Bulging Eyeballs and Pugs

Take particular care to protect your pug's protruding eyes.
i Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

With their big eyes and flat, wrinkled faces, pugs are cutie pies. But those googly eyes lend an innate adorableness that comes with a price: Pugs are prone to eye problems. You’ll have to take special care of your pug pal to keep his peepers safe.

Breed Standard

Without those big, bold eyes, a pug literally is not a pug. The American Kennel Club's standard for the breed includes a description for how the eyes should appear. If you have a pug, you probably know it by now, that sweet, pleading, please-love-me-and-give-me-lots-of-treats look: "The eyes are dark in color, very large, bold and prominent, globular in shape, soft and solicitous in expression, very lustrous, and, when excited, full of fire."

Common Problems

The prominence demanded by the AKC breed standard makes your pug's eyes unusually subject to injury. In multiple-pet households, those eyes can be tempting targets. One swipe from a frightened or angry kitty can puncture or slice your pug's eye. Pugs also often suffer eye problems related to exposure. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a medical term that basically means your pug's eyes are too dry because they can't make enough tears. "Cherry eye" is a common pug problem that can lead to dry eyes, according to the 2007 Home Edition of "The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health." It occurs when a tear gland gets inflamed and swollen, making it look as if your pug has a cherry in the corner of his eye.

Care and Treatment

Routinely check your pug's eyes when you clean his facial folds. It doesn't take much more effort to look for redness, dryness or discharge, and to check that the eyelashes aren't turning in and irritating the eye -- a condition called entropion. Examine the corners of the eyes for any sign of the brown pigmentation of pigmentitis keratosis, which can develop at any age as a result of other eye problems. It can eventually cover the entire eye if not treated early. If your precious pug's eyes do develop a problem, your veterinarian will determine the best course of action. Treatment ranges from eye drops for dry eyes to surgery for chronic entropion.


The bottom line is, your pug's eyes protrude. It's perfectly normal in pugs. The bulging does make your pug more vulnerable to eye damage, but proper care and attention can prevent problems. Monitor your pug's behavior if you're concerned about his eyes. Even if nothing outwardly appears wrong, your pal's actions can indicate an issue. If he paws at his eyes, walks into objects or blinks a lot, make a quick trip to the vet to be sure he's OK. At the very least, it will give you peace of mind.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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