Cream horses are not "white" horses. Dilution coloring is not related to frame overcoat patterns or lethal white syndrome, nor is cream related to the controversial "white" or "dominant white" (W) gene; it does not produce white horses.
Coat color: The cream gene lightens the base coat. One copy lightens red (chestnut) coloring to pale yellow or gold, such as palomino, but does not overtly affect black color. Two copies will lighten both red and black hairs.
Eye color: double dilutes have blue eyes (unlike brown eyes of a gray and some white horses). Depending on the genes carried by the other parent, a single dilute, such as a Palomino, can be born with bluish brown eyes and pinkish skin that darkens after birth, or may be born with dark eyes and skin.
Single dilutes receive the cream dilution gene from only one parent. The other parent does not carry the dilution gene.
Palomino: One parent genetically contributes the cream gene, and both parents contribute a "red" base coat gene. The cream gene lightens the coat to pale yellow/ gold and the mane to white, producing a palomino.
Buckskin: One parent genetically contributes the cream gene, and one or both passes on the genes for bay (the black base gene and the agouti gene that restricts the black to the points only. (see bay) for explanation of the agouti gene). The single copy of the cream gene lightens the coat to pale yellow, but cannot change black, leaving the mane, tail, and lower legs black.
Smoky black: A single copy of the dilution gene is added to the gene for a black base color. One cream gene cannot change the color of black hairs, so the horse looks black, "masking" the cream gene. Although the gene is masked, it can be passed on. Thus a smoky black may sometimes produce, for example, a buckskin or palomino horse when crossed on a bay or chestnut, even though neither parent appears to have the gene. Smoky black only occurs to genetically black horses. Bays and chestnuts, no matter how dark their base coat, will have red hairs diluted to gold.
Double dilutes have 2 cream genes (one from each parent). This even further lightens the red color: from the golden color of one dilute to a pale cream color of the double dilute. It also results in lightening of black hairs to a reddish color.
Nor are double-dilutes gray: they have blue eyes and pink skin, whereas a gray horse has dark eyes and black skin.
Cremello: The double dilution of chestnut/red coats. The body and mane is a cream color (hence the "cream gene").
Perlino: Double dilution of bay, so that the body is a light cream, with reddish points (mane, tail, lower legs).
Cremello and Perlino horses sometimes fade in color as they mature, so that they look almost white. Their eyes and skin remain unchanged.
Smoky cream: Double dilution on a black coat. The cream gene is not completely hidden as it is in the smoky black. The horse becomes a light gold or cream color which can be difficult to tell from a cremello or perlino (although colors vary). If one wants to be sure of the base color, the horse can be tested for the presence of the Agouti and Extension genes.
|Color||Coat Color (Birth)||Coat Color (Adult)||Eye Color||Skin Color|
|Gray||Bay, chestnut or black||Grays until White||Brown||Black|
|Cremello||Light Cream, visible markings||May fade to near-white||Blue||Pink|
|Perlino||Light Cream, visible markings, mane and tail reddish||May fade to near-white||Blue||Pink|
|Palomino||Light Gold or Cream, visible markings||Usually does not lighten with age||Dark, amber or brown (absent other dilution genes)||Black, except under white markings|
|Buckskin||Light Gold or Cream, visible markings, mane, tail, forelock and legs black||Usually does not lighten with age||Dark, amber or brown||Black, except under white markings|
|White||White (is not born dark)||White||Depending on genetic |
mechanism at work,
Blue or Dark
When it comes to choosing a car, paint or even a coat, everyone has a favourite colour. So when we talk about horses, it is little wonder that we also have favourites.
Jun 23, 2009; show off your true colours On most items, a favourite colour counts for a lot. Even with horses, breeders and sponsors opt for...