Black and white horse breeds are often hard to come by. It’s normal to see black horse breeds, less normal to see white horse breeds, but black and white horse breeds are possibly even rarer.
There are several hundred recognized horse breeds in the world, but what about the black and white ones? Whether you’re a keen equestrian or just a horse fanatic, you might just be looking for a compiled list of specific horse breeds to better your understanding of the fascinating animals.
We’ve got you covered. Here are the top 10 black and white horse breeds, including pictures and a breed profile for every breed!
Appaloosas are one of the most popular horse breeds in North America. The state horse of Idaho is known for its unique white coat and black spots (due to the leopard complex gene) and its main use as a Western stock horse.
As well as their talented abilities for human use, Appaloosas are gentle, intelligent, loyal, and eager to please – making them the ideal companion.
The history of the Appaloosa is an interesting one. This breed (or at least the breed’s ancestors) was originally brought over to North America by Spanish explorers, where the Nez Perce tribe quickly fell in love with the breed’s unique coat and loyal nature.
The Nez Perce tribe became the original breeders of the Appaloosa breed we know today. Before they were given their name, Appaloosas were called the “Palouse horse” after the Palouse River in the tribe’s region, but then the name gradually changed to be “Appaloosa”.
In the 1877 Nez Perce war, the breed almost went extinct as the United States government took over the tribe’s land, resulting in the mass murder and theft of the spotted horses.
If it wasn’t for the dedication of a few secret breeders, the breed would no longer exist. In 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) was formed to preserve the breed.
The Appaloosa breed was officially declared the state horse of Idaho in 1975. Since then, Appaloosas have become one of America’s most popular horse breeds.
Appaloosas carry the leopard complex genetic mutation which contributes to their unique spotted coat. Other characteristics include their lean and muscular build, striped hooves, and skin mottling around their muzzle and genitalia. Their lifespan ranges between 25-30 years.
Height And Weight
On average, the Appaloosa ranges between 14-16 Hands tall and can weigh between 430-570 Kg.
Appaloosas carry the leopard complex gene, which means they all have varying spotted patterns. In most cases, the base of the coat is white or black, which is then covered in either white or black spots.
There are several patterns for these spots, including leopard, blanket, marble, and snowflake. Other base coat colors include dun, bay, chestnut, roan, palomino, gray, and more.
Modern day Appaloosas are incredibly versatile due to their ancestry with the Nez Perce tribe. They are used for agricultural purposes such as rodeo and cattle herding, as well as riding purposes like long-distance trail riding and riding sports.
Often mistaken for Appaloosas, the Knabstrupper is a Danish horse that is most known for its Dalmation-like coat. This is a rare breed (with only around 600 reported Knabstruppers left) and are mostly known for their use in traditional Danish festivals.
The breed itself was first established in 1812 in Denmark from a solid stallion with a chestnut mare who carried the leopard complex gene. The breed got their name from the estate the first breeding pair lived on, the Knabstrup farm owned by Major Villars Lunn.
After several decades of continuous breeding, three Appaloosa stallions were imported to Denmark in 1971 to add to the breed’s bloodline. Other experimental breeding occurred with similar breeds, but the validity and existence of purebreds became a gray area.
It wasn’t until 2002 when the Knabstrupper breed was brought over to the United States by a Texan couple who fell in love with the breed. The first Knabstrupper horse in North America was called “American Beauty”.
Knabstrupper horses have either a warmblood or baroque horse confirmation. This breed is mostly known for its unique spotted coat, thanks to the leopard complex genetic mutation, which can range from either solid coats to full leopard coats. Their lifespan is 27.5 years.
Height And Weight
The Knabstrupper horse ranges from 14-16 Hands and has an average weight of 522 kilograms. There is also a pony version of the breed, which must be shorter than 14.2 Hands.
Knabstruppers are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to predicting their coat pattern before they are born. They come in a variety of base colors, including white, black, chestnut, or bay, and most often with some sort of spot pattern. These spots can also come in black, white, gray, bay, or chestnut.
Due to their unique coat pattern, Knabstruppers were traditionally used for royal purposes (such as gifts). They were then used for agricultural purposes and pulling carriages of wealthy people. Nowadays, this breed is used for riding events due to their intelligent and obedient nature.
3. Marwari Horse
The Marwari Horse is possibly one of the lesser known black and white horse breeds in the world. Originating from the Marwar region of Rajasthan (north-west India), the Marwari Horse stands out for its elegant solid coat with a white face. Their lifespan is between 25 and 30 years.
The history of the Marwari is largely unknown as it is mostly based on folklore. Legend says that an Arabian ship was shipwrecked on the shore of a western Indian district holding seven Arabian horses. The horses were then taken to the Marwari district and were said to be one of the founding ancestors of the Marwari breed.
What we do know about the Marwari breed is that they have a long and rich history dating back to the 12th century. Only the rulers of the Marwar district were allowed to breed the horses, which was an incredibly selective process to create a hardy purebred with all the best attributes and characteristics.
However, during the British rule over India, the Marwari numbers declined as the British preferred thoroughbreds.
In 1930, poor management of the bloodline resulted in the endangerment of the breed. It wasn’t until 1995 when a group called the Marwari Bloodlines was established to preserve and save the breed.
The Marwari horse is most commonly known for its curved ears where the tips meet, creating something like a circle or heart shape above the head.
These horses also have a straight Roman face profile and an arched neck, along with the angular shoulders and slender legs, making the horse look regal and elegant. The average lifespan is between 25 and 30 years.
Height And Weight
The Marwari is a fairly tall horse, ranging from 15 to 16 Hands and weighing between 812 and 900 pounds.
There are several coat colors of the Marwari horse, including black, chestnut, gray, palomino, bay, and piebald. All of these coat patterns exhibit a white face.
Back in the 16th century, the Marwari horse was used as a war horse. Nowadays, the breed is mostly used for show and competition purposes due to their elegant and regal stature.
Known as the largest horse breed in the world, the Shire horse is one of the most special horses that horse lovers adore. A British draft horse, Shires are most commonly depicted pulling carriages and carts, as well as in county fairs across the country.
Unfortunately, due to the increase in motor-driven machinery, the need for Shire horses has decreased, resulting in an ever-declining population figure. It is estimated that there are now less than 1,500 shires across the world. Their average lifespan is 20 years.
Shire horses have historically been used as a working draft horse since at least the 1100s in Medieval Britain. During the reign of Henry VIII, large English working horses like Shires were valued greatly, especially as the increased role of gunpowder meant heavy horses couldn’t be used in battle.
There were several types of Shire horse used back in these centuries, all of which were bred to create the breed we know today.
Shire horses weren’t given their name until the late 17th century. The English Cart Horse Society was formed in 1878 which was then renamed the Shire Horse Society in 1884 with the aims of preserving and protecting the giant horse.
The American Shire Horse Society was founded in 1885, some thirty years after the breed was introduced to the United States.
During the Second World War, the need for draft horses became unnecessary due to motor-driven machines, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of Shire horses.
The population figures continued to increase and decrease over the next few decades, but the numbers are still low to this day.
Shire horses are the largest horse breed in the world, characterized by their giant hooves, imposing size, and white feathering on their legs. They have a surprisingly tender nature despite their size, with an eager to please attitude that makes them ideal for riders and horse lovers of all experiences.
Height And Weight
Shire horses typically range from 16 to 18 Hands high and weigh between 1,600-1,800 pounds. They have a muscular build with a thick, arched neck and a slightly Roman nose.
Shire horses are mostly black, bay, brown, or gray with white markings on their face and white feathered feet. The U.K. breed standard isn’t fussy about excessive white markings, but it does not accept chestnut horses.
Nowadays, Shire horses are still used for their impressive strength and patience to pull carriages and carts with heavy objects, ales, or people. They are also used for pleasure riding purposes due to their gentle nature as well as sightseeing wagons.
5. American Paint Horse
The American Paint Horse is a unique horse breed for its coat pattern that looks similar to a Frisian cow. This is because the breed was developed from both quarter horse and thoroughbred spotted horse bloodlines.
Paint horses are now one of the most popular horse breeds in America, especially as the American Paint Horse Association is one of the biggest breed associations in the country. Their average lifespan is 31 years.
Spanish travelers brought the Paint horse predecessors over to North America in the 1500s.
Several stories have been told about the establishment of the breed, one of which is that of the explorer Hernando Cortes brought over a sorrel and white horse (brown and white, essentially), which all American Paint horses now all descend from.
Paint horses were originally attracted by Native American tribes, who were becoming the experts of breeding horses – particularly those with an affinity for multi-colored horses like the Nez Perce tribe.
The Comanche tribe is particularly fond of this breed. The bloodlines involved in the breeding of the American Paint horse include Arabian, Andalusian, and Barb bloodlines. Thoroughbreds were also introduced into the gene pool, resulting in a slender and agile horse.
The American Paint horse is a prized breed for their spectacular coat pattern and their strong and agile physique, which is why they are so commonly found in stables across the country.
The breed is warm-blooded and features a muscular, stocky build, which is what makes them so appealing to competitive riders.
Height And Weight
American Paint horses average between 14-16 Hands tall and usually weigh around 1,150 pounds.
American Paint horses come in a variety of colors, including black and white, chestnut and white, palomino and white, and brown and white. The three coat pattern categories that this breed fall into are tobiano, tovero, and overo.
The Paint horse is one of the most versatile and multi-purpose horses, which is mostly due to their adaptable and intelligent nature.
These horses are easy going and eager to please, which is why they are used for a variety of purposes, including competitive riding and jumping, cross-country, parades, and even transportation. They’re a true all-rounder!
6. Shetland Pony
Shetland ponies are one of the smallest and hardiest horse breeds in the world.
The Scottish breed is remarkably adaptable and often cunning – so don’t be fooled by their fluffy coats and adorable looks! These small horses are used for riding purposes (for kids) and draft purposes. Their average lifespan is between 20-25 years.
Originating in the Shetland Isles, which has been home to small horses since the Bronze Age, the Shetland pony’s heritage was likely influenced by the Celtic pony.
The Celtic pony was brought to the Isles from settlers around 2000 to 1000 BCE. Due to the climate in the Shetland Isles, the ponies developed adaptations like thick coats to withstand the harsh weather and lack of food.
Despite their size, Shetland ponies are remarkably strong, which is why they were originally used for pulling carts of peat or coal as well as pulling agricultural machinery.
During the Industrial Revolution in Britain, thousands of the ponies were imported to England to work specifically in the coal mines in the North. They were also imported to America for the same reason, but the last pony coal mine closed in 1971.
Nowadays, there is an abundance of Shetland ponies used across the western world for their hardy attitudes and adaptable nature. Plenty of pony breeds also derive from Shetland ponies, such as the Pony of the Americas and the American Shetland pony.
Shetland ponies are short and stocky horses that possess a broad back and widely spaced eyes, which is pretty much the exact opposite of most of the horses on our list! They also have distinctly long and thick coats and manes to withstand harsh temperatures.
Height And Weight
Shetland ponies stand at 7-11 Hands to the shoulder and weigh around 400 to 450 pounds.
Shetland ponies come in every color possible, including black, champagne, buckskin, roan, bay, chestnut, and more. They also come in black and white patterns!
Shetland ponies were traditionally used for transporting machinery, coal, and peat during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s to the 1900s.
Like with Shire horses, the need for Shetlands dealing with machinery has become unnecessary due to the introduction of motor-driven machinery. Nowadays, the Shetland pony is commonly used for child equestrians and pet shows.
7. Nez Perce Horse
The Nez Perce horse is often mistaken for the Appaloosa, but they are in fact two separate breeds.
The reason for this common misconception is because of the similar black and white spotted coat patterns and the fact both horses were owned and bred by the Nez Perce tribe. Their average lifespan is around 31 years.
The Nez Perce war in the 1870s led to a catastrophic loss of Appaloosas amongst the tribe. The tribe was forced to live in settlements and farms, where authorities forced them to breed stallions with Quarter Horses with the aim of making the perfect agricultural horse.
It wasn’t until 1994 when the Nez Perce tribe made their own breeding program with the existing Appaloosas and the Akhal-Teke (a Central Asian breed) to create a new breed of horse – the Nez Perce horse.
This breeding program was financed by the tribe, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the First Nations Development Institute.
The Nez Perce horse stands out for its uniquely spotted coat, slender build, and the fact they are gaited – making them the ideal horse for riders.
Height And Weight
The Nez Perce horse ranges from 15 to 16 Hands and weighs an average of 1,250 pounds.
Nez Perce horses were originally bred from Appaloosas, which means they all carry the leopard complex genetic mutation that gives them their distinctive spotted coats. Most of their coats are black with white spots.
Due to the fact most Nez Perce horses are gaited, they are mostly used for riding purposes such as long-distance trails, endurance races, and jumping. Traditionally, Nez Perce horses were used by their tribe for buffalo hunting purposes.
Mustangs are Western America’s most well-known free-roaming horse. These horses aren’t wild, however, as they descend from the horses left in America by Spanish explorers, so the correct term is that Mustangs are feral.
There are several phenotypes of the Mustang due to their tendency to mate with other wild or feral breeds, which is why black and white mustangs exist – although, this coat pattern is particularly rare! The average lifespan of a Mustang is 15-20 years.
Mustangs derive from the horses brought over to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors.
Native American tribes used a variety of horse breeds within their culture, particularly Mustangs due to their feral nature that made them somewhat easy to domesticate (of course, the same cannot be said for nowadays).
The exact history of Mustangs is expansive, so here’s the basic rundown: These free-roaming horses were either left alone or gathered for use during wars, including World War 1 and the Spanish-American war.
It wasn’t until 1971 when the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was created to protect established herds of Mustangs. Some National Parks and other organizations have since committed to protecting the gorgeous and unpredictable breed.
Mustangs are the symbol of Western America for their free-spirited and hardy temperament alongside their dashingly handsome looks.
They are still a feral and fairly unpredictable species, but due to their intelligence, they can be adopted and domesticated by committed horse lovers. Both in the wild and in domestic homes, the Mustang is a truly spectacular horse breed.
Height And Weight
Mustangs are generally around 14-15 Hands and weigh around 750 pounds. People argue that the reason Mustangs are fairly short is due to natural selection in their harsh living conditions, or it could be a result of inbreeding and accidental breeding with smaller breeds.
Mustangs are known to intermingle with other horse breeds, which is why they can be found in virtually every coat color and pattern – including black and white!
Mustangs are either left in their natural habitat (grasslands in Western America) or they are adopted and domesticated. They’re not the easiest of horses to domesticate, but since they aren’t completely wild animals, it is possible.
Once domesticated, Mustang horses can be used for racing and competitions, long-distance trail riding, and agricultural purposes.
9. Tennessee Walking Horse
The Tennessee Walking horse is most famously known for its graceful and smooth running walk. It’s common to see this breed in stables, riding events, and lesson barns due to their elegant movements and easy-going nature.
Plus, as they can come in a variety of coat colors, this breed is truly magnificent to look at. Their average lifespan is 30 years.
The history of the Tennessee Walking horse dates back to 1790 when the Canadian Pacer and Narragansett Pacer breeds were brought from Kentucky to Tennessee alongside gaited Spanish Mustangs.
The horses were originally bred and known as Tennessee Pacers and used for a variety of purposes, including work on plantations to riding.
Several other breeds were introduced into the bloodline, such as the American Saddlebred, Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and Morgan.
The foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking horse was Black Allan (Allan F-1), who then was used for breeding purposes to create a horse with a perfectly smooth gait.
In 2000, the breed was officially named the state horse of Tennessee, and has since become the most common horse breed in southern and southeastern America.
The Tennessee Walking horse isn’t just known for its impressively smooth gait – it’s also one of the most magnificent horse breeds in the world. They are elegant and regal in stature, but they’re packed with muscle.
Height And Weight
The Tennessee Walking horse ranges from 14-17 Hands and weighs between 900-1,200 pounds. The shape of their body is interesting, as their shoulders tend to slope and they have thick hindquarters.
The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association currently accepts almost every coat color and pattern.
The most common coat colors are bay, roan, black, chestnut, gray, white, and dun. Coat patterns are also common, which is why you will almost always see a Tennessee Walking horse with white features!
Tennessee Walking Horses are primarily used for riding purposes such as horse show events due to their graceful and smooth gait, which is what makes them ideal for riders with back problems.
Their running walk gait is particularly well-known, as well as their ability to learn more gait patterns. Due to their gait preferences, they generally prefer English saddle riding rather than Western.
Aside from competitive riding, the Tennessee Walking Horse is commonly used for pleasure riding and long-distance trails.