Created at the VGL Roan Zygosity Test

Quick Summary

Roan is a white patterning coat color trait characterized by intermixed white and colored hairs in the body while the head, lower legs, mane, and tail remain colored.

classic_roan_example
Horse with the classic roan pattern on a bay base coat color

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Phenotype: Roan is a white patterning coat color trait characterized by intermixed white and colored hairs in the body while the head, lower legs, mane, and tail remain colored.

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal dominant

Alleles: N = Normal, Rn = Classic Roan

Breeds appropriate for testing: Many breeds

Explanation of Results:

  • Horses with N/N genotype will not have the classic roan pattern and cannot transmit this roan variant to their offspring.
  • Horses with N/Rn genotype will have the classic roan pattern. They may transmit this roan variant to 50% of their offspring. Matings with N/N genotype will result in a 50% chance of producing a roan foal.
  • Horses with Rn/Rn genotype will have the classic roan pattern. They will transmit this roan variant to all of their offspring. Matings with any genotype are predicted to produce all roan offspring.

Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.
Price

$40 one test per animal
+ $15 each additional coat color/type test on the same animal

Sample Collection

Horse DNA tests are carried out using cells from the roots of a hair sample (roughly 20-30 hairs).

1. Grab about 10 hairs at the base.

2. Wrap the hairs around your finger and give it a quick pull.

3. Check the ends to make sure the pulled hairs have roots.

4. Repeat the process until you have collected about 20-30 hairs with intact roots.

5. You can choose different places on the mane or tail. NOTE: For foals, we recommend pulling all hairs from the tail only. 

6. Tape the hairs to the submission form and fold the form along the dotted line to protect the sample. Do not use ziploc bags as they can cause condensation that allows mold to grow on the hair.

Hairs with roots

7. Place the folded form containing the sample in a paper envelope and mail it to the laboratory.

 

Additional Details

Horses with the roan pattern on different coat color bases
Classic roan pattern on different base coat colors. Clockwise from top: A. roan on a black base, aka "blue roan"; B. roan on a grullo (black base plus dun dilution); C. roan on a bay base; D. roan on a chestnut base, aka "strawberry roan". Image credits: A courtesy of Dan Elkins, from Equine Color Genetics, 4th Edition; B & D by Sheila Archer; C by JoAnn Bellone.

Roan is a white patterning coat color trait of intermixed white and colored hairs in the body while the head, lower legs, mane, and tail remain colored. Roan horses are born with the pattern, though it may not be obvious until the foal coat is shed. The white and colored hairs are evenly mixed in horses that inherit the classic Roan gene, which can differentiate this from several mimic patterns called roaning. Roaning patterns tend to be uneven in the distribution of white hairs, and the inheritance of roaning has not been defined. The Roan gene is found in a variety of breeds such as Quarter Horse, Paints, Peruvian Paso, Paso Fino, Welsh Pony, Miniature and Belgian, but not in Thoroughbreds or Arabians.

Although it has been suggested that Roan is a homozygous lethal, evidence from the Quarter Horse breed indicates otherwise. Production records have documented the existence of Roan Quarter Horses that produce 100% Roan foals. DNA tests have confirmed homozygosity in the genomic region that contains the Roan gene.

Note: Roan is inherited as a dominant gene but the specific mutation has not yet been identified, so there is no direct test for the gene. VGL has identified DNA markers in Quarter Horses and Paints associated with Roan that can be used to determine if a horse has the roan gene and how many copies. The following additional materials should be included to provide a complete analysis:

Materials Helpful for a Complete Analysis (strongly recommended but not required)

  1. Hair sample from at least one parent
  2. Color photo of the subject horse, labeled with the horse’s name
  3. Three generation pedigree with color and patterns listed

Closeup of intermixed white and colored hairs on a classic roan horse
Mixture of white and colored hairs on the body of a horse with the classic roan pattern