Heterochromia in Poodles: Is it Dangerous?

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Every breed of dog is predisposed to certain illnesses and genetic differences. This includes all sizes of poodles. One of those mutations is called Heterochromia. It is rare in poodles but does exist. This condition can happen naturally or be induced by your dogs’ circumstances. Either way, it is an unusual condition that may need some attention depending on how your pup came to have it.

What is Heterochromia in Poodles?

Heterochromia, or heterochromia Idris of heterochromia iridium, means ‘differently colored iris’. This can mean different colors in the same eye or both eyes.

This is a relatively rare genetic hiccough that can be found in most species of animals, including almost all dog breeds, as well as humans. It tends to be more predominant in dogs and cats. These are various types of Heterochromia in poodles:

  • Congenital Heterochromia – Heredity – born with different colored irises
  • Acquired Heterochromia – caused by inflammation, injury, medications, illness and brain tumors
  • Sectoral Heterochromia – Partial – one area of the eye is a different color from the rest of the eye
  • Complete Heterochromia – One iris color is different from the second eye
  • Central Heterochromia – different color comes from the middle of the eye (pupil) like spikes or a halo

The Roots of Heterochromia

Your poodle’s iris color is decided by the amount of melanin (pigment) in the eye. An eye can be hyperchromic (too much melanin) or hypochromic (too little). Blue eyes have less melanin compared to brown. If your poodle has Heterochromia, it means that the gene is present for regulating the melanin. This results in missing melanocytes in their iris, giving them a blue eye or eyes.

This genetic glitch is present more often in dogs that have certain color coats. Poodles that are Meryl, Dapple or White or have a lot of white patterns on their head color seem to be more predisposed to Heterochromia. The rare merle pattern in poodles coat also gives them a higher chance of having different colored eyes. Be aware that eye health issues tend to be more severe when two meryl-colored dogs are bred. You may not only get the two differently-colored eyes but other sight and hearing issues to go with them.

Heterochromia will not be present in a poodle only because of genetics. It can also happen when the eye has been affected by external causes such as injury, health problems, particular medications, or environmental aspects. When these external types of issues happen, they can change the amount of melanin in your poodles’ eye, which then changes the color.

Some of these conditions are painful for your poodle and need to be looked at by their veterinarian. If eye injury or health conditions are not attended to, Heterochromia becomes dangerous to your dog and can lead to permanent eye damage or loss of sight.

The Dangers of Heterochromia

Heterochromia is not a danger in most poodles. However, consult with your dog’s veterinarian if your dog’s eyes start to change color to blue or grayish. Conditions that can be dangerous and may affect eye color include;

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Uveitis
  • Nuclear sclerosis
  • Underdeveloped optic nerve
  • Retinal Dysplasia

Poodles with blue eyes do not usually have vision or hearing problems. However, if the cause of the Heterochromia is not genetic and is triggered by an external factor such as the medical issues above, then there may be the rare poodle that has other problems because of it. Your dog with Heterochromia may have hearing or vision issues if the cause of it is nerve damage. The same nerves affected by neoplasms or tumors that have metastasized also can change their eye color.

Injury to your poodles’ eyes can also affect color and sight. Damage that causes color change can mean that the part of the eye that sees can be damaged as well. Heterochromia is not inherently dangerous to your poodle unless it is due to underlying health issues or injury.

Eyecare for Poodles with Heterochromia

Taking care of your poodle’s eyes will always be important whether they have Heterochromia or not. Genetic Heterochromia does not require special attention, but if it has occurred due to injury or illness, then some extra eye care will be needed. Eye protection, medications, and general supervision are preventative in nature as well as ongoing support for eyes that are already affected by Heterochromia due to illness or injury:

Eye protection

These doggie goggles will protect eyes from foreign objects and sun. Excellent UVB protection and keeps things from irritating the eyes further

Non-Medicinal care 

This eye ointment will keep dogs eyes feeling fresh an comfortable. If your poodle has had an eye injury or simply seems to have eyes that are easily bothered, then this product will help.

General Eye Care for Health – use supplements and keep eyes clean to maintain eye health. Preventative care helps avoid Heterochromia from illness:

Final Thoughts

Poodles with Heterochromia have mysterious looking eyes. Some people say a dog with this trait can see beyond heaven and earth and are superior in nature. Native Americans say that dogs with Heterochromia have ghost eyes and see the heavens with the blue and material plane with the brown.

As intriguing as these myths are, these beautiful eyes can have some drawbacks depending on why your poodle has them. If they are a genetic trait, then chances are there is no danger of having secondary health issues.

However, if your poodle was bred improperly, such as with two merle dogs, or has had an eye injury or illness, then their Heterochromia must be monitored so optimal health is maintained, and your poodles are not put into any medical danger. Poodle eyes need proper ongoing care at the best of times, extra care for those with Heterochromia will make sure your poodle has the best ocular health as possible while they age.

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