Shih Tzu Tear Stains Smell

Oh, those ugly stains, especially noticeable in white dogs! You’ll never have to worry about those unsightly stains if you own a black or chocolate colored Shih Tzu. But for many Shih Tzu owners it is a real “eye-sore” (NO PUN INTENDED!) These unsightly discolorations develop when a dog’s tears accumulate on their fur providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to grow. As a result, the hair underneath their eyes appears stained. Most veterinarians agree that face staining results from excessive tearing.

The causes of excessive tearing include but not limited to genetics, health, diet, fleas, bacterial infection, ear infections, cutting teeth (in puppies), irritation, high mineral content in the dog’s drinking water, blocked tear ducts, etc. Since there is no one cause of tear stains, so there is no one cure. What works for some may not work for all. So, what exactly causes grooming nightmares? Tear stains are usually caused by molecules called porphyrins. Porphyrins are produced when the body breaks down red blood cells.

Porphyrins are excreted mainly through bile and the intestinal tract, but in dogs a substantial amount of porphyrin is excreted through tears, saliva and also urine.

This is why you might see staining on hair other than just below the eyes. This is also why dog sometimes have discolored hair if they have a habit of licking themselves excessively. When these porphyrin molecules remain on a white coat for any length of time, stains result. This happens in dark coated dogs, but you cannot see the stains. Stains often darken in the presence of sunlight creating an unsightly red mess. When the area around the eyes and mouth are chronically wet and moist, a red-yeast infection can develop. This is different from the red stains that are produced by the combination of tears and prophyrins.

Low grade bacterial infections in the tear ducts are also a culprit. The Causes fall into three main categories: Environmental, Medical, and Genetic.

High mineral content in your dog’s drinking water is thought by some to contribute to staining problems. If you happen to see staining around the dog’s mouth as well as eyes, this could be the problem. Ask your veterinarian for more information. Some may recommend serving distilled or filtered water to reduce tear staining. Sometimes teaching the dog to drink through a water bottle helps a little.

Sometimes the tearing lessens when you switch to a high quality diet. Some suggest that the dyes in dog food contribute to the problem. If your dog is not eating a premium diet, switching now might help. Some people prefer homemade or raw diets, and others are concerned about nutrient balance created when feeding a strictly homemade diet. Most veterinarians recommend a well-researched commercial diet of some kind, from a major manufacturer.

Some dog owners discover that feeding their animals a dry kibble with no preservative, fillers or additives will boost their resistance to inflammatory reactions and thus reduce tear staining.

Tear Staining: Stinky Face Shih Tzu!

Shih Tzus have large, protruding “bug” eyes, usually of low sensitivity but easily irritated. They constantly secrete tears that, if left untreated, will make your dog’s facial hair turn brown, wet, and super stinky. It really does stink!

How To Clean A Shih Tzu’s Eyes?

To clean your Shih Tzus eyes you will need:

  • Cotton balls or rounds
  • Saline solution
  • A towel
  • Warm Water
  • Take the cotton ball or round and moisten it with the saline solution. For the saline solution, you can use any contact lens solution or an over-the-counter eyewash.

    Place the moist cotton ball on your pet’s affected eyelid and allow it to sit for a moment. This will soften the crust on their eyes. After a moment, begin to wipe gently to take the crust off of their eyes.

    If their eyes are very crusty or crusted shut, you may need to repeat this process. You can also use a towel with warm water to help soften the gunk.

    If your vet has prescribed or recommended eye wipes or supplements to use for cleaning your pet’s eyes, follow their advice and use those products. You should use materials specific to your dog and its needs.


    Tear stains are usually caused by runny eyes, hence the name “tear” stains. Like us humans, there can be natural causes for tears and these in some dogs are barely noticeable. But in some Tzu’s the discharge is obvious and this leads to discoloration around the dog’s eyes.

    Fur and hair discoloration is always caused by tears running down from their eyes as is where the hair comes in contact with saline and it is this which is the main reason for the staining. Also, if a Shih Tzu’s hair is often left damp, an infection called red yeast can set in and this can cause more stains.

    So when we look at the main reasons for tear stains, we are actually looking at the main reasons for runny eyes which can be any of the following:

  • Reaction to medications
  • Allergies anything from around the dog’s environment
  • Unfiltered drinking water
  • Eye infections and diseases
  • Eye irritation from products used in the house and second-hand smoke
  • Chemical reactions from food being fed to them
  • The materials used in their food and water bowl
  • Tear duct glands malformations
  • For puppies: teething between 4-5 months old

    Tear stains in Shih Tzus can produce a pinkish, rusty, red, or brownish color on the fur around their eyes. The color will depend on the exact cause of the tear stains and also on the actual coat color of the Shih Tzu. Since Shih Tzus can be found in a wide variety of colors, it can be hard to distinguish between natural coloring and tear stains.

    If the color on the hair around the eyes of your Shih Tzu matches the color found on the other parts of their coat, then most likely it’s their natural coloring and not tear stains. You’ll know if they are tear stains when you see the following:

  • If there is any visible watery and runny eye discharge
  • If the hair color around their eyes spread out as they grow older
  • The color around their eyes is not present when they were still a puppy and it only developed when they are 6 months old or older
  • If the hair usually becomes damp
  • If the hair around their eyes becomes hardened when it’s supposed to be silky and soft
  • In rare instances, there can be stains might also be found around the chin or mouth.
  • FAQ

    Why do my dogs tear stains smell?

    Both of these issues can cause Shih Tzu odor. What is actually in this stuff? Both tears and so-called gunk will contain water, sweat, oils, saline, mucus and small amounts of a fatty tissue called meibum. Put this all together and allow it to sit on the hairs of the face and it will begin to smell.

    How do I stop my Shih Tzu from smelling?

    Your Dog Experiences Excessive Tearing

    If your dog has excessive tearing (epiphora) and drainage of the eyes, all of this moisture builds up on hair and skin and creates a nasty odor – indicative of bacteria.