Why Do Wolves Have Yellow Eyes?

Most wolves have yellow eyes because of their DNA, and yellow is the predominant eye color for most types of wolves, especially adult wolves.

The yellow color is not linked to their eyesight, but it’s rather linked to their evolution and their genes, which dictate the color of their eyes. Contrary to popular belief, blue-eyed wolves are not as common as many people believe, as the vast majority of the wolf population will have yellow eyes.

Blue eyes in wolves are commonly seen in commercials and on television, but the truth is different. Some wolf puppies might initially have blue eyes, although they will almost always turn yellow as the wolf grows up.

A lot of people mistake yellow wolf eyes with their layer of eyes they have called tapetum lucidum, which is the layer of their eyes that allows them to see better at night for hunting. It is because of tapetum lucidum that a wolf’s eyes might appear shiny at night and especially when we direct light at them.

Why Do Wolves Have Yellow Eyes

Related: Why do Wolves have Red Eyes?

Do Wolves Have Yellow Eyes?

Yellow is by far the most eye color for the vast majority of adult wolves, while some wolves might also have green and amber eyes. It is rather uncommon for a wolf to have blue or black eyes.

Blue eyes and black eyes are more commonly observed with dogs. The reason for that is that dogs retain some of the juvenile features of wolves that they don’t fully develop as they grow up, and the result is that dogs remain a bit more tamed in nature and their eye colors remain blue.

Wolves have almond-shaped eyes with the corners of their eyes facing up towards their ears. On the other hand, if we compare their eyes with dog eyes, they’re a bit sharper and pointier while a dog’s eyes will appear more rounded and softer.

So if you’ve thought that wolves have blue eyes, you’re wrong: blue eyes are very rare with adult wolves, and it’s a trait that’s more commonly connected to dogs and juvenile wolves rather than adult wolves.

There is no particular “reason” for wolves having yellow colors. Perhaps an interesting fact to mention here is that most nocturnal predators have yellow eyes, so perhaps that’s a trait that most predators share. It might have something to do with their predatory ability, too, allowing them to not expose themselves as much. But this hasn’t been scientifically proven yet.

Related: Do Wolves See Colors?

Why Do A Wolf’s Eyes Glow at Night?

A wolf’s eyes will usually glow at night because of tapetum lucidum, which is a layer over their eyes that allows them to have night vision.

This is the reason why so many people think that yellow eyes allow wolves to see better at night, but it’s not true. Instead, tapetum lucidum takes the role of enhancing the night vision for a wolf, while the yellow color has no particular use in this case. It’s more of a cosmetic addition rather than a tool.

Wolves have one of the best night visions around, only surpassed by a few wild cat species and owls. This layer over their eyes gives them an advantage over other animals of prey that don’t have this feature as pronounced as wolves do.

The glow in their eyes is because of this mechanism, and it’s not linked to their yellow eye color in any shape or form. You might have already noticed that your cat or dog has the same trait, and that’s because they also share this mechanism with wolves.

What is the Rarest Eye Color for Wolves?

Green is rarely observed in wolf eyes, while blue and black are also not that common. Yellow is by far the most dominant eye color for most wolf species.

Some wolves also have a combination of colors in their eyes, such as pale green or olive gray, or even gray-yellow. All of these combinations are interesting to observe, but they mostly gravitate towards the yellow color.

As we’ve already mentioned, wolf pups commonly have a blue-ish layer over their eyes as they are born, although this layer usually goes away after a few weeks or months. That’s when the wolf grows up a bit and its eyes start to shift from blue to yellow.

Other rarer eye colors for wolves include black and gray. Black is especially rare, but it has been seen with some wolf species.

Why Do Dogs Not Have Yellow Eyes Like Wolves?

You might have already noticed that not all dogs will have yellow eyes; in fact, most dogs will have different eye colors, including brown, blue, grey, gold, and even black. This is because their eyes have changed through their course of evolution, while wolves have retained yellow eyes and their colors will almost never change from yellow.

It’s rare to see a wolf with blue or black eyes, while it’s quite common to see a dog with those eye colors. The reason for that is because dogs have retained some features of wolves through their evolution, while they have also changed other aspects – and eyes is one of the things that they have changed.

Perhaps it’s linked to the fact that dogs have many characteristics of juvenile wolves, who also have different eye colors that then almost always change to yellow as they grow up. The clear reason behind this is not yet known, but many argue that it’s just because of the genetics of the two species and their paths of evolution.

Final Thoughts

Yellow is by far the most common type of color that adult wolves have in their eyes, while it’s not as common to see blue or black eyes. The reason for that is genetics, and it has nothing to do with their ability to see better at night.

Instead, tapetum lucidum is the most important part of their eyes that allows them to see at night, and it has nothing to do with yellow eyes. It’s just a cosmetic factor that makes us appreciate the beauty of wolves even more!

Skip to content