Why Do Australian Shepherds Have Different Colored Eyes?

Have you ever noticed that an Australian Shepherd dog has different colored eyes? The eyes of the breed are among their most striking and distinct features due to which they can be bit expensive. You might still ask yourself, “Why are their eyes different colors?” First, let’s explain and examine why Australian Shepherds have different eyes. The reason for heterochromia has to do with genetics.

Not every Aussie is born with the same eye color genetics. The reason why one individual has blue eyes and another has brown is due to genetics. Everyone has different genes, so a dog born with blue eyes may have a different set of genes from a dog born with brown or green eyes. This means the combination of genes in an Aussie’s DNA determines how their eyes look.

In this article, we will examine what determines an Aussie’s eye color and discuss the conditions which may cause an Aussie to be born with eyes of different colors.

What Colors Can an Australian Shepherd’s Eyes Be?

Some Aussies have blue or green eyes, and others have brown or amber eyes due to genetics. Each eye color has its pattern of genes passed down from generation to generation. As a result, some dogs have blue eyes, and some dogs have brown eyes, and the genetics of each eye color determines their eyes’ colors.

Six different colors can be found in an Aussie’s eye. Colors such as light blue-green, dark green, dark brown, hazel, golden, speckled, and hazel are possible in an Aussie’s eyes. These colors are genetically possible because they all have different combinations of genes in their DNA, creating very different patterns in their eye color.

Why Do Australian Shepherds Have Blue Eyes?

Blue eyes are a result of a lack of melanin in the iris. Because the iris is always dark, when an Aussie has a blue eye, it is usually caused by the lack of melanin. This can also be caused due to a genetic condition called “blue iris syndrome” – when one eye turns blue because of a hereditary trait or condition. This condition can happen in any breed, which is uncommon in Aussies.

Hypochromic = A lack of melanin (light blue eyes)

Hyperchromic = An excess of melanin (dark/brown eyes)

Why do Australian Shepherds have different colored eyes?

Well, the eye is one of the traits of many dogs that their parents can pass down. Dogs have two parents. So if one parent has blue eyes and the other green, this puppy will have black eyes because two copies of each gene were passed down. If the mother is black and the father is blue, there is a 50% chance that their pup will have blue eyes. If a puppy’s parents have different eye colors, there is a 100% chance that the pup’s eyes will be different colors.

Dogs have different eye colors due to the amount of melanin (pigment) present in the iris. Melanin is responsible for the brown/black color. Hypochromic means less melanin, and hyperchromic means more melanin. Without melanin, the pup would have bright blue eyes; without melanin, the pup would have bright violet eyes. Melanin is produced by the cells of the iris called melanocytes.

Melanosomes are small groupings of pigment molecules located on top of these cells and are collected together closely by a proteoglycan or melanophore connected to a cap or dome over it. The caps absorb light from light reaching into the eye, allowing various colors to be produced in each eye (such as blue, green, and gold). In dogs with blue eyes, this structure is in a short-axon (S-A) configuration found within Doberman dogs.

Other dog breeds that may have different colored eyes are:

  • Dalmatians
  • Border Collies
  • Australian Cattle Dogs
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Dachshunds
  • Chihuahuas
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Shih-Tzus
  • Great Danes

Is Heterochromia Bad For Dogs?

Not at all. Heterochromia is a genetic mutation in dogs and occurs when there is a gene duplication for the protein called dark-sensitive melanopsin. In the case of dogs, this usually causes two types of melanin to be produced on the same iris (one type of dark brown/black and one type of bright blue). However, it can also produce two different types purple or red.

When Do Australian Shepherd Eyes Change Color?

The blue eyes of Australian Shepherds typically change from bright blue to a lighter shade of blue at about two years of age. Some Australian Shepherds will not change as often as others.

My Australian Shepherd Has One Eye Color. Is Something Wrong?

Australian Shepherds are a breed of sheepdog originating in Australia. They make excellent guard dogs but can also be very energetic and stubborn. Many Australian Shepherds have one blue eye, while the other is brown or black. This is not abnormal, but it is difficult to determine whether the blue eye will change to brown or black as the dog grows.

Can You Breed for Aussies with Different Eye Colors?

Yes, most Aussies have blue eyes, but not all do. It is possible to select blue-eyed Aussies, but you will also have to accept a fair percentage of brown or black-eyed Aussies in your breeding program.

4 Common Eye Problems In Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherd Eyes are subject to several common eye problems. A few of these issues are covered in this article, but many others go untreated by most breeders. This can lead to several serious health conditions for Aussies.

1. Cataracts

Cataracts affect around 4-6% of the breed population. Cataracts are caused by the build-up of proteins on the lens, which eventually results in blindness. This dog can only see when it is looking straight ahead. It cannot see sideways or to the side, even though it may try to do so because it cannot focus its eyes with all four eyes. Even though this dog will see well enough to be a working dog, it will have difficulty doing chores around the house and will not notice small sounds and people approaching from behind.

2. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye disease. It is usually caused by a defective gene, although it also can be inherited. Dogs with PRA are not blind. However, they cannot see well at all and cannot do regular activities like walking the dog or running in the park.

They will only respond to voice commands and may not even be able to recognize their owner.PRA can affect any dog at any age, but it is more common in dogs between the ages of 2 to 5 years old. The first signs may be difficulty seeing at night or problems walking the dog. PRA can progress to total blindness, and the dog will need to be euthanized.

3. Pannus (chronic superficial keratitis)

Pannus is the medical name for a condition in dogs where the cornea becomes inflamed. The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye. Pannus usually occurs in young dogs and causes them to go blind. It can also lead to more serious problems, including ulceration with infection and retinal detachment.

It appears as a white patch on the surface of the cornea, and it is highly contagious. A dog can have many patches on its eye, but only one can be infected at any time.

4. Distichiasis

Distichiasis, or double vision, is a very common condition in dogs. It is caused by extra eyelashes growing from the style, which are located behind the eye. These extra eyelashes can even cause the eyes to turn inwards, pushing on the cornea and making it difficult for the dog to see. It usually affects older dogs, although it occasionally occurs in younger dogs.

Dogs with distichiasis will have trouble seeing out of the corner of their eyes and will tilt their heads one way or another to try and see where they are going. Sometimes they will try to rub their eyes, but this only leads to more problems!


A number of different problems can happen to dogs, but they can be avoided by taking care of their eyes. As they age, dogs are more sensitive to the environment, so it is important to ensure they have good vision to avoid any problems. If you have a dog with any eye-related issues or if you have any other questions about your dog’s eyesight or health, please contact your veterinarian.

I hope you like the article. If you have any questions or problems you want to solve, do not forget to comment below, so we will be happy to help you.

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