Pet Eye Color- A Kaleidoscope Of Colors6 min read
PET EYE COLOR IS SO VARIABLE
Humans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Their eye colors are just as varied. Genes can be dominant or recessive. People with blue eyes, such as this author, have a double recessive gene. Both my parents had blue eyes. They could have had 1000 kids and they would all have had blue eyes! That is the way genetics work. Things can be a bit different in dogs and cats. Pet eye color has a lot to do with the amount of pigment in the iris. Genetics also play a role. Some genes of pet eye color carry over negative traits such as aggression or deafness in both dogs (Dalmatians) and cats (white).
When you take notice of those beautiful dark blue eyes in a Siamese cat you are actually looking at the iris. The word iris in latin means RAINBOW. In Spanish the equivalent word for rainbow is arcoIRIS. Mammalian eyes come in all sorts of different hues and colors. The animal kingdom has much more variety than does the human race. Dogs and cats can each have differently colored eyes. This is known as heterochromia. They can even have different colors in just one eye. There are cats that have top half of one eye one color and the bottom half another! Other cats will have ribbons of a different color in their eyes. There are pet eye color differences between dogs and cats.
There is a genetic predisposition of pet eye color depending on the intensity of the sun’s rays. Many blue eyed people come from northern Europe where the sun’s rays are not intense as the tropics. The same can be said of the Siberian Husky. If genes were not manipulated there would be a tendency for individuals in hot climates near the equator to have dark brown eyes. That darkening of the iris decreases the chance of retinal damage due to the sun’s ultraviolet (high energy) light waves.
THE HUES AND VARIATIONS OF DOG EYES
The color of a dog’s eyes depends on the amount of pigmentation present in the iris. Melanin and or the amount of melanin present is the determining factor in the color of a dog’s eyes. These pigments are produced by specialized cells in the iris known as melanocytes. The default color for the majority of canines is brown. The beautiful Papillon dog in the slideshow above has typical brown eyes. Other colors of pet eye color are shades of amber or blue. Weimeraner dogs have a characteristic blue gray color to their irises. The less pigmentation the bluer the eye color.
Heterochromia or multi-colored eye colors are characteristic of numerous breeds. Border Collies, Siberian Huskys, Dalmatians and Australian Sheepdogs share this characteristic. Normally, all Siberian Husky dogs have blue eyes. In Husky dogs blue is a dominant gene. Often, one eye is blue and the other eye is brown. I have seen a few herding breeds that have pink eyes. This is the absence of all pigmentation. You are basically looking at the blood vessels.
Pet eye color can be acquired. This is normally pathological and warrants a trip to a veterinarian. The most common cause of pet eye color change is “blue eye”. The cornea takes on a bluish haze to it due to corneal edemaThe cornea takes on excessive amounts of fluid. It swells and the physical appearance changes from a clear, transparent color to a bluish haze.. The most common cause of this in dogs is canine hepatitis. Other causes of iris discolorations are lens degeneration (cloudy blue gray) and glaucoma.
THE HUES AND VARIATIONS OF CAT EYES
Cats have that special look to them when looking at their eyes. They sparkle. They glow. They look like looking through a plate of glass. That is exactly what is happening. Looking at glass at an angle you will notice a bluish tinge to it. Cats have a transparent structure, that when added to the iris pigments, give the true color to the eyes. Nothing beats that dark blue eye color of a Siamese cat!
Pet eye color is quite variable in cats. Colors range from light yellow to hazel to brown. Some cats have green and blue eyes! The latter two colors mean that the levels of melanin are quite low and absent respectively. Cats with those stunning orange eyes, like the Persian or Burmese, have a high level of melanin in their irises. Cats with those characteristic baby blues are: Ragdoll, Siamese and Himalayan. Kittens are all born with blue eyes. Take a look at the image above the article title. All of them have blue eyes. I have had clients thrilled to death about that but their balloon popped when I told them they would change color. Change color they do at about 7-8 weeks of age.
Different colored eyes are common in cats. The most common situation is the white cat syndrome. White cats with blue eyes are deaf. Those with a blue eye and something else have a tendency to deafness on the side of the blue eye.
The color of an animal’s eyes add a certain mystique to them. The most important aspect is their ability to see and navigate the world around them.