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How rare are amber eyes in dogs?

A dog’s eye color is determined by genetics. While brown is the most common eye color in dogs, some breeds are known for their stunning amber eyes. Amber eyes range in shade from light yellow to rich gold. They are truly beautiful and unusual.

What causes amber eyes in dogs?

Amber eyes are linked to two rare genes: the liver gene and the D dilution gene. Dogs must have both genes to have amber eyes.

  • The liver gene changes the melanin or pigment in the iris from black to brown. This allows light to pass through the iris and reflect back red/orange.
  • The D dilution gene dilutes the melanin even further. This lightens the iris to shades of gold, copper, or amber.

These genes are uncommon. When they occur together, the pale amber eye color results.

What dog breeds can have amber eyes?

Amber eyes appear in a smattering of breeds. Here are some of the dogs that may showcase golden, copper, or yellow-orange eyes:

  • Siberian Husky
  • German Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Weimaraner
  • Dalmatian
  • Corgi
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Dachshund
  • Pomeranian
  • Miniature Schnauzer

However, amber eyes are still considered rare and unusual even in these breeds. Next we’ll look at some statistics on the rarity of amber eyes.

How rare are amber eyes statistically?

It’s difficult to pin down exact numbers, but amber eyes are found in a very small percentage of dogs. Here are some general statistics:

  • Less than 1% of all dogs have amber eyes
  • Around 5% of Siberian Huskies have amber eyes
  • Approximately 10% of Australian Shepherds have amber eyes
  • Only about 3% of Border Collies have amber eyes

While considered striking and beautiful, amber is one of the rarest eye colors in dogs. Even in breeds where amber eyes are possible, they are still uncommon. Next we’ll look at some more precise statistics in tabular format.

Amber eye statistics by breed

Here are statistics on the frequency of amber eyes in some specific breeds:

Breed Frequency of Amber Eyes
Siberian Husky 5%
Australian Shepherd 10%
Border Collie 3%
Weimaraner 10-15%
Dalmatian Extremely rare
Corgi Less than 5%

As the table shows, even in breeds where amber is possible, it is still highly unusual and found only in a small percentage of dogs.

Why are amber eyes so rare in dogs?

There are a few reasons why amber eyes are uncommon:

  • Requires two recessive genes – As mentioned, amber eyes require both the liver gene and D dilution gene. It is rare for dogs to inherit both of these obscure recessive genes.
  • Breeding selection – Many breed standards actually call for dark brown or black eyes. So amber eyes are sometimes intentionally bred against in favor of darker colors.
  • Random chance – Even when the genes are present in a breed, nature is still unpredictable. The right combination of genes must be passed down and expressed. With so many variables, amber eyes randomly appear only occasionally.

Overall, the genetic lottery has to produce just the right circumstances for amber eyes to occur. That’s why golden, copper, and yellow eyes are few and far between in the canine population.

Are amber eyes linked to health issues in dogs?

There are no health issues specifically linked to amber eyes in dogs. However, some eye abnormalities can cause a dog’s eyes to appear amber when they are actually brown. Here are a couple examples:

  • Nuclear sclerosis – A condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. This can give brown eyes a hazy, yellow appearance.
  • Lenticular sclerosis – Another disease causing cloudiness of the lenses. This also makes brown eyes look lighter.

So in some cases, eyes that seem amber are actually indications of eye disease. Reputable breeders will test dogs’ eyes thoroughly for issues prior to breeding. But pet owners should also have their veterinarian examine unusual eye colors to rule out lens issues.

Are amber eyes linked to vision problems in dogs?

There is no evidence that amber or light eye colors themselves impact dogs’ vision or cause sight issues. However, some eye conditions associated with vision problems can also create amber-looking eyes:

  • Cataracts – Clouding in the lens of the eye that leads to hazy, discolored eyes along with vision loss.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – Genetic disease that causes vision deterioration and may give eyes a red or orange glow.
  • Lenticular sclerosis – Mentioned above, this clouds the lens and affects eyesight.

So amber-colored eyes may potentially indicate an eye condition that could also compromise vision. But amber eye color alone does not necessarily signify eye or vision troubles in dogs.

Do amber eyes affect dogs’ vision compared to other colors?

Amber or light colored eyes do not negatively impact dogs’ vision compared to dark brown or black eyes. In fact, there are a couple theories about how light eyes may even improve vision:

  • Allow more light into the eye, improving brightness and acuity.
  • Reduce glare and sunlight sensitivity compared to dark eyes.

However, these potential benefits are debated and not conclusively proven. The main point is that there is no evidence showing light eyes hinder dogs’ vision. Eye health and structure impact sight far more than iris color alone.

Do puppies with amber eyes keep them as adults?

Whether a dog keeps their amber eyes from puppyhood to adulthood depends on the cause:

  • Puppies with true amber genetics will keep that eye color for life. The pale eyes will not darken as the dog matures.
  • Puppies with temporary amber color due to lenticular sclerosis or other conditions will likely change. As the eye issue resolves, the eyes will darken to the natural brown color.

So permanent amber eyes remain through adulthood. But amber color related to juvenile eye issues will often transition to dark brown by the time the dog matures. Responsible breeding minimizes the chances of temporary amber eyes due to eye conditions.

Are amber eyes safe for dogs?

Yes, true amber eye color produced by genetics is perfectly safe and normal for dogs. Amber eyes do not cause impairment or issues. Some key points:

  • Pure amber eyes themselves do not impact dogs’ health or vision.
  • Reputable breeders screen breeding dogs for issues that could cause temporary amber color.
  • Pet owners should have veterinarians examine unusual eye colors for potential conditions.
  • Amber eyes are monitored for problems during routine veterinary eye exams.

While rare, amber is considered a safe and beautiful eye color when it occurs naturally in dogs. Responsible breeding and veterinary care help ensure amber eyes are merely an intriguing, harmless quirk of genetics.


Amber eye color is highly uncommon in dogs though celebrated in the breeds it sometimes occurs. Precise genetics produce these striking golden, copper, and yellowish orange eyes in a minority of dogs. While linked to no vision or health problems inherently, amber eyes should be evaluated by veterinarians to rule out potential issues like lens clouding conditions. Ultimately, amber is one of the rarest and most unique eye colors in canines, found in barely over 1% of all dogs.