Many people confuse “buckskin” colored horses with “dun” colored horses. The information below was gathered from several websites explaining the differences. Click on the photos of my horse “Tiger” and see if you can identify his color-coded features. He is a 13 yo 1/4 Arab and 3/4 Quarter Horse cross. His Sire (Papa) was a rare Tovero Paint (look up this unusual color) and his Dam (Mama) was a Tobiano Pinto (1/2 Arab, 1/2 QH). Can you see the prominent dorsal stripe down his back through his tail. I wonder where I got his name…
Buckskin horses are a light-to-dark sandy yellow or tan color with all black points. Buckskins are very similar to duns, however, buckskins do not have a dorsal stripe or other “primitive” markings that are shown in the dun color.
A true colored buckskin should be the color of tanned deerhide with black points. Shades may vary from yellow to dark gold. Points (mane, tail, legs) can be dark brown or black. Buckskin is clean of any smuttiness. Guard hairs which are buckskin colored grow through the body coat up over the base of the mane and tail.
Dun horses have a sandy/yellow to reddish/brown coat. Their legs are usually darker than their body and sometimes have faint “zebra” stripes on them. Dun horses always have a “dorsal” stripe, which is a dark stripe down the middle of their back. Sometimes the dorsal stripe continues down the horse’s dock and tail, and through the mane. Many dun colored horses also have face masking, which makes the horse’s nose and sometimes the rest of the face a darker color than the horse’s body.
Dun is found in many breeds such as Quarter Horses, Spanish Mustangs, Miniature Horses, Icelandic Horses and many European pony and draft breeds. Fjords and the Sorria are exclusively Dun and in some breeds such as the Arabian and Thoroughbred, Dun doesn’t exist at all.
Since Dun closely resembles Buckskin when it’s present on a Bay base color, it’s common to hear the term Buckskin and Dun used to describe any horses that have a tan colored body with black points whether there are primitive markings present or not. The difference between this gene and the Cream dilution gene is that Dun also causes primitive markings to be present on the horse. These are a shade or two darker than the body color and include the following traits.
This is a dark line that goes from the base of the mane to the base of the tail. Sometimes it goes through the middle of the mane, tail or both giving the horse a dark streak through the middle of each. This trait is always present on a Dun horse and should not be confused with the more subtle dorsal stripes caused by countershading. Terms associated with this Dun trait are: eel stripe, list, lineback and backstripe. You may hear people call Dun colored horses, “lineback Duns”.
Another trait caused by the Dun gene is horizontal marks on the legs of the horse. These range from above the hock or knee to below and usually fade into the dark part of the leg. These lines are commonly called Zebra or Tiger stripes. These can be very dark like in the photo or so light they are hardly visible. These marks may not appear on all Dun horses and it is sometimes very hard to see them on darker shades.
These are dark marks that can be very obvious or subtle shading that cross over the withers onto the shoulders of the horse
Some Dun horses have darker rings or stripes on their foreheads. This is commonly called cobwebbing or spiderwebbing.
A different and unique body coloration with stripes appearing over the barrel of the body and most, if not all, the dun factor characteristics. Brindle Duns show up in the Netherlands and they are referred to as an ancient dun color. The peculiar body markings can appear in the form of tear drops or zebra stripes.