photo of piebald deer

Piebald Deer: Facts about these white spotted deer and how they got this way.

Have you ever seen a white and brown spotted deer in the wild and wondered how it got that way. Read below and you can learn about these rare piebald deer and why they are the color they are.

What is a piebald deer?

A piebald deer is a deer with a coat of white and black or brown fur, similar to that of an American Paint Horse or pony. Some have a few patches or discoloration while others have an all white coat of fur. The word “piebald” comes from the Old English pīa, meaning “magpie”, and bæld, meaning “spotted” or “having a white spot”.

What causes a deer to become piebald?

The cause of piebaldism is a genetic abnormality that leads to lack of pigmentation in certain places of the body. The gene is recessive so both parents need the gene for the deer to be born with piebaldism.

The most common type of piebald deer is the white-tailed deer, which is found in North America. Other types of piebald deer include the red deer, roe deer, and fallow deer.

Piebald deer are usually born with a white coat, which gradually darkens as they get older. The pattern of their fur is unique to each individual, and no two piebald deer look exactly alike.

Piebald deer in the snow
Photo of piebald deer in the snow

While piebald deer are considered to be beautiful animals, they are also considered to be somewhat unlucky. In many cultures, piebald animals are believed to be cursed, and they are often killed on sight. In some cultures, it is considered bad luck to shoot an albino or piebald deer. They are also a lot more prone due to predators since they are not easily camouflaged.

In some cases, for example, Dragon the piebald deer was rejected by its mother and died before turning one. Source

What is the difference between albino and piebald deer?

Albino deer have pink eyes and nose, pinkish hooves and all white fur. Piebald deer have normal brown eyes and nose along with black hooves.

How rare are piebald deer?

Studies have shown that piebald deer are less than 1 percent of the whitetail deer population. There is 1 piebald deer in every 1000 whitetail deer. As of 2022, there is currently an estimated 36 million whitetail deer in the United States. The number of piebald deer are steadily increasing.

Here are some photos of piebald deer below:

piebald deer in the woods
Photo of piebald deer in the woods
piebald buck deer
Photo of piebald buck whitetail deer

Can you shoot piebald deer?

In some states or territories it is illegal to shoot a piebald or albino deer.

For example, in Kentucky it is legal to shoot a piebald deer, but in neighboring state of Tennessee the laws are a bit different regarding the white deer.

In Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois, it is illegal to shoot a mostly white or 50% white deer. They are protected from harvesting in those 4 US states.

Minnesota, Michigan and Montana previously protected the piebald deer but have since removed the laws and they are now legal to shoot.

What is the average lifespan of a piebald deer?

The average life span of a whitetail deer is 4.5 years. For piebald deer, internal organ deformities could cause that life span to be much shorter.


These piebald deer are definitely a sight to see out in the wild. Harvesting one is a personal preference as long as you are following your state and local guidelines and regulations.

Have you ever shot a piebald deer? Let us know in the comments below!


  • Hey folks! I'm Trey Copeland, founder of Made To Hunt. I'm from Kentucky and love the outdoors. I've been hunting or fishing in many states including KY, MO, MS, AR, TN and FL as well as Mexico and Costa Rica. For more updates follow me on Twitter.

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