to the pet-loving home.
Grooming levels for their gorgeous coats are moderate, but you should expect to up the brushing during the seasonal coat blowout in the winter and at the start of the summer.
Originally bred for hunting, they are obedient and have loving, level-headed temperaments that make them ideal as family pets. They are also super-trainable and excel at dog sports.
11. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Not only does the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever have a distinctive name, but its coat color also sets this medium-sized dog apart. Its double coat can vary from gorgeous golden rust or golden red right the way through to bright copper and can include cute white markings.
Bred to hunt waterfowl, their fur is designed for outdoor life and is tough, but also needs regular grooming thanks to its double layer, especially during the twice-yearly full-on fur blowout.
Slightly smaller in stature than a typical retriever, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever makes up for it in energy and personality, and with a switched-on brain, this red-coated dog is always on the go.
Think Lab crossed with a Collie, and you will know what we mean! These active dogs are also super-affectionate, get on well with other pets, and will thrive with an active, outdoor-loving family.
The smallest pup in our guide to red dog breeds, the Pomeranian is a toy dog famous for its puffball appearance. Typically, no more than seven inches tall, the Pomeranian’s flamboyantly poofy coat is seen in several colors, with red, orange, and tan alongside the more sedate black and brown.
This red long-haired dog needs daily grooming to keep him looking his best, as his coat, while soft and gorgeous to touch is also double coated so there’s a lot of furs to shed.
Personality-wise, as a fun, outgoing dog, the Pom is an excellent companion. Despite their mini size, they need regular exercise and their spunky attitude can make them awesome little watchdogs.
With training and socialization, this red dog breed can go from happy lapdog to playtime with the kids and he thrives on love and attention.
13. Redbone Coonhound
As their name suggests, the Redbone Coonhound comes in just one color – a gloriously bright and head-turning red. A highly active hunting dog, the Redbone Coonhound’s coat is short-haired and sleek, emphasizing the athletic, muscular shape of his long-legged body.
One of the rare red dog breeds, he has the stamina to wander large distances so requires plenty of exercises and physical stimulation to keep him occupied. This is why this breed is best suited to an active family with plenty of enclosed outdoor space.
As a shorthaired breed, he is a constant low-level shedder, so weekly use of a shedding tool should be enough to keep his coat looking smart.
Loyal and intelligent, this red dog breed has a good relationship with other dogs although they can see cats and other animals as prey, and be a little boisterous with smaller children. But with consistent training and plenty of attention, this red short-haired dog can make a fun and loving companion.
14. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is another red-coated dog that has a distinctive shade. A large animal – adult male dogs can weigh over 80 pounds – the Ridgeback originally hails from South Africa where it was used as a highly effective hunter as well a guard dog.
With its short coat, the Ridgeback also carries an instantly recognizable ridge of fur down its spine that grows in the opposite direction. And the red coat color can vary from a pale golden or coppery red to a deep burnt red-orange shade. As their hair is so short, this is a low-maintenance pet, with only weekly brushing usually required.
Despite their size, Rhodesian Ridgebacks make affectionate, loyal family pets, although they can be a little territorial. They also need a good amount of daily exercise and, as a vocal hunting dog, can have a high prey drive so you need to be aware when around other dogs and small animals. But with their own human pack, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is gentle and low-key, as well as loving and protective.
15. Shiba Inu
With its foxy looks, the Shiba Inu is a small dog that hails from the spitz dog type. This Japanese breed is also a cousin of the Akita, another of the red-coated breeds. As well as red, the Shiba Inu coat can also include white and black.
Their coat is exceptionally thick, with a stiff outer coat and a soft inner layer that sheds significantly twice a year. Regular grooming is a must to keep all that fluff clean and debris free.
Although relatively small, the Shiba is a bold and brave pooch with keen senses that can mean they are easily diverted. They can also be an issue with smaller pets as they have a high prey drive.
As a family pet, the Shiba Inu is a playful canine so gets along well with children and other dogs, as long as they are socialized early enough. And they love to be active, so expect to give them at least 60 minutes of exercise and playtime every day.
- Inheritance of coat color patterns in dogs – Science Daily