Everything you need to know about dogs with blue eyes

Have you ever wondered why it’s so rare to see a dog with blue eyes? Only around 5% of dogs have blue eyes, with brown being the most common eye colour.

Although all dogs are beautiful, breeds with classic icy-blue eyes are particularly captivating. Blue eyes are striking, elegant, and expressive in a way that’s unlike any other colour — as you’ll often find in breeds, such as Siberian huskies, Weimaraners, and Australian Shepherds. In most cases, special genetic variants are the reason certain dogs are blessed with this remarkable eye colour.

What breeds have blue eyes?

The Siberian husky is famous for its striking eyes, which are often icy blue. Siberian Huskies can also have brown eyes or heterochromatic eyes, meaning irises that are different colours. Huskies are pack dogs bred for companionship, and they’re also extremely active — requiring over two hours of exercise a day. They’re therefore a great choice for active families. Alternatively, Weimaraners also often have either blue or amber eyes, which contrast beautifully with their beautiful silver-grey coats. Like Huskies, Weimaraners have plenty of energy, and do well with active families. The Australian Shepard is another breed with stand-out eyes. Australian Shepherds with merle coats — a distinctive pattern featuring irregular blotches of pigmentation — are more likely to have either blue eyes, or heterochromatic eyes. Featuring a long, double coat, naturally bobbed tail, and solid, muscular build, Australian Shepherds are a stunning breed. As they’re herding dogs, Australian Shepherds are bursting with energy, as well as intelligent and loyal.

What causes blue eyes?

In humans, eye colour is determined by genes, which are largely inherited from our parents. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, and in rare cases, a child may be born with different coloured eyes to both parents. It turns out that dogs are no different. Some dogs are born with a genetic variant that causes blue eyes. Merle-coloured dogs, in particular, have a gene that often results in blue or partially blue eyes, while the same goes for dogs who carry the piebald gene. In addition to blue eyes, the piebald gene results in white patches of colour on the coat. Heterochromatic eyes are also usually hereditary, meaning they’re passed down along certain genetic lines. However, heterochromia can also sometimes be the result of a health issue or eye injury, so if you notice this condition suddenly appearing in your dog, it’s important to schedule a checkup with the vet.
Dogs may also have blue eyes due to albinism — a rare genetic condition caused by a gene mutation resulting in a lack of melanin and pigmentation. Dogs with albinism usually have either a white or off-white coat, along with a pink nose, lips, skin, and paw pads, and blue or white eyes. It’s important to note that just because a dog has a white coat doesn’t automatically mean it has albinism.

Is there cause for concern?

Although dogs with blue eyes may be more sensitive to light than dogs with brown eyes, or even green eyes, their vision is usually fine. On the other hand, a double-merle dog — a dog who’s inherited the merle gene twice — will often have poor vision, and may even be completely blind. Double-merle dogs may also be completely white, deaf, and have very small eyes or unusual irises, in addition to vision problems or blindness. It’s therefore not recommended to breed two merles together. Moreover, dogs can also sometimes develop pale, cloudy, or blue eyes as they age, which may be a sign of several health conditions, including cataracts or nuclear sclerosis. Although cataracts can result in significant vision impairments, nuclear sclerosis doesn’t affect vision and requires no treatment. If your dog displays any signs of vision problems — such as, white spots on the eyes, cloudy eyes, or red or swollen eyes — it’s important to contact your vet, so they can identify any underlying health issues and recommend treatment.
Blue is a striking eye colour in dogs, and is usually not a sign of any sort of health issue. However, if one or both of your dogs’ eyes suddenly start turning blue or cloudy, it’s important to get them checked over by the vet as soon as possible.