Pearl or Barlink Horse Coat Color Dilution Gene

The pearl, apricot or barlink is one of the most recently discovered dilution genes in equine color genetics. One dose of this dilution doesn’t affect the coat, it requires either a double dilution or the presence of a cream dilution to have a physical affect on pigment.

Pearl Dilution

Pearl animals can look like a variety of different colors genetically, from palominos to smoky cream. Unfortunately there are no images in the public domain I can share, but this website has great images of genetically proven pearl animals. Very rare, it has only been found in certain breeds including Quarter Horses, Vanners and Iberian breeds like the Andalusians and Lusitanos.

Pearl Shades

Similar to the cream dilution, single and double doses of the gene (not to mention the addition of cream) create a broad spectrum of colors.

Single-Dilution Colors

A single dose of pearl has almost almost no affect on black or bay bases, but on a chestnut it can lighten the body coat. A single pearl can also create pink freckles on the skin and amber eyes.

Double-Dilution Colors

Two doses of pearl on a chestnut or bay base produces animals that look similar to champagne dilutions, with golden bodies and light mane and tail hairs. On a black base a double dose produces reddish body hair and darker red mane, tail and points – similar to a red dun (without primitive markings).

Pearl + Cream Colors

The combination of one cream and one pearl dilution genes produces creamy white – similar to double diluted cream colors. Chestnut bases turn creamy white to golden with flaxen mane and tail. Bay and black animals produce a pale golden body with brown mane, tail and points. Both dilutions bear their mark as the combination animals often have blue eyes along with pink pearl freckles.

Image Anyone?

Finding good images to use for the color section has always been a challenge and we rely on public domain and creative commons which leaves us limited. If anyone has images of a lovely pearl animal they’d allow us to use we’d be happy to credit you for them and link to you in return. contact us if you are interested in sharing.