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Will My Dog's Eyes Stay Blue? Exploring Eye Color Changes in Young Canines - PawSafe

Will My Dog’s Eyes Stay Blue? Exploring Eye Color Changes in Young Canines

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

will dog's eyes stay blue

Have you just bought a puppy? With their large heads, button noses, and astonishingly attractive nature? Are you looking at the big round blue eyes and wondering if your new canine companion’s eyes will stay blue? I bet you are. And you’re not alone. When I first saw my Bull Terrier Puppy Amy thirteen years ago, I exclaimed, “oh! She has blue eyes!” But would they stay blue?

Many dog owners are curious whether their pet’s eye color will change. While some breeds are known for their blue eyes, such as the Siberian Husky and Australian Shepherd, it’s normal for puppies of any breed below 15 weeks to have blue eyes.

The short answer is it depends. Eye color in dogs is influenced by factors such as genetics, age, health, and even mood. In this text, we have put together studies and research on all you need to know about your puppies’ eye color and what to expect as they develop into adults.

Some dogs have blue eyes as a permanent trait. Others may experience a change in eye color as they age. It’s essential to be patient and allow time for your dog to develop its final eye color. 

Certain breeds and color patterns, such as white Great Danes, Dalmatian, and merle Border Collies, are likelier to have blue eyes as a natural and often permanent trait. 

The specific combination of genes inherited from their parents determines their eye color, and it’s essential to monitor for any sudden changes or unusual symptoms in your dog’s eyes, as this could indicate underlying health issues requiring veterinary attention.

Understanding Puppy Eye Color Change

A blue Pitbull puppy with blue eyes that will eventually change color and become brown

Understanding puppy eye color change involves recognizing that most puppies are born with blue eyes due to the absence of pigmentation in their irises, and their true eye color may not be apparent until they are a few months old. It usually takes about 5 to 8 weeks for a dog’s eyes to fully develop and blue eyes often means their eyes have not yet matured.

When puppies first open their eyes, they often have a blue haze, but this will fade into brown by the time they are eight weeks.

As puppies mature, the pigmentation in their irises gradually develops, leading to a change in eye color. The final eye color can vary from brown to hazel, green, or other shades.

Why Puppies Have Blue Eyes

Puppies are born with blue eyes because they have not yet developed melanin, the pigment that gives color to the eyes. As puppies age, melanin production increases, and the eyes change color. The amount of melanin produced determines the final eye color.

When Eye Color Changes in Puppies

Eye color change typically occurs between the ages of 9 and 12 weeks. However, some puppies may experience a slower or more gradual change, and their eye color may change until they are six months old.

It’s important to note that eye color change is only sometimes predictable. While most puppies will experience a difference in eye color, some may retain their blue eyes into adulthood. Understanding puppy eye color change can help you appreciate the unique characteristics of your furry friend.

Factors Influencing Eye Color in Dogs

factors influencing the color of a dog's eyes

When it comes to the color of a dog’s eyes, a few factors can influence it. In this section, we’ll go over the two main factors that affect the color of a dog’s eyes: genetics and health conditions.

Genetics

Dog eye colors? It’s all about genes and a pigment called eumelanin. Just like it colors their fur, it plays a big role in eye color. Most dogs have brown eyes because they’ve got a good amount of this pigment in their eyes.

But when a dog doesn’t produce as much eumelanin, their eyes can turn a cool amber or golden shade. Think of it like some people having hazel eyes instead of dark brown.

And those stunning blue eyes some dogs rock? That’s because there’s a lack of pigment. The structure in their eyes makes incoming light appear blue. Blue eyes mostly arrive in Nordic dog breeds like Huskies and Malamutes, but you also see it in dogs with merle coat patterns, or albinos.

Health Conditions

A dog’s eye color change can sometimes indicate underlying health conditions or eye issues. This doesn’t affect puppies as much, but it’s worth being aware of it. Some health conditions that may lead to dog eye color changes or eye abnormalities include:

1. Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye and can cause a change in the appearance of the eye. Studies show that old and young dogs can be affected by this condition.

Dogs with this condition should not be used for breeding as cataracts are hereditary. The dog’s eye may become cloudy or have a bluish-gray tint.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition where fluid cannot drain properly from the increasing pressure within the eye. It can lead to changes in eye appearance, including enlargement or bulging of the eye. Signs include: 

  • A hazy or blue appearance to the eye;
  • Redness of the white of the eye;
  • Signs of pain like sleeping more and rubbing at their eye; and
  • Sudden blindness.

Glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. 

3. Corneal Dystrophy

Certain types of corneal dystrophy can affect the cornea’s clarity, leading to changes in eye appearance and potentially affecting eye color.

4. Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition where a dog has two different colored eyes or two different colors within the same eye. It is caused by a lack of pigment melanin in the eye, which can cause it to look grey, white, or blue. 

Heterochromia in dogs can be hereditary, caused by illness or an injury to the eye. Types of heterochromia include complete, sectorial, and central heterochromia, which can be genetic or associated with specific health issues. Studies show that heterochromia has been shown to be associated with mere coat color, which is controlled by an autosomal dominant gene.

5. Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, part of the eye. It can cause redness, cloudiness, or a change in the color of the eye. 

Some of the most common causes of uveitis include tick-borne disease, some fungal diseases, and cancer. Uveitis, when untreated, could lead to glaucoma, which could lead to severe pain and blindness.

6. Melanoma

In some cases, eye tumors such as melanoma can affect the pigmentation of the eye and may lead to changes in eye color.

7. Systemic Illness

Certain systemic illnesses or diseases can affect the eyes as a secondary symptom, leading to changes in eye appearance.

If you notice any unusual changes in your dog’s eye color or eye appearance, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. 

How Did Blue Eyes Evolve In Dogs?

A merle puppy with one blue and one brown eye. This is common in Huskies or in dogs with merle coat patterns.

Blue eyes in dogs are not rare, especially in puppies under the age of 9 weeks. However, they do occur naturally in certain adult breeds. The blue color comes from a lack of pigmentation in the iris, which allows light to scatter and reflect off the back of the eye, creating the blue color.

It’s believed that the mutation that causes blue eyes in dogs is the same one that causes blue eyes in humans. This mutation affects a gene called OCA2, which produces melanin, the pigment that gives color to our skin, hair, and eyes.

In some dogs, the blue eye mutation likely occurred through a random genetic mutation passed down through breeding. 

It’s important to note that while blue eyes in dogs can be striking and beautiful, they can also indicate certain health issues. Some breeds with blue eyes are more prone to developing deafness. This is because blue eyes are often associated with merle, pied, or white coat colors that are linked to hearing and eye issues.

Breeds with Blue Eyes

A white Husky puppy with blue eyes on grass is breed and color that will probably keep their blue eyes as they grow older

Some dog breeds are more likely to have blue eyes than others. Here are some of the species that are known to have blue eyes:

  • Siberian Husky;
  • Australian Shepherd;
  • Border Collie;
  • Dalmatian;
  • Weimaraner;
  • Great Dane; and
  • Alaskan Malamute.

If you’re considering getting a dog with blue eyes, it’s important to research the breed’s temperament and health and ensure they fit your lifestyle well. Additionally, make sure to choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs.

Caring for Dogs with Blue Eyes

A young Doodle puppy with brown eyes that may show up as blue in the early weeks

If you have a dog with blue eyes, you may wonder if there are any special considerations you should consider when caring for them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Health Considerations

While blue eyes in dogs can be stunning, they can also indicate certain health issues. Some breeds, like American Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, and French Poodle, just to name a few, are prone to eye problems, such as cataracts, which can cause cloudiness and vision problems. 

If you notice any changes in your dog’s eyes, such as cloudiness or discharge, it’s essential to call the vet and schedule an appointment.

Blue-eyed dogs are also more susceptible to sun damage, which can lead to eye problems later in life. Make sure to keep your dog’s eyes protected from the sun by providing shade and using dog-friendly sunscreen.

Grooming Needs

If your dog has light-colored fur around their eyes, it’s important to keep it clean to prevent tear stains. Dog owners should be taught how to clean their dogs’ eyes to avoid irritating their eyes, which can cause redness or inflammation. Use a gentle, tear-free shampoo to clean the area, and wipe away any excess moisture with a clean, dry towel.

Regular grooming is also essential for dogs with long hair, as hair can quickly get into their eyes and cause irritation. Just watch for any potential health issues and take steps to protect their eyes from the sun.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do dogs’ eye colors change as they get older?

Yes, a dog’s eye color can change as they age. Some dogs will change their eye color due to genetics, while others may develop a condition that affects their eye color.

Can dogs have blue eyes?

Yes, dogs can have blue eyes. However, blue eyes in dogs are usually seen in certain breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Australian Shepherds.

Why do some dogs have one blue eye and one brown eye?

This condition is called heterochromia, and it occurs when there is a difference in the amount of melanin in each eye. It can be genetic, or it can be caused by injury or disease.

Do puppies’ eye colors change over time?

Yes, puppies’ eye colors can change as they grow and develop. Most puppies are born with blue eyes, but their eye color can change as they age.

Is it normal for a puppy’s eyes to change from blue to green?

Yes, it’s normal for a puppy’s eyes to change color as they age. Most puppies will have a change in eye color by the time they are six to twelve weeks old.

Why do dogs’ eyes change color when they’re angry?

Dogs’ eyes can appear to change color when angry or aroused due to changes in the size of their pupils and the amount of light reflected by their eyes.

Will my puppy keep his green eyes?

It’s hard to say whether your puppy will keep his green eyes, as eye color can be influenced by genetics and other factors. However, it’s possible that your puppy’s eye color could change as he grows and develops.

Conclusion

While a dog’s eyes can stay blue throughout life, it is not guaranteed. Dog breed and genetics play a significant role in determining the color of a dog’s eyes. 

Additionally, as a dog ages, their eye color may change due to the development of cataracts or other eye conditions. It is important to note that the color of a dog’s eyes does not affect their overall health or well-being.

While blue eyes may be desirable for some dog owners, it should not be the sole factor in choosing a pet. When selecting a new furry friend, it is essential to consider other factors, such as temperament, exercise, and grooming requirements. As responsible pet owners, we should focus on providing our dogs with the love, care, and attention they need to live happy and healthy lives.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.