Blue eyes in dogs are a rare physical trait that makes them look very noticeable.
When was the last time you saw a dog with blue eyes? Given that only 5 percent of all dogs are born with baby blues, we’d bet it was a minute!
“Blue eyes can mean a number of things,” says Laura Robinson, DVM and medical advisor at Pawp. “Sometimes it’s a genetic variant that causes blue eyes, like in huskies, while there is another gene that causes blue eyes in dogs that are ‘piebald’ or predominantly white dogs.”
She adds that there’s another gene that causes the blue eyes associated with merle-colored dogs. (Merle refers to a genetic pattern in a dog’s fur and skin that creates blotchy pigment spots. It’s common among Australian shepherds.) “When a dog inherits two copies of the merle gene, problems arise,” she says. “These ‘double merle’ pups are often born completely white, blind, and deaf and can have unusually small eyes or abnormal irises. For these reasons, it is generally considered a bad practice to breed two Merle carriers. “
Dr. Link Welborn, North American Chief Veterinary (NACV) Officer at Covetrusadds that albinism is another reason dogs have blue eyes. While dogs with blue eyes may be more sensitive to light than dogs with green or brown eyes, Dr. Robinson that these pups can almost always see well unless they are a “double-merle” carrier. However, you should be concerned if your dog is showing signs of poor eyesight or has dark eyes that turn pale, cloudy, or bluish. “Sometimes as dogs get older, their eyes can turn a ‘bluish color,’ which can indicate eye health problems such as cataracts or glaucoma that can affect the dog’s vision,” says Dr. Robinson. “If you notice this in your dog, call your vet.” Find out if dogs can see colors.
Now that you know why there are dogs with blue eyes, let’s get to know 12 of the most popular dog breeds that are known to display this rare physical trait.
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1. Siberian husky
Known for their thick fur, high energy levels, and endurance, the Siberian Husky is one of the most popular breeds of dogs with blue eyes. They are pack dogs, which means they love hanging out with other pups. They also need a lot of space to run and burn their energy, so a large garden is a must. Their appearance is not only noticeable because of their blue eyes, but also because of their strongly contrasting white, gray and black fur.
2. English typesetter
The English Setter is a cheerful, medium-sized puppy who reaches 80 pounds for males and 55 pounds for females and has a unique, speckled coat pattern. Although their eyes are usually brown, they can sometimes have blue eyes, notes Dr. Welborn. Along with Dalmatians, English Cocker Spaniels, and Bull Terriers, this breed is more likely to be deaf when it has blue eyes, says Dr. Welborn.
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The Weimaraner is a medium-sized pooch with a sleek, silvery-gray coat that often has a small white patch on its chest. His eyes are also pale in color – usually amber or steel blue-gray. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends having this sport dog’s eyes examined along with its hips and thyroid.
Known for their white fur with black spots, the Dalmatian is related to firefighters. He is a medium to large-sized dog with a muscular build and an athletic disposition. Because of their energy, these graceful trotting dogs are perfect companions for avid outdoor enthusiasts, and their loyalty also makes them excellent watch dogs. Dalmatians have either brown or blue eyes, although blue is less common.
5. Border collie
This lovable and clever herding puppy has a small to medium build and a longer, weather-resistant double coat. While brown eyes are the most common in this breed, there are some Border Collie dogs with blue eyes. They can also have what is known as heterochromia (Latin for “different colors”). “Congenital heterochromic irides with a consistently blue eye are a normal variation in eye color and these dogs have normal eyesight,” says Dr. Welborn. “Congenital heterochromia iridis (yes, only one letter difference between the two terms) refers to the same iris with different pigmentation areas. For example brown and blue areas in the same eye. “
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German for “Dachshund”. The Dachshund is a small and brave breed that has some serious hunting skills (hence the name). Today they are affectionately known as “Wiener Dogs” because of their resemblance to a hot dog: a long torso with four short legs. Dachshunds can have either long or short hair and usually have chocolate brown eyes. In very rare cases, they can have blue eyes if they have the merle or dappled gene.
7. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi has a similar physique to the Dachshund, with its long torso and short legs, although this guardian breed is slightly larger at 25 to 38 pounds. It comes in a variety of coat colors, including red and blue merle, and has a long and fluffy tail. According to the AKC’s official standard for the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, “Blue eyes (including partial blue eyes) or one dark and one blue eye are permitted in Blue Merles and any coat color other than Blue Merle.” Just try not to grin from ear to ear as you look at these 26 cute corgi pics.
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8. Australian Shepherd
As an adorable member of the herd group, this puppy is a particularly popular Merle dog breed with green eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes, or heterochromia. Their fur is of medium length and somewhat coarse, they have a curved tail and an agile, muscular build. All of this makes for a really eye-catching appearance and makes them such natural shepherds in many climates.
9. Great Dane
The majestic and classy looking Great Dane has a slender, slender physique and iconic oversized pointy ears. Their fur is caramel-colored except for their black face, and they are fairly tall, between 140 and 175 pounds. Things get a little interesting when it comes to her eyes. There are many Great Dane puppies with blue eyes, but their eye color usually changes to amber or brown as they get older. In rare cases, their eyes may remain blue. Speaking of puppies, check out these 50 cutest dog breeds as puppies.
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10. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers have consistently been one of the most popular dog breeds – and for good reason. They have an inherently sweet and loyal disposition, are easy to train, and are known to be one of the smartest breeds of dogs. This breed comes in three basic colors: gold, chocolate, and black. As with many of the puppies on this list, they are more likely to have brown or amber eyes. Sometimes – often in combination with other breeds – there are chocolate brown or black dogs with blue eyes in this puppy family.
11. Bull terrier
You Will Know A Bull Terrier When You See One! It is a posh and unusual looking puppy with a wide and rounded snout, pointy ears, and a muscular, medium-sized white body. His triangular eyes are often dark brown, but on very rare occasions you can see this white dog with blue eyes. This is more common when a Bull Terrier is crossbred with a Merle dog.
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12. German Shepherds
This large breed of dog has a regal and refined charisma, and is also known for being wickedly smart. That’s part of why they’re an excellent breed for K-9 units, and why they have a reputation for being loyal guard dogs. Her athletic figure and courageous attitude help with that too! While German Shepherds quite rarely have blue eyes, this can sometimes happen due to genetic variation.
- Laura Robinson, DVM and Medical Advisor at Pawp
- Link Welborn, DVM, North American Chief Veterinary (NACV) Officer at Covetrus