Congenital and Inherited Eye Conditions in the Dog

Described here are congenital eye conditions that appear to be heritable or eye conditions and diseases in which there appear to be a particular breed predisposition.

Eyelash abnormalities:
Abnormalities of the eyelash are a common hereditary problem in dogs. When rubbing against the eyeball this can lead to corneal ulcers. There is a predisposition in bulldogs for two types of eyelash abnormalities:

Condition in which extra eyelashes grow from abnormal follicles located on the inside edge of the eyelid. They may be singular or multiple.

When eyelashes growing from normal sites turn inward. The eyelashes are often abnormally long.



A change in structure of the lens of the eye leading to cloudiness and usually to blindness. Common in old dogs.
Cherry eye, also referred to as prolapse of nictitating membrane.
A condition where the third eyelid is protruding. Read more about cherry eye.

Ectropion is a condition in which the eyelid rolls out, or drops away from the eye.
A responsible breeding programme will choose animals for breeding with a more normal head conformation, so as to select away from exaggerated facial features, such as excessively prominent eyes and heavy facial folds, and the problems associated with them.
Entropion is the reverse condition of ectropion: the lid is abnormally rolled in, causing a constant irritation to the eye.
Eversion of nictitating membrane
Eversion of nictitating membrane, also called 'cherry eye' is a condition where the third eyelid is protruding.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS):
KCS or "dryeye" is a condition where one or both eyes do not produce a normal amount or type of tears. Deficient tear production causes chronic irritation of the cornea and conjunctiva. Corneal ulcers and eventually corneal scarring occur as a consequence, resulting sometimes in blindness.
There is an association between removal of a prolapsed nictitans gland ("cherry eye") and the development of dryeye.

Persistent pupillary membrane:
A developmental abnormality where the membrane forming the iris does not form properly.

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Other Short Faced Dogs: Pug | French Bulldog | Boston Terrier
Cherry eye
Adapted from:
 "A Guide to Hereditary and Congenital Diseases in Dogs" Published by The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, First printing: August 1994.
Canine Inherited Disorders Database, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.