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Why Are Chihuahua’s Eyes So Big and Watery?

Few breeds have as unique a look as Chihuahuas.

Most people will instantly recognize a chihuahua by its compact size, “apple dome” head, and distinctive eyes.

Chihuahua’s eyes appear quite large and often watery.

A common concern among chihuahua owners is whether their dog’s eyes are too large or too watery.

Some chihuahuas even seem to be weeping almost constantly.

How big and how watery is considered normal?

Is my dog sad or in pain? At what point should this be cause for alarm?

Big Eyes

Over the history of the breed, Chihuahuas have become smaller.

As they are famous for being the world’s tiniest dogs, it’s likely that breeders were selected for a petite stature.

Set in such a little skull, a chihuahua’s eyes can seem proportionally huge.

According to the breed standards set by the AKC, chihuahua’s eyes should be: “Full, round, but not protruding, balanced, set well apart-luminous dark or luminous ruby.”

So to an extent, prominent eyes are a characteristic of the breed.

While “full, but not protruding” eyes are a defining feature, it’s not uncommon for a chihuahua’s eyes to appear to bulge.

This is likely a result of excessive breeding. It is not necessarily worrisome but may present certain health risks to chihuahuas and dogs with similar eye issues.

little chihuahua big eyes

Watery Eyes

Epiphora is a condition characterized by overflowing tears.

It is usually the product of genetic abnormalities, not injury or illness.

With epiphora, eyelids or lashes grow inward, causing irritation and swelling of the eye.

Chihuahuas are not alone among dogs that tend to have watery eyes.

Other breeds include Shar Peis, Chow Chows, Poodles, Labradors, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Pekingese, Pugs, and Mastiffs.

On its own, epiphora may not be cause for concern.

In most cases, there is little that can be done beyond regular cleaning. Other causes of watery eyes include infections, tumors, or sinus issues.

Like humans, dogs can have allergies that can cause their eyes to tear.

Allergens include foods, pollen, fabrics, dust, and more.

A veterinarian will be able to help identify if your dog has any allergic reactions.

Overflowing tears may accompany inflammation, redness, and staining of the fur that surrounds the eye.

This is not likely to be serious, but it may be necessary to monitor your pup’s eyes and take extra care in keeping them clean.

Even though epiphora often manifests later in life, it is best to start performing regular eye exams when your dog is still a puppy, so they become used to it.


Chihuahuas and other small breeds are at a greater risk of injury to their eyes if only because they are closer to the ground than most other dogs and likelier to encounter dust and debris.

Especially with more active dogs – chihuahuas can be a little feisty – it is important to be mindful of whether anything in your surroundings poses a threat to your dog’s eyes.

If your dog’s eyes have always been teary, then it’s likely that there is no underlying cause other than the genetic irregularities that cause epiphora.

The sudden and drastic onset of overflowing tears and irritation with otherwise no history of epiphora may suggest something else is going on.

Be on the lookout for any goopy, colored, or bloody discharge, as this may also indicate a more severe condition.

If symptoms persist or worsen, it may be necessary to see a vet.


As mentioned, there may not be anything you can do to treat excessively teary eyes beyond regular cleaning.

Wiping with a warm, damp cloth now and then is usually adequate, although too frequent bathing with soapy water can actually make things worse.

If your dog’s fur or eyelashes appear to be irritating their eyes and causing them to tear, it is a good idea to keep them well-groomed in that area.

When an allergic reaction is what’s behind your dog’s watery eyes, making changes to your environment like removing the allergen when possible may be all it takes to remedy the situation.

When watery or irritated eyes seem to be an ongoing discomfort to your dog, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian.

They may be able to identify the problem and prescribe the necessary treatment more precisely.

Depending on the specific issue, medications can be applied topically in eye drops or as pills.


In the majority of cases, overly teary eyes in chihuahuas are a benign and common condition.

It may be messy and gross, but it probably isn’t causing too much discomfort to your dog.

With a modest amount of attention and cleaning, you can keep your chihuahua comfortable and happy.

Of course, it is best to err on the side of caution and consult a vet with any concerns you have about your dog’s health and well-being.

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National Canine Research Association of America