Those stunning blue eyes of the Australian Shepherd have long been a mystery. In this article, we answer all of your questions about why Australian shepherds can have different eye colors.
It is because of a gene mutation known as the merle gene that Australian Shepherds with blue eyes exist. Light blue eyes are a result of the merle gene, which causes an absence of iris pigment.
Facts About Australian Shepherds with Blue Eyes
The melanin deficiency in the iris causes Australian shepherd puppies with blue eyes to exist. Heterochromia is the medical term for this Australian shepherd condition.
The existence of melanocytes in the iris determines your Aussie eye colors.
Cells in the skin known as melanocytes produce melanin. Aussie eyes are probably “normal” brown because of the amount of melanin they typically have.
Green, amber, blue, or particolored eyes can be caused by the Heterochromia or blue merle Australian shepherd gene because it interferes with melanin creation and distribution.
Skin, hair, and nails all contain melanin, which is a pigment.
To use the correct terminology, we will use the following:
• Hyperchromic- A condition characterized by an overabundance of melanin in the form of dark or brown eyes is known as hyperchromic.
• Hypochromia- Melanin deficiency causes hypochromia (light blue eyes).
Blue eyes are the result of insufficient melanin, while brown eyes are the result of adequate melanin.
How to Know if You Will Have an Australian Shepherd with Blue Eyes?
Australian Shepherd heterochromia is almost always the result of a genetic mutation passed down from one generation to the next.
It is possible that an injury, sickness, or even brain trauma can cause heterochromia. We might call this condition “acquired heterochromia.”
While the Merle gene only affects eye color, it also has an effect on skin pigmentation and coat coloration! They have a wide variety of colors and patterns in their coats as a result of this.
In this breed and others, the Merle gene is responsible for a wide range of coat patterns and eye color variations.
Only a small percentage of the Australian Shepherd population is affected by the Merle gene, which is not found in all dogs. Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Border Collies, American Bully Dog’s, and many other breeds are also affected by this.
Because of your dog’s unique eye color, you might have thought that his coat and markings had something to do with it!
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Heterochromia: Is It Harmful To A Dog’s Health?
Other questions about heterochromia include whether it’s dangerous to dogs or might cause additional health problems.
The answer, as established by research, is no. Heterochromia does not appear to be associated with an increased danger of Australian Shepherd blue eyes problems, according to current scientific evidence.
Heterochromia has no negative impact on one’s vision or ability to see.
Cataracts are not to be mistaken for the classic blue hazy film that covers the eye.
To put it another way: this calls for immediate medical attention. Your veterinarian should examine your dog’s eyes if you notice an unusually blue hazy film forming over the pupils. This might be an indication of cataracts.
How Does Merle Occur?
An Aussie that does not have the merle gene can be mated with one which does. This results in merle puppies.
Semi-dominant means that there is a good chance of giving birth to merle puppies, but it is not an absolute certainty.
Some merle puppies are probably in the litter, however it’s possible that not all of them will be. There is a good chance that at least 50% of the litter will be merle, because the merle gene tends to predominate over non-merle.
Dogs that have the merle gene don’t guarantee having blue eyes, which is a bummer if you really want blue eyes.
The eyes of Merles are not always blue; they can be any of a variety of other hues. Non-merle dogs, on the other hand, may also have blue eyes.
Various Types of Merles
There are blue and red merles among Australian shepherds. Even if they don’t have any mottling, both blue and red can be considered solid merles because they continue to have the gene.
Various copper or white markings and patches with a marbling appearance can be found on other Aussies, including those that are red merle or blue merle. It’s possible, but not guaranteed, that these dogs have those stunningly clear blue eyes.
The cryptic merle, or “ghost” merle, is another type of merle Australian shepherd. They appear to have little or no merle markings.
The existence of the merle gene is what distinguishes a merle from a non-merle dog.
The problems that occur once a dog receives two copies of the Merle gene must be addressed. Heterochromia occurs once a dog has one copy of the Merle gene, however it can also occur once a dog has two.
Cataracts, blindness, and even deafness are almost always the result of having two copies of the Merle gene.
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Non-Merle Blue-Eyed Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds without merles occasionally have blue eyes. One or both of the eyes can be blue. Occasionally, they appear to be half blue and half pigmented. They are rarely flecked or marbled in color.
The merle, white trim, or albino genes have nothing to do with this specific type of blue eye (which probably does not exist in dogs). Despite being slightly more light-sensitive than those with brown eyes, these eyes are perfectly healthy and functioning normally.
In addition to Siberian Huskies, there are many other breeds that have this type of blue eye.
We don’t know how the blue eyes are passed down. But because they can be a single or a pair, and because one eye can be half-and-half, we can assume that either more than one gene is involved. Or there is regulatory DNA that influences the function of the gene(s) that cause this type of blue eyes.
A blue-eyed non-merle breeder Congenital deafness is not an issue in Australia. In accordance with breed standards, they are sound and correct.
A reliable breeder will conduct genetic testing on every breeding dog because merles can produce unhealthy Australian shepherds.
Although in some merle Australian shepherd, carrying the merle gene is clearly visible in their eye color and coat. In others that have the gene, their external appearances may not reveal a clue.
Playing Russian roulette by assuming that they don’t have the gene mutation is like a bad bet. You should only buy an Australian shepherd from an established breeder if you are certain of their reputation.
Use a reputable breeder who conducts genetic testing on their dogs and maintains accurate records when searching for an Australian shepherd puppy.
Do please remember that merle Aussies are more healthy than other merle breeds. The fact that they have this gene doesn’t mean they are infected with the disease.
When it comes to Australian shepherds, whether or not they have blue eyes is irrelevant; they’re a great family dog!
READ MORE: Australian Shepherd Shedding Guide: How Much Do Aussies Shed?
Australian Shepherd Eyes: How Long Do They Stay the Same Color?
Most dog breeds, including the Australian Shepherd, begin life with blue eyes. Many different shades of blue can be found, and they can even include flecks of brown and green and gray.
If you’ve got a blue eyed Aussie pup, how old will their eyes begin to change?
Between the ages of 8 and 10 weeks, Australian shepherds begin to change their eye color. It’s possible that one or both of your Aussie’s eyes will always be blue if they carry the Merle gene.
By three months of age, the puppy’s eye color changes should be settled and his future eye color will be displayed. Puppy parents have reported seeing a change in eye color up to six months in some cases.
When your Australian Shepherd is a year old, it’s very unlikely his eye color will change significantly. Unless a blue haze appears due to a developing eye problem like cataracts.
Australian Shepherds with the Rarest Eye Color
You may find Australian shepherd with different colored eyes on the internet. One brown and one blue eye is unquestionably “rare” and “uncommon” for most people, but that’s not where the unusualness ends.
In Australian Shepherds, green is considered the rarest eye color. When melanin levels are only high enough to move the color beyond blue but not dark enough to be brown or amber, green eyes result.
Green eyes are the rarest because the likelihood of having “just the right” amount of melanin are extremely low.
However, seeing a dog with a pair of particolored eyes is one of the most mesmerizing sight, at least to me and many others. It means that an eye has a variety of hues.
Blue eyed Australian Shepherd prices would actually vary from country to country. Make sure that you will buy an Aussie that is fully vaccinated and healthy so that you will not have a greater problem in taking care of it.
The other half of the eye might be brown, amber, or green, with a blue tint on one half. It’s fascinating to watch the different ways the two colors mix.
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Common Eye Problems of Australian Shepherds
Sadly, Aussies are susceptible to eye issues, so regular checkups are recommended.
Almost all eye-related problems can be resolved and there are numerous treatment options. Early intervention is typically more effective in resolving the issue.
I’ll go over some of the common problems and what they entail.
Cataracts are the most common eye-related problem in dogs, affecting between 4% and 6% of the breeds.
Age and genetic predisposition are the most common causes of cataracts. Juvenile cataracts can happen to Aussies at 6 months of age, so this isn’t always the case.
A blue hazy film that spreads across the eye is likely to be a sign of cataracts. An accumulation of protein causes the blue color. Cataracts are more treatable the earlier they are identified and treated.
Extra hairs that grow inside the eyelid and brush against the eye’s surface cause this irritating and painful problem. There are many breeds of dogs that are susceptible to developing this problem, but it is more common in Australian Shepherds.
Because this problem can go unnoticed, it can lead to eye ulcers and chronic pain in the eye. The best way to avoid this problem is to get regular eye exams.
• Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
There is no discomfort associated with this eye condition, but there is no treatment. PRA is a disease that is inherited and causes the eyes to be “genetically programmed” to go blind.
Aussies are more prone to this eye condition than other breeds, and there are tests you can do to identify it.
• Pannus (chronic superficial keratitis)
A condition known as Pannus affects the cornea, or the clear part of the eye. Hereditary in nature, pannus typically affects older dogs.
An initial pink/gray film will develop over the cornea, and it will not cause any discomfort. Eventually, the cornea may become completely obscured by a dark mass, rendering vision impossible. Both eyes are impacted by Pannus, however one might be more severe than the other.
Having Regular Checkups With Your Vet is Important
To wrap things up, let’s talk about how important it is to take your pet to the vet on a regular basis. You only need to see your veterinarian a few times a year to keep an eye on your Aussie’s health.
Because veterinarians are well-versed in breed-specific health problems, you can count on them to thoroughly examine your pet’s eyes every time you visit them.
As we have mentioned earlier, the sooner an issue is discovered, the better the chances of a successful treatment.
The importance of good vision for our dogs’ well-being should go without saying. We should do everything in our power as reliable dog parents to ensure that they have access to it.
As a result of heterochromia and the Merle gene, Australian Shepherds have blue eyes. Also because melanin isn’t distributed properly in the iris.
LEARN MORE: Australian Shepherd Ears: How to Care for Them
Do you have Australian Shepherds with blue eyes? How are you taking care of them? Do you have something to share with us?
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