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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 are a couple of interesting legends floating around about this intriguing attribute. There are also a few myths that might be dispelled concerning this not so unusual trait.

Myths and Legends

 One myth says that dogs with two different colored eyes can view heaven and earth at the same time. Another has it that heterochromatic dogs are natural protectors, while brown or red eyed 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.

Blindness

Dogs with one blue eye suffer from the misconception that the eye must be blind. This is not the case. Dogs living with heterochromia 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, 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.

Breeding

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 disqualification by most dog show associations.  Huskies are the exception. A husky with heterochromia will still be allowed to show in the ring.


This is an incredible looking “trait” 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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