is a "Cream gene"
and how does it work?
The Cream gene is a dilution gene.
It creates the colors palomino, buckskin,
smoky brown, smoky black, cremello, perlino, brown cream, and smoky cream, depending on the horse's base color, and whether there are
one or two cream genes present.
This perlino colt and his sire and dam illustrate the action of
the cream gene (explanation below.)
Some horses, like chestnuts,
and blacks have no cream genes.
These may be called the dark solid, pure, or intense colors.
Some horses, like Palominos,
and smoky blacks have one cream gene.
They may be called "single dilutes" or, more accurately, "single cream
Other horses, like cremellos,
perlinos, brown creams
and smoky creams, have two cream
genes. They are "double cream dilutes".
To see what these colors look like, with zero, one or two
cream genes, choose a button below (for more description and photos) or see the
chart (for illustrations). Also the interactive
color chart. NEW FEATURE! Foal cream
color prediction chart! BROWN VARIETIES will be added soon.
The mare in the photo at the top of this page is the AQHA buckskin, Me Smart 'n' Classy.
She was bred to another AQHA buckskin, Poco
Merlin. (Update: it is quite possible that both parents were
"smoky brown", i.e. brown with one cream gene. Same result:) The foal got one cream gene from each
parent, so he is a "double cream dilution." And, in addition, he seems to
have gotten a dun gene from one of his parents.
If you breed buckskins and
to each other, you may get these striking double-cream-dilutes. Sometimes
even a seemingly black or dark brown horse (smoky black)
may be carrying one of these genes, which can be determined only by a DNA test,
or sometimes by looking at
the horse's ancestors or offspring.
Important Cream Gene
It is very important to note that the cream gene makes the horse's
color LIGHTER, but does not remove it, even when there are two present.
They cannot make a horse an actual albino (they leave some pigment in the
skin, hair and eyes) and are not linked to any known defects or weaknesses.
The only truly unpigmented pink skin on a horse will be under its WHITE
MARKINGS, if any.
THERE ARE NO TRUE ALBINO HORSES. Genes that cause albinism in other mammals
are "recessive" genes. Cream genes are "incomplete
dominant" genes, not recessive, meaning they cannot be
"hidden". There are no known albinos, or albino genes, in the
Also, cream genes DO NOT ACCUMULATE. You cannot have more than two
cream genes in any horse. This may seem like a nonsensical concept to
today's students of horse colors, but there was a time when these beliefs caused
discrimination against horses with diluted color.
It would appear that some horses with the cream gene have a mixture of
white-appearing hairs with the usual dilute-color hairs.