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Can German Shepherds Have Blue Eyes? Recessive Genes Explained

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

german shepherd dog with blue eyes

You have probably seen a cat or a Husky with blue eyes, but have you ever seen a German Shepherd with blue eyes? You likely haven’t but it is a possible combination. Although it is rare, German Shepherds can have blue eyes due to a recessive gene that dilutes the dog’s eye and coat colors.

To learn more about German Shepherds with blue eyes, read on!

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What Causes a German Shepherd to Have Blue Eyes?

A German Shepherd’s eye color is determined by genetics. Most purebred and mixed German Shepherds have brown eyes because it is the dominant trait. In contrast, the blue eye color is a recessive trait.

In case it’s been a while since your last science class, dominant traits beat out recessive traits, which is why brown eyes are more common in German Shepherds. For a recessive gene to appear, both parents must have the same trait.

Interestingly, the recessive trait that causes German Shepherds to have blue eyes is also found in humans, but it is simply more common. You’ll sometimes hear this gene called the “liver recessive gene” or “double blue gene” in dogs.

What makes the double blue gene so unique is that it causes the dog’s pigmentation to appear diluted. Thus, the German Shepherd has a bluer appearance overall, and their eyes are blue instead of brown. Although it may sound weird that blue eyes are blue due to lack of pigmentation, the same is true of human blue eyes.

german shepherd dog with blue eyes walking on water
Photo Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

What Does a Blue-Eyed German Shepherd Look Like?

While humans with blue eyes can be of all sizes and races, German Shepherds with blue eyes tend to look mostly the same as classic German Shepherds, though their coat color and of course, eye color, are lighter. Those that have blue eyes are called Blue German Shepherds.

A Blue German Shepherd can come in three colorations: blue and black, blue and dark brown, and blue and tan. Often, the blue and black coloration makes the dog appear dark gray all over.

Even though Blue German Shepherds can have blue eyes, it’s important to note that they can also have light brown or yellow eyes. So, the recessive gene doesn’t guarantee blue eyes, but it does make it more likely.

Is It Rare for a German Shepherd to Have Blue Eyes?

It is considered incredibly rare for a German Shepherd to have blue eyes. Not only must the dog have the recessive gene themselves, but both their parents must also have it. Also, most breeders prefer not to waste time breeding Blue German Shepherds.

Essentially, it’s a gamble as to whether a German Shepherd will have blue eyes, and the odds are very low.

Are Blue German Shepherds Sickly?

This recessive gene can be seen in other dogs, such as Dobermans. In this breed, the gene can cause the dog to have certain skin conditions. In German Shepherds, though, there is no negative health link due to the recessive gene.

That said, many breeders avoid breeding Blue German Shepherds because kennel associations view blue eyes as a defect. What this means is that you cannot present your blue-eyed German Shepherd at dog shows because the blue coloration is considered a fault.

Of course, you can always find a Blue German Shepherd if you want one specifically and have no intention of showing them. You will likely have to pay extra money for this dog, though, since many breeders don’t waste their time on them, and it’s not guaranteed that the dog will have a blue coat or eyes.

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Final Thoughts

If you have seen a German Shepherd with blue eyes, you have seen a real treat. German Shepherds can have blue eyes only if they have the recessive gene. Even though the gene is not associated with any health defects, kennel associations view the color as a fault, so most breeders view it as a waste of time to breed these dogs.

So, not only is it rare for a German Shepherd to have blue eyes based on their own genes, but it’s also even rarer to find one that was intentionally bred with such genes. Despite the rarity of Blue German Shepherds, they will bring you just as much fun, love, and companionship as classic German Shepherds.

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Featured Image Credit: Tsworld, Pixabay

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