Australian Shepherds have a striking look about them starting with their beautiful shiny coats to their distinct eyes that come in multiple colors. My Red Heeler’s mother was an Aussie with crystal blue eyes, so my boy inherited large amber eyes that are not as common for a cattle dog. What color eyes do Aussies commonly have?
Australian Shepherds commonly have eye colors such as hazel, golden, blue, amber, and light to dark brown. Aussies can also have two different colored eyes, known as heterochromia, and sometimes multiple eye colors in the same eye.
Let’s explore the reasons behind Aussies’ eye color, if their eyes change color, and the spirited legend that follows this beautiful breed.
Can you predict Aussie’s eyes colors?
Genetics and coat color play a significant role in Aussies’ eye colors but there is no way to accurately predict a litter’s eye colors through planned breeding. Blue eyes have been known to be more prominent in merle dogs, but any Aussie with the recessive gene can possess blue eyes.
The American Kennel Club’s Australian Shepherd breed standards also confirms that their eyes can be a variety of combinations of blue, brown or amber.
Some Australian Shepherds even have geometric splits with two eye colors in their eye, like it was split down the middle and divided half and half. The geometric split can come from any direction and vary in different colors.
It is not uncommon for their eyes to be unique with different markings within them. If you look closely at Aussies’ eyes you may notice a darker ring of color, flecks of a darker or lighter color, or two different eye colors.
Two distinct eye colors are a genetic condition called heterochromia, or wall eye, causing Aussies to be born with two different eye colors.
Both eyes can be different colors, such as one brown eye and one blue eye, or both eyes can be predominantly one color with an eye split with blue in it. The good news is heterochromia has been widely studied and concluded that it does not affect an Aussies’ vision.
Australian Shepherds are not the only breed known to have heterochromia. Huskies, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs can also have two different colored eyes. It all comes down to the breeders and the genes the parents must possess to pass along to their puppies.
Do Australian Shepherd’s eyes change color?
Like all puppies, Australian Shepherds’ eyes will naturally change as they mature.
All puppies have grey blue eyes when at first, but as Aussies grow their eye color will begin to shift into their permanent adult eye color. When Australian Shepherds reach ages 4-6 weeks their eye color will shift colors unless they have the merle gene keeping their eyes blue. Once they hit 3 months an Aussies will be display their lifelong eye color.
If you are hoping your Aussie puppy eye color, look at the puppies eyes and study the shading of gray within it. Puppies with a lighter grey to blue shaded iris are generally destined to have lighter eyes such as amber or light blue. A darker irised puppy will grow to have darker eyes like brown or dark blue.
Fun Fact: Ghost eye – Native American legend and sacred animal
Despite having the word “Australian” in their name, Aussies are actually American and have been used in the US for years to help settlers move their cattle and horses across the country. They hold a valued part of history and were known to work side by side on farms and had numerous interactions with Native Americans who respected them.
Native Americans referred to Australian Shepherds as “Ghost Eye” due to their striking blue eyes and phantom-like appearance. Specifically, the Navajo tribe referred to Aussies as sacred animals that should be protected. Due to their frost-like eyes, others avoided Aussies for fear they were bad luck or supernatural beings with unknown intentions.
Australian Shepherds’ features were sometimes interpreted as signs of a reincarnated family member and their eyes were thought of as a way for embodied spirits to see into heaven and earth. Regardless of if the first Americans avoided or were drawn to Aussies, they were careful to not harm shepherds and instead granted them sacred protection.
There is no doubt that Australian Shepherds are an alluring breed with captivating eyes that look into your soul. Their eyes earned them the nickname “ghost eyes” from Native Americans for having such a fierce phantom-like appearance that only a spirit could possess.
Genetics plays a tremendous role in how an Australian Shepherd’s eyes will look. Depending on their parents’ genetics, they can have blue, green, yellow, brown, and almost black-like eyes. And if you are lucky enough, your Aussie may have heterochromia where they have two different eye colors.
Every Aussie is unique with different eye features such as a darker ring, blue splotches, or dark spots on their eyes similar to their luxurious coat. For their distinct appearance, intelligence and amazing temperament, it is no wonder why Aussies have captured the hearts of so many.