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Dog Breeds Most Prone to Tear Stains


dog laying

As much as we love our furry best friends, we don’t love the unsightly tears that causes a reddish or brownish stain around their eyes. Among the varying reasons for tear stains, the most commons causes are shallow eye sockets, a breed-specific problem, and blocked tear drainage holes, a problem that can affect any dog. As you might expect, regardless of the cause, the problem is more pronounced in lighter color dogs, specifically white dogs. Here is a quick list at the causes and the dog breeds that have the problem.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Short noses, despite their cuteness, also mean shallow eye sockets. Shallow eye sockets force the eyelid to stretch over the eye for additional eye protection. However, this stretching blocks moisture from draining into what are known as tear ducts or lachrymal glands which would otherwise route the tears to the nose for drainage.

Short-nosed dog breeds are easy to spot and they’re often lap dogs. The best examples of short-nosed dog breeds are Maltese terriers and Shih Tzu. The stretched eyelid can lead to tear stains even if the noses are not particularly short if the dog’s eyes are bulging or “bug-eyed”. Shih Tzu also fall into this category as well as pugs. Both of which are dogs that are known to have notorious eye issues, though because pugs are not usually white, the problem is more noticeable in Shih Tzu which are usually white.

Some dog breeds don’t necessarily have short noses but they do seem to be predisposed to having blocked tear ducts. Dog breeds that have a higher likelihood of having blocked tear ducts are poodles and cocker spaniels. This may be due to the fact that both tend to have a lot of hair and the hair overgrows into the tear duct. Some estimates indicate that as much as 20% of small dog breeds have problems with their tear ducts.

High-Mineral Water

It’s impossible to know what is in your water without sending it to a lab. However, there may be an unsafe amount of minerals, toxins and other unknown chemicals in your tap water, which is also likely your drinking water. A telltale sign that this is the cause of the tear stains around your dog’s eyes is if you see the same discoloration around your pooch’s mouth.

It’s recommended that you provide filtered water or distilled water for your dog to drink. As a bare minimum, if you wouldn’t drink it, your dog should not be drinking it. Of course, the quality of the drinking water isn’t a breed-specific cause for tear stains but, if it is the cause it’s easily avoidable.


Teething is not a breed-specific problem but it is an age-specific problem. If you’re surprised to find out that dogs go through a teething process, you’re not alone. However, they do and a part of this process is an increased production of tears and therefore, tear staining. The moisture caused by the tears can be a prime location for yeast to thrive. The increase in tears will go away as the dog ages but if yeast is present, you should consult your veterinarian.

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