Cream Gene

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Each time I have the opportunity to breed to a new stallion, I start researching their lines and their color possibilities. When Noah came to live with us, I began learning about the Frame Overo gene. Testing Donny's color genes started my research on the cream gene. The addition of Sparkle Plentys Irish Cream to our farm really made me examine the cream gene.

It is important to know the base color of your horse. It is either Black or Red. Black is dominant. There are four diluters to these base colors: cream, dun, silver (taffy) and champagne. Some add Roan to the list of diluters. I agree with this classification.

Base color 

Base Color + One Cream Gene

Single Dilutes

Base Color + 2 Cream Genes

Double Dilutes

Base Color + One Cream Gene + Dun Gene

Red (recessive)




Black, no bay/agouti gene

Smoky Black

Smoky Cream

Smoky Grulla

Bay=Black base with the bay/agouti gene




When breeding a single dilute, you have a 50% chance of the cream gene being passed on to the foal.

The cream gene is an incomplete dominant gene, and only effects a black coat in the homozygous form (or as a double cream gene), thus a smoky black may still look like a black or a faded black. 

When looking in the studbooks at horse color, it is very important to remember that a horse's recorded color is only accurate if the breeder is accurate. There are many breeders who do not know what color their horse is and record the color inaccurately. There are colors that confuse even the most educated breeders too!  

Buckskin: A single dilute horse who has a bay base and a single cream gene. The color may vary with individual horses. Here are some examples..

Short Story's Painted Sun


Buckeroos Top Cat

(I believe his base is Black split to Red)

Ima Boones Little Buckeroo Too Boones Little Buckeroo

You can have a "Dunskin" which is a Buckskin who also has the Dun gene. Some Buckskins have a lot of "counter shading" which has the ability to develop a "false" dun dorsal stripe. Our stallion, Sequel, has a dorsal stripe and a lot of counter shading, and I am not sure if his dorsal stripe is false (produced by counter shading) or true (dun gene). One difference between a true dun and a countershaded horse is that the dun factor is not as strongly affected by the sun. The counter shading will bleach out almost entirely by sunshine. I don't see the Dun gene in Sequel's pedigree, so I am assuming his dorsal stripe is the result of counter shading.

Palomino: We only have one Palomino horse here and it is not a mini. This is Bam Bam who has one cream gene on a red base. Two more mini examples are:
Gold Melody Boy Johnston's Vanilla



Little Kings Buckwheat


Producer of many National Champion! Click here to see him in video.

The Little Kings website has him listeds as a Cremello, but I think he may be a Perlino.

Is he a Perlino or a Cremello?? If Buckwheat was a Cremello, he would always throw the "a" gene to his babies. Another way of saying this is that because he has a double red gene, only a red gene is available for him to pass on to his babies. Thus, if he were bred to another aa mare or red base mare, they could ONLY produce red babies.
So, I found a red mare that he was bred to. Her name was Little Kings Mon Ami. They produced Little Kings Debonaire. This was easy for me to find because he belonged to a sweet lady here in Phx and has almost identical breeding as our Donny. Anyway, if he was Cremello, he would have donated an 'a' gene and same with the mare. They could only have made a red based baby. This did not happen....Debonaire was black based.
Here is another reason why I am guessing Perlino. In the AMHA stud book, Buckwheat has 55 foals. 54 of them have black bases. If he were red (aa), we would see more red based babies from him. And, that one red based baby of his?? I think I would want to DNA her and see if she is really his??? I can't explain where she would have come from. Her name is Mythical Farms Scarlet Babe. Her color may also not be recorded correctly in the studbook.


This is Sparkle Plentys Irish Cream. His father was a Palomino and his mother was a Buckskin. For him to be a Cremello, both mom and dad had to pass on a cream gene and a red gene. His Palomino sire only has a red gene to pass on because of his base color being red. His Buckskin mother, has a black base, but it must be in the heterozygous form for Bailey to be a Cremello.  (a red base)

The real test was to look at Bailey's offspring. He has one foal in the studbook that is a Palomino. From this, we know that Bailey passed a red gene onto this baby. I then checked all of his previous babies that weren't in the studbook yet. All of his babies have been consistent with him being a Cremello thus far.



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