Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blue-eyed Horses

Got an interesting question about blue-eyed horses (edited for size):

I am writing to ask for some help with a question ....
I am currently writing a short sci-fi story in which a unicorn is created
using genetic engineering. The unicorn is unexpectedly born with dark blue
eyes. I have learned that horses can be born with blue eyes...
All the pictures I've seen of blue-eyed horses show a very light or
pale blue. Is there such a thing as a horse with dark blue eyes? How
common actually are blue eyes in horses? Does the blue always turn into
some other colour or can a horse have blue eyes its whole life?
I like your website, it was very helpful.
Thank you very kindly in advance,

I love interesting question! So, I wrote back:

Blue-eyed horses are not extremely common, but are definatly not rare. Some
horses are born with blue eyes that later darken, but cremellos/perlinos, which
are a light cream color with pink skin, have light blue eyes that stay
blue. Pinto horses (horses with white patterns) also sometimes have blue eyes
(or a blue eye, or partial blue eye), especially if the white on their face runs
to their eye(s). Rarely, a solid uncolored horse will just be born with
blue eyes (or one eye)-- sometimes these are called 'watch eyes' or 'glass

Horse's blue eyes, however, are usually a light blue color.
Cremellos and perlinos have very light blue eyes, and pintos tend to have darker
blue (but it's still very light). I have heard of dark blue eyes (One books
I have mentions that they are very rare, and the author hasn't seen them), but
I'm really into horse color genetics and haven't been able to find anyone with
photos. I doubt that dark blue eyes exist.

Here is a page on 'double dilutes', or cremello/perlino horse colors:
There is also a photo of a pinto mini horse with a blue eye on one of my client's

Green eyes are, however, rare. Champagne horses are born with blue eyes, which change to green, then change to a golden/amber color. Rarely, some will keep
their green eyes.Here's a page with photos of champagne eyes: http://www.champagnehorses.net/champagne_characteristics_-_ey.htm
I've never heard of dark green eyes.

Yellow/amber colored eyes occur in the champagnes, but also in smoky black horses (which are black horses with a dilution gene).

If anyone out there has good pictures of unusually colored eyes, I'd love to see them! Especially of green/hazel or unusual or dark blue eyes. I did find one website that says their fully grown champagne kept her green eyes-- if I can get pics, I will post them.

This reminds me, I need to get www.colorfulhorses.com fixed up, and move all the horse color/genetics info onto The Ultimate Horse Site. I will do this some time, when I can find the time :D


  • I just bought a cremello miniature colt today and he seems to have very dark blue eyes, they look black until you get close and you see a blue hue.... I am very curious if this is unique.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:42 PM, August 20, 2012  

  • I have two horses with dark blue eyes. One is a yearling filly and the other a month old colt from the same bloodlines. I have been trying to find out what causes the dark blue eyes but haven't had any luck yet. I think I will just have to have them tested for genetic markers. I do have pictures, though it is very hard to catch the color in the pictures.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 PM, May 02, 2013  

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