Many people find their pet’s eye colors intriguing, especially if they vary from the typical dark brown shade.
Pet owners question whether their German Shepherd puppy’s eye color can change, and if so, what will the color be as they grow older.
What was the original color of the German Shepherd’s eyes? What are the eye colors of this breed today?
Is one eye color more acceptable than another, and can the German Shepherd’s eye color indicate a health problem?
German Shepherd eye color is a fascinating topic as most people know little about this characteristic.
Find the answers to these questions in this article to improve your knowledge of this noble dog breed.
How Have German Shepherd Eye Colors Changed Through History?
Max von Stephanitz is the man behind the original German Shepherd.
Von Stephanitz was so impressed with the herding dogs in Germany during the late 1800s that he decided to breed these animals to improve their line.
Von Stephanitz purchased his first shepherding dog in the late 1890s and changed his name from Hektor Linksrhein to Horand. So began the long, illustrious breeding program of the German Shepherd.
There appears to be little evidence of the eye color of the first German Shepherds. But considering that most dog’s eye color is brown, it is safe to assume that the same applies to the original breed.
Having said this, it seems the original shepherd dogs originated from a mix between wolves and domestic dogs, whose eye colors range from yellow to shades of brown and blue.
The German Shepherd eye colors of today also exhibit a range of colors. These colors vary from light to dark brown, yellow, pale gray, and shades of blue.
Despite these color variations, all German Shepherd eyes are blue at birth. It is only as the animal matures that the actual adult eye color of the dog reveals itself.
Come with us on a journey to learn more about the German Shepherd’s eyes, their colors, and the meaning of these eye colors.
Standard German Shepherd Eye Colors
As the German Shepherd puppy grows, its eye color continues to change. Eye color changes typically occur in the first ten weeks of the pup’s life, often confusing its owners.
Everyone expects a puppy to have blue eyes at birth and expect these to change to a brownish shade later, but few people are prepared for the German Shepherd’s eyes changing color repeatedly.
During the first ten weeks of the German Shepherd’s life, their eyes seem to have a life of their own. Their eye color changes from blue soon after birth to various shades.
These are the more common German Shepherd eye colors:
- Dark brown
- Light brown
- Pale yellow
- Deep amber
- Light hazel
German Shepherd eyes are commonly brown. This brown color is due to melanin, an amino acid that is responsible for this dog’s coat and eye color.
How intense the German Shepherd’s eyes become depends on how much melanin is in the animal’s genetic makeup.
Brown is a broad description of the German Shepherd’s eyes, though, as this color consists of multiple shades.
Brown eyes can be light-colored, medium, or a dark shade that can even look almost black in some dogs. Between the brown hues of the German Shepherd’s eyes, you get another beautiful shade.
This other shade can be anything from a pale yellow to amber and darker or lighter shades of this color.
Darker yellow eyes are frequently described as hazel. Hazel is a shade that sits somewhere between yellow and brown and can take on the appearance of yellow, leonine eyes.
Although brown is the most common German Shepherd eye color, this breed can also be born with other eye colors.
Even though these different colors are less common, they nevertheless occur, much to the surprise and delight of their owners.
Other German Shepherd Eye Colors
German Shepherd’s eyes can also be unique and come in shades of blue and variations of this color. While the eye color of this breed is determined by melanin or eumelanin, their eye color also comes from their genes.
Eumelanin comes in light and dark brown. When the dog’s parents pass on this gene and don’t have a recessive one or another pigmentation, the eumelanin can result in light-colored eyes.
Depending on how much melanin a dog produces, it will also make the German Shepherd’s eyes darker or lighter shades of brown or blue.
Other German Shepherd eye colors include:
- Pale blue
- Dark blue
- Deep gray or liver
- Light gray or liver
- Green in rare cases but more specifically, if the dog is a mixed breed.
While most dog breed’s eyes are brown, some can have blue eyes. This is the case with the German Shepherd’s eyes. Their eye color is typically brown but can also be blue and different shades of this color.
If German Shepherds produce a lot of melanin, this will impact their eye color, whether brown or blue.
Blue eyes depend on the dog’s melanin production and appear to be anything from a deep blue (almost violet) to pale blue or various shades of gray.
German Shepherds with blue eyes can also trick their owners into believing their eyes are green in a different light. Even though dogs can have green eyes, this color is extremely rare to unlikely.
Albino German Shepherds also typically have pale blue eyes, surrounded by prominent pink skin, common with this condition.
Albino German Shepherds lack melanin which gives the animal its coat and eye color. However, the albino German Shepherd’s eyes differ from the white German Shepherd’s.
The white German Shepherd’s eyes can be any color but are frequently blue.
Similarly, the black or liver (gray, blue coat) German Shepherd takes its eye color from its melanin levels.
So, the black or liver German Shepherd’s eyes will contain the same pigmentation present in its coat.
Black German Shepherd eyes are usually brown but may be blue in rare instances. The liver-colored German Shepherd’s eyes then tend to be blue or a pale grayish shade.
The blue eyes in this breed are the result of a recessive gene. Even if both parents have brown eyes, their offspring can inherit a recessive gene and have blue eyes.
Heterochromia is yet another fascinating occurrence that causes German Shepherd’s eyes to be different colors.
Not only does this condition affect German Shepherds, but it also affects dogs, cats, horses, some other animals, and people on rare occasions.
Heterochromia is the result of pigmentation differences in the animal’s eyes. This condition does not affect their vision or their hearing.
However, if your pet is not born with heterochromia and its eyes change their color later in life, this may be due to disease or an eye injury.
There are also three types of heterochromia that create unique eye coloring other than having two different eye colors.
#1 Heterochromia iridis
This type of heterochromia is complete heterochromia. Simply worded, complete heterochromia means that your pet’s eyes will be different colors.
#2 Sectoral heterochromia
Sectoral heterochromia is partial. This means that only a section of your German Shepherd’s eyes will be blue.
#3 Central heterochromia
If your German Shepherd has central heterochromia, it means that the blue shade of the iris spreads further into the eye. The result is that the color spikes into the rest of the eye, which has a different color.
Is One Color More Desirable Than The Other?
Despite the diverse range of this breed’s eye colors, some pet owners insist that they want a pet with a particular eye color. Your German Shepherd’s eyes will follow the genetics of its parents.
Most German Shepherd’ eyes are brown, so you can expect your puppy’s eyes to be the same color or a shade thereof.
In rare instances, your puppy can inherit a recessive blue eye gene from its parents. In this case, the coat color may be red, but your pet may still have blue eyes.
Blue eyes in German Shepherds are far more common when the coat is liver.
But no matter the coat color of your pet, unless its eyes are brown, it won’t be possible to show your dog. Show line German Shepherds must have brown eyes according to acceptable standards.
Despite blue eyes being normal in the German Shepherd, strict show standards won’t accept these animals as thoroughbreds.
The good news is that even if you cannot show your pet at national or international shows, you can enter them into other competitions.
Other competitions for agility, strength, or to show off your pet’s obedience levels, don’t mind what eye color your German Shepherd has.
For German Shepherd lovers who want a show line dog, then eye color is definitely important.
On the other hand, some pet owners seek a German Shepherd line with blue eyes because they enjoy the unique contrast with the animal’s coat.
Some pet owners will even go to great lengths to try and source a breeder for a German Shepherd puppy with
No matter the color of your German Shepherd’s eyes, they deserve all your love and care.
Can Eye Color Be An Indication Of Eye Problems?
Just as people’s eye colors change throughout their lifetimes, so can German Shepherd’s eyes change. At times, these changes can be expected depending on your pet’s diet and age.
At other times, changing eye colors can be indicative of a health problem.
Find out what you need to know about your German Shepherd’s eyes and whether you have a reason for concern.
#1 Age influences German Shepherds eyes
Although your German Shepherd’s eyes may be blue or amber at birth, this can change as they age. Your pet’s eyes can become darker or lighter with age.
#2 Eye color varies between dogs
If your German Shepherd’s eyes are naturally brown or a variation of this shade and later change to blue, this is a sign of a problem.
A German Shepherd whose eyes turn blue is a sign of a disease known as interstitial keratitis.
Interstitial keratitis causes inflammation in your pet’s eyes, causing a film to form over the eyes.
This film usually appears as a blue and white color over the eyes, caused by a virus that also causes infectious hepatitis.
If you notice this eye color change in your German Shepherd, you should immediately take your pet to the vet for expert intervention.
Should you fail to get medical treatment, your pet may lose its eyesight. Typical symptoms to watch for include your pet’s eyes watering, avoiding bright light, and squinting.
Medical intervention can quickly resolve this issue, although some dog’s eyes are known to remain cloudy looking.
#3 Other eye color changes
Any other eye color changes in your German Shepherd can indicate that disease is present.
If their eyes take on a cloudy or gray appearance and it is evident that their eyesight is negatively impacted, they could have cataracts.
German Shepherds can contract this condition as they age, but it can occur in their adult years. Medical intervention is also advisable if this is the case.
Although your German Shepherd’s eyes can become paler or cloudy as they age, this does not always mean that they have cataracts.
When their eye color does change in mature years, this condition is referred to as nuclear sclerosis.
This condition may not be serious, but it is safer to put your mind at rest with a professional opinion.
#4 Corneal or iris infections
These infections can also cause changes in your pet’s eye color. Again, get your German Shepherd to a vet quickly to determine the problem and obtain medication to help resolve the issue.
If your German Shepherd’s eyes change color at any point beyond ten weeks, this could be a sign of a serious condition.
Please get an expert opinion rather than avoiding the issue as your pet could be in pain or worse.
German Shepherd’s eyes are commonly brown or a version of brown. Rarer eye colors in this breed are blue or liver.
German Shepherds can even have two different eye colors, a condition which is known as heterochromia. Changes in your German Shepherd’s eyes can indicate a serious disease.
If you notice such a change, immediately consult your vet. Your German Shepherd may need immediate medical intervention to save its beautiful eyes.