Is it possible for cocker spaniels to have blue eyes? As our spaniel readership grows we receive many questions about their eyes! So let’s answer everything below.
Consider this a complete cocker spaniel eye guide!
Cocker spaniels can have blue eyes although it’s extremely rare. Cocker spaniels with blue eyes will likely carry the merle gene and will be considered “Merle Cocker Spaniels,” which are not considered purebred.
How Cocker Spaniels Get Blue Eyes
Let’s explain how it’s possible that cocker spaniels can actually have blue eyes, albeit very rare.
Heterochromia is the official term for having blue eyes, green eyes, particolored eyes, or two different eye colors.
Heterochromia is an eye condition that affects the amount of melanin found in the iris. Melanin is a pigment responsible for the color we see.
How can a cocker spaniel get heterochromia?
- The merle gene (most common)
- Injury (rare)
- Inflammation (rare)
- Brain tumors (rare)
The merle gene is by the far the most common cause of heterochromia, yet the merle gene is NOT often seen in cocker spaniels.
- When there is a lack of pigment in the iris, the eye color will be blue
- When there is sufficient pigment in the iris, the eye color will be brown
- If there is an uneven distribution of pigment, the result is a single mixed-color eye OR two different-colored eyes
Can Purebred Cocker Spaniels Have Blue Eyes
A purebred cocker spaniel will very rarely have blue eyes, but it is still technically possible.
- Important note: Merle cocker spaniels are not recognized to be purebred. And most cases of a blue-eyed cocker, the merle gene is what’s responsible.
So how can purebred cocker spaniels get blue eyes?
As mentioned above, in extremely rare circumstances, certain injuries, inflammation, or brain tumors can cause the eyes to be blue in a purebred cocker spaniel.
What Eye Color Do Cocker Spaniels Usually Have?
The natural eye color of most cocker spaniels is dark brown. According to the AKC breed standard of the cocker spaniel, the darker the eye color, the better.
Cocker spaniels that have blue, blue-marbled, or blue flecked is a disqualification in terms of the breed standard.
Are Cocker Spaniels Born With Blue Eyes
Yes, cocker spaniels are born with blue eyes. In fact all puppies of all breeds start life with blue eyes!
This happens because melanin (what’s responsible for the coloring) has not yet developed. Leaving the eyes a blue/white color.
When Do Cocker Spaniel Eyes Change Color?
Cocker spaniels usually start getting their adult color eye around 2-3 months. This is when melanin finally starts being developed.
Sometimes, eye color may not fully settle until 4 or 5 months. It’s different for all dogs.
Will Your Cocker Spaniels Eyes Stay Blue?
Your puppy cocker spaniel will rarely keep their blue eyes. Although they are born with blue eyes, it will typically change around the 2-3 month mark.
Only those with heterochromia will keep their blue eyes. And as explained above, this is extremely rare for purebred cocker spaniels.
If your cocker spaniel keeps their blue eyes, then they are either a merle cocker spaniel (not considered purebred) or has suffered an early injury, inflammation, or brain tumor.
- Trending: When Do Cocker Spaniels Calm Down!
Do Blue Eyed Cocker Spaniels Get Health Problems?
Blue eyes themselves have not been linked to an increased risk of health issues or eye problems.
Assuming the blue eyes have not been caused by injury, inflammation, or a brain tumor then the cocker spaniel is at no more risk of health issues than a brown-eyed cocker!
However! The merle gene (specifically double merles) is when things get worse.
Merle Cocker Spaniels & Health Issues
Merle Cocker spaniels can have serious health issues including hearing issues, eye problems, hair loss, skeletal issues, cardiac issues and reproductive problems.
Still, not all merle cocker spaniels will develop these issues, and many can live a normal life.
The problem with merles gets worse when breeding TWO merles together.
When this happens, there is a 50% chance of the offspring inheriting two copies of the merle gene, resulting in a double merle.
Double merles are nearly always riddled with serious health complications right from birth. Many are euthanased by breeders before anyone knows about it.
Thus, a moral issue is raised right away. Breeding merles is discouraged for this very reason.