The Sooty, or Smutty, Gene

Sooty palomino mustang from Salt Wells Creek HMA in Wyoming

Many horses have this aspect of what is most likely a form of natural camouflage.

The Smutty, or Sooty genetic modifier causes some black hairs to become mixed into body coat, sometimes creating dappling or brindle striping.

  • Sorrel becomes dark chestnut or liver chestnut. 

  • Bay becomes mahogany bay.  (Recent research in France shows that most Seal Brown horses carry Agouti, indicating that they may be Sooty Bays)

  • Palomino becomes sooty palomino, or, in extreme cases, Chocolate Palomino.

Wyatt, Kitty Lauman's Beaty's Butte mustang, has wonderful sooty overtones - almost brindle!


Sooty Palomino owned by Kristi Cantor

Sooty Palomino Appaloosa colt at Palomino Valley in August, 2001

This  PMU foal is either a Chocolate Palomino or Silver Dapples - the look is the same - only genetic/pedigree analysis can say for sure.

COUNTERSHADING is a form of the Sooty / Smutty gene which mimics the dorsal stripe associated with Dun:

left: countershading stripe on a buckskin; Many "linebacked bays" have this stripe - are lacking in any other dun characteristics

right: true dun dorsal stripe


BRINDLE results when Sootiness is grouped by the Brindle gene into irregular "drippy" or "tiger" stripes

Brindle horse the owned by Charpilloz family

For more about Brindle, click here:

Brindle Horse Website

Brindle Horse - another website

Sharon Batteatte's Brindle Horse Research Website

Denise Charpilloz' Brindle Horse Website


Much sooty coloring comes and goes with the seasons. Many buckskins produce dun-like dorsal shading and facial and shoulder darkening during springtime. But it fades away with summer.

Benny in his Springtime Sooty Phase

Benny in summer after the sootiness sheds away

Benny's springtime sooty "fake dorsal stripe"

This Internet Adoption horse from Wyoming is about as "Sooty" as they come!

The Base ColorsRed   Black

The Dominant Genes: Agouti (Bay)  Appaloosa  Black Brindle     Grey   Pangare (Mealy)   Roan   Roan-like Variations   Sooty/Smutty   The Pinto Patterns: Tobiano The Overo Group: Frame  Sabino Splash

The Dilution Genes (Partial Dominants): Champagne   Creme  Dun Silver (Silver Dapples)  

The Recessive Genes: Red  Flaxen

Other Colors & Issues: White   Overo Lethal White

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