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Champagne is a dominant gene that dilutes hair pigment from black to brown and red to gold. Champagne on a chestnut background (Gold) produces a gold body color and often a flaxen mane and tail that can be mistaken for palomino. Champagne on a bay background (Amber) produces a tan body color with brown points. Champagne on a black background (Classic) produces a darker tan body with brown points. The skin of Champagne-diluted horses is pinkish/lavender toned and becomes speckled with age; the speckling is particularly noticeable around the eye, muzzle, under the tail, udder and sheath. The eye color is blue-green at birth and darkens to amber as the horse ages. Champagne is inherited independently of other coat color genes and thus this dilution can occur in combination with any of the other genes that modify the base colors. Champagne dilution is found in Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Fox Trotters, Quarter Horses and related breeds, Miniature Horses and Spanish Mustangs, among others. The increasing popularity of this color is making it more common in these breeds. A mutation in the Solute Carrier 36 family A1 (SLC36A1) gene was found to be associated with the Champagne dilution.
The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory offers a test for Champagne that detects the mutation in SLC36A1 gene.
Champagne results are reported as:
|N/N||No copies of Champagne dilution detected.|
|N/Ch||1 copy of Champagne dilution detected.|
|Ch/Ch||2 copies of Champagne dilution detected.|
Cook, D., S. Brooks, R. Bellone, E. Bailey. Missense Mutation in Exon 2 of SLC36A1 Responsible for Champagne Dilution in Horses. PLoS Genetics 4(9):e1000195 (2008).