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Wolf Eye Colors: Yellow, Green, Blue & Orange

Most wolves have yellow eyes, though they can be yellow, brown, green, blue, and a shade of orange. Wolves are one of the most diverse animal species when it comes to their eyes. 

The color of a wolf’s eyes depends on its genes, as well as the amount of melanin in its iris. 

All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts) x
All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts)

It also depends very much on a wolf’s age.

Many people believe their yellow eyes to be linked to their great night vision, however, this is not the case. It’s rather linked to evolution and genes.

What Color Are Wolves Eyes?

The most common eye color of wolves is yellow, but they are known to also have green, blue, orange, hazel, and brown eyes. 

The yellow eye color is a dominant trait, which is why most wolves have eye color.

In humans, brown eye color is a dominant trait, which is why most people in the world have this color of eyes.

Wolves’ eye color is determined partly due to DNA, and partly due to age. Just as human babies, wolf pups only develop their true eye color after some time. When they’re newborns, their eyes will be blue.

wolf face with yellow eyes (1)

What Is the Rarest Eye Color for Wolves?

The rarest eye color for wolves is green. This color is rarely seen in wolves, though most wolves go through a phase where their eyes are green.

Wolves’ eyes don’t stay green for long though, which is why it’s a very rare eye color for this animal. It usually turns green as it passes from blue to yellow.

If you see a wolf with green eyes, chances are it’s only a few weeks old, as this is the time where their eyes change color.

Can Wolves Have Purple Eyes?

No, wolves don’t have purple eyes. They may appear slightly purple right after birth, where all wolves have blue eyes.

You may also see some wolves with red eyes at night. This is an optical illusion, caused by the tapetum lucudim. This reflective layer sends light back through their eyes, which can cause them to appear red or even shades of purple.

Wolves, and many other nocturnal animals, have a reflective tissue layer in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. This layer sends light back out through their eyes, increasing the light exposure. The result is enhanced vision during dim-light situations – also called night vision.

Related: Why do wolves have red eyes?

wolf hunting at night

Can Wolves Have Blue Eyes?

Yes, wolves can have blue eyes. In fact, all wolf pups have blue eyes when they’re born. 

The first few weeks of a newborn wolf pup’s life, they’ll have blue eyes. This is because the figment in their eyes hasn’t fully developed.

In the initial weeks of their life, their eyes will change color. First, the blue will turn into green, as the yellow and blue pigment is mixed. Then, as the yellow colors take over, most wolves develop into having completely yellow eyes.

This is also seen in dogs, where newborn puppies have blue eyes. This also changes after a couple of weeks, as the pigment in their eyes changes. [1] 

Wolf Eye Color Chart

wolf eyes chart sample

Do Wolves Always Have Yellow Eyes?

No, not every wolf has yellow eyes, though it is the most common color. Wolves do typically have some shade of yellow eyes, ranging from yellow to hazel brown.

Yellow eye is a dominant trait in wolves. This means if two wolves produced offspring, one with brown eyes and one with yellow eyes, the majority of the pups would have yellow eyes.

Eye color is determined by the melanin pigmentation of the iris. Depending on the genes of a wolf, they’ll have different pigmentation. [2]

The eye color of wolves is directly related to the amount of melanin in the front part of the iris. Depending on the melanin production and transport in the eyes, wolves will have different eye colors.

The more pigment melanin in the eyes, the darker the eye color will be. [3]

Related: Are wolves color blind?

Why Are Wolf Eyes Yellow?

Wolves have yellow eyes because this is a dominant gene. If a wolf with yellow eyes is bred with a wolf without yellow eyes, there’s a greater chance of the offspring having yellow eyes.

Wolves can get their wolf eye colors from both parents, although one color may be stronger than the other depending. [4]

Wolves, like humans, inherit two types of genes: dominant or recessive. The dominant gene is more likely to be passed on.

Recessive genes are genes that are masked by dominant genes.

wolf yellow eyes

Why Do Wolves Eyes Glow at Night?

Wolves’ eyes glow at night because they have a reflective layer in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. This layer reflects visible light back through the retina. 

This reflective layer allows wolves to see in very dark conditions, which is helpful for hunting and avoiding predators.

Wolves are nocturnal animals, meaning they hunt at night. Through evolution, they’ve developed with enhanced night vision.

Related: Do wolves have night vision?

wolf in the dark

Difference Between Dogs’ and Wolves’ Eye Color

Most wolves have yellow eyes, whereas most dogs have brown eyes. Wolves can also have brown or hazel eyes. 

Both wolves and dogs typically have blue eyes right after birth. After a few weeks, they change as the animal matures. 

Dogs can also have light blue, speckled, golden, or hazel eyes. Some dogs even have two eyes colors, one in each eye.

Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies and wolfhounds, share the same yellow eyes that wolves often possess.

dog eyes

Wolves Eye Shape

Most wolves have almond-shaped eyes, while some wolves’ eyes are more round. Their eyes are very narrow.

Their eyes are typically slanted at a 45-degree angle. They’re very close together on their face, allowing them to focus on objects well. This is useful when hunting.

Their field of view is narrow, as seen in most predators. They have about 180-degree vision, which is still bigger than humans’ 120-degree vision.

Difference Between Dogs’ and Wolves Eye Shape

Dogs have more rounded eyes compared to wolves. They’re not as narrow but are still close together in their face. Dogs’ eyes are also not as slanted as wolves’ eyes, with many dogs having almost horizontal eyes.

Some dog species do have the same almond-shaped eyes as wolves. An example of this would be huskies.

wolf at night

Conclusion

Wolves’ eye colors vary from yellow to brown. When they’re born, their eyes are blue. After a few weeks, they start to change color, usually passing through a green phase, and later turning into yellow.

Most wolves have yellow eyes, as this is a dominant gene.

Wolves don’t have red eyes, contrary to some peoples’ beliefs. This is an optical illusion, as wolves have a reflective layer in their eyes. This layer sends light back through the retina, which can cause an illusion of red or purple eyes (amongst other colors).

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.