Seeing a dog with green eyes makes you stop and do a double-take.
They are often mesmerizing and uncommon, making it a real treat to experience.
The uncommon nature makes you wonder how some dogs get green eyes and whether it impacts their health at all.
Let’s take a look at the answer to these questions and more below.
How Rare Are Green-Eyed Dogs?
It is pretty rare for a dog to have green eyes, but it’s certainly not impossible.
Like human beings, a dog’s features and characteristics are developed through its genes.
How Do Some Dogs Have Green Eyes?
Dogs have a pigment known as eumelanin that impacts eye color.
Typically, it makes a dog’s eyes some shade of brown.
If this were the only factor in the equation, all dogs would have brown eyes.
However, a dog’s genes can modify or dilute the eumelanin, creating other eye colors.
The Merle gene is responsible for turning the brown eye color to green and even for changing the dog’s coat color.
The dog will have lighter eyes when the Merle gene is present — and the amount of eumelanin is reduced.
When the eumelanin has been reduced to zero, the dog will have blue eyes.
However, when there is a small amount of eumelanin left, the eyes will be green.
Will Their Eyes Stay Green?
Puppies tend to have lighter eyes than their adult counterparts.
Most often they are blue, but sometimes they are a greener hue.
In either case, the cause of this is similar to newborn babies — they haven’t fully developed yet.
When a puppy is born, the melanin has not developed to its full capacity, so the eyes will be lighter.
This usually changes by the time they’re about four weeks old, but it might take up to 16 weeks.
In either case, whatever their eye color is around four or five months, that is likely the color they’ll keep their whole lives.
Do Dogs With Green Eyes Have Any Health Issues?
The Merle gene does often carry some health risks.
Typically, this includes the following:
- Vision problems: This can include glaucoma and complete blindness.
- Skin cancer: As the Merle gene leads to a lack of pigmentation, it means that dogs with the Merle gene have little to no UV protection.
- Microphthalmia: This condition occurs when the eyeballs are very small, which can mean that the dog might have to have its eyes removed.
- Hearing problems: Unfortunately, the Merle gene can also impact the inner development of the right ear. This can lead to anything from mild hearing trouble to deafness.
Although there are potential health issues, take heart.
Not all dogs with the Merle gene will experience them.
In fact, there is a good chance that they will not — unless they are “double Merles.”
Double Merles are pups that come from two parents with the Merle gene.
Most responsible breeders refrain from putting two Merles together to prevent such health issues.
However, there are some that breed two Merles in order to create a more desirable-looking breed.
This allows the breeder to make more money off of them.
And there are also some that simply do not know about the potential health risks, so they do not factor those in when breeding.
This is why it’s important for you to understand the difference.
If you know what to look for, you can ensure that you avoid double Merles or — at the very least — know what you’re getting into.
What Dog Breeds Have Green Eyes?
While you can find many pups with green eyes, the following are the most common.
American Pit Bull Terrier
Most dogs with green eyes are mixed breed dogs.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is the only know purebred dog that has green eyes, but this is not the only color eyes they might have.
Some Pitties have brown, blue, or hazel eyes, instead.
Border Collies, bred as herding dogs, are often seen with green eyes.
Actually, they are more often seen with one green eye and an eye of another color.
This is known as heterochromia, which is a condition that causes the eyes to be of different colors.
Australian Shepherds are typically also heterochromia.
You might see them with eyes that are blue and brown, blue and green, or green and brown.
Dachshunds are adorable, with their short legs and sausage-like bodies, but their cuteness doesn’t stop there.
Some of them also come with glorious emerald eyes.
Purebred labs only come with black, brown, or yellow-looking eyes.
However, if you get a lab mix, you’ll typically see green, hazel, or yellowish-green eyes.
Great Danes are known for their size more than anything.
It is kind of hard to ignore that they are about as big as — or bigger than — a human.
So it’s no surprise that many people often overlook their green or hazel eyes.
Siberian Huskies are known for their light-colored eyes.
You typically see them in light brown, green, and blue eyes that tend to be even more piercing with their beautiful fur coats.
Chihuahuas are most well-known for their tiny size and yappy barking.
They make great lap — or purse — pups that love to cuddle.
To accompany the tiny size, pretty coats, and pointy ears, Chihuahuas often have green or hazel eyes.
Weimaraners were bred to be hunting dogs that became known as “Silver Ghosts.”
Their silvery coat and piercing green eyes give them a ghostly look, but they are adorable and family-friendly pets.
Green eyes are beautiful on dogs.
And most dogs with green eyes have the same chance at being perfectly healthy as dogs with other eye colors.
If you are looking to adopt a dog, do a little research first to determine if it is a Double Merle.
If it is, understand the potential health risks involved and ensure you are prepared for the commitment before making a final decision.