Every Thing You Need To Know About Great Dane Eye Colors

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Last Updated on December 21, 2022

Great Danes are born with beautiful eye colors that complement their elegant appearance and massive size. They can be born with eye colors such as brown, amber and even blue!

Are you curious about the beauty of Great Dane eye colors and want to know more? Continue reading and learn more about them here!

Harlequin Great Dane With Different Eye Colors
Leoniek van der Vliet / Shutterstock.com

Great Dane Eyes

Great Danes are born with beautiful eye colors. However, the Great Dane eye color change as the dog grows and mature, especially if they’re born with blue eyes.

Dog Eyes Colors

Generally brown eyes are frequent in all canine breeds. Most dogs have brown, dark brown, or light brown eyes. Other comparatively less common eye colors for dogs are:

  • Blue (which might appear pale)
  • Golden or hazel color

There are also some dogs reported to have spotted eyes. Whilst others have two different colored eyes where one could be blue while the other eye is brown in color.

Great Dane Eye Colors

A Great Dane’s eyes appear beautiful and aesthetic in every color they hold. But of course, there are some eye colors that are more preferred than others. Particularly if we’re talking about the Great Dane breed standards.

The Great Dane eye colors which are deemed acceptable by the breed standards and are preferred for dog shows are:

  1. Brown
  2. Dark brown or chocolate
  3. Blue

But if what you’re looking for is more of a companion rather than a show dog, then eye colors would not be a problem. Other Great Dane eye colors which are not acknowledged by the breed standards are:

  1. Yellow
  2. Amber
  3. Gray
  4. Light brown
  5. Green
  6. Bright blue

Great Dane Eyes and Genetics

Genetics are an integral part of a dog’s phenotype. And a Great Danes physical attributes, from its stature, temperament, physical features are linked to its genetics.

That means that the colors that a Great Dane is born with is due to their hereditary material. Hence, the Great Dane’s coat color and eye color are dependent on the genes they inherited from their parents and therefore, carry.

So, contrary to popular belief, the Great Dane’s blue eye color that they’re born with is, most often than not, due to their genetics and not due to any disease. And since the breed’s blue eyes are due to their genes, they do not experience any vision defects.

All Great Dane coat colors beside the Harlequin Great Danes genetically have brown or amber-colored eyes. In the case of Harlequin Danes, the presence of the Merle gene in their genetic material furnishes the dog with blue, green, or even grey-colored eyes.

Blue-eyed Great Danes and the Merle Gene

The Merle gene is a “dilution” gene. It does not give the Great Dane its color. Rather, it dilutes or lightens the dog’s existing darker colors. And it is, therefore, the gene responsible for the Great Danes’ blue eyes.

Furthermore, the Merle gene is a dominant gene. Meaning a Great Dane only needs one copy of it. And having two Merle genes usually spell disaster.

What is a Double Merle?

If a Great Dane inherited two Merle genes, they are called Double Merles. And their genetic makeup greatly influence their potential.

Double Merle Danes are more at the risks of diseases and ailments as compared to non-double Merle gene carriers. They can be born with and experience complications such as blindness and deafness.

Most of the time, blue eyes are acceptable and normal for Great Danes, especially for Harlequin Danes. And a Great Dane’s blue eyes are not automatically a sign of illness, as long as a Great Dane isn’t a double Merle.

But a blue-eyed Harlequin could be blind, deaf or suffer from other diseases, IF it carries a pair of Merle genes.

Nonetheless, doubting blue eyes in Great Danes and automatically assuming that they’re ill is not rational. Especially since most blue-eyed Danes are normal and grow up as healthy dogs.

Blue Eyes and Health Issues

Like Siberian Huskies, Great Danes can be born with natural blue eyes. However, there are diseases that can turn a dog’s eyes blue, such as glaucoma and cataracts.

Another vision defect called nuclear sclerosis changes the color of the dog’s eyes with a cloudy blue tinge. This is very common among senior dogs and happens naturally as they age. While it changes the dog’s eye color, it doesn’t affect the dog’s vision that much.

However, when dogs develop nuclear sclerosis, they are more prone to develop cataracts.

Great Dane Eye Color Changes

Blue Merle Great Dane Puppy
Basia_Chmielarczyk / Shutterstock.com

Great Dane puppies who are born with blue eyes do not carry the feature into adulthood most of the time. Once they begin to mature, their eyes begin to morph into a shade of brown. This is most especially true with Blue Great Danes, since they carry a pair of recessive blue gene instead of the Merle gene.

However, there is an exception to this rule. Harlequin Great Danes’ blue eyes stay the same throughout their entire life. And in some cases, Blue Danes that are born from a Harlequin parent get to keep their blue eyes until adulthood.

Great Dane eye colors are directly linked to the the genes responsible for the dog’s coat color. So, if you have a Black Great Dane, there is a high chance of it bearing amber-colored eyes.

The Great Dane eye color can change until the dog reaches 4 months old. And it can continue to change until 6 months for some puppies. Generally, when the dog’s sense of sight wholly develops around 6 to 8 months old, the color stops changing.

However, if you notice anything suspicious, you can visit a vet anytime. Consulting a vet would help identify any possible eye problems that your Great Dane might be suffering from due to its eye color.

Great Dane Eye Color and the Breed Standards

Great Dane eye color plays a pivotal role in the allure and majestic appearance of this huge dog breed. However, the breed standards emphasizes that there are only certain eye colors deemed acceptable.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Great Dane Club of America (GDCA), the Great Dane eye color and shape shall be:

“medium size, deep set and dark, with a lively intelligent expression. The eyelids are almond shaped and relatively tight, with well-developed brows. Haws and Mongolian eye(s) are very serious faults. In Harlequins and Merles, the eyes should be dark, but blue eye(s) and eyes of different colors are permitted. ”

Great Dane eye colors with lighter shades are not favored at all. And dark eye colors for Great Dane are generally preferred. But the only exception to this are the Merle and Harlequin Great Danes.

Moreover, a yellow tint is not a championed Great Dane eye color. A Great Dane meant to be a show dog should not hold yellow eyes. 

Black Great Dane Eye Color

Black Great Dane With A Ball In Its Mouth
Image by Theresa Campbell from Pixabay

Usually, Black Great Dane eye colors are amber, brown, or dark brown. If we apply the Great Dane breed standards, this means that a dark eye color equals a dark coat color.

So, for a Black Great Dane to be a qualified show dog, it must have dark brown or chocolate color eyes.

Blue Great Dane Eye Color

Great Dane Puppy With Blue Eyes Being Held
Dmussman / Shutterstock.com

Blue Great Dane dogs are diluted versions of Black Great Danes. The color dilution is visible on the coat of the dog as well as in its eye color. However, the gene responsible for their blue eyes is not the Merle gene but rather the pair of recessive blue gene they inherit from their parents.

A Blue Great Dane can have any of the following colors:

  • Amber
  • Dark brown
  • Light brown
  • Blue

Blue-eyed Blue Great Danes are not rare at all. And as previously mentioned, Blue Dane puppies can retain their blue eyes until they grow up, given that they are born from Harlequin breeding.

And while the breed standards indicate that Harlequins and Merles are the only ones allowed to have blue eyes, dog shows all over the US allow blue-eyed Blue Great Danes to participate.  

Harlequin Great Dane Eye Color

Harlequin Great Dane Dog With Heterochromia
Mary Swift / Shutterstock.com

Among all the Great Dane coat colors, Harlequins are the only ones that can be born with blue eyes and be able to retain them until adulthood. And it is also not rare for Harlequins to have different colored eyes (heterochromia).

As per the breed standards, Great Danes should have dark eye colors. However, Harlequins (along with Merles) are the only one allowed to have blue eyes.

Generally, Harlequin Great Danes with bright blue eyes retain their eye color. On the other hand, Danes born with darker shades of blue eyes might not retain the original color of their eyes. Most often than not, these Danes’ eyes turn to brown as they grow older.

Fun Facts about Dog Eyes

  • Green eye color for dogs is regarded as the rarest eye color.
  • An eye that is clear blue but flecked with a white or lighter blue is known as a China Eye.
  • Wall eyes, characterized by a pale bluish-white iris with flecks of brown, are seen in some Harlequin Great Danes.
  • Dogs with a prominent, visible third eyelid are said to have Haw Eyes. Haw eyes are seen in such breeds as the St. Bernard and Bloodhound.
  • Triangular eyes have a three cornered, tent shaped appearance and are seen in Afghan Hounds.
  • Prominent eyes are big, round projecting eyes such as seen on Pugs.
  • Other eye shapes include Almond, Circular and Oval.

Conclusion

It is natural to worry about your Great Dane’s overall well-being, especially since the breed is predisposed to a number of health issues.

However, Great Dane eye colors are generally not a sign of any illness. Their beautiful eye color, whether it’s blue, brown, amber or grey, are all thanks to their genetic makeup.

If you suspect any abnormalities in your Great Dane’s eyes or overall health, then it’s best to consult with your dog’s veterinarian to identify the problem.

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