Grulla Horse – Fun Facts & Breed Profile

The word Grulla has a Spanish origin, which means “crane,” and many people refer merely as grulla. Its name is usually termed according to its origin; for example, the Icelandic horse is called grey dun. Similarly, Highland Pony is called a mouse dun, and Norwegian horse is called grey dun.


Grulla or Grullo horse is pronounced as “grew ya” or “grew yo” is very popular among equine lovers because of its rare colour.

Grulla horses are called “Grulla” or “Grullo”. Typically, mares are referred to as ” Grulla” and gelding or stallion as “Grullo”. Besides the two most popular names, these horses are also called blue dun, gray dun, and mouse dun but quite rarely. 

The Dun Gene

Grullo has a “dun gene “along with the black gene. That’s why grullo is also called Blue dun, grey dun, or mouse dun. The dun gene is a key factor for a variety of grullo horse colours.  The shades of the coat colour depend upon the dilation of the dun gene on dark genes. As a result, we get blue dun, grey dun, and a mouse dun from a dun family.

Characteristics of Grulla

Grullo belongs to a rare horse, and many people breed them to get a black dun, blue dun, slate dun, silver grulla or light Grulla, silver dun, or Lobo dun. The primary coat colour of grullo remains the same, but there are minor shade variations during the summer and winter season.

  • Grullo has different body colours, such as darker head colour than the body.
  • Its hair is tan grey or mouse-coloured in uniformity, unlike the Roan, which has multiple shades in hair.
  • It has distinct shoulder stripes that, sometimes, extends back to its tail and mane.

Colour Shifts in Grulla

Usually, Grulla carries the same body colour from birth to the next stages of life. But, sometimes, it shows colour variation due to changing seasons. If a gorilla carries a grey dun gene, then the newborn will have a mouse tan grey shade. With age, the young grulla develops a white hair coat, and primitive markings get lighter.

Grullo is Rare

Even many breeders breed and raise grullo’s, but it’s not always sure whether a horse is grulla or not. Not all horses carry the dun gene to the next generation. The statistics show that only 0.7% of quartered registered horses are grullo. So, the horse is rarer and sometimes challenging to recognize.


As it’s just a color that can be spotted in any horse breed, the Grulla horses would usually have the same weight as other horses of the breed. On average like all regular horses, the Grulla horse can be somewhere between 380 to 1000 kg.


As mentioned above, this color can appear in any horse breed so not all Grulla horses would be of the same height. If we are supposed to give our readers a general idea, they would be standing between 1.4 to 1.8 m at the withers.

How to Recognise a Grulla?

The surest way to confirm whether a horse is grulla or not is observing body color and primitive markings. The body color should be dark grey or tan grey.

 While there are many primitive markings to help you recognize a grulla, these markings include: 

  • Dark face
  • Cobwebbing around eyes and forehead
  • Cark mottling on the body
  • Leg barring (also called tiger striping)
  • Dark ear tips and edges
  • Dark ear barring
  • Dark shadowing of the neck
  • Dark dorsal and transverse striping
  • Light guard hair on borders of dark tail and mane

The Grullo Foals vs. Dun Foals

Many equine lovers and even the experts get confused between these two. Sometimes, grullo foals born as red dun, but they later shed their red grullo in almost a year. 

Even the long-time breeders’ mistaken black foal as grullo only because they shed off black colour in four months. Always clear misconceptions to avoid getting a black foal at the premium price of grullo.Keep in mind; the newly born grulla is a light tan with distinct dorsal stripes.

Grulla Horse Pictures

grullo horse

Distinguish Characters of Grulla

The supernatural horse coat color, black gene, black ear tips, mane, tails, and legs, no red hair, and dun marking make these Grulla horses stand out from the crowd. 

Grulla horses have evolved surprisingly but the coat color is still the same

Grulla horses, back then were of average height, had the most unsuitable teeth for grazing, hooves were also not so developed but as the climate changed for them, Grullas become taller, teeth got developed for eating grass, and hooves for walking, running, and trotting on unsuitable bridleway. Even though several parts of their body have evolved, the coat color is still intact. It still has the dun marking, gray color, and darker legs, mane, tail, ear tips, and lower legs.

Grulla horses slightly change their color

Unlike several horses that get lighter with age, Grulla horses usually stay true to their color. Even if they do change their color, the change is barely noticeable.

Grulla horses can be distinguished from the gray or tan-gray horses by the primitive marking

As there other gray horses do exist, sometimes it gets hard to identify whether the gray horse is “Grulla” or simply gray or gray tan especially when they change their coat color. The Grulla horses can be identified from the crowd by their primitive marking.

Health issues

Grulla horses face the same issues as other horses except for the fact that they are more susceptible to melanoma. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer that can develop anywhere under the skin. Melanoma can bring down any horse’s performance but it affects gray horses more, especially Grulla. It usually develops in the hairless areas in the shape of black lumps.

The black lumps, which are the indication of a skin tumor called “Melanoma”, can be spotted under the tail, in the sheath of the gelding, or around the anus. 

The untreated melanoma can take a horse’s life as it keeps on spreading with every day passing. Most Grulla horses have been reported to die from melanoma. Unfortunately, this deadly skin tumor can not be prevented at all, only increased surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment can bring down it’s effects. The gray horses; Grullas normally have to go through surgery, laser treatment, or cryotherapy to get it treated.


How do you get Grulla Horse?

Grulla horse comes with a dark stripe with leg barring and shoulder stripe too. As it is not specific to produce grulla horse because grulla is very rare. However black stallion and dun mare can produce Grulla horse.

How do you Pronounce Grulla horse?

Grulla is pronounced as “grew ya” or “grew yo”.Term Grulla for female and Grullo for male but that is not something associated with their names.

What is the difference between Grulla and Grullo?

Grullo is recognized by AQHA and Grulla is a Spanish term. Sometimes horse lovers give Grulla to female and Grullo to the male horse.

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Grulla is maybe a combination of a black male horse and female dun horse. They are very rare in the world in term of numbers. Comment your review of the article and quote your grulla’s behaviour.

Iqra Maryam is a passionate equestrian who has spent her life researching and writing about equine. She remembers playing with her pony more than toys and friends! With time, she managed to train her Pony and did all research related to the well being of her friend. She trains young equestrian and writes thoughtful articles on them. She believes each horse is a new learning experience and it sparks up her equine passion.

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