Scientists recently determined that in ancient times, dogs evolved with the capability to melt our hearts with their puppy dog eyes, thus forging a lasting friendship with mankind. Today, we also tend to take an interest in our dog’s eye color, especially when it’s an unusual hue, like green.
Just how rare are green-eyed dogs?
Most dogs have brown eyes. A few breeds, like Siberian Huskies and Border Collies, have blue eyes. Some dogs are considered odd-eyed, with one blue and brown eye. You may have even come across a dog with speckled, golden, or hazel eyes. But dogs with green eyes? You’re correct if you guessed that they’re quite a rarity.
What causes green eyes in dogs?
Genetics determine your dog’s eye color. The merle gene is responsible not only for determining light-colored eyes, such as amber, blue, or green, but it also plays a role in your dog’s coat color. Dogs with the merle gene will have a brindle or patchy coat color with irregular gray or beige areas.
There are several dog breeds that carry the merle gene. However, those green eyes still remain elusive and rare. The merle gene is common in Border Collies, Australian Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Great Danes, Weimaraners, Welsh Corgis, Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, and Pomeranians.
You may wonder why Siberian Huskies didn’t make this list. Their eye color is actually caused by a completely different gene.
So, which dog breeds actually have green eyes?
There are only two dog breeds that tend to have pale green or bluish-green eyes. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the only purebred with green eyes. All other dogs with green eyes are crossbreeds. The Pomeranian Husky is the other dog breed with green eyes.
Do dogs with green eyes have more health problems?
The merle gene does come with a few health issues. Perhaps not surprisingly, dogs with this gene may encounter certain eye problems. Colobomas may occur, which is when a portion of the iris does not fully develop. This condition is present at birth but doesn’t severely impact vision. In some cases, the iris is missing small notches, while some dogs with this condition may appear to be lacking their entire iris.
Additionally, as dogs with this gene age, they are more likely to develop glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Other health issues associated with the merle gene have to do with hearing. This gene may not support proper inner ear development, which may inhibit it from functioning properly. These dogs may have mild to severe deafness.
If a puppy has green eyes, will they stay green?
It’s not unusual for your puppy’s eyes to change as they grow and develop. While you may be excited to bring home a puppy with blue or green eyes, you may find that their eyes will change to amber as they age.
The reason behind this phenomenon has to do with the level of pigment, or eumelanin, in your growing dog’s eyes. Dogs with plentiful eumelanin in their irises will have brown eyes. Decreased amounts of pigment lead to amber eyes, while green eyes have only a trace amount of eumelanin and blue eyes have none. Blue eyes appear blue by refracting light in much the same way as the sky or the ocean.
Why do my dog’s eyes reflect green at night?
If you are out with your dog at night and you shine a flashlight in their direction, you may notice that their eyes seem to glow green. Not all dogs’ eyes do this, but those that do have a light-reflecting surface that’s also found in other species in nature. Your dog, like animals that are nocturnal or crepuscular (active at twilight), has eyes that act as mirrors, enabling them to see better in dark conditions.
If you’re thinking of buying a dog with green eyes, such as an American Pit Bull Terrier or a Pomeranian Husky, be sure that you’ve learned as much as you can about these two active and energetic breeds. American Pit Bull Terriers make caring and loyal family dogs when raised in a loving environment. However, they require plenty of attention, daily exercise, and sturdy chew toys. Pomeranian Huskies have thick double coats that require a great deal of maintenance. This breed varies in temperament, with some dogs requiring more independence, while others enjoy family life.
No matter the dog breed, if you encounter or are fortunate to own a dog with green eyes, take a moment to appreciate how rare it is!
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.