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Why do dogs have different coloured eyes?

Jun 18, 2023

Duncan Houston

Dog eye color can vary widely due to genetic factors. The primary genes related to eye color produce the pigment melanin. Dogs with a lot of melanin will typically have brown eyes, while those with less melanin may have lighter, amber eyes or even very light blue eyes. The specific color is a result of the way light interacts with the iris and the amount of melanin it contains.

Some dogs have different colored eyes, a condition known as heterochromia. This can be due to the distribution of melanin across the two eyes. There are three types of heterochromia:

1. Complete heterochromia: This occurs when one iris is a completely different color than the other. This is commonly seen in breeds like the Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, and Border Collie.

2. Sectoral heterochromia: This is when a segment or sector of the iris is a different color than the rest of the iris in the same eye. This can occur in many different breeds.

3. Central heterochromia: This is when the central (pupillary) zone of the iris is a different color than the mid-peripheral (ciliary) zone, around the pupil.

Heterochromia can be inherited (as it often is in Huskies and Australian Shepherds), or it can occur as a random genetic variation. Additionally, it can be caused by a condition called mosaicism, where an individual has cells that are genetically distinct.

Please note that sudden changes in a dog's eye color could indicate a health problem, such as uveitis, cataracts, glaucoma, or other eye diseases. If you notice any changes in your dog's eye color, you should consult a veterinarian immediately.