People who have never been around very young puppies are often surprised to see blue eyes staring up at them. This will start to change as the puppies get closer to four weeks old. By the age of 8 weeks, a full 95 percent of all puppies will have eyes that are some shade of brown or amber. The eye color will continue to darken until the puppy is somewhere between 9-16 weeks so that if your puppy’s eyes are going to change, they will have completed the process by the time it is four months old.
Why are puppies born with blue eyes?
When puppies are born, they lack a pigment called melanin in their eyes. This is the substance that gives color to the eyes and fur. What people don’t realize is that a puppy’s eyes aren’t actually blue, they are more clear.
Look at the sky. The color you see is a reflection of the light waves in the atmosphere, and blue light waves are what reach the sky easiest. The same is true for a puppy’s eyes. They are basically clear and reflect the blue color waves in the area, making them appear blue or green.
As the body of the puppy gains more melanin, the eyes begin to get more color. Another place you can see this is in the coats of dalmatian puppies. They are born entirely white and only develop their dark spots as they get older and their supply of melanin increases.
When do puppies keep their blue eyes?
There are a few instances when a puppy will keep its blue eyes. The eye color has much to do with a certain gene. While this indicates a genetic component, it is interesting to note that even if a husky puppy comes from two parents with blue eyes, that does not necessarily mean it will have blue eyes. The same is true in reverse. Two brown-eyed huskies can create a blue-eyed puppy.
Certain breeds are more likely to keep their blue eyes. These include huskies, dalmatians, Australian shepherds, cattle dogs. Albino dogs are also more likely to have blue eyes. Albinism is a rarity in dogs, but dogs that have a great deal of white around their eyes or on their face and ears show a lack of melanin and are likely to keep their blue eyes.
A dog that carries the Merle gene is also highly likely to have blue eyes. This gene is a dominant one and can be found in any breed of dog. That is where you end up finding dogs not thought to be susceptible to blue eyes with bright blue eyes throughout their lives.
Does a dog’s coat color have anything to do with its eye color?
As noted earlier, albino dogs, who are completely white, have blue eyes. Normally, dogs with lighter coats will have lighter-colored eyes, while those with darker coats will have darker eyes. Again, this has to do with the amount of melanin in the dog’s system. Dogs who have merle coats are also prone to blue eyes.
What is the Merle Gene?
You have seen dogs that look like someone took a paintbrush and just randomly splattered a white coat with red or black. There are normally swirls and spots throughout the coat. This pattern is referred to as merled. Most often, these dogs also have bright blue eyes. This is because they have what is called the Merle gene.
Genes can be dominant or recessive. The Merle gene is dominant, which means that if one of the puppy’s parents had it, there is a chance the puppy will also. The same gene that is responsible for the unusual coat pattern also creates permanently blue eyes.
You may be tempted to breed two dogs with the Merle gene, but this is actually considered inhumane. When a puppy inherits this gene from both parents, it is often born with a variety of health issues, including being deaf, blind, or even both. Other eye issues can also result, including abnormally small eyes and misshapen pupils, which result in insight issues.
Are blue-eyed dogs deaf?
In the past, it was thought that dogs with blue eyes were deaf. This comes from the idea that many cats who are white with blue eyes actually are deaf. The good news is that if your puppy keeps his blue eyes, he isn’t any more likely to be deaf than if the eyes were brown. The only exception to this is when two dogs with the Merle gene were mated.
Why does my dog have one brown eye and one blue one?
Some dogs end up having different colored eyes when they reach adulthood. Most often it is one brown eye and one blue eye. This condition is called heterochromia and it can occur in three different forms.
With heterochromia, a dog can have two eyes of different colors, may have one iris that is partially blue and the rest brown, or have blue coloring mixed with brown. This condition is primarily hereditary and is caused by a lack of melanin in the area with the blue eye. Very often, the fur around the affected eye will be white.
Should I worry if my dog has blue eyes?
Unless your dog was born from the mating of two dogs with the Merle gene, it is very unlikely that there will be any health problems related to the blue eye color. Your puppy will be able to see and hear just like its dark-eyed brothers and sisters. If, however, your dog has eyes that were brown and are suddenly turning blue, you need to have it evaluated by a vet.
As dogs age, they are subject to eye disorders such as glaucoma or cataracts. Both of these can cause your dog’s eyes to appear to have a bluish tint. This is a result of a film covering the lens of the eye.
There is also the possibility that your dog might start to lose the color in an eye if the eye is injured in some way. If your dog experiences any accident involving its eyes, it is important to have the site examined by a vet as soon as possible, even if there is no color change.
Lenticular sclerosis is another, fairly common, reason your dog’s eyes may appear to be blue. This is a common occurrence in middle-aged and elderly dogs. Like cataracts, this indicates a bluish film is covering the lens of the eye. The good news with this is that, unlike cataracts, vision does not seem to be affected.
With any changes in your dog’s eye color other than the initial color change from blue to dark when the puppy is young, it is important to have its eyes checked by a professional. Things like cataracts and glaucoma may be able to be treated when caught early and changes from an injury may be able to be reversed if treated early.
Blue eyes stand out in dogs because they are so rare. All puppies are born with blue eyes but only five percent of them will keep that color. By the time they reach the age of being old enough to leave their mother’s, at eight weeks, those baby blues will have changed to some version of what the permanent eye color will be. In most dogs, that is some form of brown, but it might also be black, amber, hazel, or the rare blue.