Why do Maltese Get Tear Stains

by Farmer Jack
Updated on

Ever noticed dark brown or reddish tear stains under your Maltese’s eyes and wondered where they come from?

Well, tear staining is a common problem among many dog breeds. However, the stains are usually more visible on white-coated dogs like the Maltese.

But have you ever asked yourself why do Maltese get tear stains? Here is what you should know about the tear stains.

What are Tear Stains?

Simply put, they are reddish or dark brown marks that appear beneath a dog’s eyes. The medical term for this condition is epiphora. However, it is not a disease, but rather a symptom that results from many causes.

Usually, the hair around the eyes may develop a brown, red, or pink tinge. And in some cases, the texture of the fur may feel a little “crunchy” and dry.

Generally, the reddish stains tend to appear when porphyrin (a pigment found in tears) builds up under the eyes. Brownish stains, on the other hand, maybe caused by yeast infection on the skin. So, what causes tear stains in Maltese? Check them out below. 

Why do Maltese Get Tear Stains? – Causes

As with other dog breeds, there are so many reasons why Maltese get tear stains. Keep reading to find out.


While tear stains can occur in any dog, some breeds like the Maltese appear to be more predisposed. This is because of the structure of their eyes and heads.

You see, the eye placement and the shape of the muzzle in Maltese may prevent a proper outflow of the tears. When this happens, the tears don’t get into the tear duct, which usually drains away from them from the eye. As a result, this causes tear stains.


Eye infections may cause excess tear production, which can lead to tearing stains. The infections may be caused by parasites, bacteria, viruses, and irritants like shampoo or smoke.

When the stains are rust-colored or brownish, it is usually an indication of fungal or yeast infection. This could be either under the eyes or on the skin. The yeast tends to thrive better because of the constant moisture from tear build-up.

If you suspect that the tear stains are a result of eye infections, you should seek veterinary care.


Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that affects Maltese and other dog breeds. If left untreated, it could rapidly lead to blindness. Basically, if your Maltese has this condition, it is usually an indication of excess intraocular pressure.

Some of the symptoms that your dog could be having glaucoma include pupil size-changing compared to the other. Also, your pup may appear uncomfortable in the eye. Besides, the tear staining, your Maltese may experience excessive discharge.


Your Maltese may experience excessive tear staining if it has an injury on the eye. The injury could be due to a blade of grass stuck in the eye or a scratch from another animal.

Generally, the injury can end up traumatizing your dog’s protective outer layer of the eye. When this happens, you will notice tear staining as well as an active discharge.


Last but not least, your Maltese is likely to suffer from tear staining due to several anatomical abnormalities. These could be abnormal or ingrown eyelashes that can sometimes rub the eye and cause irritation.

Also, incorrectly formed tear ducts may lead to tearing stains. A clogged or abnormal duct may prevent the tears from draining, thereby causing the tears to spill over beneath the eyes.

How to Effectively Remove Tear Stains in Maltese

If your Maltese has tear stains, the first step to getting rid of them is to a veterinarian. The vet will determine the cause of the stains and provide you with a treatment method.

For instance, if the vet suspects it is an eye infection, he or she may prescribe you medicated drops or antibiotics. And if the cause is allergies, your vet will recommend an oral treatment for allergies and a steroid ointment.

When poor diet is the cause, the vet will advise you to make some lifestyle changes for your dog. This may include changing diet, more exercise, and using a non-plastic food bowl.

Bottom Line

Although somewhat unsightly, tear staining is just that – cosmetically unsightly. The stains do not cause any discomfort. However, if you notice the stains are accompanied by other symptoms like excessive discharge, you should see a vet.

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Farmer Jack


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