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This page has been sourced from REC.EQUESTRIAN, the body of the text has been unaltered as far as possible. The information is for use at own risk.


Dun and buckskin are used rather messily to refer to horses with light red- yellow, yellowish or sandy bodies, with or without black points (mane/tail/legs/ears), with or without dorsal stripes. (Darker bodied horses are called bays if they have black points, and chestnuts or sorrels if they have non-black points.) However, there is a lot of disagreement about the two terms.

In the past, buckskin registries have referred to darker shades as buckskin and lighter ones as dun, while geneticists usually called buckskin the lighter shade. Another definition sometimes used was that buckskin horses have black points, and duns have brown or light points. Various registries and dictionaries have defined one or the other as having a dorsal stripe. The AQHA has sent out an advisory to its members that they have a new definition of dun and buckskin, to whit: duns have dorsal stripes, buckskins do not. Apparently, they are revising new registrations to reflect this new definition.

The following is a compilation of information from the books "Horse Color" and "The Horse", along with help from the net.

  • BUCKSKIN: clear light yellow, tan, sandy, & dark cream horses with *black* points and *without* a dorsal stripe. This is the definition that was used in the old American West. (Genetically buckskin is a cremello-dilution of bay.)
  • DUN: This is a larger category. It includes:
    • a) yellow/tan horses with *black* points, *with* a dorsal stripe (Genetically a dun-dilution of bay.)
    • b) yellow/tan horses with *non-black* points, with or without a dorsal stripe. (In practice these horses usually have a dorsal stripe anyway.) The dorsal stripe can be any shade. (Genetically a dun-dilution or a cremello-dilution of chestnut.)

Note that yellow/tan horses with *black* points are buckskin if they don't have a dorsal stripe, and dun if they do. (To remember this, think of "buck skin" -- deer don't have dorsal stripes. Or think of D=dun=dorsal.) Horses with yellow/tan coat colors and *non-black* points used to all be called "duns" regardless of the stripe. However, the new AQHA rulings mean that horses with non-black points without the stripe will be called buckskin rather than dun.

The body color can be of different shades. For horses with *black* points, without dorsal stripes (if the horse has a stripe just change "buckskin" to "dun"):

  • Dark or smokey buckskin = head and neck and rump a very dark brown, with more yellowing on the belly. (Caused by black hairs being mixed in with the yellow, the smutty Sty gene.) Definitely not grulla. Called "coyote dun" if there's a dorsal stripe.
  • Dusty buckskin = yellow-brown body color.
  • Peanut butter buckskin-just like it sounds-sort of a orange-tan buckskin with black points.
  • Golden buckskin = the classic golden color with black points.
  • Oatmeal buckskin = a shade just lighter than golden, with darker hairs on the rump and neck. But it isn't oatmeal color at all. ("Zebra dun" if striped.)
  • Silver or creamy buckskin = very pale gold, almost cream body color, with black points.

For horses with *non-black* points:

  • Lilac dun -- an unusual rosy color with brown points, hazel eyes, and no dorsal stripe. (Cremello-dilution of a chocolate brown horse.)
  • Muddy dun -- pale brownish red with brown points and head, and a brown stripe. (Dun-dilution of a chocolate brown horse.)
  • Red dun -- very washed out red or yellowish-red bodies with brown, red or flaxen points. Usually with dorsal stripe. The legs and head are usually a darker shade of red than the body (unlike sorrel, which can have the same body color but pale legs. Also a sorrel wouldn't have a dorsal stripe). Variations in body shade are called "orange dun", "apricot dun", etc.
  • Yellow dun -- yellow/tan body with non-black points. May have dorsal stripe, or may not. With brown points, often called "claybank dun".
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