Piebald Horse – Fun Facts and Breed Profile

Piebald refers to a unique color combination on horse coats. This term classifies horses based on bodily markings and not its breed or genetic makeup.

Defining a Piebald Horse

“A piebald horse is a horse with coloured patches on a white background, primarily black patches on a white background.”

The term “piebald” is taken from a black and white bird named “magpie.” This “magpie” is coupled with bald referring to white background.

  • The term has primarily British origin, and it’s also used to describe other animals with similar colour patterns of the body. 

Coloured Horses

Piebald comes under the umbrella of the registered breed of coloured horses in America, known as American Paint Horse. It covers all types of stained patterns of horses, including piebald and skewbald (having patches of colour other than black).  

  • People sometimes get confused between piebald, skewbald, and pinto. Pinto is just another name for this coloured pattern, and the term is common in the US. 


A piebald or a pied horse is the one having large black splotches on the white, spotless background.

  • It has a large and irregular patch of black and white on horse coat.
  • Piebalds may have a lot of black colour on a little bit of white. 
  • Piebalds can also be a lot of white and little splotch of colour. 
  • A gene is responsible for coloured patterns and produces colours of tobiano, sabino, splash overo, and frame.


It is a popular colour and a product of a dominant gene. A Tobiano shows white colour in legs, a solid-coloured head with brown eyes.

  • Its colored pattern is just like someone has sprinkled a color over the white horse.


It is not a very common pattern because it results from two recessive genes from two solid coloured parents.  An Overo pattern resembles a frame as it looks like a stained frame surrounds horses’ white patches.

  • Consider its color pattern as if a horse dipped in color from underside up.

Piebald and Skewbald horses may show one of the Overo patterns at once.

It also has other sub-color varieties, and these are:

  • Sabino
  • Splashed white


This colour pattern is a combination of both Tobiano and Overo traits and genetics. But, the genetic markers for Tobiano and Overo are different than Tovero.

The base colour of Tovero is white, with at least one blue eye. Its colour pattern is not specific, but you can say it has a significant colour of a white and little amount of colour. 


Location of Pigmented Spots

The location of pigmentation is dependent upon the movement of Melan oblasts (pigment cells). The melanoblasts migrate to the paired bilateral places in the skin of early embryo. 

If melanoblasts successfully migrate to both locations, then the colour pattern is symmetrical. The pigment cells in coloured areas, usually proliferate and merge to become larger are of colouration.

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What is the difference between a piebald horse and a skewbald horse?

Piebald horses are not a breed that is coat colour. Piebald horses have irregular patches of black and white colour. These both are colour coat terms in the British language. Registration authorities also recognize and registered according to their markings. According to British Piebald and Skewbald association, colour pattern distribution should be 50/50.

The main difference between Piebald and the skewbald horse is that Piebald has a black and white pattern. Skewbald has white and any other called pattern like brown or chestnut.

What does a piebald horse look like?

Piebald is actually not a specific breed. They have irregular black and white patches on their body. Some specific breeds can have this colour.

How does piebald happen?

That Piebald pattern is due to the mutation gene. There are many theories about gene colour but the famous one is that ” a gene kit that slows down the colour pigmentation growth. These pigment cells melanocytes were tested in mouse than estimated piebald colour.


Piebald is not a breed that is a coat colour appear due to mutation gene. That patches appear as black and white colour. Many breeds show this piebald colour. There is a separate association for piebald colour horses.

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