What Dog Breeds Can Have Different Colored Eyes?
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Heterochromia irides (in Greek), or “differently colored iris” is a genetic default when a living creature has two differently colored eyes. Seen mostly in dogs, horses, and cats, this condition is present in humans as well. Some of the most common heterochromatic dogs include Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and even the average Beagle. Read this AnimalWised article to find out what dog breeds can have different colored eyes.
Folklore and reality
There are different legends about dogs with differently colored eyes. Some dogs with oddly colored eyes are said to protect heaven and earth at the same time, according to Native American lore. Another story says that while heterochromatic dogs protect mankind, brown or red-eyed dogs are spirit dogs. Another Inuit legend states that sled dogs with this odd-eye coloring are faster than those with same colored eyes! The truth is that there is a genetic reason behind the difference in coloring. Melanin, a pigment responsible for coloring the eyes deferentially, resulting in odd-eyed coloring. Now that that is settled, let's see which breeds are heterochromatic.
Dogs with complete heterochromia
Different colored eyes in certain breeds are not uncommon and can be seen frequently. These include the following:
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Shepherd
- Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog
The American Kennel Club standard even discussed how the Siberian husky may have a single brown or blue eye or partly colored eyes with flecks in them. Another odd-eye colored dog is the Australian Shepherd which originates in the USA. The Australian shepherd is a ranch or farm dog which is also an amazing, affectionate and loyal pet. Aussie Shepherds, according to the United States Australian Shepherd Association, come with blue or red merle coats and have blue and brown eye pairs. Another American breed that has eyes which are oddly-colored is the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dogs.
Dogs With Partial/Sectoral Heterochromia
In sectoral or partial heterochromia, the dog has a multi-colored eye, where one color is a different shade from the remainder of the eye. This is found in dogs with the Merle trait, such dogs usually include the following:
- Catahoula cur
- Great Dane
- Welsh Corgi
- Border Collies
- Australian Cattle dog
This result when eumelanin is diluted or modified by recessive genes in D or B series and can result in shades from yellow-green to yellowish gray. The merle gene dilutes random pigment parts in the eyes and nose. Blue eyes can result from pigment loss in the coat.
Siberian Huskies are a non-merle species which may also have sectoral heterochromia. In Native American legend, dogs with differently colored eyes have ghost eyes, because heaven can be seen with the blue eye and earth with the brown! English springers and Siberian huskies are some species with amber eyes.
The Merle Gene
The Merle gene causes blue color in the iris, and butterly noses. The gene also causes split or wall eyes ( called heterochromia too) where the dog has one amber or brown eye and a blue or a split eye with some blue in it. In dogs, a split eye varies from mostly blue to brown or amber. The more dilution in the coat of merle, the more heterochromia we can find.
Double or homozygous merles have blue eyes too. The Aussie Shepherd, Welsh Corgi, and Border Collies are all examples of merle processes. Albinism and white coating around the eye are also caused by genes. However, there are no full cases of albinism in dogs, though Dobermans report intermediate form of this. Ultimately, each dog is special and whatever interesting features he has, the traits such as heterochromia are part of his distinctive identity and something true dog lovers adore.
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