7 Large Spotted Dog Breeds

Photo by Jean on Flickr

In this post, I highlight six large breeds of dogs that have spotted coats.

Many of us were read the story of how a leopard got his spots in childhood, but do you know how dogs get their spotted coats? 

For most of the dogs in my selection, their spots are caused by a process called ticking

This is where a dog with an obviously white coat has coloured spots on it. An English Setter is a good example of ticking. 

A Harlequin Great Dane (white appears in my list) would also seem to have ticking. 

But research has shown that the unique coat is down to a specific harlequin or merle gene.   

I have yet to mention Dalmatians because they do not appear in my list!

The pattern on their coat is a very unique form of ticking

And now, let’s take a look at our first large spotted breed, the English Pointer. 

[1] English Pointer

Pointers are energetic and fun-loving dogs with a big personality. As gundogs, they were bred to “point” small game and are capable of great speed which earned them the title; Cadillac of bird dogs. Pointers have a short, smooth and dense coat with a sheen, and they come in several colours, both solid colours and patterns. 

However, these dogs are primarily white with either black, lemon or orange markings. Pointers with white-and-black or white-and-orange coats usually have black or brown noses while those with white-and-lemon coats have flesh coloured noses. Adult dogs of this breed will stand up to 28 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh up to 75 pounds. 

Pointers are even-tempered dogs and make excellent companions for families with kids, but due to their high-energy they may not be suitable for apartment dwellers. These dogs are generally very intelligent and affectionate, they are loyal to family but reserved with strangers. They are not known to be aggressive but require lots of daily exercise to keep them from engaging in destructive activities.  

[2] Catahoula Leopard Dog

A medium-sized, short-coated dog, the Catahoula Leopard Dog comes in a wide range of colours and unique patterns known as Leopard. The unique coats of the Catahoula Leopard Dog can be slick, shaggy or coarse and can be white with light grey patterns, black-and-brindle, red or blue leopard and some come in solid brown, tan or red coats. 

This American dog is the only dog breed to have historically originated in the state of Louisiana. They were first bred to work as herding and driving dogs in swamps and forest and are very tough with well-muscled and powerful bodies. They have webbed-feet making them great swimmers in swampy and marshy areas. Their medium-sized bodies will grow to about 24 inches at the withers and can weigh up to 95 pounds. 

They usually have broad heads with deep-set eyes and triangular drop ears. Eyes can be blue, green, brown or amber and some Catahoulas can have two different colours in one eye. Catahoula Leopard dogs are known to be independent and very protective of their families, they make good guard dogs and are wary of strangers. These dogs need firm and consistent training with lots of exercise and early socialization.

[3] Harlequin Great Dane

The Harlequin Great Dane has a primarily white coat with irregular black patches evenly distributed throughout the body. This variety of Great Dane is often mistaken for the Dalmatians which is another dog breed with very similar colouration. 

Most harlequin Great Danes will have pure white necks with black patches on the back and sides. Great Danes are large dogs with powerful long legs and muscular bodies, it’s certainly a picture of elegance, balance and beauty. They are one of the tallest dogs in the world and mature adults measure about 32 inches at the withers and can weigh up to 170 pounds. 

The tallest dog ever in the world was a Great Dane named Zeus measured 44 inches from paws to withers, and the tallest living dog is also a Great Dane named Freddy who is 40.7 inches tall at the shoulders. Great Danes can be described as gentle giants, they are very affectionate and make great family pets. These dogs are very friendly and great with kids. 

[4] Bluetick Coonhound

The Bluetick Coonhound has a uniquely coloured coat. The short, slightly coarse and glossy coat has a white background with many black ticks that densely cover the entire body and gives it a dark blue colouring, they also have big black patches on the sides and back. 

Dogs of this breed have black heads and ears with tan markings on the cheeks and above the eyes, and dark red ticking on the feet. An adult Bluetick will weigh between 55 and 90 pounds and stand as tall as 30 inches at the shoulders. Blueticks were bred as hunting dogs and are very strong and energetic, they make good house dogs with proper training although they can be challenging to train. 

These dogs need lots of exercise and need lots of space to run around and play, so they don’t make great pets for apartment dwellers. They feel more at home in large houses with a backyard, however, the backyard should be fenced to contain the dog because they won’t hesitate to follow an interesting scent or chase down small animals.  

[5] English Setter

This is a medium to large dog breed with angled shoulders, muscular neck and elegant build. The English Setter is the definition of beauty and charm, and has a peculiar speckled coat pattern called “belton.” The silky coat is medium to long and usually comes in various colour patterns including liver, lemon and orange. 

There are also white-and-black, white-and-orange, white-and-liver, or lemon colour combinations and each unique pattern of colours is called a belton. English Setters usually have medium or short back fur but long fur around neck, ears, chest and on the front legs, these long coats are called “feathering,” and are straight and flat. The long tail is also covered with long silky hair.  Under this unusual coat is the muscular body of an elegant and energetic hunter, these dogs love to play and are very affectionate family pets. 

They will grow to about 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 80 pounds. The English Setter is a bird hunting dog and got its name from the peculiar way it crouches low or “sets” when they find a bird for their hunter. These dogs require lots of daily exercise and thrive in homes with a big fenced yard where they can run around and play. 

[6] Treeing Walker Coonhound

The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a hunting dog known for its smooth and glossy tricoloured or sometimes bicoloured coat. Their shiny coats are primarily white with black spots and tan markings while the bicoloured dogs may either be black with white markings or white and tan. 

Bred for hunting, Treeing Walker Coonhound is known for its swiftness thanks to muscular legs and a powerful stride. They were first bred in the United States, and they grow to about 27 inches at the shoulders and tip the scale at 70 pounds. The Treeing Walker Coonhound got its name from its ability to trail fast game and tree it till the hunters get to the prey. 

These dogs have broad heads with dark and soft eyes, long muzzles and long hanging ears. They make good pets but will require patient training and lots of exercise, they are usually confident however some can be a bit shy. As hounds, they are all passionate about hunting and running after small animals, and with proper training these dogs make great family pets. 

[7] Irish Red and White Setter

As the name implies, the Irish Red and White Setter is usually red and white. Its coat is primarily white with solid patches of deep-red distributed throughout the body. There can be some mottling or flecking along its legs and face but not the body. Its muscular body is covered with a short and flat coat with long silky fringes or feathering on the ears, neck, and chest. 

These fringes also appear under the belly, on the hind legs, down the back of the front legs and on the tail.  These dogs were bred as hunting dogs and known as the “gentleman’s hunting dog”, and were used to hunt birds as gundogs. The IR&W is an intelligent dog with an athletic body, they have plenty of energy and need to constantly stay active. 

Their need for lots of exercise makes them great pets for families with children but it also makes them inappropriate for apartments because they need lots of space to burn off energy on a daily basis. These dogs may be slow to train but eventually respond well especially to short and positive training sessions, a properly trained Irish red and White Setter is a very loyal and eager-to-please dog. 

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!