Buckskin and Dun Horses Are Not The Same Thing

Posted by Allie Layos
Buckskin horse
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There are few better symbols of the American West than a cowboy riding a buckskin or dun horse. 

From the golden colored coats to the smart black points, buckskin and dun are often considered some of the most beautiful equine coat colors, and they have become iconic in Western cinema.

However, even equestrians have trouble telling the two beautiful colors apart. In fact, many assume they are two names for the same thing, when this couldn't be further from the truth. While they may look similar, buckskin and dun are two distinct colors stemming from completely different color genetics.

The confusion between the colors is somewhat understandable since both of them come from a dilution gene on a bay horse, and at first glance both body colors appear to describe a golden-coated or chestnut horse with black points (mane, tail and legs), but there are a few easy tricks to tell them apart.

Though shades can vary from yellow to dark gold, the coat of a true buckskin horse should be the color of tanned deer-hide, and they often contain lovely dapples.

Buckskin horse

Dun horses, on the other hand, have coats that range from a sandy yellow to reddish brown, with legs that are usually darker than their body. This picture is an extreme example of dun characteristics.

Dun horse

The easiest way to tell the colors apart, however, is by looking for the primitive markings of the dun horse, the most obvious of which is the dorsal stripe.

A dorsal stripe is a dark line that runs from the base of the horse's black mane, down its back and to the base of its tail. A dun horse will always have a horizontal stripe, and will often display other primitive markings as well. These can include striping, zebra stripes or tiger stripes, on their shoulders, lower legs, and forehead.

Dorsal stripe on dun horse

Buckskin or dun. Dun or buckskin. Both horse colors are beautiful, but now when you admire them you can call them by their rightful names.

Do you own a buckskin or dun horse? Tell us about him or her in the comments below! 


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Buckskin and Dun Horses Are Not The Same Thing