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Colour Modifiers & Dilutions - cont’d  DUN FACTOR - The Dun gene is represented with “D” and can be found in breeds such as Quarter Horse, Paint, Mustang, Icelandic Horses, Norwegian Fjords, etc. This gene causes the base body color of the horse to be “diluted” or “lightened” and is often characterized by its “Primitive Markings” such as the distinct dorsal stripe and leg barring (also known as zebra stripes) that most horses have with the Dun dilution. These horses can also have shoulder barring, cobwebbing or a “mask” on the face and ‘fishboning’ (what looks like “barbs” coming out of the dorsal stripe). Dun is a dominant gene and affects all hair colors whether they are diluted or modified by other genes. Unlike the cream gene, a heterozygous dun horse will look the same as a homozygous dun horse. Heterozygous duns will produce dun foals 50% of the time. Homozygous dun horses will always produce dun foals. DD: Homozygous Dun; Horse will have Dun markings (Dorsal Stripe, Leg Barring, etc.) and a diluted body color. All foals will be duns. Dd: Heterozygous Dun; Horse will have Dun markings (Dorsal Stripe, Leg Barring, etc.) and a diluted body color. 50% of foals will be duns. Some examples of Coat Color names that include Dun are: Red Dun (Chestnut + Dun) Dunalino (Palomino + Dun) Grullo (Black +Dun) Bay Dun or Zebra Dun (Bay + Dun) Dunskin (Buckskin + Dun) Smoky Grullo (Smoky Black + Dun) Brown Dun (Seal Brown + Dun)
CHAMPAGNE DILUTION - Champagne is a rare and unique dilution gene. It affects not only the coat color but also the skin and eye color similar to how two Cream Genes changes the coat, skin & eye color of a horse, but Champagne only needs one gene to accomplish this instead of two. Champagne dilutes the whole body color, both red and black hair. It changes the skin to pink and produces black freckling around the eyes, nose and on the sheath or udder & vulva of the horse. A Champagne horse is born with pale blue eyes that will eventually change to either green or more commonly hazel. Champagne is represented by “Ch” and can be found in breeds such as American Saddlebred, Quarter Horse & Paint, Tennessee Walkers, Miniatures, etc. Champagne is a dominant gene. There are four main Champagne colors: Amber Champagne Classic Champagne Gold Champagne Sable Champagne Amber Champagne is a Bay horse with one or two champagne genes. This horse will have a tan to golden brown colored body with the black points being diluted to a dark brown. When combined with one Cream (Buckskin + Champagne; called Amber Cream Champagne), an Amber Champagne will have a light creamy colored body with the black points being diluted to a dark tan or taupe color and the mane and tail also being slightly diluted from dark brown to light brown and sometimes a bit of ginger brown can be seen as well. Classic Champagne is a Black horse with one or two champagne genes. This horse can look almost Lilac in color, or a dark taupe, with the mane and tail usually being dark brown. When combined with one Cream (Smoky Black + Champagne; called Classic Cream Champagne), a Classic Champagne’s color will lighten to a light taupe, sometimes looking almost greyish and the mane and tail will usually be a dark taupe with some ginger brown on the ends.   Gold Champagne is a Chestnut horse with one or two champagne genes and can quite easily be mistaken for a palomino. This horse will have a golden colored body with either a lighter cream colored mane and tail or a “self colored” main and tail. This means the mane and tail are the same color as the body color. Gold Champagne combined with one cream (Palomino + champagne; Called Gold Cream Champagne) the coat will lighten to look almost like an Isabella Palomino (a very, very light colored palomino) or even a dark cremello. Mane and tail may be lighter or self colored. Sable Champagne is a Seal Brown horse with one or two champagne genes and can be mistaken for Classic Champagne. They often look like a lighter shade of Classic Champagne, but if color tested, they will show that they are carrying an Agouti gene, seal brown (At) to be exact. Sable Champagne combined with one Cream gene (Smoky Brown + Champagne; Called Sable Cream Champagne) will look much like a Classic Cream Champagne, only a little lighter and possibly more tan than taupe. nCh: Heterozygous Champagne; Horse will have pink skin, freckling, hazel or green eyes, and coat color will be diluted. 50% of foals will receive a champagne gene. ChCh: Homozygous Champagne; Horse will have pink skin, freckling, hazel or green eyes, and coat color will be diluted. All foals will receive a champagne gene. Some other examples of Coat Color names that include Champagne are: Amber Cream Champagne (Bay + Cream + Champagne) Classic Champagne Dun ( Black + Dun + Champagne) Gold Cream Dun Champagne (Chestnut + Dun + Cream + Champagne)
PEARL DILUTION - The Pearl Dilution is a very unique incomplete recessive gene that acts as a “pseudo” cream gene when combined with Cream and can also mimic Champagne in homozygous form. Because Pearl is a recessive gene like red (e) it is represented with small letters; “prl”. Pearl is thought to be a mutation of the Cream gene and is found at the same Locus as the Cream gene. This means that a horse can have either two cream genes (CrCr), two pearl genes (prlprl) or one cream and one pearl gene (Crprl). A horse cannot have two cream genes and one pearl gene and vice versa because these two genes are at the same Locus. This is similar to how a horse can have two of the three types of Agouti (A, A⁺ or At), but not all three.  Because Pearl is an incomplete recessive gene, it needs both genes to manifest itself on the coat. In other words, the horse has to be homozygous Pearl in order for the dilution to be exhibited. Pearl also interacts with Cream producing “pseudo- double dilutes”. This gene often times produces a metallic sheen on the horse’s coat. Pearl is thought to have originated in the Iberian Peninsula and can be found in breeds such as Andalusian, Lusitano, Paso Fino, Quarter Horse and Paint. It is speculated that it may also be found in Mustangs because of their Spanish decent. Pearl & Cream - When Pearl (prl) is combined with Cream (Cr) a horse is produced that looks similar to a homozygous cream horse (CrCr). The eyes are changed to pale blue or blue-green, the skin to pink and the coat to cream or ivory. Sometimes the mane and tail are not fully diluted. As an example, a Bay horse that has one pearl gene and one cream gene may end up looking like an Amber Cream Champagne. It will have a cream colored body, pink skin like that of champagne and the rust or brown colored mane and tail. Pearl, however, does not produce freckling on the skin like champagne does. A Palomino horse with a pearl gene can look like an Isabella Palomino with pale blue or green eyes or it can look similar to a cremello. Pearl in heterozygous form will never manifest unless it is accompanied with a Cream gene.
SILVER DILUTION - The Silver Dapple dilution is a dominant gene that, like Agouti, only affects black pigment. Silver is represented by “Z” and can be found in Quarter Horses & Paints, Gypsy Vanners, Morgans, Rocky Mountain Horse, Tennesee Walkers, Shetland Ponies, etc. A chestnut horse can carry a Silver Dapple gene, but it will not manifest itself on red based colors, just as Agouti is not exhibited on red based coat colors. Silver Dapple dilutes the black hair of the mane & tail, body color and often produces reverse dappling on the horse. Silver on a Black horse will dilute the mane and tail to a very light color, almost appearing white, silvery or flaxen and the body is often diluted from black to a dark chocolate color usually with dappling. Black Silver Dapples are often mistaken as Chocolate or Sooty Palominos. Silver on a Bay horse will dilute the mane and tail, although not usually to the extent as Black Silver, and the black points of the horse. The red body color is unchanged. The black points are usually diluted to chocolate. Bay Silver horses can easily be mistaken as flaxen chestnuts or flaxen liver chestnuts. Silver on Seal Brown usually looks somewhere between a Black Silver Dapple and a Bay Silver Dapple. It will have the same chocolate colored body color as a black silver dapple with the red undertones around the “soft spots” such as the muzzle, flank etc. The mane and tail can be very diluted like a black silver dapple or only slightly diluted like most bay silver dapples.  It should be noted that while Dappling is a common characteristic with horses that have the Silver Dapple Dilution, especially in breeds such as the Rocky Mountain Horse, Tennessee Walker and Miniatures, not all Silver Dapple dilutes have Dappling and not all horses that have dappling are silver dilutes. Zz: Heterozygous Silver: if the horse is black based in color, mane & tail will be diluted to a flaxen color, or partially diluted and all black body hair will be diluted to chocolate brown. 50% of foals will carry a Silver Dapple gene. ZZ: Homozygous Silver: If horse is black based in color, mane & tail will be diluted to a flaxen, or partially diluted and all black body hair will be diluted to chocolate brown. All foals will carry a Silver Dapple gene.
A horse that has both Pearl and Cream will have a 50% chance of producing Pearl or Cream foals. It will always produce one or the other.
Breeding a “pseudo-cream” horse (Crprl) to a single dilute Cream horse (nCr) will result in 25% chance of a double dilute cream (CrCr), 25% Chance of a “pseudo-cream” horse (Crprl), 25% chance of a single dilute cream horse (nCr) or 25% chance of a single pearl carrier (nprl).
Homozygous Pearl - Horses that are homozygous pearl can very easily be mistaken as Champagnes. Pearl in its homozygous form appears to “mimic” some champagne characteristics such as diluting the skin from black to pink and diluting the coat color to what we would see in a horse with one or two champagne genes. However, there is a difference between the two; Homozygous Pearl horses do not have diluted eye colors like Champagnes do and they also do not have the extensive freckling of a Champagne horse. Homozygous Pearl on chestnut produces an “Apricot” color. Sometimes it may appear more cream or golden colored. Homozygous Pearl on Bay and Brown often produces a horse that looks very similar to a Classic Champagne. They have a dark taupe or “lilac” body color with a diluted mane and tail that may look dark brown to rust brown. Homozygous Pearl on Black will look like a very dark Classic Champagne or even a dark Caramel color. A Homozygous Pearl horse will always produce a pearl carrier, however if the foal does not receive either another pearl gene or a cream gene from its other parent, there will be no visual evidence of the Pearl gene. nprl: Heterozygous Pearl, No cream gene. Horse has no visual differences in coat color and will produce Pearl carriers 50% of the time. Crprl: Homozygous. Horse’s coat color will be diluted to a “pseudo double dilute”; Cream colored body, green or blue green eyes and pink skin. 50% of foals will be single cream dilutes and 50% of foals will be pearl carriers. All foals will have a dilution gene. prlprl: Homozygous Pearl. Horse’s coat color will mimic the Champagne gene; diluted body color and pink skin. All foals will be pearl carriers.
POSSIBLE “SATIN” GENE? - We all see those horses that have the brilliant metallic looking coats such as the Akhal-Teke and think, “wow, that is gorgeous!” I’m not just talking “shiny” or “glossy”, I’m talking about horses that, when the sun hits their coat, they sparkle with a metallic sheen. This has been identified as a gene called “Satin” in different animals such as cats (known as “glitter”), hamsters, rats and mice that actually makes the base of the hair shaft clear, which then causes the hair to reflect more light than a regular hair shaft and the result is a richer colored animal with a metallic sheen. Is it possible that horses have this gene as well? Maybe! We know that the metallic sheen is not linked to Champagne or Cream or Pearl because there are horses that have none of these genes that still have a metallic sheen to their coat - and there is also the Akhal-Teke, which is noted for its brilliant metallic coat in any color, and the breed does not have the Champagne dilution. We have also seen Cream and Pearl horses that are “glossy” but not metallic. So our theory, and others share this theory as well, is that Horses have a “Satin” gene that causes the base of the hair shaft to be translucent and reflect more light, causing the metallic sheen on their coats. This gene just has not been found yet, as I am sure there are many other genes and mutations that have yet to be discovered in Equine genetics. We have a Buckskin Appendix Quarter Horse mare named King Bar Razzle (She can be seen on our Quarter Horse mare’s page) who has this metallic sheen to her coat, making her shine bronze and gold when the sun hits her. We have also noticed that her foals when they are born have a “pinkish” sheen to them and then later shed their foal coats to have the same metallic sheen as their mother. She has so far produced for us a Chestnut, two Buckskins and one Bay, and all have had this same pink hue to their coats at birth and shed to look metallic. This of course is all speculation, as there is no scientific proof of such a gene in horses yet, but there has to be something that causes some horses to have such brilliance to their coat. Hopefully we will find out soon!
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