Amber eyes in dogs are not very common. Indeed, you'll stumble on only a handful of dog breeds with amber eyes.
The most common eye color in dogs is brown to dark brown. It is not very common to find other eyes colors. Perhaps this is the reason why many dog lovers found unusual eye colors attractive.
Amber eyes are surely to grab attention. In most cases, dogs with amber eyes have a distinctive coat color that emphasizes and complements the eye color.
A Matter of Melanin
Did you know? The colored eye portion of a dog's eye that encircles the dog's black pupils is known as the "iris" and its pigmentation varies from one dog and another depending on its concentration of melanin, a pigment that is responsible for giving color to skin, coat and eyes.
The intensity of the color of a dog's eyes therefore ultimately depends on how much melanin is present. The more melanin, the darker the color. The less melanin, the lighter the color.
In particular, there are two types of melanin that are responsible for coat color in dogs: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin, when unaltered, by default results in very black color. When we see black areas on a dog's coat we are therefore looking at the result of cells producing eumelanin (such cells are known as melanocytes).
Pheomelanin, on the other hand, by default results in a reddish-yellow coat color. Pheomelanin therefore is responsible for the "red" coat seen in Irish setters. However, just as in eumelanin, genes may alter its concentration and lead to softer shades such as tans, creams, yellows, golds and oranges.
Benefits of Dark Brown Eyes in Dogs
You may find it interesting discovering that most dog breed standards call for dark brown eyes. This is because dark brown eyes have more unaltered eumelanin which acts as an antioxidant, lowering the harm exerted by exposure to the sun.
More eumelanin therefore means more help in blocking the sun’s rays, protecting the eyes from damage.
On top of being better protected from the sun, brown eyes in dogs are also fascinating! Take a look here to discover dogs with stunning brown eyes.
Variety is the Spice of Life
One fascinating facts about dogs is that they come in so many different colors, shapes and sizes. Indeed, dogs are the most varied land mammals on earth! Discover more about this here: why do dogs come in so many shapes and sizes?
While most breed standards call for brown eyes, it is not unusual to stumble on a variety of other eye colors such as dogs with very dark brown eyes, dogs with blue eyes, dogs with copper eyes and dogs with amber eyes.
In some cases, dogs may also have eyes of different colors. You can discover more about these dogs here: heterochromia, dogs with eyes of different colors.
Why Do Dogs Have Amber Eyes?
Amber eyes are defined as ranging from light brown, to yellow to orange in color. Amber eyes in dogs are not very common.
Amber eyes commonly occur in certain dogs breeds with a certain coat color. More specifically, you'll be more likely stumble on amber eyes in dogs with liver, blue and isabella coat colors.
What do these three coat colors have in common? They share the fact that they are the product of modifier genes known for turning black eumelanin into other colors.
The black eumelanin color can therefore be diluted into blue (grey) or isabella (lilac). As a result of genes, black may also be softened into liver (chocolate). In other words, the result is a washed out version of the original color.
On top of being found in a dog's coat, eumelanin is also present in the dog's eyes and nose. As with the coat, modifier genes impacting the expression of black eumelanin leads to eyes that are lighter in color, basically, amber eyes (which are similar to hazel eyes in humans).
Let's take a closer look now at what dog breeds have amber eyes!
8 Official Dog Breeds With Amber Eyes
These dogs breeds have amber eyes and their amber eyes are discussed in their breed standard. Following are several dogs breeds with amber eyes.
This aristocratic looking breed is blessed with a distinctive coat color. The shades may range from mouse-gray to silver-gray, usually turning into lighter shades on the head and ears.
The eyes are described as boasting shades of light amber, gray or blue-gray.
Did you know? According to the American Kennel's Club standard of the breed, a Weimaraners' eyes have the distinct feature of appearing almost black when their pupils are dilated from excitement. Discover other reasons why this dog breed is nicknamed the "grey ghost."
2) Australian Shepherd
Australian shepherds are known for boasting a variety of eye colors. Eye colors acceptable in Aussies include brown, blue, amber and any combination or variation of the above.
Some Aussies may have eyes that have different color flecks and marbling. Blue merles and blacks tend to have black pigmentation on the eye rims, while red merles and reds have liver (brown) pigmentation on the eye rims.
3) Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian ridgeback is described as having round eyes that are bright and sparkling, giving these dogs an intelligent expression.
The color of these dogs' eyes are in harmony with the color of the coat.
Rhodesians with a brown or liver nose are expected to be blessed with amber eyes.
Discover another fascinating trait this dog breed: "the mysterious ridge on the ridgebacks' back.
4) Anatolian Shepherd
The eyes of the Anatolian shepherd are described as to being medium in size, almond shaped and dark brown to light amber in color. How pretty are they?
5) Chesapeake Bay Retriever
On top of the Chesapeake Bay retriever's distinctive coat, Chessies are known for their yellowish or amber eyes giving this dog an intelligent expression.
6) Boykin Spaniel
The Boykin spaniel is described as having an alert, self-confident, expression. Their eyes may range from yellow to amber and various shades of brown.
7) Curly Coated Retriever
The curly coated retriever has almond-shaped eyes. Black or brown eyes are found in black dogs, while brown or amber eyes are found in liver dogs. Harsh yellow eyes are undesirable.
Not all poodles have amber eyes. Amber eyes are only found in the cafe' au lait coat color which is the color of milk and coffee. Cafe' au lait poodles typically have liver-colored noses, eye-rims and lips, dark toenails and amber eyes.
When Amber Eyes are a Fault
As seen, there are several dog breeds with amber eyes. However, consider that in several others, amber eyes may not fashionable at all, and in some breeds, it's even considered a fault.
For example, take the Old English sheepdog breed standard. According to the standard: "an amber or yellow eye is most objectionable."
In the American Eskimo Dog, on the other hand, "amber eye color or pink eye rims are considered a fault. "
The Issue With Yellow Eyes
Interestingly, canines in the wild have lighter colored eyes compared to our domesticated dogs.
Wolves, which are the dog's ancestors, often sport an eye color ranging from gold, to amber or light brown with hues of yellow or even gray, claims Lisa Dube Forman, an American Kennel Club Dog Show Judge for Irish Wolfhounds and Afghan Hounds.
There may be chances that domesticated dogs were selectively bred to have darker eyes due to cosmetic appeal.
Lighter colored eyes referred to as the yellow "bird of prey" color is often frowned upon in several breed standard (it's a serious fault in the Rottweiler and means for disqualification in the cane corso and Polish lowland sheepdog breed) as it tends to give dogs an unappealing harsh look, according to the American Kennel Club.