What Is A Buckskin Horse (And What Does It Look Like)?

The strong, hardy horses in cowboy films with cream-colored bodies that resemble lightly-tanned deerskin are often buckskin horses

These horses have black points on their mane, tail, legs, and ears, which give them a distinctive appearance. If you’re a buckskin fanatic, you’ve landed at the right place.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • What a buckskin horse is
  • What does a buckskin horse look like
  • Where does it originate from
  • How you can breed a buckskin horse
  • Its distinctive characteristics

Let’s get started.

What Is A Buckskin Horse?

A buckskin horse has a pristine golden, lightly-tanned coat that is similar to deerskin. These horses are sure-footed, agile, and have a high tolerance for extreme conditions such as heat, dust, and other disturbances. 

Buckskin is one of the many variations that horse coats can have.

Historically, buckskins have been a favorite among cowboys because of their high resilience, speed, and low maintenance. Filmmakers have long since used buckskin horse breeds in Western cowboy films.

So, if you think buckskin horses seem familiar to you, it’s because you’ve grown up watching them on television!

Buckskin Is Not Dun

However, many people confuse buckskin horses with dun horses. If you take a closer look at both these horses, you’ll note that a dun horse has primitive markings along its shoulder blades, back, and legs that the buckskin horse does not have. 

Some people still use the terms buckskin and dun interchangeably. A series of genetic mutations produce the buckskin horse’s appearance. 

What Does A Buckskin Horse Look Like?

The buckskin horse’s coat color is its most distinctive feature. It is a pale, creamy tan, which results from the cream gene’s presence. This horse has distinct black coloring on the tail, mane, ears, and legs, which shows that its base color was a deep black. 

Sometimes, a buckskin horse can have some whiter hair on the edges of the black points, which equestrians refer to as ‘frosting’. These variations in the buckskin horses’ appearance are because of the different mutations in the cream gene. 

Some buckskin horses are pale golden, while some are called “sooty buckskins” because their selectively dark coats look like someone sprinkled soot on a buckskin horse. Most of the buckskins have amber-colored eyes. Blue eyes are not found in these horses. However, breeding a buckskin with a palomino horse might produce a foal with blue eyes.

How Can You Breed A Buckskin Horse?

Breeding a buckskin horse is a tricky business. While before it was up to chance whether you got a buckskin or not, now there are some molecular tests and genetic findings that help you plan how you can have a buckskin horse.

Generally, you have a good chance of getting a buckskin horse color by breeding a bay or brown horse with another cream-colored horse. Some popular choices for brown horses to breed buckskins are Hackneys or Tennessee Walking horses, while a good choice for a cream-colored parent is the Perlino horse. 

The International Buckskin Horse Association and the American Buckskin Registry Association keep track of all the buckskin horses currently populating the world. They promote activities related to buckskin horses and other similar horses such as the dun, grulla, and red dun. 

If you own a buckskin horse, it’s a good idea to register them to either of these two associations as registration increases the horse’s value and popularity and allows them opportunities to participate in various horsing events.

Origin And Genetics Of Buckskin Horses

The Oklahoma State University claims that the buckskin horse traces its lineage back to Sorraia horses, commonly found in Spain. It was a primitive horse breed that horse breeders first bred in Portugal.

Since you will find the buckskin coloring in almost all horse breeds, researchers believe that the Spanish Sorraia has mixed the buckskin genes with almost all the horse breeds in the world. But if you’re interested in the biology of it all, let us tell you about the genetics of the buckskin horse. 

Bay horses have a black base color and an agouti gene. When they are crossed with a cream horse, it results in the genes directing the black base color to the mane, tail, legs, and ears. 

Studies show that the cream gene is responsible for the buckskin horse’s color. It waters down the black base color to produce a tan, deerskin-like appearance that we associate with buckskin horses. The golden coat is usually a buckskin horse characteristic. 

However, in some cases, the color of the coat can lighten or darken depending on the genetic properties of the parents – this variation results in brownish and sooty buckskin horses and the common golden buckskin horses.

Some common buckskin horse colors are buttermilk buckskins, silver buckskins, brown buckskins, dusty buckskins, and sooty buckskins.

7 Characteristics Of A Buckskin Horse

Even though they’ve been around since ancient times, the importance of buckskin horses has not faded with time. Despite modern machinery, many people still use buckskin horses for farming and other errands on the ranch.

1. Even Temperament

The reason for the buckskin horse’s continued popularity is that it is an easy horse to work with. While other horses may develop temperament problems if they’re made to work for too long or taken out of the stable for long periods, buckskin horses have no such problems.

2. Strong Hooves 

Another reason riders prefer buckskin horses is their strong hooves. Commonly called steel hooves, the hooves of a buckskin give the horse a stable gait, resulting in a comfortable journey for the rider. In addition, these strong hooves also make buckskins a great choice for riding over harsh terrains.

3. Average Size

Buckskin horse breeds generally exhibit smaller than average horses. Their weight is usually in the range of 1100 to 1500 pounds. 

4. Common Diet

While you’ll find that a buckskin horse’s primary diet is whatever it grazes in the pasture, it also happily eats bran, hay, barley, alfalfa, and rolled oats

5. Life Span

Their life span is usually in the range of 25 to 33 years

6. Color Change

A fun fact about the buckskin horse is that these horses change color from season to season. If you document your horse’s appearance from summer to winter, you’ll see it in a variety of different shades.

7. Buckskin Breeds

Many horse breeds exhibit buckskin characteristics. These are Tennessee Walkers, Andalusians, Mustangs, Morgan horses, Thoroughbreds, Shetland ponies, Welsh ponies, and Peruvian Pasos. 

However, some purebred horse breeds cannot produce buckskin offsprings: Arabians, Friesians, Belgians, Shire, and Suffolk Punch horses.

Well, these are all the most common characteristics that buckskin horses generally have. It feels like you now know everything there is to know about buckskins – you must be reading a pretty good blog!

FAQs About Buckskin Horses

Now, let’s dive into some commonly asked questions about buckskin horses.

What is the buckskin horse’s breed?

Buckskins can be of any horse breed. While some purebred horse breeds never give off buckskin offspring, most other common horse breeds such as Andalusians, Tennessee Walkers, Thoroughbred, Welsh, and Shetland ponies do produce buckskin offspring.

What two horses make a buckskin?

Generally, breeders combine a bay or brown horse such as Tennessee Walkers with a cream-colored horse such as a Perlino to produce a buckskin offspring. However, breeders need to carry out detailed genetic tests if they want to ensure buckskin offspring.

Are buckskin horses rare?

Buckskin horses are not so rare. You can find them in almost all parts of the world in almost every breed. They are strong and have good life expectancies, which allows them to survive even in extensively harsh environments.

Is buckskin a color or a horse breed?

Some people argue that buckskin is a separate breed of horses. However, that is not the case. The buckskin horse color is often seen when combining a brown horse with a cream one. This color variation is present in many different horse breeds.

What color looks best on a buckskin horse?

Since buckskins are light-colored horses, most people agree that darker colors such as black, burgundy, forest green, and royal blue look wonderful on a buckskin. However, what color your buckskin should wear is entirely up to your discretion. 


Learning about the horses you own or want to own is the first step to becoming an informed horse lover. Taking care of buckskin horses becomes much easier if you know what a buckskin horse is and what they look like – and what better place to learn than Horsy Planet?

With this guide, we’ve tried to provide you with all the information that you’ll need to care for a buckskin horse or if you’re planning on getting one for yourself. Buckskin horses have the best of all worlds. They are hardworking, beautiful, and strong.

So, has this in-depth buckskin guide convinced you to get one for yourself? Let us know in the comments below!