The Champagne gene is a recently discovered dominant gene that has the ability to dilute both black and red pigment. Champagne has visual characteristics that differ from cream, pearl and dun dilutions. Some common characteristics of a champagne horse are: pink skin, dark freckles especially around the eyes and on the muzzle, a shiny coat that is often slightly darker in the winter and eye color that will go through a number of color changes starting blue and evolving to a hazel or amber color. It is possible for a horse to have several dilution genes in which a combination of the dilutive affect will be seen. Champagne has been documented in the Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walker, American Saddlebred, Missouri Fox Trotter, Miniature Horses and several other breeds.
Champagne dilution is caused by a dominant gene meaning a single copy of the gene will cause a visibly champagne horse. Unlike cream dilution, there are no visual differences between a horse with one copy or two copies of Champagne. A homozygous champagne horse will always pass one copy of the champagne gene to its foal. Heterozygous horses have a 50% chance of passing the gene on to its foals.
Classic Champagne is a black horse with a champagne gene and generally resembles a chocolate color.
Gold Champagne is a Chestnut or Sorrel horse plus champagne. Gold Champagne horses also vary in shade and may be registered as sorrel, red dun or palomino depending upon the shade/hue of color. They appear distinctly different though due to the freckling as stated above.
A bay horse plus champagne is referred to as Amber Champagne. Amber Champagne horses are often confused with buckskin or dun. One difference is that Amber Champagnes generally have brown or even hazel eyes.
Cook D, Brooks S, Bellone R, Bailey E (2008) Missense Mutation in Exon 2 of SLC36A1 Responsible for Champagne Dilution in Horses. PLoS Genet 4(9):e1000195. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000195
Champagne Dilution Testing
Animal Genetics offers DNA testing for
gene mutation responsible for champagne dilution.
US per test.
Collect sample by pulling (not cutting) 20-30
mane or tail hairs with roots attached. It is important that you
pull the hairs and confirm that the actual root of the hair is being
collected. The root contains the genetic material of your horse
that is needed for DNA testing. Therefore, cut hair do not provide
an adequate sample of your horse. Place the collected hairs of each
horse in a separate zip-lock bag labeling the bags accordingly with
the horses name or identification number. Download and complete
a submission form for each sample and send along with payment to
Animal Genetics for testing.
Results are given using the following symbolic
|Homozygous for Champagne Dilution. Two copies of the Champagne allele detected. Horse will always produce champagne offspring.
|Heterozygous for Champagne Dilution. One copy of the Champagne allele detected.
|Horse tested negative for Champagne Dilution and does not carry the Champagne Dilution gene.