Tobiano, the “top dog” pattern


When it comes to how the different patterns interact, tobiano could be called the top dog. Pretty much no matter what else it gets paired with, the end result still looks pretty much like a tobiano. Sometimes the other patterns add new areas of white, like this tovero here with the bald face and white ear, but visually it is still pretty easy to identify the horse as carrying tobiano.

Here is an pony with both the appaloosa and tobiano patterns. Notice how the white areas from the tobiano just overlay the leopard pattern.


The lighting for that picture was just right to show the tobiano markings. In bright light, it would be possible to miss it. The outline is also lost as the pattern travels up his hindquarter, when it meets what would likely be the pink-skinned area on a leopard.


Here is tobiano overlapping dark-headed frosty roan.


Tobiano even stays intact when inherited by zebra hybrids. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons.)


It is tamped down and made more minimal in donkey crosses, but it is still quite obviously tobiano. (Photo by Amanda Slater.)


Which brings me back to the discussion about white Miniatures from a few days ago. I truly did not think the colt in question was a Dominant White, but rather a tobiano that was rapidly greying out. As a young foal, he looked like a chestnut tobiano. It did lead to the question, though, about what Dominant White might look like paired with tobiano. Would it overlap the pigmented areas (few though they might be in many cases), much like it did with the leopard above? Or would the instructions to make the horse white override the tobiano patterning altogether?

I suspect that the answer lies in the way the two patterns function at the molecular level. I enjoy reading papers about that aspect of genetics, but in many ways that is above my pay grade. As an artist, I am at heart someone who understands the nuances of phenotype (that is, how the horse looks) far more thoroughly than I understand the underlying mechanics. I will need to wait until someone crosses a Dominant White (particularly one of the families that tends towards the “leaky” variety rather than the all-white) with a tobiano to find out.

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10 Responses to Tobiano, the “top dog” pattern

  1. Threnody August 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Dominant white paired with tobiano is definitely a combo I’d be curious to see! I have to say I am a sucker for tobiano paired with roan. The picture of the one in the costume is too adorable.

  2. The Equine Tapestry August 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Isn’t she the cutest pony? I wanted to take her home with me, glitter and unicorn horn and all. 🙂

  3. Christine Sutcliffe August 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Don’t forget appie/tobiano/grey! XD

    Such a lovely horse but a real pity it won’t stay like this forever. I often wish there was a way to switch off the greying process midway through!

  4. The Equine Tapestry August 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    How could I have forgotten him! I think he’s lovely. Would you mind if I post his picture on the blog so more people can see him? (WordPress has an awkward way of handling comments, so not everyone sees them!)

    I am not sure if he’s grey, since grey does weird things to appaloosas. It skews their spots around a lot of the time, and they grey out, too. Usually if the spots stay dark while the rest of the horse gets lighter, it’s the appaloosa roaning at work. It’s progressive like grey, though, so they look a lot alike. My mare has finally started picking up speed in that process, enough so that she really looks more like a grey appaloosa (with black spots) than a black appaloosa now.

    • Christine Sutcliffe August 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      Of course! 😀 I wondered if he were roan to begin with but the light head threw me off but I suppose with so many different genes knocking around he could be pretty much anything! XD

  5. jamie coughlin August 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Re: DW vs. Tobiano the answer is, it depends! If the DW is white then that is all you see, the tobiano pattern does not show up. If the DW is one of the pinto marked ones then you will see the normal mix of Tobiano and overo. I can’t remember the horse’s name off hand but I used to have a pic. of him, he was truly a mix for a model horse pedigree assigner to be proud ot!

    He carried App, grey, tobiano and white! He was DW or at least “white” (from birth not grey, pink skinned) and he sired App, grey, tobiano and “overo” foals. His sire was a chestnut Arabian with lots of bling, dam was a grey pintaloosa, her sire was a TWH that I think (can’t remember) was SB1. I corresponded a lot with his owner but never got more than a few pic. He had a couple full sisters that were also white but their owner was not into sharing! It’s possible his white was a combination of all those white patterns together (tovero white), we’ll never know without testing.

  6. jamie coughlin August 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Ah, I found him although now I’m not sure he is tobiano. I used to have a pic. of his dam but can’t find it now. Anyway I would think an all white DW would hide the tobiano although you probably couldn’t tell for sure without testing individual hairs!

  7. jamie coughlin August 27, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    I wish you could edit posts here! Anyway I wonder if all white toveros are all pattern(s) or DW? I suppose some of each. I loaded all the photos I had of Artic Foxx and his dam (weird color) and his foals here:
    Now I doubt both the gray and the tobiano. Can’t tell what color the dam of the weird looking pinto filly is and the tobiano appy looks just snowflake to me now.

  8. The Equine Tapestry August 28, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    It is a shame there isn’t more information on Arctic Foxx, Jamie. I was always frustrated the rather loose use of breed terms made in connection to him. Things like saying his dam was a “Tennessee Walking Horse” when later it was said she was a Walker/Appaloosa cross makes teasing out what he had difficult. His offspring were likewise shown, with their odd colors, without indicating the colors and patterns (or breeds) of the dams. I gave up trying to figure him out, absent more solid information!

  9. jamie coughlin August 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    I know, I can’t imagine standing a stallion and having so little information or care about his background. Not even a whole pic. of his dam! I did go back and find the post on allbreed where he was discussed and I had found his dam, Katrina who was a TWH, a blue roany sabino type. It was the sire who was the Appy source and of who knows what else. She couldn’t remember his name, said he was a ranch horse. I think I have her correct pedigree on all breed. I think she said that odd bay tobiano?? was out of a chestnut mare. But I’m not totally sure that isn’t some kind of odd overo!