The Controversy Around the Blue-Eyed Pitbull

The Controversy Around the Blue-Eyed Pitbull

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Crystal blue eyes in dogs are beautiful to look at. Especially puppies with blue eyes tend to get adopted easier than their dark-eyed littermates. But is it even normal for puppies or adult dogs to have blue eyes?

You may have heard that blue-eyed Pitbulls are considered undesirable and despite their looks, there is definitely controversy around certain breeds that don’t usually carry a gene that would cause this kind of coloring. The APBT community is not amused about this trend for very valid reasons.

Before we go deeper into this topic, I want to clarify what I mean when I say “Pitbull”. As you may know, the Pitbull in itself is not a breed but rather a term that covers several dog breeds including the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier, Staffordshire Bullterrier and American Bully.

The American Pitbull Terrier as a breed isn’t recognized by the AKC and FCI either but I will use the short term “Pitbull” to refer to this breed in today’s blog post.

Can Pitbulls Have Blue Eyes?

Yes, pitbull-type dogs, in general, can have blue eyes as puppies. In fact, most breeds are born with bright blue eyes that slowly darken as they age. Color, like everything, is determined by the genetic makeup and developed by the amount of melanin production in your dog.

Melanin is a natural skin pigment that determines how light or dark your skin, hair and eyes are. Less melanin production leads to lighter blue eyes, pale skin or blonde hair. A complete lack of pigmentation is called Albinism.

In dogs, this low production of melanin can cause a white coat, blue eyes or a pink nose. Melanin production only starts a few weeks after birth and slowly increases with age. That’s why most puppies are born with bright blue eyes and a lighter coat.

You may get a first glimpse at their adult eye color around the age of 4 months. Their puppy coat will be replaced by a much thicker and darker adult coat when they are 6 months old.

The coat color oftentimes influences the eye, nail and nose color. My Rottweiler, for example, has so much melanin in her fur that blue eyes would be nearly impossible.

Are Blue-Eyed Pitbulls Rare?

Blue-eyed Pitbull puppies are not rare and their eye color will most likely change over time. So don’t choose the one bright-eyed Pitbull in the litter just because of his appearance which brings me to the first reason dogs might end up with blue eyes.

Breeding for Appearance

Breeding for a specific color or coat type should always be a red flag when choosing a responsible breeder. When specific looks are the primary breeding factor other traits like temperament or health are disregarded.

You might find the prettiest dog in a litter with lots of health issues behind the facade. Always make sure that the parents have health certificates and the right behavioral traits you are looking for.

Inbreeding in dogs is another huge issue and will be used to pass a certain appearance to future generations. As you might imagine, inbreeding comes with the worst health concerns and should never be encouraged.

Recommended Reading: All 17 Questions You Need to Ask Your Potential Breeder

The Merle Gene

Merle describes a beautiful coat color pattern that can create odd-colored eyes. It’s commonly seen in Australian Shepherds, Great Danes, Dachshunds and Catahoula Leopard Dogs.

The merle gene sadly comes with many health issues like deafness and blindness. Double merles (MM) are extremely prone to these genetic diseases and therefore merles should never be bred together. Heterozygous merles (Mm) are way healthier and resemble the merle pattern best.

A Pitbull with a merle coat pattern is excluded from the APBT breed standard and might not be purebred because the gene must have somehow found its way into the bloodline.

Albinism

Tyrosinase is an enzyme that controls the production of melanin. Albino dogs are “tyrosinase-negative” meaning that their body is incapable of producing melanin.

Therefore these dogs will be born with a unique white coat, blue eyes and a pink nose. Albinism in dogs is an extremely rare mutation and both parents need to carry the recessive gene.

Be very cautious when a breeder is trying to sell you a rare white pitbull. Albinism comes with many health issues, including deafness or skin cancer. Due to their pale coat, they must be protected from direct sunlight at all times using either bodysuits or sunscreen.

White Fur Patches

White patches around the eyes or nose can affect their color due to the lack of pigmentation. Pitbulls or any other breed with dominant white coats can develop light eyes or a pinkish nose.

Do Blue Eyed Dogs Go Blind?

Dogs with blue eyes are not necessarily doomed to develop any vision-related issues. It largely depends on the specific reason your dog might have this eye color.

Pitbulls are not among the breeds that carry this breed-specific gene meaning that they probably will develop health problems later on. The merle gene or albinism is something to stay away from.

If you find a responsible breeder that has puppies with blue eyes, there is probably nothing you need to worry about as the color will start transforming at the age of 4 months.

Recommended Reading: Are Dogs Color Blind?

What Dogs Can Have Blue Eyes?

Dogs breeds with blue eyes include the Siberian Husky, Border Collie and Catahoula Leopard Dog. They carry a breed-specific gene that allows them to have bright blue eyes without any related health issues.

The Australian Shepherd is commonly mentioned in these lists but their merle gene can come with undesired surprises. Also, Dalmatians can produce blue eyes but nearly one third suffer from hearing impairment.

Cocker Spaniels and Pembroke Welsh Corgi are available in a merle pattern which is not yet recognized by the AKC. Bluish eyes can also occur in Weimaraners and Amstaffs.

In Conclusion

Eye, coat, nose and skin color of any mammal is determined by the production of melanin. Lack of pigmentation can lead to blue eyes, a white coat and a pink nose.

Adult Pitbull-type dogs with blue eyes are extremely uncommon and should only be considered with detailed health certificates of the parents stating that they don’t carry the merle gene.

Blue-eyed puppies are very common among many breeds and adorable to look at. If you are in love with the appearance of blue eyes and can’t live without it then rather consider breeds without any health issues indicated by eye color like the Siberian Husky.

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