Due to the tremendous popularity of the breed in the U.S. over the past 50 years, poodles have been central to the recent trend in designer dog breeds. Whether you’re shopping or adopting, a lifetime fan of the breed or considering poodles for the first time—there are some things you need to know before making a decision on a new best friend.
Can poodles have blue eyes? Yes, Poodles can have blue eyes. However, Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognize dark brown as the standard eye color for poodles. Blue eyes in adult poodles can be the result of genetics or a sign of an eye-health issue.
Blue eyes can be a beautiful and distinctive part of your dog’s appearance. But in the poodle breed, blue eyes should definitely make you ask questions. Knowing all you can about how a poodle came to have this uncommon characteristic can alert you to the potential for serious issues that any pet owner would want to know.
What You Need to Know About Poodles with Blue Eyes
There are a lot of things to love about the poodle breed. They’re hypoallergenic. They don’t drool. With standard, miniature, and toy sizes in the breed, there’s a poodle to fit every individual preference.
These desirable features of the breed have made poodles a central breed in the recent move to develop designer dog breeds. They’ve also kept poodles near the top of the list of the most popular dog breeds in the country for generations.
One downside of their popularity is that poodles are a favorite of amateur or backyard breeders and less-than-reputable breeding operations. Another downside – due mainly to the increase in designer breeds – is that there is more confusion around what characteristics to look for in the poodle breed.
If you’re looking for a dog to breed or show, breed characteristics are central to your decision-making process. But even if you just want a lovable family pet, blue eyes in a poodle can be a sign of certain issues that you should be aware of before you take a dog home from a shelter or breeder.
What can cause blue eyes in an adult poodle?
- The Merle Gene
- Eye Diseases
Where Does the Blue Come from, and What Does it Mean?
As we noted above, it’s not uncommon for a poodle puppy to have blue eyes. Puppies of every breed can be born with blue, green, or yellow eyes. Normally the pigmentation darkens as the dog ages.
If you’re looking at a poodle puppy, you should take note of the litter’s parents and learn as much as you can about both sides of the bloodline for at least four generations. This can help you figure out whether your puppy’s blue eyes are normal or a sign of something worth considering more carefully.
The ‘Merle’ Gene
The merle gene is responsible for the swirly or splotchy coat patterns that are common characteristics in some breeds. It produces beautiful markings in any dog, but it is not a natural pattern in the poodle bloodline. In order to get a poodle with the physical features associated with the merle gene, it has to be introduced from outside the breed.
While this is a deal-breaker for anyone who wants a registered pureblood poodle for a pet, it might be a non-issue or even an attractive feature for those who just want a beautiful family pet. But before you buy a blue-eyed or merle-coated poodle, consider some of the potential downsides.
Deafness and blindness are more common in puppies with the merle gene. Still, a puppy from a litter with one merle parent is probably a safe enough choice for a family pet. What you have to be most concerned with is making sure that your puppy isn’t from a ‘double- merle’ litter and that if your puppy is a merle, it is never allowed to breed with another merle.
Double merle litters have an alarmingly high instance of deafness and blindness—some puppies are born without eyes or ears or with other physical deformities. No responsible owner or breeder would allow this to happen.
Check out this article I wrote on merle poodles. In it, you can learn about their very unique color patterns, health concerns, and cost involved to purchase these wonderfully distinctive dogs.
Heterochromia in Poodles
The literal translation is multiple colors.
This condition can occur in people, horses, cats, and dogs. In dogs, it can be due to the merle gene or other breed-specific genes. While this or other recessive genetic properties can lead to blue eyes in a poodle, it is uncommon. When this is the cause of blue eyes in a poodle, there is typically no cause for additional concerns about the dog’s health.
Eye Diseases in Poodles
We’ve talked about puppies with blue eyes that will eventually darken with age. We’ve also discussed adult dogs that have always had blue eyes. What if your adult poodle with dark eyes experiences a sudden pigment change in one or both eyes?
If this happens, you should definitely be concerned. It is typically a symptom of eye disease. The two most common are cataracts and glaucoma. Either way, you’ll want to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can both lead to irreversible blindness.
Breed Standards for Poodles
The AKC’s breed standards allow for a wide variety of sizes and even more when it comes to coat colors in the poodle breed. For coat colors, you can expect to see poodles that are:
But with all coat colors, you should look for “even and solid color at the skin” (source).
For all coat colors except apricot, dark eyes are the breed standard. For apricot poodles, “amber eyes are permitted but are not desirable” (source).
The AKC goes on to say that “Parti-colored dogs shall be disqualified. The coat of a parti-colored dog is not an even solid color at the skin but is of two or more colors” (source).
Due to the tremendous popularity of the breed in the U.S. over the past 50 years, poodles have been central to the recent trend in designer dog breeds.
Whether you’re shopping or adopting, a lifetime fan of the breed or considering poodles for the first time—there are some things you need to know before making a decision on a new best friend.
Does A ‘Doodle Make A Difference?
You might be wondering whether the information we’ve discussed blue eyes in poodles applies to designer breeds. As we said above, it’s a movement that is growing in popularity, and the poodle breed continues to figure prominently in that movement. There are some breeds where blue eyes are common or even the expected pigmentation.
Of the 10 most popular designer dog breeds, 6 involve poodles. These are:
None of these common genetic hybrids should produce a dog with blue eyes. So even when you’re looking for a designer breed rather than a pureblood poodle, you should be aware of what blue eyes in the dog or in its lineage could mean.
It’s obvious from what we’ve said above that a poodle can, in fact, have blue eyes. Whether the AKC or UKC will recognize it as a poodle is another matter. Whether those blue eyes should be considered reason enough to continue your search for a dog to bring home with you is another matter still.
While blue eyes in a poodle should always make you think twice, in most cases, that alone shouldn’t be the sole reason that you pass on a dog. The most important thing to be aware of is the severe consequences of double-merle breeding. You should never condone breeders who practice it. If you own a merle poodle you should ensure it doesn’t occur.