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. RN3

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

The Newspaper press directory for 1865 describes the Field as "a gentleman's paper, devoted to sports, pastimes, natural history, and all country pursuits". Published weekly, the Field had its offices at 346 Strand, London.

[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. Replies appeared in the The Field on 4 May, 18 May and 8 June. 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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