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Why does my dog have one blue eye and one brown eye?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have different colored eyes. This condition is known as heterochromia iridis, and it can occur for a variety of reasons. While it may look unusual, it’s typically harmless and won’t affect your dog’s vision or health. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of heterochromia iridis in dogs and what to expect if your pup has eyes of two different colors.

What is Heterochromia Iridis?

Heterochromia iridis is a condition where an animal has two different colored eyes. “Hetero” means different, while “chromia” refers to color and “iridis” refers to the colored part of the eye, known as the iris. This condition is seen in many animal species, including cats, horses, cattle, and even humans. However, it is particularly common in dog breeds that have blue eyes, such as Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Catahoula Leopard Dogs.

In dogs with complete heterochromia, one eye is blue while the other is brown. Less commonly, a dog can have two different colored eyes with flecks of another color, or one eye that is half one color and half another. So you may see a dog with a blue eye and a brown eye, or a blue eye with brown spots. Regardless of the specific colors, the key indicator of heterochromia iridis is an asymmetry between the two eyes.

What Causes It?

There are a few different factors that can cause a dog to develop mismatched eye colors:

  • Breed characteristics: Many breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Australian Shepherds, carry a gene that results in heterochromia. It is an inherited trait in these breeds. So if the parents had odd-eyed coloring, the puppies are more likely to as well.
  • Random genetic mutation: Spontaneous mutations in genes linked to eye color can also be a cause. This explains why some dogs in breeds that don’t normally have the gene can still develop heterochromia.
  • Melanin distribution: The pigment melanin plays a role in determining eye color. A disruption in melanin synthesis or distribution as the eye develops embryonically can result in one eye ending up a different color.
  • Injury or disease: In some cases, an injury, inflammation, infection, or other medical condition affecting one eye can cause color changes. For example, glaucoma can cause a buildup of pressure that results in a blue eye turning brown.

Most often, it is simply normal variation in genetics, melanin, or development that causes the eyes to end up different colors. It is not unhealthy for dogs and is purely a difference in appearance.

Common Dog Breeds with Heterochromia

While heterochromia can appear in any breed, some breeds show the trait more frequently. Here are some of the dog breeds most associated with having two different colored eyes:

Breed Frequency of Heterochromia
Siberian Husky Common
Australian Shepherd Relatively common
Catahoula Leopard Dog Relatively common
Dalmatian Uncommon but seen
Border Collie Uncommon but seen
Great Dane Uncommon but seen

As you can see, Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Catahoula Leopard dogs are the breeds most expected to have mismatched eyes. However, many other breeds can display this trait on occasion as well.

Is Heterochromia Harmful to Dogs?

The good news is that heterochromia is usually harmless in dogs. Unlike some eye abnormalities, it doesn’t tend to be associated with vision problems or require medical treatment. However, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Dogs with light colored eyes are at increased risk of certain eye issues like glaucoma and lens luxation. So white or blue eyed dogs should have regular vet eye exams.
  • On very rare occasions, heterochromia can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as eye injury, inflammation, or disease affecting one eye. If you notice any vision issues or changes in the eyes, see a vet.
  • Some dogs can be prone to deafness if they carry the extreme piebald gene associated with heterochromia. Discuss any hearing issues with your vet.
  • Issues like glaucoma or cataracts in one eye later in life can cause color changes. Monitor your dog’s eyes closely for any differences over time.

With regular vet checkups to monitor eye health, most dogs with complete heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia have normal vision and experience no problems due to their different colored peepers!

Will My Dog’s Eye Colors Change Over Time?

In many dogs, the eye colors will remain stable over their lifetime. But it is possible for eye colors to shift over time. Here are some cases when a dog’s eye color may change:

  • Puppies can be born with baby blue eyes that darken over the first weeks and months of life. So a pup with apparent heterochromia at birth may have two brown eyes later.
  • Changes in eye pressures due to glaucoma or other medical conditions can lead to a blue eye turning brown.
  • Aging can sometimes cause brown eyes to lighten somewhat.
  • Injury or inflammation that disrupts the iris pigment could alter color.

Most dogs maintain their distinct eye colors for life. But periodic color changes are possible. Keep an eye out for any significant differences in color or pupils that could indicate an underlying medical issue needs veterinary attention.

Fun Facts About Heterochromia in Dogs

While a dog with two different colored eyes may look unusual, many pet owners grow to love this unique trait. Here are some fun facts about heterochromia iridis in dogs:

  • The term “wall eye” once referred to eyes of two colors in animals. It dates back to the 1600s.
  • Dogs with blue eyes are likely to have poor hearing compared to brown-eyed dogs.
  • Horses and cats can also have complete heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia.
  • Some celebrities like Dan Aykroyd and Kate Bosworth have heterochromia iridis.
  • David Bowie’s different colored eyes were due to a schoolyard fight injury, not heterochromia.
  • Heterochromia used to be seen as a sign of witchcraft according to some folklore.
  • There are many creative names for dogs with two different colored eyes like Bowie, Picasso, Galaxy, Gemini, and Jupiter.

While myths and folklore once surrounded heterochromia, it is now understood as an intriguing but harmless variation. Those captivating eyes simply add to your dog’s unique appearance.

Should I Breed a Dog with Heterochromia?

Since heterochromia iridis is a hereditary trait in many breeds, you may wonder if you should breed a dog that exhibits it. Here are some things to consider:

  • Start by testing your dog for genetic issues like coloboma, deafness, or cataracts sometimes linked to heterochromia.
  • Consider whether heterochromia is a desirable trait in that breed according to breed standards. It is encouraged in Husky and Shepherd breeding, for example.
  • Evaluate both sire and dam closely for overall health and genetic traits you may want to pass on or avoid.
  • Breeding solely for unusual looks is discouraged. Prioritize breed standards and health.
  • Spaying or neutering is recommended if you have no plans to ethically breed. This prevents surprise litters of puppies down the road.

With health testing and responsible choices, breeding dogs with heterochromia can have positive results. But be very cautious about casual or “backyard” breeding solely for uniquely colored eyes.

Caring for a Dog with Heterochromia

Caring for a dog with heterochromia is the same as caring for any pup! Just focus on general health, happiness, and comfort:

  • Provide excellent nutrition, exercise, training, socialization, and veterinary care.
  • Watch for any changes to eye appearance, vision issues, or hearing trouble.
  • Use pet-safe sunscreen around light colored eyes vulnerable to sun damage.
  • Protect eyes from irritation by trimming fur if needed.
  • Monitor eye pressures carefully in breeds prone to glaucoma issues.
  • Give them plenty of love, attention, and activities for mental stimulation!

While you can take steps to support eye health, otherwise care for your heterochromic hound just like any other pup. Their eye appearance has no other special care requirements.

Famous Dogs with Heterochromia

Many famous Instagram dogs exhibit gorgeous mismatched eyes. Here are some of the most popular pups with heterochromia iridis:

Name Breed Followers
Huskyruca Siberian Husky 939,000
Yoki Siberian Husky 613,000
Akela Siberian Husky 534,000
Loki The Wolfdog Siberian Husky mix 2.2 million
Nyx Australian Shepherd 1.4 million

These photogenic pups are instantly recognizable by their captivating multicolored eyes. They charm fans daily through Instagram posts showcasing their beautiful heterochromia.


If your furry friend has one blue eye and one brown, find comfort in knowing heterochromia is usually benign. This unique trait simply adds character! With conscientious breeding practices and proactive veterinary care, dogs with different colored eyes can lead perfectly happy and healthy lives. Enjoy the special appearance of your pup’s eyes and the conversations they’re sure to start.