WHAT IS A CREMELLO- PERLINO AND SMOKY CREAM
Homozygous Creams - Cremello, Perlino, Smoky Cream
When a horse carries two copies of the cream dilute gene, or in other words is homozygous, it is often called a
'double dilute'. Double dilutes are called cremello, perlino, or smoky cream depending on their base color.
A Cremello is a chestnut with two cream genes; a perlino is a bay with two; and a smoky cream is a black with
These horses are homozygous for the cream gene, meaning that every foal they produce will carry a cream
gene, and thus be a dilute. For one interested in breeding buckskins or palominos, a double-dilute would be the
best choice, as they will always pass on the cream dilute gene. One cream gene will lighten red pigment to a
yellow or cream color (thus creating palominos and buckskins). Two cream genes lighten the red pigment twice
as much, and also lighten black pigment, producing cremellos, perlinos, and smoky blacks.
The pigment in the skin and eyes is also lightened in a double-dilute. Although some people believe that this
leads to sun burning, blindness, weakness, or other problems, these myths have long been disproved. Some
blue eyes may be more light sensitive, as they have less pigment than brown or other colored eyes. This may
be like what happens in humans - some fair skinned, light-eyed people are more sensitive to sunlight.
The common myths that these horses are blind or will sunburn if left outside, however, are plain ridiculous.
Chestnut horse with one cream gene is a palomino; with two, it is called a cremello. Such a horse could also be
called a "homozygous cream" or "double diluted chestnut". The basic description of a cremello is pink skin, blue
eyes, white or cream hair. The cremello's skin is not really pink like that seen under white markings; it has some
pigment, protecting it from sun burning that some true pink-skin suffers from. Many white facial markings have
underlying pink skin. The white areas are completely void of pigment. Pigmentless skin is more prone to
sunburning that skin with pigment. The cream genes just dilute the pigment in the skin, but do not remove it, like
white markings do. If you look at a cremello with a white facial marking, you can see the difference in the two
types of pink skin, one with pigment, the other without. The eyes are blue, and stay blue throughout the horse's
life. They are not inferior to the eyes of any other colored horse. The hair, although often described as "white",
actually does not lack pigment like the white patches seen on pintos. Instead, it is a light cream-color; when
paired with white markings or pinto markings, the color difference is obvious. Cremello's do not have weak
immune systems, are not deaf, do not die early, have sick foals, nor are they related to lethal whites.
Unfortunately, these myths are still in circulation. Cremello's (and other double-dilutes) occur in every breed that
carries the cream gene - any breed with palominos or buckskins will also have double dilute colors.
Non-cremellos can be born with pink skin, blue eyes, and cream hair, too-- but they usually darken at a few
A bay horse with one cream gene is a buckskin; with two, it is a perlino. This horse could also be called a
"double dilute bay" or "homozygous cream", but perlino is shorter and the accepted term. It probably came into
use because of the horse's off-white, pearly coloration. The description of a perlino is pink skin, blue eyes,
cream coat, and coffee- or pinkish- colored points. Like the cremello, the pink skin and light coat have some
pigment; they aren't like the unpigmented patches on pintos. Because this horse has a bay base, the points are
darker than the body; the Cream gene dilutes red pigment more than it does black. Sometimes the mane, tail,
and legs are a tanish-coffee color, and sometimes they can get very pink-- it varies from horse to horse.
A black horse with two cream genes is a "smoky cream"; the hair is diluted to a cream or smoky cream color, the
eyes are blue, and the skin is pink.
In single doses, the cream gene has little or no affect on black pigment. In double doses, it does-- a smoky
cream and a smoky black (black + 1 cream) look vastly different-- one nearly white, the other black-- visually
opposites but genetically very close.