Are there Labradors with Blue Eyes

Perhaps you have seen or even own what you think to be a Labrador with blue eyes.

For a Labrador Retriever to have blue eyes, it is an indication of poor genetics or they are not a purebred Labrador. The normal eye color for a Labrador is brown for a Yellow or Black Lab or hazel or brown for a Chocolate Labrador. A possible exception is the Silver Labrador.

Labrador traits tend to dominant when mixed with other breeds such as Collies or Huskies. Even if you are under the assumption that both the parents were Labrador, there may be DNA from another breed somewhere in the bloodlines.

If the blue-eyed Labrador in question belongs to you, a dog DNA test will determine if there are any other breeds in the mix. You can find a dog DNA kit here on amazon.

Do Silver Labradors have blue eyes

A newer variation of Labrador Retriever coat colors is the Silver Labrador. As puppies, Silver Labradors have blue eyes like all puppies, but they usually change to brown within a few months. In some very rare cases, Silver Labradors can have permanent blue eyes or greenish eyes.

Silver Labradors are rare in many countries, but in the United States, they have become far more common. This is mainly because in many countries they can not be registered as purebreds by the local kennel association. However, in the USA they are usually registered as Chocolate Labradors.

Dogs that carry the specific gene that results in a lighter variation of the standard color are referred to as “Dilute”. The dilute gene is common in many dog breeds, but has only began to appear more recently in Labradors.

Other dilute color variations that exist in the Labrador breed are charcoal which is a diluted version of the Black Labrador, and champagne which is a diluted version of the Yellow Labrador.

There are a number of theories on how the dilute gene was introduced into the Labrador Retriever breed. This includes a spontaneous mutation, a hidden gene in the breed, or that the original diluted Labradors were cross breeds.

The most likely theory is that the pure breed Labrador was crossed with a breed that carries the dilute gene such as the Weimaraner. This theory suggests that the original breeders did this for financial or other gain and is a little unethical. There is no proof that this is the case.

Do Labrador puppies have blue eyes

All puppies, not just Labrador puppies, are born with blue eyes, but they can be born with pure blue eyes, or bluish eyes that have flecks of grey, green, or brown in them.

A puppies eyes are closed at birth and stay closed for the first 8 to 14 days of life. It this stage they are wholly blue. That is there is no visible difference between the iris and the pupil. When a puppy first opens their eyes the surroundings appear hazy. At about 3 to 4 weeks old their eyes begin to function similar to an adult dog.

A puppies eyes will start to change to their permanent color at around eight to ten weeks old. For some puppies, it may be up to sixteen weeks until the true eye to settles in. If there has been no change of color by this age the dog is likely to have blue eyes their whole lives.

You can learn more about blue eyes in puppies here.

What are the different Labrador coat colors

Strictly speaking, there are only three different Labrador colors:

  • black
  • brown (commonly called Chocolate)
  • yellow (also often referred to as Golden)

The Yellow Labrador can vary in terms of the shade of the coat. This can range from pale cream to a rich dark color. The Labrador was originally black and this is the dominant color gene.

Black and Chocolate Labradors get their color from a pigment called eumelanin. Labradors with lots of eumelanin pigment in their coat are black. If they have a little less, they appear chocolate instead.

The amount of eumelanin a dog produces is determined by the genes they inherited. These are know as the “B” and “b” gene. The puppy receives one of each of these genes from each of their parents. The “B” is the dominant gene and will result in a black puppy. Therefore if they inherit “BB” or “Bb” genes they will be black. Only if they inherited “bb” will they be Chocolate.

The genetic information that creates a yellow coat comes from another pair of genes altogether known as “E” and “e”. For a more detailed look at how genes determine a Labradors coat color see here.

As discussed above there is now also the Silver Labrador. There is some debate on whether or not the Silver Labrador is actually a purebred Labrador. Many people believe that the pure breed Labrador was crossed with a breed that carries the dilute gene such as the Weimaraner.

What determines a dog’s eye color

Most dogs will have brown eyes. Other eye color seen in dogs range of colors, from light blue and hazel to bright amber and dark brown. The eye color of your dog will depend on the gene they have inherited.

Often the gene that determines coat color will also have an affect on the dog’s eye color. Dogs with liver coat color, like Chocolate Labradors, often have amber eyes, which can look light brown or even yellow, depending on the dog. 

Breeds that have Merle coat markings can often have blue eyes. See below for dog breeds with blue eyes.

Genetically, there are four ways a dog can have blue eyes. Three of these are linked with pigment loss in the coat.

  • The Merle gene – Merle dilutes random parts of the pigment, including the eyes and nose.
  • White fur around the eyes – White areas on the coat are where the cells are unable to produce any pigment. If the white area appears on the face then there may be pigment loss in the eyes and on the nose. The best example of this is seen in Dalmatians.
  • Albinism – There are no confirmed cases of full albinism in dogs. However, there are examples of an intermediate form of albinism such as the “white” Doberman.
  •  An inherited gene that is completely unrelated to coat color. The most common example of this is the Siberian Husky.

Dog breeds with blue eyes

Most dogs will have brown eyes. However, there are a number of breeds that can have blue or other color eyes. Some individual dogs can have two different color eyes such as one brown, one blue.

Some of the breeds of dog that may have blue eyes include:-

Siberian Husky

When you think of a blue eyed dog, the Siberian Husky is probably the breed that first comes to mind. This blue eye trait is the result of a gene mutation. This is known as ALX4 gene on chromosome 18.

Alaskan Malamute

A Spitz type breed similar to Husky, the Alaskan Malamute usually has amber-brown colored eyes. However, like the Husky they can often have blue eyes or even one brown and one blue eye.

Alaskan Klee Kai

The Alaskan Klee Kai, along with the Miniature Husky, have become popular breeds with people who want a small dog that looks like a Husky. The name Alaskan Klee Kai translates as “small dog”. Like their Husky relatives, they will often also have blue eyes. For more information on the Alaskan Klee Kai and Miniature Husky see here.

Weimaraner

The Weimaraner, also commonly referred to as the silver ghost, is a prime example of the dilute gene. Although they generally have amber eyes, the AKC breed standard does allow for blue-grey eyes.

Australian Shepherd

The gene that is responsible for the blue eyes in Australian Shepherds is the same gene that gives them the Merle coat color.

Dalmatian

Dalmatians can have blue eyes. However, this trait in a Dalmatian is often a sign that they are deaf. Dalmatians in general are more prone to deafness as the result of a auto-recessive gene.

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Like many of the herding breeds that have the Merle coat coloring, the Sheltie can also have blue eyes.

Dachshund

Most Dachshunds will have brown eyes. However, Dachshunds with the Dapple coat color often will have blue eyes.

Australian Cattle Dog – Blue Heeler

Another example of a herding dog. Blue eyes in the Australian Cattle Dog is related to the Merle coat color.

Border Collie

Some Border Collies can have blue eyes and is for the same reason an Australian Shepherd may have blue eyes. This is the same gene that results in a Merle coat color.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Blue eyes in Welsh Corgis is reasonably rare but it does happen. Like many of the breeds that can have blue eyes, this trait is linked to Merle coat color gene.

Summary – Labrador with blue eyes

For a Labrador Retriever to have blue eyes, it is an indication of poor genetics or they are not a purebred Labrador. The normal eye color for a Labrador is brown for a Yellow or Black Lab or hazel or brown for a Chocolate Labrador. A possible exception is the Silver Labrador.

The Silver Labrador is a newer variation of Labrador coat colors. As puppies, Silver Labradors have blue eyes like all puppies, but they usually change to brown within a few months. In some very rare cases, Silver Labradors can have permanent blue eyes or greenish eyes.

There are a few theories as to how the “dilute” gene got in to the Labrador breed. The most likely theory is that the pure breed Labrador was crossed with a breed that carries the dilute gene such as the Weimaraner.

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