Have you ever tried looking straight at a dog’s eyes and find out that the eyes are of different color? It may look cool and very interesting, but this anatomical occurrence is considered a genetic malfunction. This is commonly seen in Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds and Catahoula Leopard dogs. The difference in the color of the eyes is mainly caused by the uneven distribution of melanin in the iris of the eye. The iris, which is also the same for humans, has two layers. The first layer is called the stroma or the pigmented layer, while the second layer is an aggregation of epithelial cells. These two layers that make up the retina control the amount light that passes the retina.
The scientific term for odd eye-ness is called heterochromia where hetero means “different” and chromia means “color”. Though it is commonly inherited, there are also some cases where t can be acquired by dogs. An example is the presence of a tumor in the pineal gland. The pineal gland, also known as the “third eye” is an endocrine gland that produces melanin in the body. When the production malfunctions due to the presence of the growth, there is an imbalance in the melanin distribution in the body. So if your dog suddenly shows heterochromia, it is best to bring him or her to the veterinarian. However, when you observe odd eye-ness since birth, do not be alarmed because it is caused by the defect in the genes of your dog. It is not really dangerous, unless there is also a problem in the skin and hair melanin concentration where you have to limit your dog’s exposure to the light and sun. If there is an inflammation or infection in the eye of your pet, you may also expect discoloration on the eye – usually seen as a “cataract” or opaque white streak on the surface of the eye.
In Siberian Huskies, odd eye-ness is accepted and even though it is a birth defect, your Sibe can still be registered as a pure breed. In Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, heterochromia is considered as a sign of non-“pureness” of breed because it is seen as a sign of a cross-breeding with a Siberian Husky. However, don’t fret, even your dog has an odd-eye, he or she can still be considered healthy – given that the condition is not acquired.