All puppies are born with blue(ish) eyes because the eye pigment melanin has yet to develop fully. Although this can look very adorable, the color will most likely not stay blue unless their parents also have blue eyes in which case it’s inherited. Most mature dogs actually have brown or green eyes.
Puppies’ eyes start to change color when they are about four weeks old. It can take between 9 to 16 weeks, though, for some puppies to reach their mature eye color. This depends on when the pigment melanin has fully developed. Some breeds will keep blue eyes throughout their entire life.
In this article, we’ll discuss the development of puppies’ vision and eye color from when they are first born until when they are mature. We’ll also reveal why puppies are born with blue eyes, what the connection is between coat color and eye color, and everything you need to know about heterochromia.
The Eyes of a Newborn Puppy
During the first eight to fourteen days of a puppy’s life, their eyes are almost permanently closed. Their eyes will slowly start to open more and more to reveal blue eyes underneath! As a puppy’s eyes are slowly opening, their vision also develops further in the same way that their eye color emerges. After about three to four weeks, they can see things more clearly instead of the hazy vision they previously had.
From Baby Blues To Mature Eye Color
About three to four weeks after birth, a puppy’s actual eye color will slowly become visible, with the whole process of the eventual fully ‘settled’ eye color taking about nine to twelve weeks (!). So, it’s still too early to tell what your dog’s adult eye color will be. Deep brown is the most common eye color for a dog, so around this time, you might be seeing some dark tones appearing in their eyes.
Of course, your dog may have naturally blue eyes, depending on its breed. For example, Siberian Huskies and Australian Shepherds often have blue eyes or even two different colored eyes. I’ll go into this further later on in the article.
Why Are Puppies Born With Blue Eyes?
Puppies all have blue eyes because the pigment melanin in their irises isn’t (entirely) developed yet. Because of the lack of melanin, their eyes appear blue but are actually more of a clear color. They seem bluer because of the refraction and reflection of light in combination with the lack of melanin. The exact shade of blue will depend on the dog, as they are, obviously, all different!
It will take several weeks for the melanin to develop in your puppies’ eyes. The more melanin they develop, the darker their eyes will become. So, if they have less melanin, their eyes will naturally be a lighter shade.
How To Know if Your Puppy Will Keep Their Blue Eyes
If you want to know if your puppy will keep their lovely blue-eyed peepers, you can take a look at the parents. If they (both) have blue eyes, your pup will most likely also go in this direction. As I mentioned, this depends on the breed the dog is. If your dog carries the merle gene, there is also a big chance that their matured eye color is blue but more on this later.
Most Common Eye Color
Most dogs have brown eyes. Which shade, however, can vary immensely from breed to breed. Very dark brown eyes can sometimes even appear black due to lighting differences.
Coat Color and Eye Color
Intriguingly, there is a connection between a dog’s coat color and their matured eye color. If you have a dog with a liver-color coat, they’re more likely to have an amber eye color (from light brown to yellowish to light gray). For a merle-colored coat, the chance of blue eyes is higher.
If your dog has dominant light patches of fur or is completely white, the chances that their matured eye color is blue are higher because of the fact that their cells are unable to develop pigmentation. These types of dogs carry the merle gene. Two dogs who carry the merle gene should not b allowed to mate since this can cause serious health issues with the litter such as blindness, deafness, or both.
However, not all dog breeds’ eye color depends on their coats. For example, Siberian Huskies have blue eyes because of a genetic mutation completely unrelated to their coat. Additionally, a dog’s coat color can never fully predict what its eye color will eventually be.
Heterochromia is the scientific term describing a pair of eyes with two different colors. Not only does this affect dogs, but it also occurs with cats, horses, and sometimes humans. The biological reason is a lack of (the pigment) melanin in all or part of one eye. In dogs, the eye in question can appear blue or bluish-white; the same reason why puppies have blue eyes as well (underdeveloped melanin).
With dogs, heterochromia is primarily hereditary, passed on to them through their genetic makeup. However, it can also be attained late in life due to an eye injury or other health condition. Generally, heterochromia is nothing to worry about. Still, if your dog’s eyes suddenly change color when they are already matured, it is best to get their eyes checked by a veterinarian.
Different Types of Heterochromia
There are three different types of heterochromia. These are:
- Heterochromia iridis (complete heterochromia): One of the two eyes is an entirely different color than the other
- Sectoral (or partial) heterochromia: When the iris is only partially blue
- Central heterochromia: In this case, the blue color radiates throughout the pupil while mixed with another color in a spiked pattern
Dogs Breeds That Have More Heterochromia
Heterochromia is not something we see in all dog breeds; certain types show it more often than others. Here are some examples of dog breeds that are more likely to develop heterochromia:
- Australian Shepherds
- Australian Cattle dogs
- Border Collies
- Shih Tzus
- Siberian Huskies
- Great Danes
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Heterochromia iridis is most common in Dalmatians, Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Cattle dogs.
Some people think that dogs (or cats, horses, or people for that matter) with heterochromia have issues with their health or eyesight, such as blindness or other vision problems. Luckily, this is not true in most cases. Most dogs have heterochromia because of a genetic predisposition.
Another common belief is that dogs with heterochromia have hearing issues. In most cases, this is untrue, although some dalmatians with heterochromia are more likely to be deaf!
Besides genetic heterochromia, there is acquired heterochromia, where your dog is not born with two different eye colors. This condition comes from an injury or another health condition. Because heterochromia looks similar to glaucoma and cataracts, you should take your dog to the vet just in case.
Luckily, most dogs with heterochromia do not have any related health issues; they just have a unique and uncommon lovely set of eyes!
Since blue is quite a unique eye color for mature dogs, it is extra special to see your newborn puppy with these exceptional peepers. However, can also be exciting to find out what the eye color of your puppy will be once they are developing more melanin and going towards maturity. You should determine what color your dog’s eyes have once their vision is fully matured within a maximum of sixteen weeks after they are born.