🦴 Updated on July 13th, 2023
When I set out to find the world’s most unique dog breed, I never expected what I would find.
There are many fascinating canines cross-breeds—and multi-colored mutts in between—but when I first met an Australian Shepherd with different colored eyes, I knew I had found the most unique dog breed in the world.
Aussie eyes not only communicate the brilliance and affection of these one-of-a-kind creatures but also come in many unique colors.
Use this Australian Shepherd eye color chart to learn everything you need to know about these mesmerizing animals—and why they are so unique.
Australian Shepherd Eye Color: The Basics
The Australian Shepherd is a multi-colored animal.
These bright animals’ coats come in many beautiful shades; each dog is more interesting than the last.
Coat colors are generally due to genetic mutations among these animals, which typically do not affect their health.
But the most exciting feature of this breed is its eyes.
What Determines Aussie Eye Color?
You may have seen an Australian Shepherd puppy with blue eyes or an adult Australian Shepherd with different colored eyes.
Aussie eyes come in amber, lemon, sky blue, golden, soft brown, ebony, and many shades.
Dogs with blue eyes are hyperchromic—they lack melanin in their iris—and typically inherit this from their sires.
Other Australian Shepherds may have different colored eyes.
This phenomenon is due to a fascinating genetic variation called heterochromia. The word comes from the ancient Greek terms for “different” and “eyes” and refers to any color differences in an animal’s or person’s iris.
Heterochromia is exceedingly rare among humans—it affects less than 1% of the population. It is also uncommon among animals, though Australian Shepherds are likelier than other breeds to have unique and varied eye colors.
There are many different variations of heterochromia observed in Australian Shepherd’s eyes. Additionally, Aussie eyes often change colors over time.
Why do Australian Shepherd Puppies Have Blue Eyes?
If you’ve ever seen an Australian Shepherd with blue eyes as a puppy, here’s why: a specific gene—called the Merle gene—is prevalent among Aussies.
This gene determines the pigment in a puppy’s iris, the ring around the pupil that displays eye color.
Aussie pups inherit this gene from their parents. If the puppy only inherits one gene, its eyes may be multi-colored, but if it inherits two, you may find yourself with an Australian Shepherd with blue eyes.
Young dogs are more likely to have blue eyes since they can lack melanin at birth. But you may only sometimes have a blue-eyed Aussie pup since their eyes can change color over time.
Unless you own a Red Merle Australian Shepherd with blue eyes—or a Blue Mere Australian Shepherd with blue eyes—you may face a different gaze altogether.
What if my Australian Shepherd Puppy Doesn’t Have Blue Eyes?
There are many Aussie pups with golden, lemon, or brown eyes—and occasionally, your puppy may display various eye colors.
Not all dogs of this breed are born with blue eyes, so if yours isn’t hyperchromatic, don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with your new puppy.
However, it is essential to note that if your dog never had blue eyes as a puppy, it is unlikely they will have blue eyes as an adult.
While Aussie eye colors change, they don’t always go in the direction you would expect.
Australian Shepherd Eye Color Change
Over time, an Australian Shepherd with blue eyes as a puppy may feature brown, golden, or multi-colored eyes as an adult.
Many people wonder why this happens, and the answer is an interesting case study in genetic variation among dogs—and people.
When do Aussie Eye Colors Change?
When Aussies are born, their eyes remain closed for around 12-14 days.
Once they open their eyes, you may be fascinated by a light shade of blue or white—hyperchromic irises.
Other puppies may exhibit brown, yellow, green, or blue shades.
However, around three to four weeks after birth, your Australian Shepherd’s eye color may begin to change.
When your pup is six months old, its eye color is here to stay.
Of course, Aussie eye color is subject to variation due to injury or progressive illness; Australian Shepherds’ eye color may change due to cataracts or sudden changes in melanin composition.
Additionally, your dog’s eyes may appear to be different colors depending on the degree of lighting in a room or may subtly change due to repeated exposure to sunlight.
What Causes an Australian Shepherd’s Eye Color Change?
There are several reasons an Australian Shephard’s eye color may change.
Aussie puppies typically underproduce melanin, the coat, and eye color chemical. As dogs grow older, the composition of melanin in their bodies begins to level out, establishing set eye color between three and six months.
When your dog is a year old, its eye color will likely remain the same—barring illness or injury.
What if my Australian Shepherd’s Eye Color Doesn’t Change?
It is perfectly normal for an Australian Shepherd to retain the same eye color from birth to death.
This simply means that the dog is unlikely to possess the genetic variations contributing to eye color change in Aussie puppies.
Dogs with the merle gene—particularly those who inherited two merle genes from their sires—are likely to have blue eyes for life.
Red Merle Australian Shepherds often have blue eyes, and if your Red Merle puppy was born with an oceanic gaze, it is more likely to retain this eye color as an adult.
Additionally, Blue Merle Australian Shepherds with blue eyes are pretty standard, and they will more frequently retain their mesmerizing color through adulthood.
Australian Shepherd Eye Color Chart: Variations Observed in Adults
Once your puppy has reached maturation, you can observe what will likely be its permanent eye color.
Australian Shepherds typically display one of the following eye colors:
- Light blue or white
- Light brown
- Dark brown
However, some Australian Shepherds have different colored eyes, also known as heterochromia. Genetics generally determine eye color in Aussie adults, but other factors may also contribute to color changes.
Blue-Eyed Aussie Adults
While many Australian Shepherds have blue eyes as puppies, their eye color can change as they grow older.
Australian Shepherd adults with blue eyes typically inherit the merle gene from both parents, which allows this recessive gene to express itself in the young.
Light Blue or White Eyes in Australian Shepherds
Some dogs may have light blue or white eyes.
This is common among Blue and Red Merles, who are more likely to receive two merle genes from their parents.
Native American peoples referred to such dogs as having “ghost eyes” and often considered them sacred.
Nowadays, many dog owners covet Aussie Shepherds with blue eyes, as they are beautiful and mesmerizing.
Although there is a common misconception that dogs with light eyes are more prone to blindness, this isn’t always the case. Older dogs with white spots in their eyes may have cataracts, but dogs with lifelong light blue eyes typically do not experience health issues aside from light sensitivity.
Golden or Lemon-Colored Eyes
Golden or lemon-colored irises are the second most common type among Australian Shepherds.
This eye color signifies that the dog has a relatively high melanin composition. Since coat color often correlates with eye color, your golden-eyed Aussie Shepheard may also have brown or black fur.
Aussie Shepherds with Light or Dark Brown Eyes
Brown eyes—dark or light—typically indicate a high concentration of melanin in your Aussie’s DNA.
Brown eyes are a dominant trait, so if, for example, a breeder mated a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd with blue eyes and a Red Merle with brown eyes, the two would likely produce more puppies with brown eyes than blue.
However, genetics do not always dictate eye color. Melanin is the product of a protein in the body known as the P protein, and dogs may have more or less P protein based on factors other than DNA.
Green Aussie Eyes
Green is the rarest Australian Shepherd’s eye color.
Just as in humans, green eyes are rare among dogs because they aren’t green; they are a unique shade of brown that refracts light in such a manner as to appear green.
Therefore, your green-eyed Aussie has the dominant brown-eyed gene—but they won the genetic lottery, achieving just the right shade to appear green.
Australian Shepherds with Different Colored Eyes
The Australian Shepherd is one of the very few dog breeds that display heterochromia.
Heterochromia is the scientific name for having two different colored eyes. It is uncommon in both dogs and people.
For this reason, many pet owners covet Australian Shepherds with different colored eyes and seek out dogs with this particular trait.
The term “wall eye” refers to heterochromia in Australian Shepherds, which occurs when the puppy’s parents possess two conflicting genes.
During gestation, some puppies will inherit a mix of both parents’ genes and are thus born with wall eyes. It is unlikely that all puppies of the same litter will have wall eye since this unique genetic feature is not entirely due to genetics and is often a matter of luck.
Although Australian Shepherds with different colored eyes are quite beautiful, there are still other variations among these famed animals that can display the same mesmerizing quality.
Are Australian Shepherds with Different Colored Eyes Unhealthy?
There is a common misconception that dogs with heterochromia are unhealthy or blind.
There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Researchers speculate that the confusion is due to the white-blue color of cataracts, a precursor to blindness in dogs and humans.
Cataracts appear as a blue film over your dog’s eyes, which are more common in seniors.
If you suspect your dog has cataracts, bring them to a veterinarian before drawing any conclusions—your dog could have unique eyes.
Australian Shepherds with Speckled or Marbled Eyes
Aussie Shepherds can also have a variety of colors in their irises.
While some refer to this phenomenon as “speckled” or “marbled” eyes, you may also hear the terms “flecked” or “freckled.” The scientific time is partial heterochromia.
Speckled eyes are another result of genetic variation and are most common in puppies born of two genetically conflicting sires.
This Aussie eye color can be quite beautiful, as dogs may have any combination of blue, yellow, green, brown, white, and gold in their intelligent gaze.
Can You Choose an Aussie’s Eye Color?
Determining a dog’s eye color isn’t always possible.
Eye color results from genetics and random variation, so it can be difficult to breed for a specific color or determine what color an Aussie’s eyes will be.
Do Breeders Choose Aussie Eye Color?
Breeders may try to breed for specific eye colors, but results aren’t always predictable.
For example, a breeder may pair two Blue Merles to produce Australian Shepherd puppies with blue eyes.
If one sire was, for example, a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd with blue eyes and the other was a Blue Merle with brown eyes, the puppies could have blue eyes, but they could also inherit one parent’s dominant brown eyes or have heterochromia.
Breeders are most likely to obtain their eye color of choice if they pair two blue-eyed Merles together—but results can vary.
Ultimately, there is no surefire way to select eye color.
How to Tell if an Australian Shepherd Puppy with Blue Eyes Will Change Eye Color
It can be hard to predict what color your puppy’s eyes will be as an adult.
Australian Shepherds may have blue eyes as puppies but outgrow them over time. By the time your puppy is a year old, you will likely know what color their eyes will be.
However, you can also determine the probability of specific eye colors by gathering genetic information about your dog or its parents.
You can do this by contacting your dog’s breeder, ordering a genetic test online, and sequencing your dog’s DNA.
These tests are fun and easy to use and will allow you to learn more about your Australian Shepherd’s genetic background.
Ultimately, the only sure way to know what color your dog’s eyes will be is to wait until it reaches maturity.
Other Traits Related to Australian Shepherd Eyes
Like many dogs nowadays, Australian Shepherds come in every shape, size, and color.
Your Aussie can have curly or straight fur; a brown, red, or white coat; and eyes in every conceivable color, from white to golden yellow.
Some traits are random, while others are connected to your Aussie’s eye color.
Australian Shepherd Coat Color
Your dog’s coat color is also linked to genetics.
If your dog has dark eyes and thus a higher concentration of melanin, they are more likely to have a darker coat.
However, this is only sometimes true since Red Merle Australian Shepherds can have reddish-brown coats and blue eyes.
Many dogs have multi-colored coats, an indication of the genetic mix of colors in their DNA.
Aussie Nose Color
Most dogs have black or brown noses.
However, Aussie Shepherds, and most other dogs, can also exhibit liver-colored noses, pink noses, or “butterfly” noses, which display spots of different colors.
Aussie nose colors are typically due to melanin pigmentation and result from genetics and random variability in Aussie pups.
Remember that abnormal nose colors can also indicate an illness or chronic condition such as contact dermatitis, so consult a veterinarian if your dog’s nose suddenly changes appearance or texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to know more about these fascinating animals, consider the answers to the most frequently asked questions below.
What are some other reasons for Australian Shepherds with different colored eyes?
Many dogs with heterochromia are perfectly healthy. However, if your adult dog’s eye color changes suddenly, consider visiting a veterinarian, as your pup may have a burst capillary, cataracts, or an ocular disorder.
Although many people think that Australian Shepherds with blue eyes also have health problems, there is no scientific correlation between the two.
Can my Aussie be sick?
Remember that heterochromia is a natural result of genetic variation, so in all likelihood, your Australian Shepherd with different-colored eyes isn’t sick—just unique.
Will my Aussie inherit medical problems?
You should always regularly visit a veterinarian to stay up to date on your dog’s shots and checkups—but just because your dog is blue-eyed does not mean it will inherit medical problems.
Australian Shepherds are among the most intelligent, affectionate, and beautiful dog breeds.
The variability in Australian Shepherd eye color contributes to the appeal of this animal, and many people seek them out for this very reason.
Use this Australian Shepherd eye color chart to understand more about these unique pets and their gorgeous eyes—and find your perfect Aussie if you don’t have one!
Ultimately, Australian Shepherds make excellent companions—regardless of eye color.