Last Updated on November 24, 2023
The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent, energetic, and versatile herding breed that is known for its distinctive eye colours. While their eyes can come in various shades, this breed’s most striking and sought-after eye colour is blue.
Such eye changes can typically happen because of specific genetic mutations; they, however, won’t cause long-term health problems.
In this article, we will discuss Australian shepherd with blue eyes (or called ghost eye by native Americans) in detail and try to assess the reasons behind the blue eyes of Australian Shepherds, the genetics behind it, and the potential health problems that may or may not be related to this trait.
What Is the Cause of Having Blue Eyes on Australian Shepherd?
The amount and distribution of melanin determine eye colour in dogs (including Australian shepherds). This pigment gives colour to the skin, hair, and eyes. The merle gene, in particular, controls what eye colour appears as
The merle gene can give a varying degree of blue eyes to merle-coloured Aussies. However, this may differ when the Aussie is of a different coat colour.
Australian shepherds with blue eyes can also get this colour due to a lack of melanin in the eye’s iris. This lack of melanin is due to a genetic mutation in their gene. The mutation decreases the production of proteins that regulate melanin, causing the iris to be lighter in colour.
It’s worth noting that not all Australian Shepherd with blue eyes have this mutation. Some dogs may have blue eyes due to environmental factors or a medical condition/injury to the eye. For example, a condition called heterochromia iris can cause one eye to be blue and the other eye to be brown or another colour.
An Aussie may also acquire blue eyes due to Interstitial keratitisor Nuclear sclerosis.If you suspect your Aussie to have this condition, you will have to get your Aussie checked by an animal vet to diagnose it.
The Genetics Behind Blue Eyes in Australian Shepherds
The genetics behind Australian Shepherd with blue eyes is complex and involves multiple genes. This breed can have blue eyes due to a combination of genes that control coat colour, eye colour, and other physical traits.
The merle gene is one factor contributing to Australian Shepherds’ blue eyes. Dogs that carry the merle gene can have a wide range of eye colours, including blue, green, amber, and brown. Therefore, the eye colour of an Aussie can generally depend on how they are bred and the genetic factors due to the breeding effect.
Are Blue-Eyed Australian Shepherds More Prone to Health Problems?
While blue eyes in Australian Shepherds are not inherently harmful, dogs with this trait may be more susceptible to specific health problems. The lack of pigmentation in the iris can lead to an increased sensitivity to light, which can cause discomfort and vision problems in some dogs.
Additionally, Australian shepherd with blue eyes is slightly more susceptible to some eye diseases, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. However, this only happens in rare cases and therefore is not a clear sign that such eye problems happen because an Aussie is blue-eyed.
Common Eye Diseases in Blue-Eyed Australian Shepherds
Australian shepherd with blue eyes aren’t highly prone to more eye diseases as one might think; however, they may experience eye problems more frequently than usual such as:
- Cataracts – a clouding of the eye’s lens that can cause blindness.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – a degenerative eye disease that leads to blindness.
- Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) – a genetic disease that affects the development of the eye, leading to vision problems and sometimes blindness.
Therefore, if you are worried about your Aussie having eye problems, it will be essential to get regular health checkups by an animal vet to ensure they remain healthy.
What Are the Other Colours of Eyes That Australian Shepherds Have?
Aside from Australian shepherd with blue eyes, Australian Shepherds can have brown, green, hazel, or amber eyes. Dogs with brown eyes have a higher level of pigment in their iris, which gives them a darker appearance.
Green and hazel eyes are less common but are still considered standard eye colours in this breed. Amber eyes are a unique colour between yellow and brown and are most commonly seen in red merle Australian Shepherds.
Blue eyes in Australian Shepherds result from a lack of pigmentation in the iris. They are a fascinating and sought-after trait in this breed.
However, it’s essential to remember that dogs with blue eyes may be more prone to specific health problems, particularly eye diseases.
Australian shepherd with blue eyes should get regular veterinary checkups and eye exams to help identify any potential issues early on and ensure that your blue-eyed Australian Shepherd stays happy and healthy.