My Puppy Has A Lazy Eye

My Puppy Has A Lazy Eye

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Dogs with lazy eyes can be treated, and finding the cause will determine the type of treatment needed. Dogs with lazy eyes inherited from their parents or caused by permanent damage to the eye muscle or nerve cannot be treated, so they must learn to live with it. Since dogs have very alert senses, lazy eyes are generally not a serious issue for them.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “My Puppy Has A Lazy Eye“.

Have you noticed that your puppys eyes roam in different directions lately?

My Puppy Has A Lazy Eye

When you become a new pet parent you may worry that your puppy has lazy eyes and that their eyes move involuntarily.

Dogs rarely suffer from lazy eyes and fortunately it does not cause any pain or discomfort to your pet. 

You may be curious about the cause and if they are treatable even though its a harmless condition that only affects a small percentage of dogs.

Lazy eyes can have a variety of causes and the treatments vary based on the cause.

You can be sure that your puppy inherited lazy eyes from its biological parents if they had them from birth.

Before we discuss treatment lets review some background information.

1. What are lazy eyes in dogs?

A condition called “strabismus” or “lazy eyes” affects the muscles of the eyes. Most often this disorder is seen in humans but it also affects a small percentage of dogs.

In general both eyes move at the same time. Our eyes look up at the same time when we look up and our eyes move together when we look in different directions. When our eyes move slowly we are said to have “lazy eyes”. The muscles of the eyes are affected by this disorder resulting in both eyes looking in opposite directions simultaneously. It is possible to have lazy eyes in only one eye or it is possible to have it in both eyes. 

2. Why does my dog suddenly have lazy eyes?

In cases like this strabismus or lazy eyes is a hereditary condition in some dog breeds so treatment is not necessary. It is more common in Boston Terriers and Pugs because they inherit weak eye muscles but other dog breeds can also suffer from it. The Akita Golden Retriever Irish Wolfhound and Shar Pei are all dog breeds with a high risk of developing lazy eyes. Despite being born with a lazy eye your puppy will be able to adjust and will not be affected. 

The sudden appearance of lazy eye(s) in dogs can be caused by underlying conditions. An eye or head injury that affects a nerve or muscle in the eye can cause your dog to have lazy eyes. It is also possible for dogs to develop lazy eyes if they suffer from vestibular problems. 

3. What causes lazy eyes in dogs?

The eye of a dog is controlled by 7 muscles: 4 rectus muscles 2 oblique muscles and 1 retractor muscle. The rectus muscle controls the up down and sideways movements of the eye the oblique muscle controls the clockwise and anticlockwise movements and the retractor muscle controls the third eyelid. In dogs the weakening of the muscles that control eye movement causes the eye to shift from its normal position resulting in a lazy eye. Factors that contribute to the weakening of the eye muscles include:

Inherited genes

It is more common in some breeds than others to have lazy eyes. Most of the time weak eye muscles are inherited. Pugs Boston terriers Akitas Shar Peis Irish Wolfhounds and Golden Retrievers are breeds at risk for developing lazy eyes.

Injury & trauma

Dogs’ lazy eyes may result from injuries to their heads or eyes. In the event of an injury to a dogs head causing malfunctions of the nerves or muscles that control eye movement this will result in lazy eyes. A dogs lazy eyes can be caused by a serious head injury such as that caused by a fall a car accident or being struck in the head.


Lazy eyes are also caused by tumors in dogs though this is relatively rare. The result of a tumor growing in a dogs head and pressing against the nerves and muscles can cause lazy eyes.

Nervous system dysfunction

The nervous system can be negatively affected by anything that causes a lazy eye. It is possible for lazy eyes to result from inflammation of the nervous system whether it is caused by trauma brain injuries infections illnesses etc. 

Vestibular disease

Dogs with vestibular disorders may also have lazy eyes. Dogs’ balance is controlled by the vestibular system which is located inside their ears. When the vestibular system is disrupted it can lead to lazy eyes in dogs.

4. Do dogs outgrow lazy eyes?

Because a lazy eye is a muscle disorder it is easy to assume that the muscles will get stronger and the lazy eyes will go away. A puppys lazy eyes can be outgrown but this rarely occurs. A form of treatment is usually needed to help with the problem. Sometimes an eye patch is used to treat a lazy eyes in humans. In order to strengthen the weak eye the eye patch covers the good eye. 

In dogs the problem is approached differently. If your dog has lazy eyes rather than ignoring them and hoping they will outgrow them take them to the veterinarian for an examination. The vet will run some tests to diagnose the cause of lazy eyes especially if your dog suddenly develops one. 

5. What are the signs that a dog has an eye problem?

Eye problems can develop in dogs just like they do in humans. There are many different types of eye problems that dogs suffer from such as conjunctivitis cataracts and injuries. In dogs eye diseases can be caused by aging disease accidents and inherited disorders.  As dogs age they become more prone to eye problems which can range from minor issues to blindness. 

A dogs eyes can be affected by a variety of illnesses although the symptoms are often the same. The most obvious signs that there is something wrong with your dogs eyes are squinting redness and scratching at them. Discharge tearing and cloudiness may also be present.

A dogs eye problem can be characterized by the following signs:

Red and swollen eyes

your dogs eyes are clearly damaged when they are red and swollen. In this case a vet should examine their eyes if they scratch and paw at them.


Squinting can happen for a variety of reasons sometimes it is due to the dogs mood. However it may also result from something more serious such as a foreign object in their eye an eye infection corneal ulcers pain trauma or an eye infection. 


The cause of thick or watery discharge from your dogs eye can also be different. The condition can be caused by an inflammation of the eyes lining conjunctivitis or by an injury or by an allergy or a foreign object lodged in the eye. 

Cloudy eye

Older dogs are more prone to this condition. Dogs may also appear fine and have no problems with their eyes. However cloudy eyes are sometimes the result of a cataract or nuclear sclerosis. As dogs do not experience any pain or loss of vision as a result of nuclear sclerosis there is no need for treatment. 

Unequal pupil sizes

Most often this indicates an underlying disease such as a corneal ulcer a head injury an inflammation of the eye etc. Anisocoria is a medical term used to describe this condition which can have different causes. 

Dogs with eye problems may also exhibit sensitivity to light changes in the color of the eye swelling puffiness rubbing pawing or scratching the eye. When your pet exhibits any of these symptoms you should consult your veterinarian.

6. What to do if you suspect your dog has a lazy eye

Observe any unusual movements of your dogs eyes or suspect that your dog has lazy eyes as soon as possible. The vet will run some tests to determine definitively if your child has amblyopia and what the cause is. Afterward a treatment plan will be recommended if necessary. Dogs often suffer from lazy eyes which are usually not detrimental to their lives. Regardless of whether your dog has a lazy eye that cannot be treated it will still live a happy life and you do not need to worry. 

7. How is a puppys lazy eye treated?

Depending on the cause of lazy eye the treatment will differ. In some cases lazy eyes do not require treatment while in others therapy or surgery is necessary to correct the underlying cause. Dogs suffering from lazy eyes will be treated differently depending on the cause. 

In the case of a dog born with lazy eyes no treatment is needed. In contrast if a dog has a lazy eye that is the result of an injury or illness correcting the lazy eye will be tied to treating the injury or the disease. By treating the injury or the disease the lazy eye will eventually be corrected. An injured or ill pet will be prescribed medications by the veterinarian to treat the underlying condition. 


Your dogs lazy eyes will make it difficult for both eyes to focus on one object at the same time. It is also possible for the dog to lose complete control of one eye but this does not affect its quality of life. An injury to the eye muscle or an underlying medical condition may cause lazy eyes. Dogs with lazy eyes can be treated and finding the cause will determine the type of treatment needed. Dogs with lazy eyes inherited from their parents or caused by permanent damage to the eye muscle or nerve cannot be treated so they must learn to live with it. Since dogs have very alert senses lazy eyes are generally not a serious issue for them. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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