About The Cream Gene


The cream dilute gene lightens red pigment when heterozygous. This results in a yellow, gold, tan, or cream-colored horse, with or without dark points. The homozygous, or 'double-dilute' horses will have their red colors diluted twice as much, resulting in a very light cream or nearly white color, plus any black points will also be diluted to a light cream or coffee color. The eyes and skin will be diluted, too.

The cream gene is what is called an incomplete dominant, meaning that it affects the horse's color differently in one or two doses-- making homozygous and heterozygous look very different.

Heterozygous creams are palominos, buckskins, or smoky blacks depending on their base color (chestnut, bay, and black accordingly). They have gold/cream bodies and gold/cream or black points. Smoky black horses are blacks carrying a cream gene, but since black pigment is not affected by a single gene, the horse may look identical to a true black.

Homozygous creams are cremello, perlino, or smoky cream. They have cream bodies and cream or coffee-colored points. The skin is a pinkish shade, and the eyes are blue.

The Cremello and Perlino are basically just lighter versions of palomino and buckskin, yet have in the past been mistaken for albinos (which have never been reported in equines) and whites. In fact, horses of these colors may be denied registration because the registry falsely believes them to be 'white' or 'albino' or related to pintos.

There have also been, and still are, many myths about the health of these animals; blindness, poor eyesight, sunburn, sensitive skin, weakness, prone to illness, etc. None of these problems occurs any more in double dilutes than in other colors.

Occaisionally a palomino or heterozygous cream has pink skin and/or blue, green, or amber eyes.

Single cream dilutes (have one cream gene-- palomino, buckskin, smoky black) can never become a breed because their colors are brought about by a heterozygous cream paired with other genes; their offspring will never be 100% single dilute, they will also produce double- and non-dilutes because they are heterozygous. In other words, there is no "palomino breed" and no "buckskin breed" and there never can be, because there is no "buckskin gene" and no "palomino gene" that will always produce their kind.



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