Virtual Library | So You Brought Home a Bulldog

Knowing that bulldog breeds are prone to develop ocular conditions, there are steps you can take to make sure your pet receives the care they need to live a healthy comfortable life. Read on to learn more about ocular conditions that often affect bulldogs.

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These pets fall into the larger category of brachycephalic dogs, which means they have a short muzzle and a flattened face. As a result, they have shallow eye sockets that make bulldog breeds prone to certain ocular conditions. 

Other brachycephalic breeds include: 

  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • English Bulldog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu

Common ocular conditions of Bulldog and other brachycephalic breeds include:


Due to their large, prominent eyes, brachycephalic breeds often
develop corneal ulcers. These may be the result of abnormal eyelid conformation, lashes/periocular hairs rubbing against the eye or low tear production. Ulcers can also result from self-induced trauma, such as rubbing the eye. If left untreated, ulcerations can progress to deep ulcers or corneal perforation, which require emergency surgical intervention. Treatment options for corneal ulcers vary depending on the type and depth of the ulcer. This may include topical medical therapy, debridement and
/or corneal surgery.


Also known as “dry eye,” this condition results from low tear production or tear quality. When the surface of the eye is dry, it results in discomfort, inflammation and irritation of the cornea and conjunctiva. Common signs include redness, squinting and excessive, thick, “ropey” or green discharge. Over time chronic changes can lead to ulceration, corneal scarring and vision loss. Treatments are directed at lubricating the ocular surface and stimulating tear production. ..


Any type of ulcer can become infected with bacteria. Specialized tests will help to determine the type of infection present. An infected ulcer requires the use of targeted, aggressive antibiotic therapy, or in some cases, surgery to stabilize the corneal surface. Infected ulcers can progress through the cornea rapidly. When the ulcer reaches 50% depth in the cornea, surgical stabilization with a corneal or conjunctival graft is generally recommended. Your family veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist will make this assessment to help prevent rupture and potential loss of your pet’s eye.


Entropion is an abnormality of the eyelids in which the eyelid rolls inward. Rather than the normal, smooth eyelid margin contacting the surface of the eye, the hairs of the eyelid roll inward and rub on the surface of the eye. Symptoms of entropion include excessive tearing and wetness of the eyelid, squinting and corneal ulceration/scarring. Treatment options depend on the age and severity of the entropion. Options include surgical correction, temporary eyelid filler or temporary eyelid tacking. Medical therapy can be used in mild cases to minimize the effects of the entropion with ocular lubricants and anti-inflammatories, but does not address the underlying cause, and will be required lifelong. 


Also known as “Cherry Eye,” this condition is a protrusion of the tear-producing gland that lies at the base of the third eyelid. Though occasionally this gland can regress, more often it requires surgical intervention to replace it. Mismanagement or removal of this gland can result in Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also known as dry eye.


This issue can be a consequence of any of the above conditions. It is seen as pigment in the clear outer layer of the eye (cornea). This can be very subtle, or it can encompass the entire cornea, resulting in vision loss. Pigmentary keratitis is often treated medically, but it is also important to treat the underlying cause, including the conditions noted above.

We treat all these conditions medically at our practice, in addition to offering surgical solutions when medical therapy is incomplete. 

Knowing that bulldog breeds are prone to develop ocular conditions, there are steps you can take to make sure your pet receives the care they need to live a healthy comfortable life. 


    While you cannot anticipate specific ocular needs that may occur, having pet insurance will protect you against unexpected veterinary bills (which can be costly). Having the right insurance can be a lifesaver. 


    KCS and other conditions, keep their eyes lubricated with products such as OptixCare or Genteal tears, and avoid lubricating products intended for contacts or red eye reduction. 


    The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) provides DNA testing and free information about companion animal genetic diseases that are prevalent in bulldogs—including eye diseases.

    Animal Vision Center of Virginia is proud to provide OFA Eye Certification Registry examinations, which can be performed only by qualified board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists. These exams help to limit the amount of genetic eye disease in dogs and produce healthier canine pets.