As an owner of a beautiful white Maltese, I couldn’t help but wonder why these adorable dogs often have tear stains. It turns out that the excessive tearing and resulting staining are quite common in this breed. This surprising fact intrigued me to delve deeper into the reasons behind the tear stains on white Maltese.

White Maltese dogs are prone to tear stains due to their genetics and physical characteristics. The shape of their eyes and the length and color of their fur can contribute to tear staining. Additionally, tear duct blockages, allergies, and eye infections can also exacerbate the issue. However, the most significant factor is their tear production, as Maltese dogs tend to have more tears than other breeds. Understanding these underlying causes is essential in finding effective solutions to prevent and manage tear stains in white Maltese.

why do white maltese have tear stains?


Why Do White Maltese Have Tear Stains?

Tear stains are a common occurrence in white Maltese dogs, and they can be a source of concern for many pet owners. These reddish-brown streaks that appear under the eyes of the dogs are often seen as unsightly and can give the impression of poor hygiene. So, why do white Maltese have tear stains? In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to tear stains in white Maltese dogs and provide insights on how to manage and prevent them.

1. Genetics and Conformation

White Maltese dogs are known for their luscious, flowing coat, but the same genetic traits that give them their stunning appearance can also make them prone to tear stains. The white coat of Maltese dogs is a result of a recessive gene that causes a lack of pigmentation in their fur. While this gene contributes to their beautiful white color, it also affects the production of tears, leading to excessive tearing and subsequent staining. Additionally, the conformation of the Maltese breed, with their large, round eyes and shallow eye sockets, can also contribute to tear stains as the tears often spill over onto the face.

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Genetic Factors:

Genetic factors play a significant role in tear stain formation in white Maltese dogs. The recessive gene responsible for their white coat can also affect the development and function of the tear ducts, leading to excessive tearing. This increased tear production results in the tears overflowing and subsequently staining the fur under the eyes.


The unique conformation of Maltese dogs, characterized by their large, round eyes and shallow eye sockets, can also contribute to tear stains. The shape of their eyes and the positioning of the tear ducts make it easier for the tears to overflow onto their face, especially when there is excessive tear production.

2. Eye Irritation and Allergies

Another significant factor that can contribute to tear staining in white Maltese dogs is eye irritation and allergies. Just like humans, dogs can experience various eye irritations, such as sensitivity to light, exposure to irritants like dust or smoke, and allergies to certain ingredients in their food or environment. These irritants and allergies can cause increased tear production, leading to tear stains.

Eye Irritants:

White Maltese dogs are often more sensitive to eye irritants due to their lack of pigmentation around the eye area. Common irritants include dust, pollen, smoke, and certain cleaning products. When these irritants come into contact with the eyes, they can trigger a reaction, leading to increased tear production and staining.


Food allergies and environmental allergies can also contribute to tear staining in white Maltese dogs. Certain ingredients in their food, such as grains or artificial additives, can cause allergic reactions, which can manifest as increased tear production. Environmental allergies, such as pollen or mold, can also trigger an allergic response in the eyes, leading to tear stains.

3. Dental Health and Tear Duct Blockage

The dental health of a dog can have a significant impact on tear stains. Poor dental hygiene and dental issues, such as tooth decay or gum disease, can cause bacteria to accumulate in the mouth. This bacterial buildup can lead to tear duct blockage, preventing the tears from draining properly. As a result, the tears overflow onto the face and cause staining.

Poor Dental Hygiene:

Neglecting a dog’s dental health can have implications beyond just bad breath or tooth issues. Bacterial buildup in the mouth can lead to tear duct blockage, exacerbating tear staining in white Maltese dogs. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing appropriate dental treats or toys, is essential for overall health and tear stain prevention.

Tear Duct Blockage:

Tear duct blockage can occur due to a variety of reasons, including infections, inflammations, or physical obstructions. When the tear ducts are blocked, the tears have no way of draining properly, causing them to overflow onto the face and create tear stains. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if tear duct blockage is suspected to identify and address the underlying cause.

Preventing and Managing Tear Stains

While tear stains may be a common issue in white Maltese dogs, there are steps that pet owners can take to prevent and manage them. Here are some tips to help keep tear stains at bay:

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1. Regular Eye Cleaning

Cleaning the area around the eyes regularly can help reduce tear stains. Use a pet-safe, mild cleanser or eye wipes to gently wipe away any tear stains. It’s important to be gentle and avoid getting cleansers or wipes into the eyes.

2. Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is crucial for their overall health and can also help prevent tear stains. Regular tooth brushing, providing dental treats or toys, and scheduling dental cleanings with your veterinarian can help maintain good dental hygiene and reduce the risk of tear duct blockage.

3. Address Allergies and Irritants

If your white Maltese dog is experiencing excessive tearing and tear stains due to allergies or irritants, identifying and addressing the trigger is essential. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog has any food allergies or if environmental allergies are the cause. Once the trigger is identified, appropriate measures can be taken to manage and minimize tear staining.

4. Consult with a Veterinarian

If tear staining persists despite your best efforts, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian. They can assess your dog’s overall health, including their tear production and eye health, and provide personalized advice and treatment options.

In conclusion, tear stains in white Maltese dogs can be attributed to a combination of genetic factors, conformation, eye irritations and allergies, dental health, and tear duct blockage. While tear staining may be a cosmetic concern for some pet owners, it is important to remember that it is usually a harmless condition. By understanding the underlying causes and taking appropriate preventive measures, you can minimize tear stains and help your white Maltese dog look and feel their best. Regular grooming, proper dental care, and addressing any allergies or irritants are key to managing tear stains effectively. Remember to consult with a veterinarian for specific advice tailored to your dog’s needs.

Key Takeaways: Why Do White Maltese Have Tear Stains?

  • Tear stains on white Maltese dogs are caused by a combination of factors such as genetics, tear duct structure, and tear production.
  • The hair around the eyes of white Maltese is prone to staining due to the high iron content in their tears oxidizing when exposed to air.
  • Maltese dogs with tear stains may have excessive tear production, blocked tear ducts, allergies, or eye infections.
  • Regularly cleaning the face of white Maltese can help reduce tear stains and prevent further discoloration.
  • Consulting a veterinarian is recommended to identify the underlying cause of tear staining and to discuss potential treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tear stains on white Maltese dogs can be a common concern for owners. These reddish-brown streaks that often appear under their eyes can be unsightly, and many wonder why this happens. Here are some frequently asked questions related to tear stains on white Maltese dogs:

1. How do tear stains develop on white Maltese dogs?

Tear stains on white Maltese dogs can be caused by a number of factors. One common cause is excessive tear production, which can be triggered by genetics, allergies, or eye irritation. The tears contain a substance called porphyrin, which is dark in color and can cause stains on the fur. Additionally, the shape and size of the Maltese’s face can contribute to tear stains, as the fur around the eyes can get wet more easily.

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Another factor that can contribute to tear stains is the pH level of the dog’s tears. If the tears have a high pH, it can make the staining more pronounced. Poor diet and improper grooming can also play a role in the development of tear stains on white Maltese dogs.

2. Can tear stains be prevented?

While it may not be possible to completely prevent tear stains on white Maltese dogs, there are steps you can take to minimize their appearance. Regular grooming is key, as keeping the fur around the eyes clean and free from excess moisture can help prevent staining. Consider trimming the hair around the eyes to keep it shorter and reduce the chance of it getting wet.

In some cases, addressing underlying health issues, such as allergies or eye infections, can help reduce tear production and therefore minimize tear stains. Consult with a veterinarian to determine if there are any underlying health concerns contributing to the tear stains and how they can be addressed.

3. Should tear stains be removed?

It is generally safe to remove tear stains from the fur of white Maltese dogs, but it is important to do so carefully. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleaching agents, as they can be harmful to your dog’s skin and eyes. Instead, opt for gentle and natural tear stain removal products specifically formulated for dogs. Follow the instructions carefully and always consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns or if the tear stains persist.

It’s worth noting that while tear stain removal can improve the appearance of your dog’s fur, it may not prevent new tear stains from developing. Addressing any underlying causes of excessive tearing is key to long-term control.

4. Are tear stains a sign of a health problem?

Tear stains themselves are not necessarily a sign of a serious health problem in white Maltese dogs. However, they can sometimes indicate an underlying issue that should be addressed. Excessive tear production can be a symptom of allergies, eye infections, blocked tear ducts, or other health conditions. If you notice that your dog has excessive tear stains or other signs of discomfort, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian for a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment.

5. Can tear staining be hereditary in white Maltese dogs?

Yes, tear staining can be hereditary in white Maltese dogs. Genetics can play a role in the development of excessive tear production, resulting in tear stains. If both the sire and dam of a Maltese dog have tear stains, there is a higher likelihood that their offspring will also have tear stains. However, it is not a guarantee, as other factors such as diet, grooming, and overall health also play a role.

It’s important to note that tear staining can vary from dog to dog, even within the same litter. While genetics may be a contributing factor, it is not the sole determinant. Taking preventive measures and keeping up with proper grooming and care can help minimize the appearance of tear stains, regardless of their hereditary potential.

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