Dogs With Different Colored Eyes – Heterochromia
When we think of dogs we have seen with different colored eyes, the Husky often comes to mind. We imagine them with one blue eye and another brown eye. Though, it is true this is one of the more common breeds to have two different eye colors, there are many others that you may not expect. From Dalmatians to Great Danes; there is always a chance that a dog breed will have this pigment discoloration in their iris. Whether they have odd eyes or not they are all beautiful in their own special way.
Dog breeds with different colored eyes
There are several breeds of dogs that have different colored eyes. It is usually due to a congenital condition called Heterochromia that is most common in Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Cattle Dogs and Huskies. But there is always that rare possibility that any breed of dog has two different tones eyes. Below is a list of some of the more common dogs known to have Heterochromia.
Whenever we think of blue eyed dogs, Huskies often come to mind. And when it comes to Heterochromia this is one of the more common breeds to have it. Blue eyes in Siberian huskies are a dominant trait.
A common type of Heterochromia for this dog is Complete Heterochromatism. This is when they have one brown and one blue eye.
This is the most common combination of eye colors in Huskies. This breed, because of their recessive trait for having blue eyes, is often used in studies and DNA testings.
They often have at least one blue eye because this is a usual trait in this breed of dog. This beautiful trait (bright blue eyes) is what makes Siberian Huskies stand out so much when compared to other breeds.
The Siberian Huskey is not the only breed of Husky that is known for this trait. Others include: Alaskan Malamute and Alaskan Klee Kai (spitz-type breed of dog). I think we can all agree that all breeds of Huskies, no matter what color eyes they have, are all gorgeous dogs.
It is stunning in itself to see a Dalmatian’s spotted black and white coat. But their eyes are pretty as well. Though brown is the most common eye color for this breed of dog to have, they can have blue eyes. Though it is rare it is possible and the very few that have both a brown and blue eye are truly amazing.
Something worth noting though is that blue eyed dalmatians can mean they may be more at risk for going deaf. It is only a possibility though and you may not have to worry about this.
But according to the American Kennel Club deafness due to their blue eyes is a concern. They said:
around 30% of Dalmatians being affected by deafness or hearing impairment to some extent.Caninebible.com article – Dalmations with Blue Eyes Guide
Blue eyes can also be due to pigmentation or in some cases health issues. A key fact that may play a role in Heterochromia is Albinism. This is when dogs are lacking the genes needed to produce Melanin which is the pigment responsible for not only hair but skin color as well. This is considered Albino. But a huge amount of pigment loss throughout their entire body can also result in a pink nose and blue eyes (lighter colors).
Border Collies are one of the more well known breeds to have Heterochromia. The most common eye color among this breed is brown (as is true for most dogs). But there are unusual cases where they have one eye a different color then the other. An example of this was a story about Molly the odd-eyed Border Collie Cross.
This story was about a female Border Collie Cross with two different colored eyes. Because she had the condition known as Heterochromia (caused by lack of pigment in one eye) hundreds of families did not want to adopt her.
This may be hard to believe because what isn’t beautiful about a blue and brown eyed dog?
She was looking for a new home in Newbury, Berkshire at only one years old. The Dog’s Trust (a Charity) said that there was no reason that anyone wouldn’t want to adopt her other then her unusual eye color. Though Molly was a healthy and happy dog, no one seemed to want her. On the other hand, her sister Holly who had two brown eyes was adopted.
Thankfully she was eventually adopted and finally she was sent to her new home in Hampshire thanks to the Charity.
Australian Shepherds are a breed loved by many. This herding dog was developed in California in the 19th century and originated in the Western United States. This breed has had beautiful eyes for as long as we can remember.
This gorgeous dog breed can have many different eye colors. They are one of the more common breeds to have the condition called Heterochromia.
Usual eye colors you will see this breed have include Brown, Amber, and at times even green or blue. There are so many different variations of eye tones when it comes to this breed.
Because of this Australian Shepherds will have many of the different types of Heterochromia. These include Complete, Central, and Partial.
When it comes to Chihuahuas they are definitely unique when it comes to their eyes. While most dogs either have brown or blue, these small pups can even have reddish ruby eyes (sometimes due to lighting). Though, Chihuahuas can have blue and brown eyes they can also have hazel.
Some characteristics we notice when observing this breed is their tiny size, big ears, and large, wide eyes.
Because of their huge eyes, this is often the first characteristic we notice when we see this dog. So when we spot a Chihuahua with Heterochromia it is truly stunning.
Because of their bulging eyes and how close they always are to the ground due to their tiny size health problems are a risk. It is also noted that you should be careful of infections. Common issues that may occur (especially Chihauhuas with Heterochromia) include: lens luxation, cherry eye, dry eye, and dangerous objects getting stuck in their eyes.
When it comes to Dachshunds their skin color can often determine their eye color. For example, a lighter colored Dachshund with a light pelt is more likely to have brown, green, or amber eyes (light shades). While Dachshunds with a darker coat tends to have dark brown eyes or amber. Blue eyes is quite rare for this breed.
They usually have blue eyes if they have the merle or dapple gene. It is almost impossible for a full-bred Dachshund to have blue eyes unless they have a disease.
Also, Dachshunds with Albinism may also have blue eyes. But Albino genes can often lead to a dog going deaf or blind. This is where Heterochromia comes in.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
In 1979, Catahoula Leopard Dog was named Louisiana’s state dog and it is not hard to see why. This speckled dog breed definitely lives up to its name. These dogs are one of the most gorgeous around, with their multi-colored coats and striking demeanor and appearance.
This dog is known for its pelt and patterns and perhaps the most beautiful of them all: it’s eyes. This handsome dog breed can have almost every shade of eye color possible including green, brown, blue and hazel.
Heterochromia can often be found in this breed of dog. Any combination is possible.
Though rare this adorable dog breed is able to have two different colored eyes. They have been loved throughout the centuries. The Shih Tzu first originated in Tibet, most likely around the 7th century.
Small, and lovable, this breed is adored. It’s easy to see why so many people love them when it comes to their kind, black eyes. But rarely, this dog can be born with different colored eyes.
It is more common for Shih tzu’s that have a blue or liver pelt to have lighter colored eyes such as amber or brown.
Why do dogs have different colored eyes?
What is Heterochromia? Heterochromia occurs when there is lack of pigment to be found in all/parts of an eye. This is due to a lack of melanin in their eyes. Melanin is a group of natural pigments found in many organisms. This often causes their eyes to become a lighter shade such as a light blue; almost white.
One of the most common reasons dogs may have different colored eyes is because of genetics. For example, if a large percentage of a dog’s family members experienced Heterochromia then their offspring are more likely to have it.
But genetics is not the only way this rarity occurs. If they are badly injured or have gone blind due to an incident. These both can result in change of eye color. And something you need to watch out for is illnesses which can also cause change in eye color. If you think this may be the case for your dog consider taking them to the vet as soon as possible.
There are also rare oddities where a dog may have weird colored spots on their eyes. For example, a canine with a blue eye may have a brown dot on the iris, on top of the blue. Though possible, this is the rarest combination. It is normally the result of either ocular eye melanoma or pigmentary keratitis.
In a genome-wide association study they used a discovery panel of 3,180 dogs. They were trying to determine the significance and difference between blue and brown eyes. The chart they used, to help them discover this, remained strong when the analysis was restricted to only mixed or pure-bred dog breeds. Out of 314 of the dogs, 87 or 26% had a single blue eye. It said:
The duplication upstream of ALX4 remains strongly associated with blue-eyed phenotype in a 2,890 dog validation panelNCBI article-Direct to Consumer DNA Testing https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6171790/
This study also explained how blue eyes first arose in Europe and that this eye color has been favored for many centuries. Because of this Breeders have used Selective Breeding to increase the chance of blue-eyed dogs being born.
Prized among breeders, it is not known whether blue eyes confer adaptive benefits for high latitude dogs as has been hypothesized for humans, and the genetic basis has not yet been discovered.NCBI article-Direct to Consumer DNA Testing https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6171790/
Different Types of Heterochromia in Dogs
Here we will discuss the three different types of Heterochromia and where their placement is in your dog’s eyes:
This type of Heterochromia is when the inner ring of the iris (closest to the pupil) is a different color then that of the outer ring. The color near the pupil usually stands out in comparison to the tones surrounding the inner ring which is along the very edge of the iris. This trait almost always involves both eyes but there are cases when it is only one.
The name alone will tell you what this type of Heterochromia is hinting at. This is when one eye is a totally different color from the other. Fox example, one may be a bright blue while the other is a dark brown. Most of the time the shades contrast greatly beside one another; being dark in one eye and light in the other.
This is one of the more unique conditions where their is a patch or a random section of the iris that is a different color then the rest. This can occur in one or both of the eyes. This type of Heterochromia can vary the most out of the others. For example, one dog can have an eye that is half brown and half blue; split down the middle. While another pup could have a blue eye with a splash of brown.
These types of Heterochromia do not just happen on dogs but other animals (horses and cats) and people as well.
What does it mean if dogs have different colored eyes?
Is it dangerous for dogs to have two different colored eyes? No, though it may be surprising to see a dog with Heterochromia in person there is no need to be alarmed. Heterochromia is simply hereditary. This means it is determined by ones genetic factors and is therefore able to be passed on from offspring to parent.
The only reason to worry is if their strange eye’ tones resulted from an injury or illness. If it is due to one of these then we recommend taking your pet to the vet.
Is it rare for dogs to have different colored eyes?
Although a dog with two different colored eyes is quite rare it is not as rare as you might believe. Some common dogs that are more likely to have multi-colored eyes are Border Collies, Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Dalmatians. This variation in coloration is called heterochromia (as explained earlier) which does not only affect dogs but animals such as cats as well as horses and in some cases: humans.
Is it possible for dogs to have purple or pink eyes?
We may wish this were true but in reality this is a myth. According to an ancient Native American legend “ghost eyes” were dogs that were born with two different colored eyes. Because they were able to see both heaven (with the blue eye) and earth (with the brown one) at the same time. These legends are definitely interesting but in reality are nothing more then false tales.
It is no surprise how much we all love our dogs. Each one is unique and different in their own ways. Whether that be dogs with different colored eyes or not. And if you are lucky enough to have a pup with heterochromia then your dog has a rare kind of uniqueness that should be rejoiced and praised for.
Are you someone who owns a blue and brown eyes Husky or a green and blue eyes Chihuahua? Or are you the proud owner of a brown and green eyes Great Dane? Whatever breed of dog you have, they are all amazing animals who deserve to be loved and given all of our devotion to.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience with dogs that have two different colored eyes? Have you ever owned one with this amazing anomaly? Let us know, we would love to hear your experience!