Horse Coat Colour Dilutions:
Cream, Pearl, Silver, Champagne, Lavender Foal, Mushroom, and Macchiato
This page is under construction.It will contain extensive information on the horse colour dilutions Cream, Pearl, Silver, Champagne, Lavender Foal, Mushroom, and Macchiato. We are looking for pictures of horses that are representative of the various shades in each colour. For a photo to be chosen the horse must be clean, unclipped, and standing in a conformation type stance that best shows off the colour. No photos of Lavender Foal, Mushroom, or Macchiato need be sent. We have provided information on these colours in an unfinished format for your initial learning enjoyment, with more to follow as the page evolves.
These gene mutations dilute or lighten the base colour of the horse. There are four confirmed dilution genes: Champagne, Cream, Pearl, and Silver; also a few more under investigation. Dun was previously considered a dilution gene but the underlying cause has been determined and it is better considered a hair structure anomaly. While Champagne, Cream and Pearl are separate mutations, their diluting effect on an individual horses colour may sometimes be hard to distinguish between without DNA verification.
Champagne (CH): A dominant gene that only needs one allele to express itself, Champagne lightens the whole horse: eyes, skin, body hair, mane and tail.
Champagne also dilutes both black and red pigment in horses. A homozygous Champagne (CH/CH) horse is thought by some to be slightly lighter in colour than a heterozygous
Champagne (CH/ch) horse would be. A foal is born with pink, freckled skin that darkens and becomes more freckled/mottled as it ages, especially around the eyes and muzzle.
This skin colour is often referred to as pumpkin but can have a distinct lavender tone as well. The eyes are blue at birth and gradually darken to a hazel or amber colour. The body
hair is lightened and can have a shiny metallic quality to it also, that tends to be more visible on Gold Champagne horses. Generally the trend is for the coat to be slightly
darker in the winter. Champagne foals are often born a darker colour that lightens when they shed, unlike the majority of foals that are born lighter than their adult colour.
A double dilute Pearl (prl/prl) horse can also be mistaken for having Champagne.
Classic Champagne (E-CH-): A Black horse that is lightened to pale-black, dark brown, bronze, dark taupe or even a lilac colour. The mane and tail are often slightly darker than the body. These horses can have colouring that is similar to Grulla (Black Dun).
Amber Champagne (E-A-CH-): A Bay horse coat that is lightened in a range from golden brown to tan. The mane and tail are lightened to pale-black, dark brown, chocolate, dark taupe or lilac. Hairs along the edges of the mane and tail can be lightened to close to the body colour. Sometimes called Amber Buckskin as the colouring looks similar to Buckskin.
Gold Champagne (ee CH-): A Red (chestnut/ sorrel) horse lightened to apricot or gold, also often with a flaxen-like mane and tail. They are visually similar to Palomino (eeCRcr).
Genetics: The Champagne Dilution gene, SLC36A1 (Solute Carrier 36 Family A1) is located on Chromosome 14 and has 11 exons. Champagne dilutions are
caused by a SNP mutation in exon 2 that causes the replacement of amino acid Threonine with Arginine (T63R).
NCBI: Gene ID: 100071523; Location: Chr 14 NC_009157.2 (26674422…26718008, compliment); Length 43,586 bp. Or (26675206…26718008, compliment); Length 42 803 bp
Ensembl: Gene ID: ENSECAG 00000025152; Location: 26678565…26706775; Length: 28211 bp
Breeds: TheChampagne gene is considered a fairly new mutation because it is found only among horse breeds developed in North America such as the Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse, American Saddlebred, Missouri Fox Trotter, Miniature Horse, Appaloosa, American Cream, and many others. No purebred Shire, Clydesdale or known Gypsy Cob carries this mutation, therefore it is unlikely to appear in the Drum Horse.
Cream (Cr): Effects both black and red pigment, but effects red more than black. Cream is a partial or incomplete dominant; a single allele will dilutes a horse’s coat roughly half the amount that two alleles will. A single allele has either minimal or no effect on black pigment creating what is called Smoky Black on a black based horse. The study by D. Mariat et al, that discovered the Cream locus identified several horses that were assumed to be Dark Bay but were in actuality Smokey Black. A single allele on a Red horse will create a gold body colour in a variety of shades with a flaxen/silver mane and tail and dark skin and eyes, called Palomino. On a Bay horse the body is diluted to a variety of tan shades, with dark eyes, skin, mane and tail, called Buckskin. Two alleles will cause blue eyes, pink skin, and body hair to be a cream or ivory colour, black pigment will stay slightly darker than red pigment in the case of two alleles.
|No Dilution (crcr)||Single Dilution (Crcr)||Double Dilution (CrCr)|
|Black||Smoky Black||Smoky Cream|
Genetics: The Cream dilution gene, SLC45A2 (Solute Carrier Family 45, member 2) is located on chromosome 21 and has 7 exons.
SLC45A2 was previously referred to as the MATP gene. Cream (Cr) dilutions are caused by a SNP gene mutation on exon 2.
NCBI: Gene ID: 100068242; Location: Chr 21 NC_009164.2 (30664318…30693191), Length: 28,873 bp; Or (30659160…30693201), Length: 34,042 bp Or (30659160…30693201); Length: 34,042 bp
Ensembl: Gene ID: ENSECAG00000024359; Location: 30664226…30693195, Length: 28,970 bp
Breeds: extensive number
Pearl (prl): A unique incomplete recessive gene that acts as a “pseudo” Cream allele when combined with Cream causing the same effect as two Cream alleles, and can also mimic a single Champagne allele when in homozygous form. Without the presence of Cream, two Pearl alleles are required to show diluting effects. A Homozygous Pearl often has an “apricot” colouring to the coat. Pearl lightens coat, mane and tail and brightens eye colours. Dr Kathryn Graves has also noted that one Pearl allele may lighten skin slightly and might produce slight golden undertones to the coat colour. In Quarter Horses Pearl is referred to as the “Barlink Factor” after Barlink Macho Man, one of the first horses recognised with Pearl. Pearl is found in only a few breeds and is considered one of the rarer dilution genes.
Genetics: The Pearl dilution gene is located at the same locus as Cream (SLC45A2, exon 2) so there can only be two alleles of any
combination of Cream and Pearl at that site.
NCBI: Gene ID: 100068242; Location: Chr 21 NC_009164.2 (30664318…30693191), Length: 28,873 bp: Or (30659160…30693201), Length: 34,042 bp Or (30659160…30693201); Length: 34,042 bp
Ensembl: Gene ID: ENSECAG00000024359; Location: 30664226…30693195; Length: 28,970 bp
Breeds: Only found in breeds of Iberian/ Spanish origin: Lusitano, Purebred Spanish Horses, Andalusian, Paso Fino, Quarter Horse, and Paint Horse. Now also in the Gypsy Cob.
Silver (Z): A dominant dilution gene that only affects black pigment, with no effect on red pigment. On a Black horse the end result can be quite striking with the mane and tail being lightened in a range from pure silver or platinum to light black/ greyish, and the body lightened to a chocolate colour often with dapples. The mane and tail tend to have darker roots than the rest of the hair and usually darkens with age. Black Silver is often referred to as "Silver Dapple. On a Bay horse the effect is not quite as striking but still shows the lightened mane, tail and lower legs against a red body. In the Rocky Mountain Horse and other related breeds homozygous Silver (Z/Z) is related to multiple congenital ocular abnormalities including ciliary body cysts (a congenital uveal abnormality) and Megaloglobus (eyeball enlargement). In these breeds the heterozygous forms can also have a lesser degree of the same abnormalities. Study is currently ongoing and has determine other breeds are affected by these eye defectsas well.
Genetics: The Silver dilution gene, PMEL17 (Melanocyte Protein 17 Precursor) is located on chromosome 6 and has 12 exons.
NCBI: Gene ID: 100033885; Location: Chr 6 NC_009149.2 (73665055…73673677, compliment), Length: 8,623 bp Length: 8,623 bp
Ensembl: Gene ID: ENSECAG 00000020000; Location: complement (73665164…73672991), Length: 7,828 bp
Breeds: Quarter Horse, Rocky Mountain Horse, Icelandic Horse, Morgan, Shetland Pony, Miniature Horse, and Gypsy Cob.
Mushroom (Mu): A new dilution that is currently only confirmed in the British Shetland Pony. Mushroom affects Red based horses and creates a coat colour that is a pale beige to a taupe that has been described as having a flat “dead grass” tone without any red remaining in the coat. The horses’ points tend to be a lighter tan than the body. Many of the horses look like they have the Silver dilution but test negative. Horses are born lighter and shed the foal coat to a darker tone, they also usually have dark eyelashes where a Silver will have light lashes. The horses tend to fade in the sun, so often are lighter in the summer than the winter. Dr. Sponenberg felt that Mushroom may be found in Haflingers, and possibly Quarter Horses. There has been mention of possible Mushroom in Icelandic Horses as well.
Genetics: Based on the breeding records of Beth Meade who first noticed the Mushroom horses, it appears that Mushroom is caused by a recessive gene that only effects Red (ee) horses.
Lavender Foal (LFS): Also known as Coat Color Dilution Lethal (CCDL) this is a recessive mutation that affects Arabian horses, primarily of Egyptian bloodlines. The foal coat colour is described as lavender, pewter, pale grey or light chestnut. The foal also has neurological problems that are lethal soon after birth. Carrier horses are normal and healthy, however Arabians should be tested before breeding to check their carrier status as two horses with the mutation have a 25% chance of producing a Lavender foal.
Genetics: The Lavender Foal dilution gene, MYO5A (Myosin VA) is located on chromosome 1 and has 41 exons.
NCBI: Gene ID: 100069548; Location Chr 1 NC_009144.2 (138076502…138263231); Length: 186,730 bp
Ensembl: Gene ID: ENSECAG 00000021742; Location: 138142462…138257171; Length: 114710 bp
Go to Top