Why Do Some Dogs Have 2 Different Eye Colors?

Heterochromia iridis is a genetic default when a living being has two different color eyes. Seen more often in dogs, cats and horses, it is a condition that may be present in humans as well, though not as often. There is a couple interesting legends floating around about this intriguing attribute. There are also a few myths that should be dispelled concerning this not so unusual trait.


shutterstock_57827770There are a few legends floating around about dogs with two different color eyes. One myth says that dogs with two different color eyes can view heaven and earth at the same time. Another story goes that heterochromatic dogs are natural protectors, while brown or red eye dogs are considered spirit dogs. Legend says it that sled dogs with heterochromia are faster than dogs with the same color eyes. Are any of these true? Whether the tales are true or not, it does make for interesting speculation.


Dogs with one blue eye suffer from the misconception that eye must be blind. This generally isn’t the case. Dogs living with heterochromia generally have accurate canine vision, which is much different than that of a human’s vision. If an owner is wondering whether their dog suffers from partial blindness and is afraid or embarrassed to ask their vet, a simple sight test may be performed. Have someone sit behind the dog and cover one eye. Stand in front of the dog with a large colorful bouncy ball. Drop the ball, if the eye follows the ball the dog can see well enough. Switch eyes and try again.


There is more speculation than evidence if this may be a breedable trait; meaning that it may be bred on purpose. Most cross breeds have the genetic potential to breed heterochromatic offspring. Pure breeds more often afflicted is the Australian Shepherd, Dalmatians, Cathoulas, or Huskies, however, no breed is immune to it. It is considered a defect by most dog show associations and any dog will automatically be disqualified. Huskies are the exception. A husky with heterochromia will still be allowed to show in the ring.

This is an incredible looking “defect” that gives any dog a unique look about them. There is nothing physically wrong with the dog; nothing will develop in the future because of this genetic issue. Embrace the uniqueness of the dog and dispel the myths surrounding this genetic glitch.


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