The biggest myth in horses is the existence of the Albino horses. Horses do not carry a true Albino (complete lack of pigment) mutation. There are several coats and genetic diseases in which people confuse to be Albino. These include dilute genes, pinto genes including OLWS as well as the Grey gene. A common Albino confusion is when a Max White foal is born out of two non-Max White parents, despite what people think, Albino isn’t the answer but rather the simple explanation of equine genetics. Listed below are the basics about the coats that are confused as Albino in horses, please visit the corresponding pages to read more about the colours and genetic diseases.
Due to the Grey allele being so common, its Light Grey stage is often confused as being Albino, especially to the horse colour novice. Read more about Grey here: /grey/
Double Cream Dilutes
A double Cream dilute is a horse with two Cream alleles. These horses have pale hair with pink skin and blue eyes. You can read more about the Cream allele here:
Other dilute gene combinations can create pale horses. However, these dilute combinations always contain homozygous Cream plus alternative dilute genes to result in the pink skin and blue eyes that are often mistakenly associated to be possible Albino horses. To read more about dilute combinations click here: /cream/
Overo Lethal White Syndrome
OLWS is a disorder that prevents a homozygous Frame Overo foal’s intestinal track from properly forming, resulting in a quick and tragic death. The foals are born usually born Max White. Read more about Frame Overo here: /frame/
Max White Pintos
A Max White horse is a horse that has one or more genes that inhibit pigment on the horse’s coat resulting in a completely or nearly completely restriction of pigment of a horse’s coat. These horses lack pigment in their skin and therefore hair resulting in a pink skinned, white haired horse. The eye colours range from Blue to Brown depending on the gene combinations resulting in the Max White horse. Listed below are the genes most common in causing Max White pintos:
Sabino 1 in homozygous form results in a Max White horse. Read more about Sabino 1 here: /sabino/
There are 20 genetically studied and confirmed variations of Dominant White and seemingly more arising each year. In many versions the Dominant White, or combinations of Dominant White alleles, the results are a Max White horse with either brown or blue eyes. Read more about Dominant White here: /dominant-white/
Combinations of the various Splash White genes are known to produce Max White offspring. Splash White can also combine with other pinto patterns creating Max Whites. Read more about Splash White here: /splash-white/
The American Albino
The American Albino was considered a horse breed when the registry was opened up in 1917. The organization was set up to register the many progeny of a horse named Old King who was born in 1908. Old King was pink skinned, white haired and had dark eyes which is characteristic of Dominant White horses and are indeed not Albino. In the 1970’s-80’s the association was since renamed American White and all horses of the Max White colour (Dominant White, Homozygous Sabino 1, etc) may be registered. They also opened a sister association called the American Creme where Cremello and Perlino horses could be registered.