What does it mean when a dog has two-colored eyes?

Are you the proud pet parent of a dog with two different colored eyes? You may think this is super cool, or super weird. And it’s probably a bit of both. But don’t worry, your dog is not alone. There are many dog breeds who are prone to this condition, and it’s called heterochromia. 

What is heterochromia in dogs?

Heterochromia is the official term for dogs with two different colored eyes. In fact, this not only happens in dogs, but it can also occur in cats, horses, and even people. And it’s due to a lack of pigment — or melanin — in one eye, causing it to be blue in color. 

How do dogs get heterochromia?

Typically, heterochromia is hereditary and is often partnered with dog coats that are multicolored —like a merle or dapple pattern — or even with white coats. The more white coloring the dog has around the head, the more likely he or she is to have heterochromia. 

But this condition can also occur later in life — known as acquired heterochromia — due to an eye injury or dog eye health condition.

What dog breeds have different colored eyes?

There are many different dog breeds who are prone to having heterochromia. And it’s possible that some purebreds of these breeds are more inclined to have it because of a lack of genetic diversity. 

15 dog breeds that are prone to heterochromia:

  1. Alaskan Malamute
  2. American Foxhounds
  3. Australian Cattle Dogs
  4. Australian Shepherds
  5. Beagles
  6. Border Collies
  7. Catahoula Leopard Dogs  
  8. Chihuahuas
  9. Dachshunds
  10. Dalmatians
  11. Great Danes (harlequin coat pattern)
  12. Pembroke Welsh Corgis
  13. Shetland Sheepdogs
  14. Siberian Huskies
  15. Shih Tzus

Do dogs with heterochromia cost more?

Although heterochromia won’t cause any additional benefits to a dog’s health, breeding or personality, the unique look will often mean a higher price tag. Some dog breeders will charge more solely because of the supply and demand. 

Keep in mind that heterochromia can be a disqualifying factor in dog competitions for certain dog breeds. So, although you paid more for this dog, it won’t guarantee you any awards at a dog show.  

Are there negative effects of heterochromia?

Most dogs with hereditary heterochromia — meaning that they were born with different colored eyes — won’t have any health problems related to this condition. Even though some people think this leads to hearing and vision problems, dogs with hereditary heterochromia can see and hear just fine. 

But if you notice that your dog’s eyes have changed later in life — and especially if they seem to be uncomfortable or in pain — take them to your vet right away.

This could have happened due to a recent eye injuring or underlying dog health problem. And there are several health problems — not associated with heterochromia — that can also cause an eye color change. Some of these include: cataracts, retinal dysplasia, uveitis, corneal dystrophy, glaucoma, an underdeveloped optic nerve or nuclear sclerosis. But, if your sweet pup was born with this unique trait, he should be completely fine and healthy.