As dog breeds have evolved, some key markers and standards have been developed to classify breeds from one another. One specific characteristic of a Poodle is their brown eye color. When you come across a Poodle, you are more than likely going to see that he has brown eyes, as most dog breeds have brown eyes.
The most common eye color in Poodles is brown to dark brown, but not all Poodles have brown eyes. Light eye colors and even blue eyes can occur in Poodles because of genetic mutation or possible signs of illness. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and The United Kennel Club (UKC) have distinct standards for Poodle breed characteristics which include oval-shaped and brown eyes.
Poodles’ eyes can range in hue, but nearly all will have a brown variation. If you spot a Poodle that does not have brown eyes, this is a rare occurrence. The hues of brown only matter if you are planning on showing your dog in competitions. This article will explain the variations in Poodle eye color and what accounts for these differences within the breed.
What Eye Colors Can Poodles Have?
Despite multiple variations in Poodle coat color and breeding for specific features, these dogs have very dark brown to amber eyes across all subcategories of the breed. Most dog breeds have brown eyes, and Poodles are no exception. This is further proved by the American Kennel Club’s official standards that emphasize dark brown eyes
There are many eye color variations in Poodles, almost all of which are found with some form of brown eyes. Darker colored poodles may appear to have black eyes, but this is an intense brown color. It is also somewhat common for Poodles to have amber-brown eyes, but this is still considered a recessive trait.
These are the eye colors that can be found in Poodles:
- Dark brown: This is not only the recognized breed standard but is also the dominant trait that can be found in the majority of Poodles. This coloring may be dark enough to look black, especially those with silver, black, and white coating. Dogs with darker eyes have higher melanin content, where the cells produce dark eumelanin.
- Amber-brown: This color is not quite as deep as dark brown eyes; a little light can appear in the eyes, giving them an amber hue. They still produce the eumelanin but often at a lower intensity. It is more common for brown Poodles to have amber or brown eyes. To be held to official standards, brown Poodles must not have any traces of black in their pigment, including the eyes.
- Red-brown: Some Poodles have amber eyes that appear to be reddish in their brown pigment. This is a variation of melanin known as pheomelanin that appears red or yellow in pigment. This is found in both eyes as well as coat coloring.
- Gray/Blue: It is very uncommon to find a poodle with blue or gray eyes, and it is often the sign of a recessive gene or a vision disorder. The genetic explanation is the presence of the Merle gene, which is responsible for the light pigmentation in the eye. This gene is quite uncommon in Poodles. Another explanation is the genetic abnormality of heterochromia, where the dog may have two different colored eyes. Blue eyes should be monitored over the life of the animal to ensure there are no health issues.
To learn much more about blue-eyed Poodles, check out this article I wrote. In it, You will discover much more on the Merle gene and other conditions which can negatively affect the health of your Poodle.
As Poodles are bred, variations in eye color are passed down between generations and impact the phenotypes of the breed. Recessive traits are not as common but find their way into the breed when these differences are allowed to be reproduced and create new lines of poodles with specific genetic makeups.
Changes in Poodle Eye Color
Like coat color, the eye color of a Poodle can change over time. Sometimes this will be a very natural occurrence that does not raise concern, while other changes should be monitored, and veterinary care should be sought. It is not uncommon, especially for brown Poodles, to have green, blue, or yellow eyes that will darken to shades of brown as they mature.
It is common for dogs, including Poodles, to start with lighter eyes and darken over time. As a puppy is developing and growing, its natural melanin levels will start to kick in. You shouldn’t be surprised if your young Poodle has noticeably light-colored eyes, including blues and grays. As it grows, the iris will darken if there are high enough melanin levels.
If you notice your Poodle’s eyes getting lighter with age, this is something to monitor as it may be signs of vision deficiencies. Most color changes, in both coat and eye color, will happen at a young age. If you notice this beyond two years old, check to see if there are any changes in their vision with the vet.
Identifying Eye Health Conditions in Poodles
Poodles are at a higher risk for vision and eye problems than many other breeds both due to heredity and their curly hair around the eyes easily picking up and putting them in contact with debris. Cataracts are one of the most significant eye risks for Poodles compared to other breeds. This is particularly true for Toy and Miniature Poodles.
Taking your Poodle for regular pet checkups and examining the eyes as well as their overall appearance can help you notice the first signs of medical problems. Identifying and treating at an early stage will help prevent worsening conditions and give the best possible quality of life for the dog.
These are some visual markers you should be aware of to help identify eye problems in Poodles:
- Cloudy eyes: If you notice a cloudy or hazy appearance on the eye lens, this is a sign of cataracts. The onset of cataracts in Poodles is typically caused by a recessive gene and can progress moderately from birth or as a juvenile. Cataracts not only lead to a loss of vision but if unaddressed, they can also cause blindness.
- Watery eyes, squinting, blueness: These are all symptoms typically associated with glaucoma, which can result in blindness. The blueness will often be noticed around the cornea. These symptoms should be addressed promptly for the best treatment outcomes. Toy and Miniature Poodles are predisposed to closed-angle glaucoma.
- Tear staining: The streaks below the Poodle’s eye are known as tear stains, and they often appear in reds and browns. Because Poodles can have easily blocked tear ducts, the tears may appear in access around the eyes. Debris is caught in the eyes can also cause tears to form.
Check out this article I recently wrote on Poodle tear stains. You’ll learn all the possible causes of watery eyes, and most importantly, how to fix it!
Progressive retinal atrophy and optic nerve hypoplasia are two degenerative eye diseases that are also commonly found in Poodles. These diseases show little to no symptoms in the eyes and are challenging to treat as they are hereditary. If a Poodle does start to experience vision loss, providing a loving and adapted home to keep playtime fun and the surroundings safe.
With dark eyes, Poodles are potentially less susceptible to some of the illnesses mentioned throughout this article. It is essential to keep an eye (pun intended!) on your poodle’s eyes regardless of color to ensure that they are healthy. Eye color differences may not suggest health problems at all and can just be a variation that makes some Poodles unique!
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