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4 Dun Colors

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[ 4 Dun Colors ] Body Colors ] Markings ] Combinations ] Foal colors ]

There are four "pure" Dun Colors.

These exist because of the effect of dun on the
four dark, solid horse colors
of red, black, bay or seal brown.  
If the current belief that dun is one, simple dominant gene is true,
one dun gene looks the same as two; so without other color genes added, there are four basic colors of dun.

Click here for DNA Color Test Information

Red Dun
Brown Dun

Red Dun
Brown 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 gene.

Tinker.jpg (12716 bytes)

Red 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, www.risingmoonranch.com 

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.

magic2.jpg (33523 bytes)Brown Dun

"Magic", bred by Lylian Thayne of The Secret Ranch

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

To join our "dungenes" discussion and photo-sharing email group, click HERE.

  This web site created with delight by Hippo-Logistics
2009 Barbara A. Kostelnik

Home / Up / Duns For Sale / Tested Horses / Definitions / Genetics / Breeds / Questionable / DNA Color Tests / Research

To join our "dungenes" discussion and photo-sharing email group, click HERE.

  This web site created with delight by Hippo-Logistics   2011 Barbara A. Kostelnik
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