Amblyopia in the Pekingese and other brachycephalic dog breeds

Amblyopia in the Pekingese and other brachycephalic dog breeds

Health & Safety

Amblyopia is much more commonly known as a “lazy eye,” and most of us know the condition by this name, as it is something that can occur in humans as well as dogs. Interestingly, amblyopia is more common to certain dog breeds than it is to others, with the Pekingese being one of them – and other brachycephalic breeds like the Boston terrier and the pug also have higher than normal occurrence rates of the condition.

This is because the shortened muzzle that is the signature of brachycephalic dog breeds like the Pekingese also affects the conformation and development of the dog’s eyes, often making them more pronounced and more prone to suffering from problems and health issues.

If you own a Pekingese or are considering buying one or if you are researching brachycephalic dog breeds in general, it is a good idea to learn a little bit about amblyopia or lazy eye, how to recognise it, and what it means for your dog. Read on to learn more.

Why are the Pekingese and other brachycephalic breeds at higher risk of amblyopia?

The short, compact muzzle and face that is the trait of brachycephalic dogs leads to the dog’s eye sockets being shallower than normal, which can make the eyes appear more prominent in the face, and affect their general conformation.

This different and less healthy conformation places brachycephalic dog breeds at higher risk of both eye injuries and congenital or hereditary eye problems, including amblyopia or lazy eye.

Whilst in most dog breeds, amblyopia develops because of malformations or abnormalities in the eye’s lens or retina, it can also occur due to an impact or injury, meaning that your Pekingese dog’s lazy eye may be present from birth (or as soon as they open their eyes for the first time) or can develop later on.

The fact that the eyes of brachycephalic dogs are more prominent than in others increases both the risk factors for lazy eye caused by a conformation defect, and also makes them more prone to developing the condition later on as the result of an impact or injury.

What does lazy eye look like in the Pekingese dog?

Whether your dog’s lazy eye is present from the get-go or develops later on in life, it is important to know what amblyopia looks like so that you will recognise it if you spot it.

When a dog has what we call a lazy eye, the pupil of one of their eyes won’t match the other, in terms of the direction that it is looking in and the way that it moves when your dog looks at things and focuses on them.

The lazy eye may appear turned inwards towards the nose, downwards, upwards, or towards the outside corner of the eye, and whilst your dog might well be able to move the affected pupil in different directions, the two eyes won’t move fully together, instead giving the appearance of the two eyes looking in different directions.

How pronounced any dog’s lazy eye is can vary – some lazy eyes are mild and subtle so that you might not even notice the difference, whilst others will appear markedly noticeable from the normal eye.

How much of a problem is a lazy eye for a dog?

As is the case with people who have a lazy eye, how much it affects any given dog can be highly variable. A lazy eye isn’t painful in and of itself, but it may affect things like your dog’s depth perception, ability to focus, and visual acuity in general.

A lazy eye can also make your dog’s eyes and face appear a little odd if you’re not used to it, so it may be limited to being a cosmetic issue rather than having a real impact on your dog’s quality of life.

However, if the issue is severe enough that it causes your dog to walk into things or otherwise be unable to navigate the world normally because their vision is compromised to a significant degree, this can be very limiting. Often, if the lazy eye has developed as a result of an injury or impact, your dog will adjust to the difference over time and be less affected by it than they were at the outset.

Can a lazy eye be corrected or repaired?

If you have noticed that your pup appears to have a lazy eye, you should ask your vet to have a look as soon as possible to confirm diagnosis, or determine if another eye condition may be the root cause.

If the lazy eye develops in an adult dog as the result of an impact or injury, your dog needs to see the vet right away to check for any other problems that the incident may have caused, and so that your vet can ascertain the impact and severity of the incident.

Generally, a lazy eye in the dog will be monitored but not treated, assuming that the dog has a good quality of life. However, a differential diagnosis is required to make sure that there’s not another problem or cause, which may itself require treatment.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale