Appaloosa Horse VS Paint Horse: Differences & Questions Answered

Horses with spotted or multi-colored coats are refreshing to the eyes as they are not normally seen.

When it comes to beautiful markings, Appaloosas and Paint Horses are the ones to look for with their eye-catching appearances.

They may look similarly stunning, but what exactly are their differences?

If you are to choose between these two breeds, which will suit your preferences better?

appaloosa horse

Appaloosa Horse

It was during the 1700s when the Nez Perce Indians selectively bred the Appaloosa horses.

This breed descended from the vigilant breeding of Native American horses that came from Washington, USA, specifically in the Palouse region.

The Appaloosa horses were primarily reared to be flexible, strong, and to be a survivor.

The breed was nearly extinct during the latter part of the 1870s when the Native Americans started to lose their lands.

Fortunately, the interest in the breed started to improve again in the 1930s, and from then, Appaloosa horses grew their population continuously up until today.

In 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club was formed as a breed registry and has become one of the largest breed registries worldwide.

Appaloosa horses are identified to have small spots on their body that cannot be easily resisted by horse enthusiasts.

Aside from their charming appearance, their breed is known to be zealous and obedient. Their owners are fascinated with them as they are also faithful and love to spend some time with humans.


Talking about speed, Appaloosa horses are indeed on the list!

Modern Appaloosa horses are fast and possess some of the genes of Arabian horses, Quarter horses, and Thoroughbreds.

These horse genes intensify the speed and athletic characteristics of the Appaloosas. You can usually see Appaloosas racing in the Western part of the United States.

The fastest recorded speed of an Appaloosa horse is 41 miles per hour or 66 kilometers per hour.

On average, this breed can run from 20 miles to 30 miles per hour; that would be 32 kilometers to 48 kilometers per hour.

The speed of Appaloosa horses varies depending on their genes, training, and physique. 


The Appaloosa has the standard height and weight of typical horses.

It can grow from 14.2 hands to 16 hands tall which is equivalent to 57 inches (145 cm) to 64 inches (163cm).

As for weight, it can weigh from 950 pounds to 1,200 pounds on average; that would be 430 kg to 544 kg.


Appaloosa horses have a compact and powerful physique since their ancestors were bred for endurance and flexibility.

They have a thin mane and tail hair, as well as striped hooves.

One of the major distinctions of the Appaloosas from other breeds is their colorful hair patterns with distinct markings or spots across their body.

Their spots are the first to catch attention, but their coats are equally interesting as well. Their base color could be black, brown, bay, chestnut, red roan, gray, blue roan, buckskin, palomino, cremello, grulla, and dun.

As for their body markings, the registry only recognizes specific patterns which are the blanket, snowflake, marble, and leopard.

The blanket pattern can be found in the hips with a white coat and with some dark spots. The snowflake pattern has a dark-colored body with some flecks, particularly on the haunch area.

As for the marble pattern, a combination of white and dark hair forms a spotted appearance. The Leopard pattern has an almost white coat with some dark patterns.

Appaloosas are known for their calm demeanor and faithful personality.

Likewise, they are recognized to be a versatile breed that can join in diverse competitions like reining, show jumping, roping, and eventing.

Paint Horse

Paint Horse

The ancestors of Paint horses were brought by Spanish explorers together with other breeds of horses in North America in 1519.

This group of horses was a combination of Arabian, Barb, Andalusian, and a distinctive one with two-tone colors and spots.

At the beginning of the 1800s, wild horses and those with patterned colors increased their population and occupied the western plains.

The spotted horses became famous and were a top pick of the Comanche Indians which was soon named the Paint Horse.

Multi-colored horses were so popular then, leading to the establishment of the American Horse Association and American Paint Quarter Horse Association.

In 1965, these two associations got united and established the American Paint Horse Association which manages the registration of the breed today.

The APHA maintains the union of the special bloodlines and spotted markings of the Paint Horses which are outcrossed with Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse.

The association is highly strict when it comes to the qualification of Paint Horses to be registered. The Paint Horse to be listed should only have Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, or Paint Horses parents that must be registered with the breed registry of either the American Quarter Horse or the Thoroughbred.


With the influence of the blood of the fastest horses, you cannot doubt the speed of the American Paint Horse.

The fastest clocked speed of a Paint Horse is 41.5 miles per hour or 66.8 kilometers per hour.


The Paint Horse can stand from 14.5 hands (58 inches or 147 cm) to 16 hands (64 inches or 163cm).

The taller Paint Horses are those that possess a Thoroughbred gene.

They also weigh between 950 pounds (430 kg) to 1,200 pounds (544 kg).


Paint horses have a solid and well-balanced physical structure; they are not that heavily built nor too slender.

They have a wide chest, powerful back legs, and a great balance too.

They are primarily known for their multi-colored coats and patterns.

Their coat colors can be bay, black, chestnut, or palomino.

As for their patterns, there are lots of varieties but the three major ones are tobiano, overo, or tovero.

The colors and patterns of American Paint Horses are different from each other, none of them could exactly possess the same coat patterns.

These horses are also bred for their calm behavior, intelligence, strength, and trainability.

They are versatile and can be used in different equine sports and events like jumping, trail riding, and even working cattle.

Differences Between Appaloosa Horse and Paint Horse

Appaloosa and Paint horses differ when it comes to their physical characteristics, health, grooming, and diet.

Though both Appaloosa and Paint horses have spots or markings, some of their physical characteristics vary.

Appaloosa horses have more sensitive skin than Paint horses.

The white portion of their eyes circling the iris called the sclera is also visible. This eye feature is rarely observed in other horses.

When it comes to health, both of these breeds have their weaknesses.

Appaloosas can experience night blindness while Paint horses are prone to experiencing the lethal white syndrome.

It is believed that due to the LP gene of Appaloosas, they are enduring night blindness which can even lead to total blindness if things get worse for them.

This disorder is particularly seen in their breed, usually leading to various night accidents since they cannot see clearly during nighttime.

As for the lethal white syndrome, this is a genetic disease of Paint horses. Due to the two copies of genes, foals can be born white, blue-eyed, and undeveloped intestines.

The undeveloped intestines cause colic to the newly born foals which can cause them an early death.

Sadly, no treatment is available for this disorder so euthanasia is often recommended to breeders if they encounter this situation.

Appaloosas and Paint horses have different grooming requirements too.

Paint horses need standard grooming practices to maintain their coat and avoid injuries or infections.

Appaloosa horses also require regular equine grooming but with special care since they have sensitive pink skin that is prone to sun damage. The parts of their body with light hair are vulnerable to the heat of the sun too.

To protect their fragile epidermis, using a sunscreen specifically designed for your horse is recommended.

Appaloosas and Paint horses’ diets have some little variations as well.

Appaloosas need a general diet containing hay, grass, grains, fruits, vegetables, and some supplementations.

Paint horses also require the standard equine diet just like Appaloosas.

However, it is important to make sure that you are giving them only the right amount of food based on their size and activity level. Paint horses tend to be overweight if overfeed.

Below is a simple table showing the differences between Appaloosa and American Paint Horse.

DifferencesAppaloosa HorseAmerican Paint Horse
Physical CharacteristicsIt has sensitive skin and its “sclera” is visible.  Does not have highly sensitive skin and its “sclera” is not visible.
HealthCan experience night blindness that can even result in total blindness (believed to be caused by the LP gene)Prone in having Lethal White Syndrome as a foal.
GroomingRequires the standard equine grooming but with special care because of its sensitive skin; sunscreen lotion is recommended to prevent skin damage.Requires standard grooming practices.
DietRequires the general equine dietRequires the standard equine diet but must ensure not to overfeed to prevent obesity; needing less food than other horse breeds.

Is Appaloosa Faster Than a Paint Horse?

No. Appaloosa is not faster than Paint horse. Rather, Paint horses can run pretty faster than Appaloosas.

When it comes to speed, there is only a tiny difference between the speed of an Appaloosa and a Paint Horse.

The fastest clocked speed of a Paint Horse is 41.5 miles per hour or 66.8 kilometers per hour.

Meanwhile, the fastest recorded speed of an Appaloosa horse is 41 miles per hour or 66 kilometers per hour.

Which Horse Can Carry More, Appaloosa or Paint Horse?

Both Appaloosa and Paint horses can carry similar weights since their average weight is also the same.

Appaloosa horses and Paint horses have equal carrying capacity since they can weigh just the same.

According to the American standard, a horse can safely carry 20% of its body weight as suggested and estimated by various research.

Both of these breeds can weigh between 950 pounds (430 kg) to 1,200 pounds (544 kg).

Thus, they can carry 190 pounds to 240 pounds; that is 86 kg to 109 kg.

Which Horse Is Bigger, Appaloosa or Paint Horse?

The Paint horse is bigger compared to the Appaloosa horse.

There is actually a small difference between the size of Appaloosa and Paint horses.

They can be as heavy as each other; they pretty much possess similar weight.

As for height, the Paint horse has an advantage as it can stand a few more inches than the Appaloosa.

Paint horses usually stand at 14.5 hands (58 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) while Appaloosa horses stand at 14.2 hands or 56.8 inches.

As for the maximum height, they can both be as tall as 16 hands or 64 inches.

In general, Paint horses can be bigger since they can be taller and heavier compared to Appaloosa on average.

Which Is More Preferable, Appaloosa VS Paint Horse?

You simply cannot choose between an Appaloosa and a Paint Horse. They have both charming appearances, good temperament, recommended for beginner equestrians, possess great stamina, and are easy keepers.

Generally, both Appaloosa and American Paint Horse are great breeds that every horse enthusiast would love to own!

Their unique markings are such as sight to behold, especially to those who are not exposed to various types of horses.

They are great with kids as they have a calm demeanor, are friendly, and simply love human companionship.

They are highly trainable, intelligent, loyal, and want to get the approval of their owners.

They are both versatile when it comes to work and activities too! They can be used for competition, work, and even transportation.

Another positive thing about them is the fact that they are easy keepers. Unlike other breeds, they do not need high maintenance.

They are strong, flexible, and simply capable with a good temperament that will suit everyone’s choice!


American Paint Horse Association. (2021). Our mission. APHA.

Animals Network Team. (2020, March 26). Paint horse. Animals Network.

Appaloosa Horse Club. (2021). About us – Appaloosa Horse Club.