Last Updated on March 28, 2023
Horses have a huge variety of beautiful coat colors and patterns, and spotted horses are the most striking of all. But what is a spotted horse called? Are spotted horses a specific breed, or can these markings happen in any type of horse?
Horses with spots are one of the more unusual coat patterns and are often highly sought after. Some people love this type of coat, while others prefer a horse without spots.
To answer the question “what is a spotted horse called” we will look at the different breeds that are more likely to have this type of coat. A horse coat with spots isn’t necessarily one type of horse, it is simply a coat pattern. But certain breeds have this type of coat in abundance.
What is a Spotted Horse Called?
To start with, we need to clear up the confusion around spotted horses. Spotted markings on a horse’s coat are a color, not a breed. However, many people think that spotted horses are a certain breed because some horse breeds are far more likely to have horses with spotted markings than others.
There isn’t a name for a spotted horse, other than calling it a spotted horse! There are many different types of spotted horses, and these markings can occur in several breeds of horses.
However, there is one horse breed that is more famous than any other for its spotted coat, and that is the Appaloosa. This horse breed has been specifically bred to vastly increase the possibility of a spotted coat, and the gene that creates a spotted pattern is highly likely in all Appaloosa horses.
The specific gene that causes spotted markings in horses is called the Appaloosa gene! This is a patch white spotting gene and affects the size and distribution of spots on the body. You may also hear this gene referred to as the Leopard complex, and it has been linked to night blindness in some spotted horses.
So, spotted markings on a horse are caused by the Appaloosa gene, but not all spotted horses are part of the Appaloosa breed. Any other mottled horse breed may also carry this gene.
Which Horse Breeds Have Spots?
As we discussed previously, some horse breeds have a much higher prevalence of spotted markings. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous spotted horse breeds:
The spotted breed of horse most familiar to even beginner horse enthusiasts is the Appaloosa. The Appaloosa is the most common horse breed with spots, and they are famed for their beautiful spotted coats.
The Appaloosa is a North American breed with a close association with the Nez Perce tribe of the Pacific Northwest. In the mid-1700s, Spanish Spotted Horses made their way into the region. The Nez Perce took ownership of some of these horses and started breeding them.
By 1750, the Nez Perce were selectively breeding these horses to only keep the best ones in their herds. The Appaloosa is an intelligent, sturdy horse, with athletic ability that allows it to travel safely over long distances. All these characteristics were highly valued by the Nez Perce.
Within the Appaloosa breed, you will see several spotted coat patterns over various base coat colors. Six patterns are officially recognized. Rare appaloosa colors are highly sought after, and horses with unusual markings often sell for vast sums of money.
Two of the most well-known spotting patterns in Appaloosa horses are the leopard pattern and blanket pattern:
A Leopard Appaloosa is one of the most distinct coat patterns. These horses have a white coat over most of their body, but all over this coat, head to toe, are spots. Much like a leopard, hence the name for this type of spotted horse.
These spots can range from many to just a few. Snowflakes and a few spot leopard horses are the same but just have fewer spots.
The Blanket Appaloosa is an Appaloosa with a specific type of coat pattern. Horses with this coat are a majority dark color, such as black or bay. However, their hindquarters have a white ‘blanket’ that has spots that match the main color.
Blanket Appaloosas can have a main color of the bay, black, chestnut, dun, and more rarely grullo.
The Noriker is an ancient European horse breed from Austria. It is a heavy, strong, draught horse from the mountainous Tyrol region. It is one of the rarer horse breeds and still works in forestry, but is also an excellent, calm-riding horse.
The Noriker comes in several colors, but the most striking is its leopard coat pattern. This pattern is very similar to the Leopard Appaloosa, and it is easy to mistake the two.
The Colorado Ranger is an unusual horse breed that dates to the start of the 1900s. As its name suggests, the breed comes from the US state of Colorado. The breed comes from the crossing of the Appaloosa with stallions from Turkey. Even though Colorado Rangers come in most coat colors, the majority have Appaloosa patterns. The breed is a ranch horse and is excellent for working cows.
Pony of the Americas
The Pony of the Americas is an uncommon breed that is increasing in popularity. It is a specialized type of pony created for young riders ready to move on from smaller ponies, but not ready for a full-size horse. The breed only came about in the 1950s, originating in the US state of Iowa.
These are versatile ponies capable of participating in a variety of equestrian activities. Pony of the Americas is attractive equines with refined features. Their coats can show as spots in a blanket or leopard pattern.
Several breeds influence the creation of this beautiful breed, including the Quarter Horse. Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, Welsh Pony, and the Arabian.
The Falabella is a miniature horse breed that originates from Argentina. These tiny horses are so small that they cannot be ridden, and they are often kept as family pets or show horses. One of the less well-known Falabella horse facts is that this breed has a higher-than-normal incidence of spotted coat patterns, with red or black leopard-spotted markings being the most common.
The Knabstrupper is a rare breed that most people are not familiar with. It comes from Demark where it originates in the early 1800s. It lives in relative obscurity, with the first one not reaching North America until 2002.
All Knabstruppers can trace their lineage to one specific mare with a spotted coat on a chestnut base. Her first foal, a colt from a solid color stallion, was born with dramatic spotting on its coat. The mare and foal bred more horses who inherited their spotty coats.
The Knabstrupper is a tough, hardy, spirited breed capable of thriving in harsh environments. Many of these horses possess great athletic abilities. You will see them in many show rings competing at dressage, jumping, and driving.
Spotted Horse Breed Conclusion
As you can see, spotted horses appear in several different horse breeds. In addition to the breeds with spots we look at here, you will also see spotted coats in Miniature Horses, the British Spotted Pony, the Nez Perce Horse, the Tigar Horse, and the Walkaloosa.
A horse with spots all over its coat is always a leopard pattern, regardless of the breed. The same goes for horses with a blanket pattern.
If you want to breed a spotted horse, it pays to have the potential dam and sire DNA-tested to identify if they carry the correct spotted pattern genes. There are two genes of interest; the Appaloosa spotting gene determines whether the horse will have spots or not, and the Appaloosa pattern gene influences whereabouts these spots appear on the body and how much white hair the horse has.
We would love to hear your thoughts on spotted horses! Have you always dreamed of owning a beautiful Appaloosa with a spotty coat? Or maybe you have some questions about how to tell what type of spotted pattern your horse has. Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a spotty horse called?
Spotty or dotted horses are usually referred to as Appaloosas. This is a breed of horse that can have spots all over its body or a blanket pattern on its rump. The Appaloosa is a breed of horse that was originally developed in the United States and Mexico. It is most often used for show jumping, dressage, and endurance riding.
However, because of their coloration, they are often confused with a Pinto horse. So, if you see a horse with large patches of white and brown, black, or tan, it's more like a Pinto or Paint horse.
Is a roan horse speckled?
Roan is a horse coat color pattern characterized by an even mixing of colors on the body, while the head, lower legs, mane, and tail are mostly of one solid color. Horses with roan coats have white hairs evenly distributed throughout any other color. Their speckled coat stands out in any crowd because of their unique and wonderful appearance.
Roughly 1% of all horses are roans, and in that group, only a very small proportion will show the color variation called a roaning mutation. These horses are sought after because of the uniqueness of their coloring.
What type of horse is white with black spots?
The patterns and colors of the coat of Ponies of the Americas vary widely, but the most common coat color is a blanket pattern, which is white over the loin and hips with dark, round, g-shaped spots. The spots vary in size from specks to areas larger than four inches in diameter.
Ponies of the Americas are a wonderful breed. They are small, friendly, and very patient – they were bred to be ridden by children. The body is short and round, with a strong rib cage and well-sprung limbs. The overall appearance is that of a very muscular pony with a compact, strong frame. The breed standard for Ponies of the Americas states that they are “short in stature, but sturdy in build; well-muscled; of medium size; and possess a powerful, but refined, carriage.
What is the horse breed that looks like a Dalmatian?
The Knabstrupper are the most unusual horses in the world – and they come from Denmark. The breed has a long history with unique coloration that can be similar to that of Dalmatians. This breed is rare with only 600 individuals spread around the world.
The Knabstrupper is a versatile horse, equally at home in the show ring and the saddle. It is a well-mannered and easy-to-ride mount, and the black and white markings on its body add a distinctive touch to any stable. They are strong, responsive, and trainable, and are used in general riding, as carriage, and as circus horses.
Is Pinto a breed?
The Pinto horse is a color breed that stands in sharp contrast to many other breeds that are defined by their genetic ancestry. A Pinto horse has a dark background with random patches of white. The Pinto coloration (aka the Pinto effect) may occur in any breed of horse, regardless of its size or shape, or conformation.
Pintos were originally bred to be used as working horses. They are hardy, strong, and easy to train, and they make excellent workhorses. The Pinto horse was developed in the mid-1800s as a cross between two other breeds; the Quarter Horse and the Paint Horse.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.