Coat Colors of Galloway Cattle

We have conducted DNA studies on the coat colors in Galloway Cattle over the years. The information on this webpage is an illustrated summary of our research and that of others.

In Canada, Galloway cattle are registered as three different but related breeds: Galloway, Belted Galloway and White Galloway.

This webpage was mounted on April 19, 2014 last updated on April 26, 2014 by Sheila Schmutz.

Galloway cattle are a breed from Scotland. Most Galloway are black, but some are dun or silver dun. Some Galloway cattle have a white belt around their middle, Belted Galloway. Some are white with colored points, the Siamese cat look in cattle.


Black in Galloway cattle is caused by the animal having at least one ED allele at the MC1R gene. It is the most common color in Galloway.


The young Galloway at the left, has one del allele at PMEL. It is called dun in Galloway coat color terminology. This deletion is the same mutation that causes dun in Highland cattle but it is not the same mutation that causes the "dilute" allele of Charolais cattle.

Silver dun Galloway cattle are homozygous for this deletion and so their genotype is ED/_, del/del.


Red is probably less common in Galloway cattle. It is caused by the animal having at least two e alleles at the MC1R gene.

Belted Galloway

The white belt is inherited as an autosomal dominant allele in Galloway cattle.

The white belt is meant to completely encircle the animal. Ideally it should be "even" and wide, but not so wide that it touches the torso above either the front or hind leg. The photo at the right shows 3 Belted Galloways with nice belts.

Sometimes children called Belted Galloway cattle "Oreo Cookie Cows". One can understand how that names is quite fitting, especially to a child.

All Belted Galloway do not always have even belts though. The calf below has a crooked belt and also white on one its hind feet. The white on the hind feet is considered a disqualifying fault.

Some Belted Galloway cattle have white belts that have very uneven edges.

Others have belts that are incomplete and do not completely encircle the body. This is considered a fault.

Some Galloway cattle with belts are also red or dun instead of black.

The belted pattern was mapped to cattle chromosome 3 by the group of Tosso Leeb in Switzerland. They studied primarily Brown Swiss, but also included some belted Galloway in their study.

White Galloway

White cattle, such as White Galloway cattle are quite different from Charolais in that they have black noses and ears. This pattern is inherited as an autosomal dominant. Heterozygotes are not dilutions, but just as white as homozygotes. Their noses and ears can be either black or red or dun. Their underlying skin can be black or red or spotted. The White Galloway cow at the left is shown with a calf that did not inherit perfect white markings.

The colors of the points in White Galloway can be black or red, which is determined by the MC1R gene or dun, based on a mutation in the PMEL gene.

The white body color with colored points appeared to linked to the tyrosinase gene on cattle chromosome 29, based on data collected by Barbara Schmidtz for her Master's degree. Similar patterns exist in the mouse, Himalyan rabbit and the Siamese cat and also are caused by mutations at tyrosinase.

However, other researchers reported that this pattern is caused by a very complex mutation in the KIT gene in cattle. A segment of DNA from near KIT on chromosome 6 is inserted onto chromosome 29. Although tyrosinase is near the centromeric end of chromosome 29, this insertion is apparently nearer the middle of chromosome 29. Brenig et al. (2013) further suggests that the whiteness depends on how many duplications of this segment occur.

The original collaborative team from the labs of Michel Georges and Tosso Leeb that described this mutation, suggested that cattle that have it plus white spotting could have this "Siamese" type pattern. Whereas cattle such as Brown Swiss that are not white spotted, more typically have the "color-sided" pattern.

Special thanks to Dennis Bradley and others for their help in collecting DNA.


Genetics of Coat Color in Cattle, Main Page

Sheila M. Schmutz, Ph.D.

Department of Animal and Poultry Science

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8

phone: (306)966-4153 fax: (306)966-4151