Here a Petrics, we’re fascinated with dog genetics and how it manifests in the visual characteristics of a dog. We think all dogs are cute, from purebreds to mutts. So when blazing blue eyes appear in a Border Collie, we wonder, “How did that get there?” Border Collies are one of the most popular breeds in the world, known for their intelligence and working prowess. So, do Border Collies have blue eyes, or is that a sign of a mixed breed?
Get ready for some doggy science and cuteness; we’ve got the microscope on these blue-eyed beauties. Let’s take a look!
Can Border Collies Have Blue Eyes?
The simple answer is yes. Border Collies can have blue eyes. Brown is the most common eye color for the breed, but they can also have blue or green. Some puppies are born with blue eyes, but the color changes later. However, many keep the blue into adulthood.
Additionally, they can have heterochromia, a genetic trait in which each eye is a different color. Heterochromia is quite common in border collies. Three types of heterochromia can result in blue eyes in border collies: heterochromia iridis, sectoral heterochromia, and central heterochromia.
Heterochromia iridis is also known as complete heterochromia, meaning that each eye is a completely different color. This gives these dogs the nickname of being “bi-eyed.” This differs from sectoral heterochromia, also called “parti-eyed,” where the border collie’s eye or eyes have a partial blue coloring. Finally, central heterochromia is a special kind of heterochromia in which one eye has a different color specifically around the iris and flaring outward.
Heterochromia has no known adverse health effects or particular personality traits, so don’t be alarmed. Some people think these eyes can look wild and scary. To each their own. However, if you’re like us, you’ll consider it charming and alluring!
What Causes Blue Eyes in Border Collies?
Blue eyes in border collies are usually caused by a recessive gene that affects pigmentation in the iris. The amount of melanin, or pigment, in the iris determines eye color. If eyes are blue or a light color, they lack melanin. There is also a chance that it is a result of a mutation.
Heterochromia genes are linked to coat color genes. Merle and piebald coat coloring genes are known to be associated with heterochromia eyes in border collies. Merle coats are irregularly patterned coats of diluted pigment and solid color, typically black and gray or brown and fawn. Piebald coats have white spots on an otherwise pigmented coat.
There’s long been a debate about whether blue eyes result from mixed breeding. But there’s no evidence to support this. There does seem to be a correlation between blue eyes and either merle coats or primarily white faces in border collies.
While being born with blue eyes is entirely normal and not a health defect in dogs, some eye diseases can change the eye color to blue over time. Cataracts and lenticular sclerosis can be present in older dogs. They can change the color of the lens. Cataracts diminish vision and are white and opaque, a change in the ability of light to penetrate the retina. Lenticular sclerosis is a bluish transparent haze that develops on the lens of older dogs. Both diseases are very common in older dogs. Lenticular sclerosis can’t be treated, but cataracts can be surgically corrected. So, if you see your border collie’s eye color change, plan to visit your vet for an inspection.
What Color Eyes Do Border Collies Usually Have?
Border Collies usually have brown eyes. When eyes are brown or black, they have a normal or excessive amount of melanin. Unlike blue eyes that lack melanin. These are typically dominant genes that override any blue-eye genes. However, brown-eyed border collies can still carry blue-eye genes and pass them on to their offspring.
The breed tends to have several variations of color, including shades of brown to dark brown or light gold. Some even look green. Any eye color on a Border Collie can stand out because its coat is also distinct and beautiful. The eyes on those with merle markings or primarily white faces really pop with vibrance.
Is Deafness in Blue Eyed Border Collies Higher?
Deafness in dogs can be inherited or acquired. Meaning genetic defects can cause it. A study found that when merles, Border Collies with predominantly white heads, have two blue eyes, they’re at a higher risk of congenital deafness than other color patterns. However, it’s not proof that the genes causing the color pattern also leads to deafness. But the combination was found more often than it simply being coincidence.
One possible explanation for a deaf or blind blue-eyed Border Collie is unethical or ignorant breeding. Since merle dogs are more likely to have heterochromia, breeding two merle border collies could result in 25% chance of producing “double-merle” dogs, which are more prone to blindness and deafness.
As John Shewey of Whole Dog Journal explains, “Unscrupulous breeders, or those who are ignorant or careless about the dangers of the double-merle genes, may produce blind and/of deaf dogs and pass them off to puppy buyers who are unaware of the additional challenges of managing and training a blind and/or deaf dog. Other unethical breeders may “dump” such puppies in shelters or with rescues.”
In addition, acquired deafness is typically due to toxic exposures or infections before or very shortly after birth. It’s important to note that not all merles with blue eyes are deaf or will develop hearing problems. Similarly, not all deaf border collies have blue eyes.
Pro Tip: Deaf and blind dogs deserve loving homes too! Read our tips on caring for support needs pets and the rewards.
Where Do Border Collies Originate From?
Border Collies originate from the mountainous border region between Scotland and England. Starting in the 1800s, they were bred as working dogs to herd sheep and other livestock. Since they’re generally highly intelligent, athletic, and trainable, their herding ability has made them invaluable. We can imagine blue-eyed Border Collies running around the hills of Scotland, living their best life.
What Are the Traits of a Border Collie?
Most Border Collies are highly intelligent and energetic. As they were originally bred for herding, they’re often hard working, even when playing fetch or going on a walk. But that also means they require much exercise to keep them happy.
Border Collies are typically highly trainable and incredibly agile. They can move quickly and gracefully. You’ll often see them in agility competitions. In addition, the breed is known for its loyalty. They tend to be devoted to their humans and will protect you no matter what’s at stake.
You’ve probably gathered this by now, but blue-eye genes won’t affect these traits. So go ahead and treat your Border Collie the same regardless of their eye color.
Did you know? Border collies can make great service dogs if put to the right task.
Is a Border Collie a Good House Dog?
Border Collies can be good house dogs. They’re loyal companions who enjoy giving and receiving love from people. However, since most require a lot of exercise, having a medium to large yard or place for a Border Collie to run and play is critical. It’ll be happy to come in the house to snuggle and eat, but space for running and getting energy out is a priority for this breed.
What Other Dog Breeds Can Have Blue Eyes?
You won’t find blue eyes in Border Collies alone! Other dog breeds that can have these stunning eyes include the Husky, Dalmatian, Dachshund, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Australian Shepherd, English Setter, Weimaraner, Great Dane, Bull Terrier, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever when mixed with other breeds. While these breeds or mixes can sometimes have blue eyes, it’s certainly not a guarantee.
In addition, other dog breeds can also have heterochromatic, like the Border Collie. They include Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Beagles, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Welsh Corgis, and Chihuahuas.
All this is to say that if you adopt a Border Collie mix with blue eyes from a shelter, it could be mixed with any of these other breeds or none of them at all. The blue could be from its Border Collie genetic heritage.
Ever wonder? Can Standard Poodles be brown? Discover the paw-some genetic answer.
Keep Your Eyes Out for a Blue Eyed Border Collie
So the next you see a blue-eyed Border Collie, you’ll know exactly what’s going on in that pretty dog’s genes. You also know merle or piebald Border Collies have the greatest chance of having those dazzling blues. While it doesn’t affect their personality or health directly, you now better understand the reasons behind any potential deafness or blindness due to other genetic and breeding factors.
Keep an eye out so that you can catch a glimpse of their charm. The breed is beautiful, and adding a pop of blue against their brilliant coats is extra special.
Have you seen or owned a blue-eyed Border Collie? Share some photos and tag us on Instagram (@hypepets).
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