Top 11 Spotted Horse Breeds To Fall In Love With

Horse Breeds With Spots

Do you love spotted horses? Spotted horse breeds have small spots of color either on a portion of the body or all over the body. The spotted pattern is especially striking, and each horse is unique in its individual pattern.

What horse breeds have spotted coats? Here are eleven horse breeds that can show spots:

  • Appaloosa
  • Knabstrupper
  • Pony of the Americas
  • Colorado Ranger
  • British Spotted Horse
  • Noriker
  • American Miniature Horse
  • Falabella
  • Mustang
  • Tiger Horse
  • Nez Perce Horse


While their striking coats can make them more desirable and expensive, some of the horses on this list are popular throughout America and can be found at a reasonable price. To learn more about these spotted horse breeds, keep reading!

Spotted Horse Breed #1: Appaloosa

The best-known of all spotted horse breeds is the Appaloosa. There are seven different coat patterns recognized by the Appaloosa Horse Club, six of which have varying degrees of spots over the entire body or the “blanket” that can lie across the horse’s rump. The recognized coat patterns include:

  • Spots
  • Roan
  • Blanket
  • Solid 
  • Blanket with Spots
  • Roan Blanket
  • Roan Blanket with Spots


Some Appaloosas have spots covering their bodies, giving them an appearance similar to the Dalmatian dog, while some have very few spots over only a portion of the body. Like the other spotted horse breeds on this list, each Appaloosa is remarkably unique.

The Appaloosa is a versatile breed that excels in both English and Western disciplines. I also believe that Appaloosas are some of the smartest horses. Appaloosas can range greatly in price due to their markings and their training; however, I often come across Appaloosas with limited training at reasonable prices.

Appaloosas made our list for one of the cheapest horse breeds in America! Find out more by visiting my article Cheap Horses: 10 Cheap Breeds & Where to Get Them.

Spotted Horse Breed #2: Knabstrupper

The Knabstrupper is a Danish Warmblood with coat patterns very similar to the Appaloosa, though the Knabstrupper registry uses slightly different names to describe them. Knabstrupper coat patterns are known as:

  • Leopard
  • Near Leopard
  • Spotted Blanket
  • Solid Blanket
  • Few Spot
  • Lacy Blanket
  • Snowflake
  • Solid Coat


Knabstruppers are distinct from Appaloosas and are believed to have come from a single mare in the late 1700s named Flaebehoppen, who had a coat of “deep red with a white tail and mane, and white… ‘snowflakes’ over her whole body and brown spots on her back.” 

Knabstruppers faced a sharp decline as agriculture needs changed in Denmark, and in the 1970s, three Appaloosa stallions were imported to bring new blood and life to the breed. Today they are bred in a number of European countries and in the United States. As warmbloods with exceptional dressage abilities and limited numbers within the United States, Knabstruppers tend to be more expensive.

Spotted Horse Breed #3: Pony of the Americas

The Pony of the Americas (POA) was developed in the state of Iowa in the 1950s using an Arabian x Appaloosa x Shetland Pony as the foundation sire. The POA stands, on average, between 11 and 14.2hh but has the build of a small horse rather than a typical pony.

Only horses that display “loud Appaloosa coloring” (Appaloosa patterns visible from forty feet distance) can be registered with the Pony of the Americas Club. The registry is one of the largest youth-oriented registries in the country. 

My pony, Tucker, is a Pony of the Americas and has the loud blanket coat to prove it! I purchased him as an unbroke 5-year-old for $650. You can often find POAs at reasonable prices throughout the country. Above is a picture of Tucker and I!

Spotted Horse Breed #4: Colorado Ranger

The Colorado Ranger was developed in the early 1900s, and every horse of this breed can be traced to two foundation sires known as Patches #1 and Max #2. The breed has been heavily influenced by both the Quarter Horse and the Appaloosa and can be either a solid color or spotted.

Because the initial Colorado Ranger registry was limited to fifty members, many Rangers were registered under the Appaloosa registry. Membership limits have since been lifted, but records are still being sorted to determine the lineage of many of these horses. Colorado Rangers can be dual-registered with the two registries, and approximately 90% of Colorado Rangers are also registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club.

Before researching for this article, I had never heard of the Colorado Ranger horse breed. I believe the reason for this is the limited amount of allowed registries. These horses are found most commonly throughout Colorado and other western states.

Spotted Horse Breed #5: British Spotted Pony

The British Spotted Pony is a rare breed of horse known for its spotted coat; it is believed that there are only around 800 individuals in the world. Once called the “British Appaloosa,” the breed is descended from indigenous Celtic ponies.

Both spotted and solid-colored horses of the breed are registerable under the British Spotted Pony Society, which was formed in 1976; pinto patterns are not able to be registered. If you live in the United States, unfortunately, you will not be able to get your hands on a British Spotted Pony, as these horses are mostly isolated to the United Kingdom.

Spotted Horse Breed #6: Noriker

The Noriker is an Austrian draft horse breed whose numbers have remained remarkably consistent throughout the years, even as other draft breeds have declined. This is largely attributed to the harsh terrain in Austria, where agricultural machinery is not always feasible.

The Noriker is also considered to be a popular horse due to its significant coat variations; the only solid color in which the Noriker is not found is gray. In addition to every other solid color, the Noriker can be found in pinto patterns, spotted patterns, and blue roan coloring.

This is another horse breed you’ll probably not find in the United States; however, these horses tend to go for average prices within Europe.

Spotted Horse Breed #7: American Miniature Horse

The American Miniature Horse is a horse breed known for having the conformation of a standard-sized horse…but in mini form. Miniature Horses are under 38″ tall…now that’s a small horse! Despite its build, it is genetically very similar to the Shetland pony. The American Miniature was developed in the 1900s in the United States and is believed to include ancestry from horses imported from the UK.

Today, American Miniatures can be found in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Almost all coat colors and patterns, including spotted patterns, can be found in the American Miniature. 

There are plenty of Miniature Horses across America, some being used to pull carts and compete in-hand, while others are just pets and lawn ornaments. Miniature Horses are relatively cheap to purchase; I purchased my Miniature Horse, Yoshi, for $800.

Spotted Horse Breed #8: Falabella

The Falabella is well-known as the smallest horse breed in the world, with an average height of 25-34 inches. The horse originated in Argentina from native horses, with the bloodlines of the Welsh Pony, Shetland Pony, and Thoroughbred added in the late 1800s. The consistently small heights were accomplished through significant inbreeding.

Falabellas are known for their “light horse” conformation similar to that of a Thoroughbred or Arabian. Though not as common as solid-colored and pinto-patterned Falabellas, a number of them can be found with spotted coat patterns.

Due to their rare breed status, Falabellas may cost anywhere from $2000 – $20,000. There are only around 2,000 members in the United States today.

Spotted Horse Breed #9: Mustang

Mustang is the name used for the Western United States feral horses. There are approximately 86,000 Mustang horses living free in the US today, with the government regularly rounding them up to auction them off in order to keep their numbers sustainable.

Because Mustangs breed without human intervention, there are no specific traits attributed to the horse – while the original Mustangs are believed to have come from Colonial Spanish horses, countless other breeds can be found in Mustang lineage today, varying by region and specific herd. It is common to find spotted Mustangs living in the wild, likely a result of feral horses breeding with Appaloosas that have escaped or been turned out in Mustang country.

Getting your hands on a mustang is easy and cheap. The government adopts out mustangs for as little as $125, sometimes giving a $1000 incentive after 60 days of ownership. Here’s the catch…these horses are completely wild and untamed. Getting a mustang is probably not a good idea unless you have experience working with untamed horses.

Spotted Horse Breed #10: Tiger Horse

The Tiger Horse is a very new breed and still developing actively. The name is derived from the ancient spotted horse that is believed to have once been used to hunt Siberian Tigers in China.

The Tiger Horse Association is working to create a new breed that resembles these ancient horses and holds two requirements for its members: they must display Appaloosa patterns and be gaited. With their ambling gaits and flashy coats, these horses are also comfortable to ride and easy on the eyes!

The Tiger Horse is a work in progress, and there are currently just over 100 individual registered “Tiger Horses” who have been blood-typed and/or DNA-profiled. As of right now, in 2023, you’ll have a hard time finding one of these horses to purchase.

Spotted Horse Breed #11: Nez Perce Horse

The Nez Perce was an indigenous tribe that lived in areas of Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. Hundreds of years ago, these nomadic people used colorful spotted horses to travel throughout the plains and mountains. The modern-day Appaloosa stems mostly from these Nez Perce horses.

After the Nez Perce Appaloosas were all but decimated over a century ago, the Idaho tribe decided to bring back the breeding programs for which they were once famous, this time by breeding “old-line” Appaloosas with rare Akhal-Tekes. The Nez Perce Horse Registry was created in 1995, and coat colors are most commonly buckskin or palomino with spotted pattern overlays.

Most Nez Perce Horses today are still found in the Pacific Northwest and are considered rare.

What Causes Spotted Horses?

The spots on these breeds are a result of a mutation of the TRPM1 gene called the leopard complex gene. Horses that carry this gene will have four characteristics unique to them:

  • spotted patterns
  • mottled skin around the nose, eyes, and genitalia
  • striped hooves
  • white scleras in the eyes


Cave paintings and sculptures have been discovered depicting images of spotted horses, leading researchers to believe that the leopard complex gene has been around for centuries. This was confirmed in 2008 after scientists tested the DNA of unearthed ancient horses and discovered the gene mutation. 

Are Spotted Horses For You?

Spotted horses have stunning coat patterns, each just as unique as the last. While many associate the spotted coat pattern with the popular Appaloosa, there are several other spotted breeds around the world that sport these beautiful coat patterns. 

From Knabstruppers in Denmark to Falabellas in Argentina, the special leopard complex gene, while elusive in its origin, can be found across the globe. As man’s knowledge of these genetics grows, it is likely that so too will the list of spotted breeds.

To learn more about spotted horses, visit my article What a Spotty Horse is Called (The Answer Might Surprise You).

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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