RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1861. Dun horses. The Field, the Farm, the Garden, the Country Gentleman's Newspaper 17 (27 April): 358.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 8.2007. RN2

[page] 358

DUN HORSES.—I should esteem it a great favour if some of your numerous readers would take the trouble to give me any facts on the colour of the two parents of true dun horses. I mean by true duns, horses having a stripe or list along the spine, and often transverse stripes on the legs, the general colouring being either a mouse-dun or a tint which may be described as a creamy bay or chesnut. I am aware from inquires made in Norway, where true dun ponies are extremely common, that one or both parents are there always duns; and so it is, as I am informed, with the dun ponies of Devonshire. But I have occasionally seen dun cart-horses and hacks, which did not seem to have the blood of any pony or cob in them. It is surprising how often I have vainly asked the parentage of such horses, and vainly made inquiries from breeders. I have myself seen one colt, bred from a black mare and bay horse, which might certainly be called a dun, and which had a narrow, but strongly defined, spinal stripe before it shed its first hair. I should be much obliged for any information on this subject; and likewise whether a dun horse or pony is always dun-coloured before it sheds its first hair. Does the spinal stripe often disappear when the first coat is shed?—CHARLES DARWIN (Down, Bromley, Kent.)1

1 Darwin was gathering information on striped and dun-coloured horses for Variation chapter two. A reply appeared in the 18 May issue of The Field. See Correspondence vol. 9, p. 105.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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