Color Genetics - Not tested yet but Grullo Dun Leopard Appaloosa?

I’ll eventually get the filly tested. Her sire is a homozygous black few spot. Dam is a non-characteristic black mare. Filly is registered as black but while she has a black nose and very black legs, her body is chocolatey and never truly black, even when getting in her winter coat in fall when black horses who faded from the summer sun’s glare, darken back up nicely.

I’ve owned a smokey black leopard mare before and she had amber eyes but not the more golden tones in her coat like this filly, and appeared for all intents and purposes black other than that but produced dilute foals when bred to non-dilute stallions.

I’ve also owned a lighter more golden grullo dun leopard mare but whose pattern was different from this filly but also similar. Neither had/have a dorsal stripe due to the leopard pattern.

This filly I would call bay except she doesn’t have any bay face markings. Her ear tufts are rather golden in color making me also think Grullo. Pics for reference. Thoughts?

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Grulla requires a grulla or dun parent. She looks brown to me.

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But does black or smokey black mask it? While her dam was listed as black, could smokey black produce it?

And “brown” to me has usually represented smokey black, which I guess could be the case here, but she has those really black legs.

No. A grullo is a black based horse with a dun gene. A black based horse with a creme and dun gene will phenotypically look just like a black based horse with only a dun gene.

Smokey black is black based with a creme gene. What are the colors of the dam’s parents? That could rule out a creme gene being involved at all.

Brown is a different gene and is located on the Agouti locus. I believe it can be tested for as well. ETA - the brown test is just a part of the Agouti test.

Brown is the darkest version of bay. It doesn’t test any different than bay. A brown horse with cream would be a buckskin.

Hmmm, I’m pretty certain that a brown horse with a cream gene is considered smokey black. Was just reading up on it. Thing is, those ears tufts. I’m not seeing that on the smokey black/brown horses I’m looking at.

Looks like a bay leopard to me. Very cute.


A black horse (testing E_A_) with cream is a smoky black. Cream (a single copy) has no effect on black. Since a brown horse is bay, adding cream would make a buckskin.

What you are reading is incorrect, or being misunderstood.

The ear tufts could be caused by nd1 (nondun 1). Horses with nd1 often have light coloured inner ear hair like this.

Smoky black (or black carrying cream) is a hair coat color of horses which is not visually identifiable: the horse appears black. Smoky black is produced by the action of a heterozygous (single copy) cream gene on an underlying black coat color. Therefore, smoky black is a member of the cream family of coat color dilutions, and found in horse populations that have other cream gene-based colors such as palomino, buckskin, perlino, cremello and smoky cream. All smoky blacks must have at least one parent with the cream gene, and a smoky black can only be verified through DNA testing or parentage.

This is the confirmed grullo leopard we previously owned.


Again, those super light ear tufts.


What you posted looks correct. Definitely doesn’t mention anything about brown with cream being smoky black.

LP makes color shifts, so the only real way to know is to test.

Ava Minted Design is a tested grulla, for example

cream has no effect on E?aa (which is black)

Brown is the darker/darkest phenotype of bay

Right, the old Brown test was debunked and is no longer available

No, it’s not. Smoky black is black + cream. E?aaCrcr. Brown is a phenotype of bay, and is E?Aacrcr

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Sire is tested homozygous black; dam appears black but is untested.

As previously stated, I owned a black leopard mare, Dazzling Vision Spot, registered as a black leopard but had buckskin in her breeding on the sire’s side and she was evidently smokey black as she produced both buckskin and palomino by non-dilute stallions. Dazzy was the result of a black few spot stallion crossed on a NC black mare, just like this filly I’ve got. Dazzy did appear black but did have amber/golden eye color. I’ll just have to test and solve the mystery.

But what colors are the parents of the untested black mare?

I’ll have to check but the ApHC is notorious for listing inaccurate color information.

what a cutie!!!


No, it’s not. Smoky black is black + cream. E?aaCrcr. Brown is a phenotype of bay, and is E?Aacrcr

Right, I get true brown is actually phenotypically bay. But a lot of horse people call sunfaded black horses “brown” and smokey/smoky black often appears sunfaded or “brown” or chocolatey (IME) without the tell tale bay nose.

Anyone going off phenotype to tell what genotype a horse is, isn’t doing it right LOL

There are LOTS of unfaded smoky black horses. There are LOTS of nd1 sun-faded black horses. You cannot determine smoky black from looks alone

Sabino can also cause color-shifting, turning Eeaa into looking like a brown, or a weird shade of “light black”

Lots of names are still around because nobody could prove otherwise, before genetic testing, but they’re still wrong.

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I’ve seen many pictures of smoky black horses that are blacker appearing than black without cream. Just like with any other colour, there are many shades of black horses. Cream has no effect on black, or buckskin and bays would have brown points instead of black.

Yes! I think most are aware that there are huge ranges for bays and chestnuts, but also seem to think black is black is black. It’s just not

There ARE things that mute the black points, but it’s not cream. My seal brown, the very darkest shade of brown do dark in a new coat he looks black until put next to an actual black, has what appears to be black mane and tail, but has lower legs that are clearly not quite black.