Bullmastiff and Common Eye Issues

Bullmastiff and Common Eye Issues

Health & Safety

The Bullmastiff is an impressive looking dog that's native to the UK, but over the years the breed has become a firm favourite with people all over the world. First bred as a working dog that worked alongside gamekeepers to keep poachers at bay on larger estates, these large dogs have a lot to boast about when it comes to their wonderful personalities. However, Bullmastiffs are prone to suffer from certain health issues, some of which are acquired but a few are genetically inherited disorders which can affect their vision.

The breed is known to suffer from specific eye disorders and some are thought to be inherited disorders although in a lot of cases this has not be scientifically proven. With this said, the better a Bullmastiff's breeding, the less risk there is of them inheriting an eye disorder from their parents. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that even good breeding never guarantees a dog won't develop a disorder during the course of their lives. The most common eye disorder seen in the Bullmastiff include the following:

Eye Disorders that Affect a Dog's Eyeball

It is thought that Glaucoma could be an inherited disorder that puppies develop early in their lives and if this is the case, the condition has to be treated as a veterinary emergency or dogs may end up going blind in an affected eye. However, the condition is also often seen in older dogs when it is an age-related eye disorder and where dogs tend to cope quite well when their vision is impaired.

Persistent pupillary membranes (PPM)

This condition sees strands of tissue in a dog's eye which are in fact, the remains of blood vessels that formed when the eye's lens was still developing before a dog is born and which are essential as they provide much needed nutrients that help eyes form correctly. In normal circumstances the strands disappear when a puppy is around 5 weeks old. However, if they remain in the eye the strands can interfere with a dog's vision and could even lead to a cataract developing. With this said, the good news is that in the majority of cases these strands do not turn into a problem, but when they do it's important for owners to get their dogs along to the vet sooner rather than later to have their pet's eyes assessed. In most instances even if a cataract forms on the eye, it generally doesn't get any worse as time goes by which means a vet might just recommend leaving things alone.

It is not known whether this is an inherited eye disorder or not. Sometimes the strands are clearly visible, but in other cases a vet would need to use an opthalmascope to check out a dog's eyes and to establish whether or not they have attached themselves to either the eye's cornea or lens. There is no treatment for the condition, but should a vet think a cataract needs removing, they would recommend surgery and sometimes they also prescribe specific eye drops for owners to put in their dog's affected eyes over a period of time. Although, there is no definite scientific evidence of PPH being an inherited eye disorder, vets recommend that dogs with the condition should not be used in any breeding programmes and that all dogs used for breeding be tested for the condition just to be sure.

Disorders that Affect the Dog's Eyelids

Other eye disorders all too commonly seen in Bullmastiffs include conditions that impact their eyelids which are as follows:

Diamond Eye is a condition where the cornea's lid becomes entropic. However, Mastiffs are prone to developing entropion and ectropion eye disorders where the eyelid turns in on the eye which naturally is a very painful and irritating condition. If the condition is ectropion, the eyelid sags outwards which leaves a dog's eye far too exposed to the elements. A third condition which is also seen in the breed affects the dog's third eyelid called nictitating membrane. The third eyelid prolapses and because eyes are incredibly sensitive, just like the other 2 conditions, it can make life very uncomfortable for a dog. The result is often a secondary eye disorder takes hold which includes corneal ulceration and conjunctivitis both of which makes a condition that much worse.

Other eye diseases often seen in Bullmastiffs include conditions that can seriously impact their corneas, the eye's lens and retina. But as previously mentioned it is not known whether a lot of these diseases are inherited disorders or not. With this said, anyone hoping to share their home with a Bullmastiff puppy should contact a reputable, well-established breeder who always has their breeding dogs tested for all genetic disorders and this includes establishing whether or not they have any eye issues.


Over the years, the Bullmastiff has found a place in the hearts and homes of many people and although not the best choice for people who live in apartments, they make wonderful canine companions for those who live in a more rural setting and who boast big back gardens. Originally bred to help gamekeepers ward off poachers on large estates, these lovely big dogs have a lot to boast about. They are loyal, courageous and if well socialised from a young age, they are great around children and other family pets. Sadly, like so many other large pedigree dogs, the Bullmastiff does suffer from its fair share of health issues some of which can seriously impact their vision. If you are thinking about sharing your home with a Bullmastiff puppy, it’s worth making a note of these conditions so that if any symptoms develop you would be able to spot them sooner rather than later.

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