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Pearl Dilution


Pearl is a coat dilution modifier. One of the most recent equine colour genes to be mapped for commercial genetic testing, it has only been confirmed in a few breeds and is generally considered to be one of the rarer of all colour traits. The presence of the pearl gene has been confirmed in breeds of Iberian origin, such as the Lusitano and Purebred Spanish horse, and it is theorised to be present in the Spanish Mustang. Where found to be present in the American Quarter horse, pearl dilution is regularly referred to as the 'Barlink Factor.'

Pearl dilution is a recessive gene, and therefore will only affect the coat of the carrying horse if:

1) Two inherited copies of the gene are present. Horses carrying two copies of pearl will have a lightened coat, mane and tail, in addition to bright eye colours due to pigment changes caused by the gene.

2) The cream dilution gene is also present in the pearl-carrying horse. It has been confirmed that the dominant cream gene will activate the pearl phenotype if the two genes are present. Horses positive for both cream and pearl will exhibit a double-dilute phenotype, again with a highly pale coat colour similar to that of horses that are homozygous for the cream gene.

Pearl dilution will not act if a horse is heterozygous for the trait but negative for the cream dilution gene, meaning that a single inherited copy of the pearl gene alone will not affect the carrier's phenotype. Heterozygous pearl horses may breed diluted offspring if bred to another pearl carrier or a cream dilute horse. The visual coat colour changes caused by pearl dilution are based upon the foundation colour of the horse - for example, the phenotype of a double-pearl bay will vary from the phenotype of a double pearl chestnut.

Test Results:

Animal Genetics offers DNA testing for the pearl gene. The genetic test verifies the presence of the pearl mutation and presents results as one of the following:

Prl/Prl Homozygous Horse is positive for pearl, and carries two inherited copies of the gene. The phenotype of the homozygous pearl horse will be of dilute appearance, regardless of the presence of cream dilution. The homozygous pearl specimen will pass the pearl gene to 100% of foals, but may only produce diluted offspring if bred to another pearl or cream carrier.
n/Prl Heterozygous Horse is positive for pearl, having inherited the trait from one parent. No visual change to carrying horse, except for in the additional presence of the cream dilution gene. The horse will pass the pearl dilution gene to approximately half of foals when bred.
n/n Negative Horse can be considered a non-carrier of the pearl gene.

    Submit a Sample for Testing:

    To submit a sample for testing please click on ORDER and download a sample submission form. Then follow the sample collection and submission instructions.


    Cost per sample is £20 or €25. Please see our fee schedules below for bulk and combination rates.

    Equine Fee Schedule English Pounds