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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.

Breeds of Dogs Most Prone to Tear Stains


Breeds of Dogs Most Prone to Tear Stains

Not all dogs experience tear stains. Owners who have dogs with dark fur may find it difficult to notice tear stains. On the other hand, the cute fluffy white dogs tend to be the main victims of tear stains. According to experts in this particular field, tear stains can be passed in a successful manner on to the babies that are born because of their genes. Certain breeds of dogs that greatly struggle with tear stains are King Charles Cavaliers, Cocker Spaniels, Havanese, Lhasa Apsos, Bichon Frise, Cockapoos, Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, Poodles, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Maltese, Chihuahua and English Bulldogs along with many others. You don't need to worry if you have one of these breeds experiencing tear stains. In the open market, there are many wonderful natural products that perfectly solve this cosmetic issue.

In certain breeds of dogs, you can easily notice tear stains through these symptoms such as:

  • Blocked tear drainage ducts
  • Shallow eye sockets
  • Eyelids that are turned inward
  • Hair growth around the eye

Epiphora is the technical word related to excessive tear production. Under a dog’s eyes, tear stains may look like reddish-brown streaks. In certain breeds such as, the Shih Tzu, the Maltese, and the Lhasa Apso, this particular condition is much more prevalent. On the other hand, in animals with light-colored coats, tear stains are much more obvious. Specialists in this field consider tear staining no more than a minor annoyance; it can also be a symptom of an eye health problem.

The medical causes of tear staining can comprise of:

  • Ingrown eyelashes
  • Glaucoma or another eye disease
  • Medications
  • Teething in puppies
  • Stress
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Plastic food bowls
  • Poor-quality diet
  • Entropion (inverted eyelid)
  • Unusually large tear glands
  • Infection of the eye
  • Unusually small tear duct openings
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Ear infection

If you have a dog with tear stains, then it is recommended that you talk to your vet regarding this issue at your next appointment. It’s important to rule out medical causes. You should indulge in giving a regular wash to dog’s face and entire body. You can also use whitening products for dogs that are readily available in the open market at affordable and reasonable rates.

You can consult your veterinarian and give antibiotics to your dog that is affected by tear stains, if this is the recommended advice given by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may actually use a fluorescein stain in order to check the patency of the nasolacrimal duct and for corneal ulcerations. Treatment for tear stains in dogs will vary largely depending on the cause of epiphora. Once you solve the issues related to tear stains in your dog, then your dog will live in a healthy manner.