Dog Discoveries

Dog Word of the Day: China Eyes


China eyes in dogs, as one may deduce, are eyes that have some elements of blue, possibly deriving from the term China blue. Let’s face it: blue eyes in dogs are quite attractive and many dog owners fall in love with dogs based on the beauty of those eyes. And who can blame them? As the saying goes “the eyes are windows to the soul” and glancing into pretty blue eyes, day after day, must feel like the equivalent of admiring a beautiful painting that you never grow tired of looking. Of course, all dog eyes, regardless of color, can provide this feeling. Researchers will say that those feelings felt upon gazing into a dog’s eyes is a matter of oxytocin, the hormone that bonds us to human infants such as when a mother stares into her baby’s eyes.

China Eyes in Dogs

So what exactly are China eyes in dogs? According to the American Kennel Club’s glossary, China eyes in dogs are eyes that are clear or spotted, blue, light blue, or whitish eyes. This is quite a broad description overall considering the variability.

For a more down to earth example, it helps to look at which dog breed standards include dogs with China eyes. What dog breeds are known for having China eyes?

The American Kennel Club lists China eyes in the Old English sheepdog (OES) breed. Many of these dogs have hairs covering their eyes, so we might really never get to appreciate what eye colors they sport.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Old English sheepdog is expected to have eyes that are brown, blue or one of each color. When brown, a very dark color is preferable. If the eyes are blue, then a pearl, china or wall-eye is considered typical. Amber or yellow eyes are considered most objectionable.

Did you know? Other dog breeds known for having China eyes are dog breeds equipped with the merle coat. A merle coat is simply a coat pattern characterized by mottled patches of color throughout the coat. Merle dogs also display, blue or odd-colored eyes and this is because the merle gene modifies eye color, diluting it.

“When a Border Collie is born merle, they usually have blue eyes, and those eyes are referred to as “china eyes.”~Gisele Veilleux, Deaf Dogs Hear With Their Hearts

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