There are four "pure" Dun Colors.
These exist because of the effect of dun
four dark, solid
horse colors of red, black,
bay or seal brown.
If the current belief that dun is one, simple dominant gene is
one dun gene looks the same as two; so without other color genes
added, there are four basic colors of dun.
Also called common dun, zebra dun, dun, regular dun,
bay-based dun, and bay dun. This is Kiger Cougar of Kentucky Horse Park with Jennifer, his handler/rider.
Base color is bay, plus dun gene(s). This basic, or most common, dun is the one that can be confused with a
buckskin. It will be a tan color with a black mane & tail and the
following markings which may be anywhere from dark red to black in color: lower
legs, a distinct *line* down the center of its back, and zebra-like striping or
"barring" on its legs, most often found at the top back of the
foreleg. There are many other possible markings and traits that appear on dun
horses, but these are the minimum for a normal bay-based dun. The horse
described here is genetically black based with at least one bay and one dun
This mare is Tinker of Carousel QH's.
Base color red (chestnut/sorrel) with dun gene(s). A red dun will look like a chestnut
(sorrel) horse with the body color
lightened and the mane, tail, lower legs, dorsal stripe, leg barring, etc.
remaining the "base" chestnut color. Adding a cream gene makes a
"dunalino" (Palomino dun).
Shaila, a 3 YO (in these pics) AQHA/NFQHA Grulla mare - Tested Ee aa, no
cream, neg LWO, and is Dd, with year-round brindle pattern (see pics below).
Photo contributed by Tara,
A grulla has a solid black, non-bay, non-brown (aa) base with one or two dun genes added. The body
color tends to be what is commonly called dove-grey, but can vary from nearly
black to brownish to silver. It may take on a golden or olive cast if there is a cream
gene also present (smoky grulla). The mane, tail and markings described above will be black
or a darker shade of the body color.
It's Spanish, the name of a crane (water bird), and is pronounced GROO -
YA. We don't change the ending for gender any more than we call a
Palomino mare a Palomina.
This color is
no longer a mystery, since there is a test
for the type of Agouti that produces seal brown, to separate it from the
one that produces bay. Click here
for links This mare and foal are examples of what one would expect
brown dun to look like. The breeder is Lylian Thayne.
Since there are now DNA tests for all of the relevant color genes, no
guessing is really necessary, but... since a brown horse usually looks black
with tan "trim", one might expect this color to look like grulla, but with a lighter nose,
flanks, armpits, and belly.
To see how Dun looks in combination with other
color modifying genes, see "combinations".
Home / Up / 4 Dun Colors / Body Colors / Markings / Combinations / Foal colors
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© 2009 Barbara A. Kostelnik