Boxer Dog Eye Diseases & Problems

It may not be fair to say that Boxer dog eye problems are particularly common or worse yet, inevitable.

Boxer Dog Eye Diseases & Problems

However they’re common enough for Boxer eyes and eye health to be a topic for discussion among the breed’s fans. 

Before we start looking at the reasons why, let’s put this into perspective. Eye ulcers, one of the most common Boxer eye problems, only affects 5 percent of the Boxer population. Other serious eye conditions are even less common. 

So, if you have a perfectly healthy Boxer, it’s quite likely to have healthy eyes that stay that way.

All the same, as a pet owner, it’s good to know what might go wrong, and in that spirit, we’ll look at all the things that might go wrong with a Boxer’s eyes. 

Boxers And Eye Ulcers

Although Boxers are slightly more prone to eye ulcers than other breeds, they’re pretty common in elderly dogs of just about any breed. 

Corneal ulcers don’t just crop up for no reason. They’re usually the result of an injury of some kind. 

However, they can be the result of general weakening of the cornea known as epithelial dystrophy, and they could be a symptom of a glandular disorder like hypothyroidism or diabetes. Also, a condition known as “dry eye” could be to blame. 

Boxers And Eye Ulcers

Boxers are somewhat prone to eye ulcers because of the short muzzles, big eyes, and an interest in everything that leads them to place their eyes in harm’s way. 

You will notice that something is wrong with your dog because eye ulcers are painful. Your dog will have red, teary eyes, and may seem to squint.

Because that painful eye is bugging him, he will tend to rub it with his paws or against surfaces. 

Needless to say, you shouldn’t (and probably wouldn’t) delay taking your dog to your local veterinarian. But can they do anything about the problem?

They certainly can! Rarely, eye ulcers require surgery. More often, a course of antibiotic eye drops will do the trick. Your veterinarian will also prescribe meds to combat pain. Very certainly, there’s no home remedy that will work. 

Did you catch the problem fast enough for an ulcer not to have formed? That’s good news and you can congratulate yourself on spotting the issue before it could become worse. 

An Unpigmented Third Eyelid Or Haw

Dogs have a third eyelid that covers the eye laterally. You shouldn’t usually see this at all, but when there isn’t enough pigment in the third eyelid, it can become inflamed and will be visible even when your Boxer’s eyes are open. 

It’s not a problem that usually occurs in well-pigmented Boxers, and it certainly isn’t unique to the breed. White dogs, or dogs with a lot of white flashes are likeliest to have an unpigmented third eyelid. 

Corneal Dystrophy In Boxers

Like any eye inflammation, it’s wise to have it checked out, but this problem is usually something you and your Boxer can live with quite easily. 

A lot of sun exposure won’t suit a dog with an unpigmented third eyelid. Your dog won’t know why his eyes get irritated, so it will be up to you to keep your Boxer away from long exposure to harsh sunlight.

Your veterinarian will likely prescribe something to combat the inflammation, and you only need to use it when you see symptoms: a reddish third eyelid that doesn’t close properly, and some discharge from the affected eye are typical. 

Cherry Eye In Boxers

Cherry eye is a relatively rare problem, and “flat-faced” or brachycephalic breeds are more prone to it than others.

Boxers aren’t the likeliest to get Cherry Eye. That “honor” goes to the Neapolitan Mastiff with the English Bulldog in second place.  

All the same Boxers can get Cherry Eye, and it will be important to get treatment if your dog develops this condition.

Cherry Eye In Boxers

Luckily, the symptoms are unmissable. It’s not the sort of thing that sneaks up on your dog. Instead, it’s patently obvious and not just a matter of your Boxer having red eyes. Here’s what happens.

In Cherry Eye, the third eyelid’s gland moves out of position, covering all or part of your dog’s eyes. The prolapsed gland appears red and swollen, hence the comparison to cherries. 

In the past, veterinarians would have to remove the third eyelid in surgery, but that is rarely necessary these days.

That’s a good thing, because without the third eyelid and its gland, your Boxer would need to get eye drops every day to prevent his eyes from drying out. 

Cherry Eye treatments are generally successful, with 82 percent of Boxers treated for Cherry Eye never experiencing the problem again. 

Boxers And Dry Eye

Any dog can develop Dry Eye, and Boxers don’t top the list of breeds prone to this condition, but if they do get it, it must be treated. 

It may not sound like something terribly serious, but Dry Eye leads to all kinds of other eye problems.

Worst of all, Dry Eye can be difficult to spot. Even veterinarians might treat the consequences of Dry Eye without realizing that your dog has Dry Eye. 

Boxer Eye Problem

As you can tell from the name, Dry Eye occurs when there isn’t enough tear fluid to lubricate the eyes. Your dog may tend to blink a lot or tend to rub his eyes, and you might notice redness.

If your dog frequently gets other eye infections, Dry Eye could be to blame. A brownish color over the surface of the eye is an almost sure-fire “tell,” but in this instance, Dry Eye is already very advanced. 

If your Boxer has Dry Eye, early treatment will help you to avoid permanent damage to your dog’s eyes. Just another reason to visit your veterinarian if you suspect that anything is the matter with those bright eyes!

If caught early enough, your dog’s Dry Eye can be treated with medications, but there are times when surgery is needed.

Corneal Dystrophy In Boxers

Corneal Dystrophy is a genetic, inherited ailment. Fortunately, it isn’t very common, and ethical dog breeders screen their dogs for genetic eye issues.

Other than selective breeding, there’s no way to prevent Corneal Dystrophy if it’s in the genes. However, there is some comfort – this disease seldom results in complete blindness. 

You’re likely to notice the signs of Corneal Dystrophy as a cloudiness of the eyes, and it usually affects both eyes, not just one. Your dog feels no discomfort, but his vision becomes progressively worse over time. 

As we mentioned, corneal dystrophy does not necessarily mean that your Boxer will go blind. At the same time, if it isn’t managed, this condition can lead to painful side-effects like ulcers. 

There are actually ways to treat Corneal Dystrophy in Boxers. Depending on the case, there are ways to dissolve the minerals that cause the cloudy look, and there are surgeries that may help. 

If your dog isn’t experiencing too many issues, your veterinarian may recommend leaving things as they are for the time being. You’ll just have to have the eyes examined fairly regularly. 

Entropion And Your Boxer’s Eyes

Entropion is an issue that begins in the eyelids but that causes a slew of additional problems. It happens when the eyelids are slightly inward-facing so that the lashes irritate the eye.

Left to itself, the constant irritation of the eye can cause ulcers and even blindness. 

There are usually typical symptoms of eye discomfort, but Boxers don’t always show symptoms, so you may only pick up this problem because of its later effect on eye health. Fortunately, once diagnosed, this problem is easily corrected with surgery.

Other Reasons For Boxers’ Red Eyes

Red or uncomfortable eyes aren’t necessarily caused by very serious issues, but since they can be, it’s always wise to get them checked out. 

Boxer And Unpigmented Third Eyelid

Additional reasons why your dog’s eyes might be red include:

  • Allergies – the most common problem of all. Get advice from your veterinarian.
  • A foreign body trapped in the eye – get help to have it removed and to check whether it has injured the eye.
  • An injured eye – rapid assessment by a vet means prompt treatment will help to prevent infection.
  • Glaucoma – it may affect one or both eyes and can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
  • Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) – medicated eye drops from your veterinarian should clear the problem up quickly. 
  • Cataracts – the eyes appear cloudy. Cataracts can be removed in surgery. 

Protecting Your Boxer’s Eye Health

Being an overprotective dog owner will lonely drive both you and your Boxer crazy. However, there are a few basics you can implement. 

Because of your boxer’s shortened muzzle and the placement of his eyes, they are somewhat in harm’s way.

If you have dense shrubbery along your fence-line, for example, and your Boxer likes to bark at passers-by, you might benefit from erecting a barrier, or printing the shrubbery so that there aren’t twigs that can cause an overexcited Boxer to injure his eyes. 

Some cats can’t get over their animosity towards dogs, even if your Boxer is good with cats. If you have a cat that tends to take a swipe at any dogs in the offing, it’s wisest to keep them away from your canine companions. 

The best way to care for your Boxer’s eyes is to be alert to any signs of inflammation or discomfort. If you spot anything unusual or suspicious, get it checked out as soon as possible. 

Most Boxer eye problems are treatable, and the outlook is usually better if the issue is promptly addressed. 

A bit of “eye gunk” is usually normal, but it’s a good idea to wipe it away gently with cotton wool soaked in warm water. Don’t wipe the eye itself – just the area around the eye, and be very careful when doing so. 

It’s a good idea to get your dog used to this from a fairly young age, and it gives you a chance to take a closer look for signs of inflammation. 

Boxer Eye Problems Aren’t Inevitable

After all this talk about the things that can go wrong, you might be thinking that Boxer eye problems are terribly common.

Once again, do remember that most Boxers go through life without developing serious eye issues. 

All the same, knowing what can go wrong will help you to spot any issues that might occur. Keep it in mind, but don’t assume it’s inevitable! Here’s to a healthy, happy, bright-eyed Boxer in your life!


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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