We’re used to seeing cats and their beautiful green eyes. But have you ever seen a dog with green eyes? Maybe, but possibly not that often! Dogs that have green eyes are not common and are highly unique.
So, how can dogs end up with green eyes? We’ll take a look at the answer to that question, along with some information about green eyes and health issues (are there any?), and finally review some dog breeds that have green eyes. Let’s get started!
How Common are Green Eyes in Dogs?
The truth is that most dogs have brown eyes or blue eyes. Some dogs can even have one eye of both colors. There are also dogs that have golden, amber, or hazel eyes.
When it comes to green eyes, these are very rare in dogs.
What Causes Green Eyes in Dogs?
A dog’s eye color comes down to his genes. Most dog breeds have brown eyes. When it comes to light-colored eyes, this is determined by the merle gene. The merle gene causes a certain pattern in a dog’s coat. The gene causes different colors and patterns that can cause a mottled or piebald coat, blue or odd-colored eyes, and even affect the skin color of a dog.
The merle gene is found on the canine chromosome 10 (CFA 10). The gene causes changes in eye and coat color by creating sections of fur that have less eumelanin. Eumelanin is responsible for dark colors in the eyes and the fur of canines.
Some dogs that have the merle gene have a brindled coat that has patches of colors with gray or beige areas that are irregular in the fur. The merle gene is most common in Great Danes, Weimaraners, Border Coolies, Australian Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Australian Sheepdogs, Corgis, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Cocker Spaniels.
Most dogs that have the merle genes have brown, blue, or amber eyes. Occasionally they have green eyes. However, more common are pale green or blue/green eyes.
The blue eyes you see in a Siberian Husky are not caused by the merle gene. The beautiful blue eyes of Huskies are determined by an entirely different gene.
What’s more, dogs that have dark brown eyes have more pigment in their eyes. Canines that have amber or yellow eyes have a small amount of pigment. However, dogs that have blue or green eyes don’t have much pigment at all. However, their eye color (blue or green) is caused by light refracting through the lens of their eyes, causing the blue or green colors we see.
Dog Breeds with Green Eyes
There are two dog breeds that have green or blue/green eyes; these are the American Pitbull Terrier. Then there’s the Pomsky, which is a hybrid dog breed that’s a cross between a purebred Pomeranian and a purebred Siberian Husky.
Health Issues Associated with the Merle Gene
The merle gene does seem to carry a few health issues that usually affect the dog’s eyes and ears. For instance, some dogs that carry the gene have mild to complete deafness. The same cells that cause coloration of the eyes (eumelanin) are also involved in creating the structure of the inner ear.
Dogs that have green eyes and a merle gene have less pigment in the eye. This can also affect their eyesight. Dogs that have green eyes can suffer from glaucoma and poor refraction within the eye. Another problem carried by the merle gene is colobomas.
This is a condition that causes what looks like a hole to form in the eye’s iris. However, it’s actually a portion of the iris that doesn’t develop. The condition can be present at birth but doesn’t seem to cause any severe vision problems. Colobomas is most common in Australian Shepherds.
If Puppies Have Green Eyes, Will They Change?
Just like human babies, a puppy’s eyes can change as they mature. Some puppies may have green or blue eyes; however, some change to amber as they mature.
This is caused by the level of pigment in the puppy’s eyes. Puppies with lots of eumelanin in their eyes usually have eyes that are colored some shade of brown. However, puppies that have lower amounts of pigment usually end up with amber or green eyes.
The color of a puppy’s eyes is determined by his genes and the amount of eumelanin he has in his eyes.
Why Do a Dog’s Eyes Look Green at Night?
Have you ever noticed that your dog’s eyes seem to glow green at night? This can happen if your fur baby has brown eyes! The coloration is caused by the tapetum lucidum, which is a light-reflecting surface at the back of the dog’s eyes.
The tapetum lucidum acts much like a mirrored surface and reflects light from outside the eye onto cells in the eye. In other words, this surface helps the dog take advantage of available light and improves his vision.
Many nocturnal animals have the same feature to help them see at night. You’ll find the tapetum lucidum in horses, deer, cattle, and nocturnal animals. This helps the animals spot predators at night.
Some animals have eyes that glow red, too. The color of the glow is determined by the amount of zinc and riboflavin in the tapetum lucidum. When it comes to dogs, the color may change depending on the dog’s eye & coat color and age.
Purebred Dog Breed with Green Eyes: The American Pitbull Terrier
The American Pitbull Terrier is descended from dogs that were used in bear- and bull-baiting back in the 1200s. Experts believe the dogs were bred from Mastiffs; however, over time, the dogs were bred to be smaller and to be more agile for these bloody sports. Thankfully, these sports were outlawed in 1835.
Today, reputable breeders only breed and raise dogs that are not aggressive. Their aim is to breed loving, loyal, friendly dogs who can become companions.
Pitbulls have a ton of energy and need a lot of exercise. The dogs are best for active families with pet parents who understand how to manage the dogs properly and with love.
American Pitbull Terriers are confident dogs that are very aware of their environment. They can make great watchdogs for this reason. However, the dogs should be properly trained and socialized from a young age.
Summing It Up
So, there you have it! Dogs that have green eyes have inherited this eye color due to specific genes, including the merle gene. And one purebred dog breed, the American Pitbull Terrier, can naturally have green eyes as an adult dog! And some dogs may have brown eyes that glow green!
It’s a very interesting topic to be sure. And if you happen to see a dog with green eyes, you’ve seen something very rare and beautiful in this world!