Don’t deny it, it warms your heart to see your beloved puppy’s blue eyes. Charming and piercing as they are, those blue lobes make your puppy more endearing, don’t they? But even in that delight, the keener dog owner could be a bit concerned. Is it normal for puppies to have blue eyes, or are your puppy’s blue eyes suggestive of an eye condition?
It is normal for puppies to have blue eyes as they are born with such. The concentration of blue, however, varies from one puppy to another. The puppy could have bluish eyes with small portions of brown, green, or green spots on them in some cases. In other cases, the puppy could have pure blue eyes. As the puppy matures, it would either retain the blue eyes or change eye color.
There is so much to know about your puppy’s charming blue eyes. Will the eye color eventually change? If yes, how long before the eyes start changing color? At what age will you be able to ascertain if your dog will have blue eyes for life? These are some of the intriguing questions we will answer in this guide.
Why Does My Puppy Have Blue Eyes?
Dogs are born with their eyes shut. These eyes remain closed for at most the first two weeks – although some pups open their eyes as early as the eighth day.
As the infant dog’s eyes start opening, you would notice the eyes are kind of a bluish fog. This is typical for all dogs except albino dogs. The latter is born with pink (red or white) eyes.
The regular pup’s eyes are blue owing to the absence of melanin in their iris upon birth. In some puppies, the blue color has more concentration or depth than others. For others, the blue eyes have a bit of grayish tone.
How Long Do Puppy Eyes Stay Blue?
Depending on the dog’s breed (and eye condition), the dog’s eyes could change after the first ten weeks. By now, if the dog will not be retaining the blue hue for life (as typical of most huskies), the eyes will start darkening.
As such a dog approaches its third month, its eyes will start approaching full brown. Some dogs have relatively enhanced retention of the blue eye gene (as we will learn later).
However, this blue eye gene is quite random in its occurrence. Therefore, you are not assured of getting a dog with the blue eye gene despite mating parents with blue eyes.
Do Blue-eyed Dogs Have Health Problems?
Yes, there are cases where blue eyes are suggestive of health problems in dogs. Take, for example, an infection like canine hepatitis.
When it affects a dog, it makes the cornea look blue. The same applies to cataracts, which tend to make the dog’s iris a bit cloudy (in the form of a milky white) flecked with blue.
Other than this, blue eyes in dogs most results from the genetic configuration of the dog. Dogs like the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Siberian Husky, and the Border Collie have the merle gene related to blue eyes.
This gene triggers the dilution of the iris’ pigmentation, giving it a bluish tinge. The merle gene is also associated with the color of the dog’s coat.
At What Age Can You Tell if a Puppy Will Have Blue Eyes?
As your puppy matures, you should be able to tell if it will have blue eyes for life or not. You can detect this at the earliest stage of your dog’s eye color maturation.
By the first month – or even as early as the first three weeks – the eye color your dog will end with will gradually start appearing. By this time, if the puppy was to end with deep brown eyes, you should start noticing chocolate tinges in the eyes.
Gradually, this tone will consolidate, typically by the third month or even the ninth week. At this point, your dog’s eye color is said to have settled. Take note that there are extreme cases where a dog develops its permanent eye color as late as the fourth month.
Do Puppies with Blue Eyes Stay Blue?
Not all puppies born with blues have those eyes stay blue permanently. The beautiful blue you see on your puppy when it opens its eyes results from light refraction and reflection on the iris.
This is because these eyes lack melanin to suck in such incident eye rays. It will take a few weeks before the eyes begin to produce such melanin. Up till then, your pup’s eyes will stay blue.
The permanence – or eventual fade – of such blue eyes your pup has at the start is essentially decided by the stroma’s volume of melanin production. The stroma is the second layer in your dog’s cornea and is usually the thickest layer. This layer is predominantly comprised of collagen.
The amount of melanin produced in the stroma tells how blue or dark the dog’s eyes end. Much melanin means dark brown eyes in your dog.
When the melanin production is not significant, your dog’s final eye colors can be green or amber. When the melanin is significantly scarce, your dog’s eye can be blue.
Will My Husky Puppy’s Eyes Stay Blue?
Huskies are famed for their daring wolfish look flanked with those adorable blue eyes. Those signature blue eyes are very prevalent in huskies at their birth.
As a puppy, Huskies open their eyes around the eighteenth to the twentieth day after birth. At this time, the eyes are a sparkling blue.
However, while all normal Huskies are born with blue eyes, not all will have blue eyes for life. Yes, the majority of Huskies have permanent blue eyes (due to the merle gene). But there are some that their eye color will start changing within the first 5-8 weeks.
For this latter cluster, you will begin to see their final eye color around the third week. There have been cases where huskies change their color as late as the sixth month.
If your Husky is not retaining its blue eyes, you will start noticing a color migration in the eyes to a darker tone – say a gray shade or even brown – by the fifth week. By the 12th-16th week, you should see the final eye color of your Husky.
Interestingly, despite the blue eyes in Husky based on genetic composition, a purebred Husky from blue-eyed parents can end up with brown eyes.
Dog Breeds with Blue Eyes
Several conditions amplify the chances of certain dogs ending with blue eyes. These conditions include dog breeds with the merle gene, dogs with white patches of fur on their face, albinism, and dogs with heterochromia.
Dog Breeds with the Merle Gene
The merle gene is the primary cause of blue eyes in dogs. The merle gene is commonly typified by scattered pigment dilution in the dog’s fur, eyes, and nose.
The higher the pigment dilution in the dog – say on its skin or fur – the higher the chances of blue eye occurrence. Some dog breeds are known to carry the merle gene.
These breeds include the Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, Hungarian Mudi, Collie, Dachshund, Bergamasco, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Great Dane, and the Old English Sheepdog.
Don’t forget the unpredictability in the occurrence of blue eyes. We will here reemphasize that the presence of a merle gene in your dog doesn’t guarantee it will have blue eyes as its final eye color.
As we will learn later down this guide, this merle gene, despite its desirability (regarding blue eyes), has its health challenges on the dog.
Such health risks are particularly significant for “double merle” dogs. These are dogs whose two parents carry the merle gene.
Such double merle dogs face a greater risk of being born blind or deaf, and in some cases, deaf and blind concurrently. We strongly frown at breeding two dogs that carry this merle gene.
Instead, it is recommended that you breed a Merle carrier with a non-carrier. This means if you have a dog with the merle career, you must be pretty selective of its mate – which could mean more investigative work on your hand sorting through its partners.
Dogs with White Patches of Fur on Their Face
Dogs with white fur scattered about their face have increased chances of ending up with blue eyes. Such white fur is commonly located in the regions of the nose and eyes.
This white fur is also suggestive of the lack of pigmentation in those regions. The more the white patches’ prevalence (or dominance), the thicker the possibility of the dog having blue eyes.
Dogs with Heterochromia
As a condition, heterochromia denotes multiple eye coloration, as can be seen from the “hetero-” prefix. Dogs with heterochromia commonly have eyes of a different color.
This is widespread in dog breeds like Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Border Collies, and Australian Cattle Dogs. Such multicolored eyes can be blue and brown eyes (in the case of complete heterochromia) or iris being partially blue, as in sectoralheterochromia.
Dogs with Albinism
Dogs with albinism – alternatively referred to as C-series – also exhibit a significant lack of pigmentation. This could result in the dog having blue eyes and a pinkish nose. Of course, pure albino dogs (in the very sense of the word) don’t exist.
Are There Potential Eye Defects Associated with Blue Eyes and Merle Genes in Dogs?
The most prevalent eye defect associated with the merle gene is microphthalmia. This defect causes the dog to have abnormally small eyes.
There are extreme cases of microphthalmia where the eyes are so reduced that you can barely see them. The worst affected dogs can be born blind.
PPM (persistent pupillary membrane) is another defect associated with the merle gene. Such pupillary membrane occurs when the eye is forming in the uterus. Normally, it would recede after the first weeks of the dog’s birth.
If it doesn’t regress (as seen in PPMs), the dog can suffer severe vision handicaps. It is also worth noting that dogs with double merle genes stand a higher chance of getting cataracts later on in their lives.
The one way to prevent all these defects associated with merle genes is avoiding breeding two dogs that show characteristics related to the merle gene.