Liver Chestnut Horse: Exhaustive Facts and FAQs


Liver Chestnut Horse: Exhaustive Facts and FAQs

Who doesn’t get charmed by the gorgeous beauty of liver chestnut horses? We all do. But how much do we know about these horses? 

Liver chestnut horses are some of the most beautiful horses you would see. These are chocolate-coloured chestnut horses having flowy manes and long tails. One of the variations of Chestnut horses, liver chestnuts represent the absence of actual black hairs, and it is one of the least common coat colours among the equines. 

Below are some of the most interesting facts and FAQs about liver chestnut horses that are worth exploring. So, let us expand our equine knowledge base with these specific facts.

What is a liver chestnut horse?

The production of melanin primarily decides skin or coat colours. In equines, this melanin comes in two forms- eumelanin or black and phaeomelanin or chestnut.

A liver chestnut horse has a chocolate brown coat. You will find the same recessive base genetics in liver chestnut horses as that of regular chestnut horses. However, the coat colour of these horses tends to be darker and can vary between dark red to chocolate and sometimes closer to black. 

The dark shades of these horses sometimes make it difficult to distinguish them from the true black horses visually. That being said, a true liver chestnut horse would have lighter coats around its lower legs. 

It is interesting to note that although chestnut is a common coat colour among the equines, the liver chestnut shade is uncommon. A chestnut horse tends to have the genotype ee, which means a complete absence of black pigment and the presence of brown body hair. 

The appearance of a liver chestnut horse

Colours among horses may be highly confusing sometimes. And if we do not have the proper knowledge about their shades, we may mistake one colour for the other. 

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We have mentioned that the liver chestnut shade belongs to the genotype of the chestnut coat. However, it appears to be dark brown, chocolate and even black. When we say so, we must remember liver chestnuts horses are not similar to the black ones, even if they appear identical to the open eyes. 

Among other physical attributes, these horses tend to have a noticeably redder mane and tail. What’s more, they may even display orange highlights. 

Origin of liver chestnut horses

Undoubtedly liver chestnut horses have a great appeal. However, the genetic reason behind the depth of the colour is still not apparent. And the most enigmatic question is, what is their origin?

Liver chestnut horses are the darker variation of the typical chestnut horses. Liver chestnut is not a separate breed but a description of the coat colour. So, we can find chestnut or liver chestnut shades in horses of different breeds and origins, characters, and temperaments.

That being said, chestnut or liver chestnut shades are most commonly found among thoroughbred horses.

What makes a horse liver chestnut?

A chestnut horse has a copper-brown coat with no black hair. And we know that the coat colour is due to the presence of ee genotype. But what makes a horse liver chestnut?

It is still a question for the experts as to why a horse gets liver chestnut shade. The genotype that determines this colour is still not known. Yet, it is often taken that the genetics that darkens the coat may have a recessive mode of inheritance. 

In this context, some experts also opine that the sooty gene may be a favouring factor in creating the darker coat shade.  What are the characteristics of a liver chestnut horse?

Image Credit: A liver chestnut horse while training from Pxfuel

It is generally believed that a horse’s colour decides its temperament and characteristics. Although sometimes, it may be true, any scientific explanation regarding this is limited.

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Keeping the above fact in mind, we can say that the characteristics of a liver chestnut horse will depend on its breed, lineage, and the environment in which it has been brought up. In other words, we cannot attribute any set of specific characteristics to liver chestnut horses based on their coat colour. 

Nonetheless, these horses will indeed show some essential characteristics that are common in every equine. We can list them as below:

  • High speed, especially if thoroughbreds
  • Calm demeanour
  • High stamina levels 
  • Courageous or bold  

That being said, if liver chestnut horses are adequately trained, they may show improved temperament and characteristics. 

Image Credit: Chestnut horse from Pxfuel

What is the difference between chestnut and liver chestnut?

It is a million-dollar question, that how chestnuts differ from liver chestnuts? Answering this question can further help us to recognise a liver chestnut horse better.

We should remember that chestnut horses can come in different shades. And a liver chestnut horse is a variation of the former. So, there are differences. While chestnut horses tend to have reddish to orangish coats, a liver chestnut horse can have shades ranging from dark chocolate to almost noir. 

Other differences one can spot between these two variations of the horses are their mane and tail shades. Liver chestnut horses can have a lighter mane and tail colour (almost orangish to rust). On the other hand, chestnut horses tend to have chestnut manes and tails. 

How to get a liver chestnut horse?

Liver chestnut is a rare horse colour, and we all get charmed by it. The dark glossy body with flowing mane and tails allure us all. So, these horses are greatly favoured by the breeders.

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We have already mentioned that chestnut is a recessive genotype. It means in order to have a chestnut foal; both the parents must pass their chestnut genes. So, two chestnut equines will produce a chestnut foal, but the coat colour is not guaranteed. You may get a copper-reddish horse or a darker liver chestnut horse. 

We say this because if you go back to the above section, you would see that it is still unclear what factors make a horse go liver chestnut. Here, we must also remember that “liver” is a colour variation and not a gene variation in horses. 


To wrap it up, we can state that a live chestnut horse is a variation of the chestnut category. These horses may belong to different breeds that may affect their physical attributes, and characteristics. Nonetheless, it is worth knowing about these magnificent horses to enhance our knowledge base and save ourselves from any misconceptions. Also, if you are a horse owner and are looking to buy liver chestnut horses, referring to our blog can help you understand these horses better.

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