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Why are Huskies eyes blue?

Huskies are known for their striking blue eyes. This icy blue eye color is one of the breed’s most defining characteristics. But why do Huskies have blue eyes? The blue eye color is caused by a lack of pigment in the iris.

What causes blue eyes in Huskies?

Eye color in dogs is determined by pigmentation in the iris. The iris is the colored part of the eye that controls pupil size. It has pigment cells called melanocytes. These melanocytes produce melanin, which is a dark brown pigment.

There are two types of melanin: eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red). The amount and type of melanin produced determines eye color. Brown eyes have more eumelanin. Green and amber eyes have moderate eumelanin with some pheomelanin. Blue eyes have a lack of pigment and low melanin levels.

In Huskies, their blue eyes are caused by a lack of pigment in the iris. This lack of pigment occurs due to reduced pigment production from the melanocytes. With less melanin, light scatters and does not absorb, causing the blue color.

The genetics behind blue eyes

The main gene responsible for blue eyes in Huskies is called ALX4 on canine chromosome 18. This gene is involved in regulating pigment development. The variant linked to blue eyes prevents the formation of pigment in the iris.

For a Husky to have blue eyes, they need to inherit two copies of the variant ALX4 gene, one from each parent. This is because it is a recessive trait. If a Husky inherits a variant copy and a normal copy, they will have brown eyes since the normal copy is dominant over the variant.

Here is a simplified representation of the inheritance pattern behind blue eyes:

Parent 1 Parent 2 Offspring
Variant ALX4 Variant ALX4 Blue eyes
Normal ALX4 Variant ALX4 Brown eyes

As seen, two variant copies are needed for blue eyes. One variant and one normal copy results in brown eyes since brown is dominant. This is why blue eyes are relatively uncommon compared to brown.

Are all Huskies born with blue eyes?

No, not all Huskies are born with blue eyes. As puppies, many Huskies do have blue eyes from birth. But some may be born with brown, green, or amber eyes that darken over time.

All purebred Huskies possess the blue-eyed gene variant. Puppies that display blue eyes at birth have two copies. However, the gene can still be present in Huskies born with brown eyes if they inherit one variant copy.

For puppies born with brown or green eyes, their final adult eye color is difficult to predict. The pigmentation develops over time. Some may retain their original eye color while others end up with blue eyes by adulthood.

Do all blue-eyed Huskies stay blue?

For Huskies born with bright blue eyes, most will keep their blue eyes into adulthood. The blue eye color persists if the dog has two copies of the variant ALX4 gene.

That said, some Huskies with blue eyes at birth may develop flecks of brown later on. This occurs when melanin starts to gradually accumulate in the iris over time. By adulthood, small brown spots may appear in one or both eyes. However, the overall eye color remains a distinct blue.

Also, puppies with lighter blue eyes are more prone to developing flecks of brown than those with very dark navy blue eyes. But in most cases, a Husky with true blue eyes at birth will keep them for life.

Are blue eyes linked to health issues?

No, blue eyes do not directly cause any health problems in Huskies. However, some eye conditions and vision problems are more common in blue-eyed dogs compared to brown-eyed dogs.

One condition is corneal dystrophy, which causes cloudiness and opacities on the cornea. This can potentially cause some vision loss. The disease occurs from abnormal corneal cell development, which blue-eyed dogs may be predisposed to.

Additionally, blue-eyed dogs are more prone to photophobia. This is increased light sensitivity and discomfort in bright sunlight. With less pigment, blue irises allow more light into the eye. This can translate to squinting and watery eyes in the sun.

So while blue eyes themselves are not unhealthy, some associated eye conditions occur at higher rates in blue-eyed Husky dogs compared to brown-eyed dogs.

Do Huskies with blue eyes have vision problems?

Blue eyes do not directly impair vision or cause blindness in Huskies. However, some studies show that blue-eyed dogs have increased risk for development of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) compared to brown-eyed dogs.

PRA involves gradual loss of vision due to retina degeneration. It eventually progresses to blindness. Blue-eyed dogs were shown to develop an early onset, severe form of PRA. However, this still remains an uncommon condition in the overall Husky breed.

Aside from potential PRA risk, blue eyes generally do not negatively impact eyesight. Blue-eyed Huskies can have excellent vision and eye health, especially with regular vet examinations to screen for common eye diseases.

Do Huskies with blue eyes act differently?

No, eye color does not influence temperament or behavior in Huskies. Blue-eyed Huskies exhibit the same general personality traits and intelligence as brown-eyed Huskies.

The myth that blue-eyed dogs are more aggressive may stem from the Siberian Husky’s wolf-like ancestry. Wolves commonly have yellow, green, or pale blue eyes. However, modern purebred Huskies have been bred entirely separately from wolves.

Eye color itself has no bearing on a Husky’s behavior. With early socialization and training, Huskies with blue eyes make wonderful family pets.

How rare are blue eyes in Huskies?

Blue eyes are relatively uncommon in dogs overall, but they are a very common and expected trait among purebred Siberian Huskies. Estimates indicate around 60-80% of Huskies have blue eyes.

Compared to other breeds, blue eyes are exceptionally prevalent in Huskies since the variant gene was fixed into the breed. However, the likelihood of a Husky having brown eyes depends on the parent’s eye colors.

Two blue-eyed parent Huskies have a 100% chance of passing on the variant gene, and therefore producing only blue-eyed puppies. If one parent has blue eyes and one has brown, there is roughly a 50% chance of any puppy having blue eyes.

Can a Husky have one blue eye and one brown eye?

Yes, it is possible for a Husky to have one blue eye and one brown eye. This is called heterochromia iridis, or ‘odd-eyes’. It occurs when the dog inherits different variants of the ALX4 gene.

For example, the dog may inherit a variant causing blue eyes from one parent, and a normal copy allowing pigment from the other parent. This results in one iris lacking pigment while the other has normal pigment production.

Partial heterochromia can also occur, where a Husky has a blue and brown mixed eye. While odd-eyes are less common than two blue eyes, it is a possible eye color variation seen in the breed.

How do you take care of a blue-eyed Husky’s eyes?

Here are some tips for caring for a blue-eyed Husky’s eyes:

  • Use ophthalmic eye lubricants if prone to dry eyes
  • Avoid exposure to harsh sunlight, such as with UV-protectant doggles
  • Gently wipe eyes daily to remove debris and discharge
  • Feed an antioxidant-rich diet with vitamins C and E
  • Have annual vet eye exams to screen for issues like cataracts
  • Monitor for any clouding, discharge, redness, or vision problems

With routine care, most blue-eyed Huskies enjoy excellent lifelong eye health and vision.


In summary, Siberian Husky dogs commonly have distinctive ice blue eyes due to reduced pigment in the iris. Two copies of the variant ALX4 gene are responsible. While mostly stable, blue eyes can develop some flecks of brown over a Husky’s lifetime.

Blue eyes themselves do not impair vision or cause blindness. But some eye problems like corneal dystrophy may occur at higher rates compared to brown-eyed dogs. With proper precautions and vet care, blue-eyed Huskies can enjoy many years of good vision and eye health.