Dappled Gray Horse Breed – Profile, Facts, Photos

Dappled Gray Horse coats are gray with white spots sprinkled here and there. But you may not know that these horses are, in fact, silver, and the grayed-out color comes naturally as the horses grow older. These equines are counted as one of the most beautiful horses in the world, with children appreciating them the most.

Many horse breeds can have dappled-gray coats, including the Andalusian, Poitevin, Orlov, Lipizzan, and more. There’s not just one breed with this particular coat color but several. Below you’ll find a detailed history behind these breeds!

Dappled Gray Horse History and Origin

As I said, there isn’t one specific horse breed that becomes dappled in life. But dappling is a unique coat pattern consisting of irregular spots and circles that appear on the horse’s coat. Gray dapples can be of different sizes and shapes and may often change shape depending on the season.

If a horse is born with a gray goat, the dapples are more prominent from a young age. But as the horse becomes older, the grayed-out coat becomes lighter and the dapples fade away. But they’re not completely gone. Dapples may appear during summer after the horse has shed its winter coat.

Scientists estimate that dappling extent is caused by genetics, while in non-gray horses, nutrition plays an essential role. One thing is clear, though – if a horse doesn’t have dappling genes, he won’t ever get a dappled coat. In fact, even the gray color of a horse comes from genetics.

What’s interesting is that gray horses aren’t born gray. When young, they have base colors like roan, chestnut, bay, or all-black. It’s the aging process that grays out their hair until it eventually becomes completely white. Dappled gray horses will be in their prime, appearance-wise, between the ages of four and seven.

Dappled Gray Horses Characteristics

Dappled Gray horses aren’t anything special because they’re not a specific species. Almost any horse species can have gray individuals with dapples. While a rare genetic marker, dappled gray horses are spread across the world.

– Size and Height

The average horse height is between 55 and 71 inches and they can weigh between 900 to 3000 pounds. The Lipizzaner reaches an average height of 60-64 inches and can weigh between 1000 to 3000 pounds. This horse is widely known for its talent as a dressage horse and when performing the Haute Ecole movement.

Many Lipizzaner horses are dappled gray, but they can also be bay, black, and white. Another renowned dappled gray horse is the Percheron. These gentle giants have huge hoofs and are as tall as 64-68 inches or 16 to 17 hands. They averagely weigh between 1900 to 2000 pounds, as well.

– Weight

Dappled gray horses will weigh anywhere between 900 to 3000 pounds, as this isn’t a specific horse species but a coat color. Percherons, Lipizzaners, Andalusians, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Oldenburgs, are all different species that can have dappled gray individuals.

Their heights and weights are quite different, depending on the species and the individual.

– Colors

Dappled gray horses are born with basic colors and then they quickly become gray. As for the dapples, they’re a natural genetic condition that may appear during the summer. In some horses, it never disappears, while others have barely noticeable dapples during winter and the cold seasons.

Many people find dappled gray horses beautiful because of their coat’s luster and shine. They’re especially sought-after for contests, thanks to their pretty colors. If the horse is a dappled gray Arabian, you can imagine how fine of a specimen it is. It’s worth one or two medals in a contest, right?

Curiously enough, a 2008 Swedish study discovered that all gray horses share a common ancestor that roamed the lands over 2000 years ago. This again proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that humans artificially bred dappled gray horses for their beautiful colors.

– Speed

The average horse speed is 30 miles per hour, and the maximum sprint speed ever recorded is 44 miles per hour. Dappled gray horses vary in speed depending on their species. Lipizzaners, for instance, are pretty fast horses but they’re not used for racing. That honor is for the Andalusians and especially the Thoroughbreds.

At this moment, Thoroughbred dominate the equine racing scene, with a top speed of 44 miles per hour. They’re the fastest horses in the world, and some of them are dappled gray. But most racing enthusiasts don’t choose racing horses for their coat color. They use other standards like height, weight, build, health, pedigree, and more.

The world of horse racing has no place for beauty, only performance, endurance, and top speed.

– Temperament

Dappled Gray horses are friendly and happy to stick close to humans, but this also depends on the species. Most horse species are domesticated, so they won’t be hostile to humans unless you piss them off. Percherons are especially gentle and sweet, especially with children.

– Lifespan

In terms of lifespan, dappled gray horses live as long as the species they belong to. Lipizzaner horses live up to 30-35 years, Andalusians live up to 25 years and rare to 30, while Percherons live up to 30-40 years. Orlov horses will live up to 32 years if properly cared for, while Poitevins only live up to 12 years.

Dappled Gray Horse Diet and Nutrition

Dappled gray horses should be cared for just like other horses. Lots of proteins, minerals, and vitamins are necessary for the proper development of a horse.

Depending on what you want to use it for, dappled grays may need extra nutrients. Freshwater and fresh food are a must!

Grooming Dappled Gray Horses

Whatever you’re using for other horses will also work on dappled gray horses. There’s nothing specific about their grooming, either. You can make the dapples appear more greyed out or more evident through proper grooming, though.

Usually, healthy horses will have more dapples on them. When they’re overweight, some genetically predisposed horses will also manifest dapples.

Uses of Dappled Gray Horses

People usually only buy dappled horses for their personal enjoyment, unless it happens that the horse also possesses racing characteristics. It happens that genetically superior horses will have dappled-gray coats.

But choosing a horse for its dappled-gray coat usually only happens in competitions. If you want to compete in an equine contest of beauty, then dappled grays are a great start!

Dappled Gray Horse Price

Dappled gray horses can cost you upwards of $2,000 to the $17,000 and $29,000+ range if the horse is particularly beautiful or possess other superior characteristics.

Dappled Gray Horse Health Problems

One specific health problem for dappled gray horses is melanoma. The same genetic marker that gives the dapples is responsible for melanoma, as well. This cancerous tumor can grow on any body part but it usually grows around the mouth, rectum, eyes, genitals, and under the tail.

Melanomas can also metastasize and spread to other parts of the body, further endangering the horse. Various body functions like urination, defecation, and reproduction may be affected as a result.

Gray horses have the highest risk of melanoma among all coat colors (about 80% of all dappled gray horses develop it after the age of 15).

Fortunately, melanoma in dappled gray horses tends to be less dangerous than in other horses.

Dappled Gray Horse Population

Dappled gray horses are quite rare because of the genetic disposition that gives the horse a gray color. Approximately 3% of all Thoroughbreds are grey, for instance. And grey horses aren’t necessarily dappled. But dappled gray isn’t as rare as white for a horse, though!


Dappled gray horses are some of the most impressive horses you’ll see. They’re often used for equine competitions or just for personal enjoyment. Many horse owners would say that dappled grays are rare on the market. Still, it helps that many horse species can have dappled gray specimens!

I hope this helps you and if you have any questions, post them down below!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *