Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Eye Color


What eye colors are acceptable for Aussies?

Both the ASCA and AKC standards are virtually identical, stating that eyes shall be brown, blue, amber or any covers pretty much variation or combination of these with marbling and flecks acceptable which anything you are likely to see in a dog.

How are blue eyes inherited?

In merles blue eyes are an extension of the merle pattering.  Just as the coat has variegated pigment, so can the eyes.  Blue eyes in non-merle Aussies can vary in appearance.  Sometimes one eye is blue, sometimes both.  They may be completely blue, or perhaps half blue/half pigmented.  They are never marbled but may have smaller blue segments.  Small flecks of blue in a non-merle may arise by chance, just as they do in human eyes.  Some blue eyes are a uniform sky blue, while others have a deep indigo corona around the pupil and a sky blue field.  The factors determining which type of blue eye is produced are not yet known.

Blue eyes in non-merles are sound, though perhaps light sensitive.  Siberian Huskies are an example of another breed with this type of blue eye.  The mode of inheritance is unknown, but since the blue eyes can be single or a pair and an individual eye may be half-and-half, there may be more than one gene involved.   This type of blue eye probably occurs in merles, too, but there is no way to distinguish them from eyes that are blue due to merle.