Can two parents with blue eyes have a child with brown eyes? - The Tech Interactive (2024)

Yes, blue-eyed parents can definitely have a child with brown eyes. Or green or hazel eyes for that matter.

If you stayed awake during high school biology, you might find this answer surprising. We were all taught that parents with blue eyes have kids with blue eyes. Every time.

This has to do with the fact that blue eyes are supposed to be recessive to brown eyes. This means that if a parent has a brown eye gene, then that parent will have brown eyes. Which makes it impossible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child -- they don't have a brown eye gene to pass on!

In fact, this is the model we used for our eye color calculator.* And that we talk about extensively here at Ask a Geneticist.

Can two parents with blue eyes have a child with brown eyes? - The Tech Interactive (1)

Now we aren't being dishonest or trying to hide anything by presenting this model. It works great most of the time. But as with anything genetic, there are always exceptions.

For example, DNA can and does change between generations. So if a change happened that turned a blue eye color gene into a brown one, then blue-eyed parents could have a brown-eyed child.

As you might guess, this sort of thing is pretty rare. Too rare to explain all the exceptions we see with eye color. So something else must be going on. That something is most likely other genes involved in eye color that we don't know about.

And You Thought a Two Gene Model was Complicated...

Eye color used to be presented as a fairly simple trait. A big part of the model was the idea that we had an eye color gene that came in two varieties -- brown and blue. Geneticists represented the brown version as “B” and the blue version as “b”.

The model also said that blue (b) was recessive to brown (B). This matters because it is an explanation for how brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child.

See, we have two copies of each of our genes -- one from each biological parent. This means there are three possible combinations for this eye color gene: BB, Bb, and bb.

BB is of course brown and in this model, bb would be blue. Since blue is recessive to brown, Bb people have brown eyes. But they can pass a “b” down to their kids, who might end up with blue eyes.

Now eye color is obviously more complicated than this. This model doesn't explain green eyes for example. Scientists added a second gene to try to explain green eyes but we don't need to go into that here (click hereto learn more about the two-gene model).

All we need to know is that with this expanded model, if you have a B, you have brown eyes no matter what this green eye gene says. So if this were the case, then we'd expect the following possibilities:


What it Means


Brown eyes


Brown eyes


Not brown eyes

Again, bb people should not be able to pass on brown eyes to their kids. But we know they can. Which means that this model is incomplete (or wrong).

The results I just put into the previous table are theoretical and based on the model I talked about. Here are some actual results I adapted from23andMe's website:


What it Means in Europeans


85% chance of brown eyes

14% chance of green eyes

1% chance of blue eyes


56% chance of brown eyes

37% chance of green eyes

7% chance of blue eyes


1% chance of brown eyes

27% chance of green eyes

72% chance of blue eyes

As you can see, the original model holds up pretty well for BB and bb people. Most BB people have brown eyes and most bb people don't. But the model clearly doesn't explain the following:

  1. 1% of bb people have brown eyes
  2. 1% of BB people have blue eyes (and 14% have green)
  3. 44% of Bb people do not have brown eyes

The biggest disconnect is with Bb people. Only 56% have brown eyes. If this holds up, I am not sure we can even call blue and green recessive to brown. Whatever the reason, these data give some clues about how two blue-eyed parents might have a brown-eyed child.

For example, imagine two parents are Bb and have blue eyes. They each pass a B down to one of their children. That child will be BB and most likely have brown eyes.

This example uses known data to show how blue-eyed parents might have a child with brown eyes. But it doesn't explain why a Bb person has blue eyes in the first place.

To do this, we need to guess what other genes may be doing. And how they might be affecting the original eye color gene.

Going into detail about these possibilities would need more space than I have here! And in the end, the truth is that eye color is a complex trait that we don't fully understand yet.

* Editor’s note (7/27/21): The eye color calculator is no longer available.

Can two parents with blue eyes have a child with brown eyes? - The Tech Interactive (2024)


Can two parents with blue eyes have a child with brown eyes? - The Tech Interactive? ›

Which makes it impossible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child -- they don't have a brown eye gene to pass on! In fact, this is the model we used for our eye color calculator. * And that we talk about extensively here at Ask a Geneticist.

Is it possible for two blue-eyed parents to produce brown eyes? ›

Myth: Two blue-eyed parents can't produce a child with brown eyes. Fact: Two blue-eyed parents can have a child with brown eyes, although it's very rare. Likewise, two brown-eyed parents can have a child with blue eyes, although this is also uncommon.

Is it impossible for two brown-eyed parents to have a child with blue eyes? ›

If both the parents have brown eyes, then there is generally a 25% chance for their child to have blue eyes. Because both the brown-eyed parents have a recessive blue-eye gene and can pass it to the next generation. However, since eye color is polygenic, several other genes exert their effects as well.

Can people with blue eyes have kids with brown? ›

It's rare, but blue-eyed parents having brown-eyed children does happen. Why? Well, it's complicated, but we can start by telling you that what you learnt at school, assuming you are of a certain age, is wrong. The human eye comes in many different shades and intricate, unique iris patterns.

Is it possible for two green-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child? ›

Because of these two things, there are definitely genetic combinations where green-eyed parents can have a brown-eyed child. In fact, they are pretty easy to come up with.

What is the rarest eye color? ›

While the global data on eye colors is limited, red and violet eyes are likely the rarest eye colors since they only affect a small group of people with albinism. But if you exclude eye colors brought on by albinism, then green and gray are likely the rarest.

Do blue eyes come from mom or dad? ›

The laws of genetics state that eye color is inherited as follows: If both parents have blue eyes, the children will have blue eyes. The brown eye form of the eye color gene (or allele) is dominant, whereas the blue eye allele is recessive.

Do grandparents' eye colors affect babies? ›

Two brown-eyed parents are likely (but not guaranteed) to have a child with brown eyes. If you notice one of the grandparents has blue eyes, the chances of having a blue-eyed baby go up a bit. If one parent has brown eyes and the other has blue eyes, odds are about even on eye color.

Can two brunette parents have a blonde child? ›

If two brunette parents both have a recessive blonde gene, there's a 25% chance they'll each pass down their recessive gene, resulting in a blonde child.

What is the most common eye color? ›

The most common eye color is brown. More than half of the world's population has brown eyes (some experts include amber as a shade of brown, too). A key reason is the range of shades that fall under this color. Brown eyes can range from light to dark.

What color are Prince George's eyes? ›

Prince George, Prince William's eldest son and future king, has brown eyes, which is a departure from the blue eyes that have been predominant in the royal family for generations. He will be the first king in many generations to have eyes other than blue.

What color is hazel eye color? ›

Hazel eyes are generally a combination of brown, green, and gold. Sometimes, blue or even amber can make an appearance in hazel eyes, too. Often, hazel-colored eyes have a different hue around the pupil than on the eye's outer rim.

Can two blue eyes make green? ›

This explains how two parents with blue eyes can have green- or brown-eyed children (an impossible situation under the Davenport single gene model) – the combination of color alleles received by the child resulted in a greater amount of melanin than either parent individually possessed.

What are the odds of two blue-eyed parents having a brown-eyed child? ›

Both parents with blue eyes: 99% chance of baby with blue eyes, 1% chance of baby with green eyes, 0% chance of baby with brown eyes.

Which parent determines hair color? ›

While dark-haired parents tend to have dark-haired kids, hair color genetics is quite complex. Your hair color depends in part on how many genetic variants you inherit from both of your parents. If you have brown hair, your shade of brown depends on how many light and dark markers you inherit from your mom and dad.

Is there a black eye color? ›

Hazel/amber is the next rarest color after green. Blue is the second most common and brown tops the list, found in 45% of the U.S. population and possibly almost 80% worldwide. Black is not an eye color. While some eyes may look black, they're either just a very dark brown or large pupils.

Can two blue-eyed parents make a brown-eyed baby forum? ›

it is highly feasible though not likely that two parents with blue eyes can have a child with brown eyes.

What causes hazel eyes? ›

Hazel eyes happen when your irises have less melanin than someone with brown eyes, but more melanin than someone with blue or green eyes. Hazel eyes are a combination of brown, gold or green. It's not an equal mix.

Will my baby have hazel eyes? ›

Since baby eye color is determined by a combination of genetics and melanin, there's no way to accurately predict what your child will end up with.

What color do GREY babies eyes turn? ›

What color will gray baby eyes turn? At birth, your baby's eyes may appear gray or blue due to a lack of pigment. Once exposed to light, the eye color will most likely start to change to blue, green, hazel, or brown over a period of six months to one year.


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