Differences Between a Paint and Pinto Horse

People often call two-colored horses Paints and Pintos. While the terms are often interchangeable, there is an essential difference between Paint and Pinto horses.

Let’s call it “Pinto” instead of “Paint,” which isn’t always correct. A Paint can trace its lineage to the Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred. That’s why Paint is a breed while pinto is a term describing a color.

different between paint and pinto horse

Differences Between a Paint and Pinto Horse

A Paint is an actual breed of horse.

Like a Paint, a Pinto horse has a coat color, usually white patches with another color. The difference is that a Pinto can be of any horse breed. Meanwhile, a Paint horse is a one-of-a-kind breed of horse.

Though the American Paint Horse has the pinto spotting pattern, it must also have a verified pedigree. In addition, they are required to have Quarter or Thoroughbred Horse lineage to qualify under the current standard of breeds. In other words, all of the Paint horses are pintos, but you can’t call every pinto a Paint.

That doesn’t mean the terminology is not correct. A spotted horse is correctly referred to as a pinto horse if its coat has patch-like coloration. If you identify the horse in a way that is the same as a leopard or a Dalmatian, it is often considered an Appaloosa instead of a pinto.

A horse should only be identified as a Paint if it has the horse’s appearance in line with the standards of an American Quarter Horse or a verifiable ancestry.

paint horse

Is it possible to have a Pinto or a solid Paint horse?

As pinto horses get their name due to the particular structure of their coat, a pinto can’t be of a solid color. So though two pinto horses can have solid-color offspring, the baby is technically not a pinto. That’s because pintos are color breeds.

Pinto sport horse

Pinto sport horse

Paint horses are quite different. Not all the qualifying Paint horses may have a flashy pattern of the coat. But all the horses with the registry as a Paint, they’re solid Paints.

There are registration benefits of having a solid Paint. In the United States, the registration fee is around 20% of the general registration cost when the horse is a verified solid-color Paint. In addition, they receive official designation as a Paint horse, no matter what color of the coat they have.

To wrap up,

What are the differences between a Paint and a Pinto? The answer depends on the horses’ breeding. When there is a correct lineage as a Quarter or Thoroughbred horse, it can be a Paint. If not, the horse should be spotted as a pinto and maybe a color breed.


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