Equine Color Genetics


Equine Color Genetics, Third Edition, presents the most recent advances in color genetics for breeders of horses, donkeys, and mules. The book provides valuable information that enables breeders to tailor their breeding programs to maximize desired color outcomes and minimize undesired color. The text bridges the gap between the scientific and lay communities without ignoring the intricate and complex issues involved in horse and donkey color genetics. This new edition presents more explicit and detailed ...

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Equine Color Genetics, Third Edition, presents the most recent advances in color genetics for breeders of horses, donkeys, and mules. The book provides valuable information that enables breeders to tailor their breeding programs to maximize desired color outcomes and minimize undesired color. The text bridges the gap between the scientific and lay communities without ignoring the intricate and complex issues involved in horse and donkey color genetics. This new edition presents more explicit and detailed explanations than were previously possible, including a more extensive Appaloosa section. The section on donkey colors includes the results of studies in the genetic control of color in this species, which will greatly assist donkey breeders as they tailor breeding programs to their own goals.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This update... has a considerable amount of new information.... the author has succeeded in producing the definitive work on coat color in horses. This excellent book is unique in its field for its breadth and depth. The color photographs alone make it worth its moderate price. The new edition is necessary for anyone interested in the updated material on the genetics of coat color. I recommend it to horse breeders, animal scientists, and geneticists who are interested in a fascinating and convoluted topic.” Doody’s Reviews, September 2009

"A fascinating book, filled with color photos of really beautiful horse and donkey colors, some I never knew existed, and many unusual and beautiful breeds. In addition, there are numerous charts of color breeding expectations and effects of colors on colors." - Veterinary Information Network

“The latest advances in color genetics for breeders of horses, donkeys and mules provides a blend of science and owner's guide and provides vets and equine breeders with many specifics including discussions of five new colors.” - Midwest Book Review, July 2009

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: R. Dean Scoggins, DVM (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
Description: This is an uncomplicated and useful approach to understanding horse and burro color patterns as well as the various subtleties that exist. The book consists eight chapters, four appendixes, and a bibliography. Chapter 8 consists of 102 full-color illustrations accompanied by descriptions of both common and unique coat patterns. The appendixes contain groupings of the various shades of a color and results of crossing of different colors in a breeding program. The probable genetic makeup of a variety of horse and burro colors is included.
Purpose: The purpose of providing a guide to horse and burro coat colors as well as a genetic roadmap for studying these colors is well met.
Audience: Anyone who is a student of the horse will find this book useful. Breeders, veterinarians, teachers, veterinary students, and equine science students should all find this book a valuable addition to their libraries.
Features: The color illustrations of chapter 8 are especially effective at clarifying the descriptions in the text. Along with the more frequently seen colors, several unusual patterns are shown, such as brindle, striped, and champagne. This is an attractive, easily read, and durable-looking book that should stand up to regular usage and remain relevant indefinitely.
Assessment: This appears to be a very useful, clearly written book that can help to consistently identify both horse and burro standard coat colors along with their variations. It defines coat colors in a way that allows anyone with the power of observation to learn to quite consistently determine a horse's basic color pattern. Animal science and veterinary libraries should find this a useful addition to their materials. Individuals with an interest in horses will find it a useful reference. The lack of an index does not detract because of the size and layout of this book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813813646
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 904,048
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, is professor of pathology and genetics at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, and has worked in the field of animal color genetics for nearly three decades. His work with rare breed conservation, largely through the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, has provided ample opportunity to pursue the variations and details of color in several uncommon but important breeds.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction 3

Basic Considerations of Horse Color Identification 5

Basic Principles of Genetics 9

Pigments in Horses 13

Pigment Cell Function 14

Chapter 2 Basic Dark Horse Colors: Bay, Chestnut, Black, and Brown 17

Bay, Chestnut, and Black: Definition and Classification 17

Bay, Chestnut, and Black: Genetic Control 19

Dominant Black 23

Two Subtypes of Bay: Wild Bay and Bay 25

Seal Brown 26

General Factors Modifying Bay, Chestnut, and Black 26

Shade: Definition and Classification 26

Shade: Genetic Control 28

Sooty: Definition and Classification 28

Sooty: Genetic Control 31

Mealy: Definition and Classification 32

Mealy: Genetic Control 34

Mane and Tail Color on Chestnut and Sorrel: Definition and Classification 35

Mane and Tail Color on Chestnut and Sorrel: Genetic Control 36

Bend Or Spots 37

Dapples 37

Chapter 3 Colors Built from the Basic Colors 39

Linebacked Dun: Definition and Classification 40

Linebacked Dun: Genetic Control 45

Cream-related Colors: Definition and Classification 46

Cream-related Colors: Genetic Control 50

Champagne: Definition and Classification 52

Champagne: Genetic Control 54

Pearl: Definition, Classification, and Genetic Control 57

Silver Dapple: Definition and Classification 58

Silver Dapple: Genetic Control 61

Mushroom: Definition, Classification, and Genetic Control 63

Other Dilutions 63

Compound Dilute Colors 64

Brindle 67

Eye Color 68

Foal Color 68

Summary of the Genetic Control of Horse Color 69

Chapter 4 Patterns of White 73

General Considerations 73

Patterns with Individual White Hairs: Grey and Roan 74

Grey: Definition and Classification 74

Grey: Genetic Control 77

Roan: Definition and Classification 77

Roan: Genetic Control 80

Frosty 81

White Ticking 81

Patterns of White Striping 82

Roaned 83

White Lacing 83

Birdcatcher Spots 83

Patterns with Nonsymmetric Patches of White: White Marks, Paints, and Pintos 84

Face and Leg Markings: Definition and Classification 84

Face and Leg Markings: Genetic Control 86

Patterns with White Body Patches 87

Paint or Pinto Patterns 87

Tobiano: Definition and Classification 90

Tobiano: Genetic Control 92

Calico Tobiano 93

Overo 93

Frame: Definition and Classification 94

Frame: Genetic Control 95

Sabino: Definition and Classification 97

Sabino: Genetic Control 99

Splashed White: Definition and Classification 102

Splashed White: Genetic Control 103

Manchado 104

Overo Crop Out Horses 105

Combination Paint Patterns 106

Paint Summary 108

White 109

Patterns of White with Symmetric White Patches: The Leopard Complex 110
D.P. Sponenberg, Sheila Archer, and Rebecca Bellone

Leopard Complex: Definition and Classification 110

Leopard Complex: Genetic Control 117

Patterns of White Summary 121

Chapter 5 Horse Color and Horse Breeding 123

Chapter 6 Peculiarities of Hair Growth 129

Chapter 7 Donkey Color 133

Patterns of White 137

Genetics of Donkey Color 140

Summary of Donkey Color 144

Hair Growth in Donkeys 146

Chapter 8 Color Photographs 147

Appendix 1 Horse Color Names by Category 205

Appendix 2 Loci, Alleles, and Effects 211

Appendix 3 Usual Genotypes of Major Colors 215

Appendix 4 Alleles Present in Representative Breeds in the USA 219

Appendix 5 Expected Results of Crossing Various Colors 223

Appendix 6 Unpublished Data Supporting Conclusions 255

Mushroom 255

Calico Tobiano 256

Donkey Color 256



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