What Colors Are Horses? [15 horse coat colors with pictures!]
Horses have many different coat colorations. They also have a variety of coat patterns. These coat colors are sometimes determined by a horse’s breed due to genetics.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at some of the most common horse coat colors. If applicable, pointing out the common mane and eye colors.
To put it simply, bay horses have a chestnut or brown coat with black points. These black points include the mane, tail, and lower legs.
In addition, the rims of the ears and around the muzzle can be black in bay horses as well.
This creates a horse with some truly stunning features. They have a variety of shades within this horse coat color, and they include:
- Mahogany Bay has a rich brown coat with a slight red hue and black points.
- Blood Bay has a rich brown coat with a red sheen, black points.
- Dark Bay has a dark brown coat with black points.
The bay coat is considered to be a base coat in horses, so it is pretty common to see horses with this description. Many different horse breeds can have this coat color as well.
Some of the most common horse breeds that can be found with the bay coat are Clydesdales, Arabian horses, and Quarter horses.
Black horses are stunning animals, and they usually tend to have a black coat, black mane, and black tail.
In addition, a true black horse should have brown eyes and dark skin. They actually have black skin under their fur coat.
Types of Black Horse Color Coats
Black horses technically come in two variations, fading black and non fading black.
- Fading black horses tend to have coats that turn brown after being in the sun for a long time.
- Non fading black horses coats are not affected by the sun.
These coats may also have a blue hue to them. Many breeds of horses can have a black coat including Arabian horses, Mustangs, Andalusians, and more.
Brown horses can appear very similar to bay horses. However, a brown horse will not have black points. Instead, these horses have a mane and tail that is dark brown.
Brown horses are extremely common, and a wide variety of horse breeds can have brown coats.
Among the most common breeds of horses with brown coats include but are not limited to Quarter horses, Thoroughbred horses, and Morgan horses.
The buckskin coat is created with one copy of the cream dilution gene as well, but instead, the normal base coat gene is for a bay coat.
This gives the traditional bay coat a much lighter look, which usually leads to a light brown horse with dark brown points.
Like smoky black horses, any horse breed that carries the cream dilution gene could create a buckskin horse.
Many breeds can have buckskin color.
Champagne horses can sometimes be confused for palomino horses, but there are different coat color genes involved.
A champagne coat on a horse is created when there is at least one copy of the champagne dilution gene in a horse’s genetics.
There are many different types of champagne coat types out there, and this is because there are many different combinations of base coat colors mixed with the champagne gene.
Types of Champagne Color Coats
Here are three of the most common types of champagne coats:
The gold champagne is the champagne gene over a chestnut base coat, and it typically has an apricot hue. Their manes and tails are either ivory or the same color as the horse’s coat.
The amber champagne is the combination of a bay base and a champagne gene. Their coats range in different shades of light tan, and the black points are replaced with brown ones.
The classic champagne is a combination of the black base coat and the champagne genes, and the coat has a taupe color. Their manes and tails are usually darker in color than the horse’s coat.
These horses can have light brown, amber, green, or blue eyes. Like the other horse coat colors on our list, this color can appear on a variety of different horse breeds.
Some of the most common breeds that have a champagne coat include Quarter horses and Tennessee Walking horses.
The chestnut coat is yet another extremely common coat color in horses.
These horses have a reddish brown coat, and they have a mane and tail that either matches their coat color or is lighter.
Types of Chestnut Color Coats
There are three common types of chestnut horses, and these include:
- Flaxen chestnut horses have light flaxen manes and tails. Their coats can be any chestnut shade.
- Liver chestnut horses have a dark reddish brown coat, and their mane and tail are usually lighter than their coats are.
- Sorrel chestnut horses are a red horse with a mane and tail that either matches their coats or is lighter than their coats. These horses’ red coats are often compared to the color of a brand new penny.
A wide variety of horse breeds can have chestnut coats. Some common horse breeds that can be chestnut are Morgan horses, Spanish Mustangs, Thoroughbred horses, and more.
You will often see the Cremello color discussed with Perlino, and Smoky Cream. All of these coat colors are created by having two copies of the cream gene. In fact, the three only differ in their base coat colors.
All of these coat colors appear extremely similar to one another, and they can range from an off-white color to a very light tan.
Although all three of these horses can sometimes be mistaken for a true white horse, they are genetically different.
Here is a closer look at the genetics of these three horse colors.
- Cremello (chestnut base coat, two copies of the cream gene)
- Perlino (bay base coat, two copies of the cream gene)
- Smoky Cream (black base coat, two copies of the cream gene)
These horses tend to have blue eyes and very light skin beneath their coats.
Although the presence of the cream gene is considered rare compared to some of the others that we have mentioned, there is still a variety of horse breeds that can have this appearance.
These breeds include but are not limited to the American Quarter horse, Morgan horses, and Tennessee Walking horses.
There are several varieties of dun horses. Bay dun is the most widely seen of all dun colors.
However, they are all characterized by having a dark dorsal stripe and other primitive markings such as zebra stripes around the back legs and a dark patch on the horse’s face.
Types of Dun Color Coats
There are four common types of dun horses.
- Blue Dun is also often called the Grullo. This horse has a copy of the dun gene with a normal black base coat gene. These horses tend to have a smoky gray coat with black primitive markings.
- Classic Dun is a horse that has one copy of the dun gene and one normal coat gene for a dun coat. These horses often have a golden coat with black primitive markings.
- Red Dun is created when there is a copy of the dun gene and a normal copy of the chestnut base coat gene. These horses are a light chestnut color with darker brown primitive markings.
- Yellow Dun is also called the buckskin dun. This is a combination of the dun gene with the cream gene. These horses often have a very light tan coat with dark brown primitive markings.
Many different horse breeds can carry the dun gene. These breeds include but are not limited to the Spanish Mustang, the Andalusian, the Tennessee Walking horse, and the Missouri Fox Trotter.
Most gray horses have dark skin and coats that have a mixture of white markings and colored hair, which gives these horses their gray appearance.
It is very common for gray horses to be born with a different colored coat such as bay or chestnut that turns gray over time as the horse ages.
However, there is a wide variety of shades when it comes to gray coats on horses.
Types of Gray Color Coats
There are four common types of gray coats in horses.
- Dapple gray horses have a gray coat with white spots.
- Rose gray horses have a gray coat with a rose hue to it. These horses usually have a bay or chestnut base coat.
- Flea bitten horses have a gray coat with flecks of color in it.
- Steeldust horses have an even amount of white hairs and colored hairs.
A fairly wide variety of horse breeds can have gray coats. The most common horse breeds that can have gray coats include but are not limited to Andalusians, Lipizzans, and Lusitanos.
Palomino horses have a golden coat that has been beloved by many throughout history.
Palominos have a chestnut base coat and a copy of the cream dilution gene, which lightens the chestnut base coat.
There can be a bit of wiggle room when it comes to how light or dark the palomino coat is.
Types of Palomino Color Coats
The three different types of palomino horses include:
- Golden palominos are technically the ideal palominos, and their coat is often compared to a gold coin.
- Light palominos have coats that are lighter than that of golden palominos.
- Chocolate palominos have coats that are darker than that of golden palominos.
Although there are specific genes involved with breeding a palomino horse, there is a fair variety of different breeds that can have coats in this stunning coat color.
Some of the most common breeds of palomino horses include Quarter horses, American Saddlebred horses, and Tennessee Walking horses.
Pinto horses are often called Paint horses but that is not an accurate description. A Paint horse is a breed of horse, such as the American Paint Horse, whereas Pinto is a color.
Pintos come in many different color patterns. Many breeds can have the Pinto color. They are known for the large patches of different colors on their coats.
Pintos can be found with a base color of white, then black or brown spots. This is because they have the dominant white spotting gene. Brown is most common.
They also come in over 30 other color combinations such as roan pinto, bay pinto, blue roan pinto and many more!
Pinto means spotted in the Spanish language and that is how these horses were named. Pinto horses have long been associated with Native American Indians and are very popular.
What is a Tobiano horse?
A tobiano horse’s color is the tobiano pattern. A tobiano pattern is generated by having a dominant tobiano gene which produces a white base color coat with patches of other colors.
The tobiano pattern is usually seen in Pinto horses.
Roan horses have an even amount of white hairs and hairs of a different color. However, the ends of the legs, mane, and tale usually have a darker color that matches that found in the base coat.
Like other horse coat colors on our list, there are several common types of roan horses.
Types of Roan Color Coats
- Bay Roan horses have a similar appearance to the traditional base coat, but bay roans will have a bit of a more washed out look.
- Blue Roan horses have the roan gene over a black base coat. This gives the coat a smoky gray look, but the mane, tail, and ends of the legs are still very dark.
- Red Roan horses have a roan gene over a chestnut base coat. This can give the coat a light strawberry color. In fact, these are sometimes called strawberry roans.
A wide variety of horse breeds can carry the roan gene. Some of the most common horse breeds that can have a roan coat include but are not limited to Thoroughbred horses, Standardbred horses, and Clydesdales.
Smoky Black Horses
In contrast to the smoky cream horse coat color, the smoky black horse has only one copy of the cream gene and one copy of the normal black base coat color gene.
These horses appear to have a coat that is a washed-out black color. Any horse breed that can carry the cream gene could produce a smoky black horse.
True white horses are incredibly rare, and they are characterized by a pure white coat, white hair, and brown eyes.
True white horses can only be created by having two copies of the dominant white gene.
- Sabino 1 gene
- Frame overo gene
This dominant gene can only be found in Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Tennessee Walking horses, Quarter horses, Arabian horses.
The Sabino 1 gene can be found in Quarter horses, Paint horses, Missouri Fox Trotters, Tennessee Walking horses, Mustangs, and Aztecas.
Unfortunately, the frame overo gene causes problems with the development of the colon. As a result, white horses with two copies of this gene often pass away soon after birth.
This is often referred to as the lethal white syndrome.
Horses that can carry this gene include Paint horses, Quarter horses, Tennessee Walking horses, American Saddlebreds, Mustangs, and Thoroughbreds.
Horses can come in an extremely wide variety of coat colors.
The number of different appearances among horses seems to be endless and the genetics that creates the appearance of a horse are many.
There are no two horses that appear exactly the same.