French Bulldog Tear Stains: How to Clean & Get Rid of Stains Easily

French Bulldog Tear Stains

Tear stains are a common cosmetic issue found in a lot of dog breeds. Brachycephalic breeds including French Bulldogs, are particularly prone to this condition and will require much more attention to keep the fur around their eyes and muzzle clean.

In this guide I am going to share with you what we’ve learned over the last few years. Whilst our own boy Claude doesn’t get tear stains often, but when he does, we will give him a helping hand and clean them up.

Read on to find out why your French Bulldog has tear stains, when it could be an infection, and how to clean and remove them safely.

What you will need for cleaning

Before you read too deep, here are the products we use for cleaning our Frenchie’s tear stains. If you scroll down, you can see how we do it.

Why does my French Bulldog have tear stains?

French Bulldog eye stains are predominantly due to the way in which our dogs have been bred. Your Frenchie has a flat muzzles and eyes that sit further forward in the skull. Because of this breeding, the development of the tear ducts is often affected, leading to tear stains and infections.

In simplistic terms, the tear ducts become crooked or narrow which is where the problem starts. The size and position of your Frenchie’s eyes also mean they need to produce more tears to avoid dry eye syndrome.

In light of this, Frenchie’s tend to be much more prone to tear staining than other breeds, especially Frenchies with lighter colored fur – where it is also a lot more noticeable.

Why can the tear stains look red?

French Bulldog’s have red tear stains. It’s way more noticeable on lighter colored Frenchies and can freak owners out – don’t worry, it’s not blood!

The main culprit for red tears stains in all dogs is an organic compound called porphyrin. Porphyrin is found in your dog’s saliva, urine, and tears and when it comes into contact with light-colored fur, it will typically stain the area brown, red, or pink.

If your dog has a habit of chewing or licking a leg or some other area of the body, you’ll likely see this area stained over time as well.

Should you worry about your Frenchie’s eye stains?

In the majority of cases tear stains are simply unsightly and nothing more than a cosmetic issue. However, I am not your vet, so if your Frenchie has excessive tear stains coupled with what appear to be obvious eye discomfort, I recommend you contact your vet.

Our Frenchie has tear stains quite irregularly, we might clean them up once every two months. We’ve found that regularly cleaning the face with a damp cloth or vet recommended wipes can help to reduce any discoloration of the fur.

This is also essential to help keep the folds around your dog’s face clean. If you clean a French Bulldog’s tear stains regularly you can help to reduce the risk of bacterial infections, which can further irritate the eyes and cause further problems.

That said, excessive tears can sometimes be indicative of a more serious medical issue. If your Frenchie’s eyes seem excessively moist or irritated for days at a time and if your Frenchie is showing any signs of discomfort, it would be worth taking them to the vet for a checkup.

Excessive tear production and irritated eyes can be symptomatic of blocked tear ducts, malformed eyelashes, eye infections, allergies, or foreign bodies that have become trapped in the eye.

You might be interested in reading these other blog posts I’ve written, as it could be one or both of the problems shown below:

If you scroll further down the page, you can read more information on the potential causes of a French Bulldog tear infection and when you might need to seek veterinary treatment.

How to clean French Bulldog tear stains

Before attempting to remove any tear stains your Frenchie already has, it’s a good idea to find the root cause. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and money by dealing with the underlying issue first. That’s why I recommend you talk with a vet in case you have any doubts on the cause.

Our Frenchie doesn’t have any eye problems, so we know that his tear stains are simply down to his genetics and can be easily cleaned.

When it comes to cleaning Frenchie tear stains, the best thing you can do is clean their face once a day. You can do this with a warm, damp cloth or with a vet recommended wipe. It’s essential to make sure that once you’re done cleaning that you also dry the skin.

Moisture trapped between the face folds can develop into a bacterial infection (skin fold moist dermatitis), which will only exasperate the issue.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Use a damp and clean cloth or a vet-recommend doggy face wipe. You can see which dog-friendly wipes we use on Amazon.
  2. Wipe down and away from the eye, without getting the wipe into your Frenchie’s eye.
  3. Make sure you also use this opportunity to get into and under the folds on your dog’s face.
  4. If there are still marks, you can get rid of tear stains on your Frenchie’s fur by using a cleaning solution. Check out this dog facial cleanser on Amazon.
  5. Use a clean and dry cloth to dry in between the face folds so no moisture is left behind.

If your Frenchie needs regular cleaning, you can get rid of the tear stains at home by cleaning their face up to once a day.

Disclaimer: Please always check with your vet before you use any commercial cleaning product on your Frenchie. They will advise you what’s best for your individual dog and check for any treatable problems such as infections and blockages.

Aside from keeping the skin dry, it’s essential to keep any hair under the eyes short. Doing this will help to make cleaning and general maintenance easier.

How to prevent and reduce French Bulldog tear stains

There are also some steps you can take to reduce French Bulldog tear stains from happening on the first place… or at least reduce their regularity.

Whilst it’s not always possible to prevent eye infections altogether, there are a few things you can do to try and prevent them from happening in your Frenchie. Some of the best things you can do for your dog include:

  • Cleaning your Frenchie’s face once or twice a day with a damp cloth or a vet-recommended wipe. Ensuring the folds stay clean and dry will go a long way to preventing infections.
  • Keep the hair around the eyes short.
  • Invest in a good pair of doggy goggles to help protect their eyes from trauma and foreign bodies if you live in dusty conditions – here are dog goggles on Amazon.

No matter how mild, it’s vital that eye injuries and infections are treated as soon as you notice something is wrong. Ignoring the issue could result in long-term damage, such as scarring, vision impairment, or even blindness.

Apart from the grooming tips above, there are other ways in which you can get rid of your French Bulldog’s tear stains which are not so obvious, but vets recommend. These include:

1. Use steel or ceramic food dishes

It’s worth looking at your dog’s food and water dishes. Veterinarians recommended replacing any plastic feeding dishes with either stainless steel or ceramic. We use steel ones at home, and you can buy similar dishes on Amazon.

Plastic dishes tend to harbor bacteria and are much harder to sterilize. Many dogs will also suffer from plastic allergies which can result in eye stains.

Ceramic bowls tend to be more hygienic, but if you notice any cracks or chips, it’s best to get them replaced straight away. Even small cracks can harbor bacteria which can be very difficult to sterilize.

It’s also recommended that owners clean their dog’s feeding dishes every day or every other day. Doing this will help to prevent bacteria buildup.

Many owners also swear by looking at water quality. If you can, try giving your Frenchie access to unlimited, filtered water.

2. Nutrition and stress

Vets also recommend reducing stress and improving nutrition. Before making any significant adjustments to your Frenchie’s diet, it’s a good idea to have a word with your veterinarian. They should be able to give you advice based on your Frenchie’s lifestyle, age, health, and current diet.

Another way you can help your Frenchie is by gently massaging the skin just below the tear ducts. Doing this daily can help to loosen any clogging of the tear ducts.

3. Change their water quality

Tear stains can also be produced when Frenchie’s drink water that is high in minerals.

An American Kennel Club spokesperson recommends the following:

“After traveling a couple of times with my own dogs without their normal water and pouring for them from my own bottled water, I’ve noticed that they will develop staining pretty quickly in response to excess minerals. Use purified, distilled, or reverse-osmosis water sources.”

4. Look into food additives

Some owners will supplement their dog’s food with food additives. The same spokesperson on the American Kennel Club website said the following:

“Two things that have worked for me are adding one teaspoon of either organic apple-cider vinegar or buttermilk powder to meals. I-Stain, a probiotic enzyme, is another product with reportedly good results.”

Other reasons for French Bulldog tear stain infections

Earlier I mentioned that there could be other reasons why your Frenchie has tear stains. Below are a number of reasons why there could be over-production of tears, poor tear drainage, or possible tear stain infections.

Age (puppy tear stains)

While you’re Frenchie is still a puppy, you can expect to see a lot of extra moisture around the eyes. Typically, this is the result of them still growing and of development of the facial structure.

It’s also not uncommon to see your Frenchie showing signs of excessive tears while teething. However, once they reach maturity at two years of age, you should see this start to taper off.

That said, even if excessive tearing is common in puppies, it’s still a good idea to speak to a veterinarian about any concerns.

There’s a chance that the symptoms you are seeing are indicative of an allergy or irritation, especially if your puppy shows any discomfort or signs of swelling around the face.


Although it’s not uncommon to see tears stains in many different breeds, Frenchie’s are particularly prone owing to how they have been bred. With their large, protruding eyes and short snouts, they are more prone to malformed tear ducts.

In addition to this, the size and positioning of their eyes mean they need to produce more tears to avoid dry eyes.

Blocked tear ducts

Many flat-faced dogs, including Frenchies, have trouble with their eyes draining correctly. Owing to how the face is structured, tears often won’t drain through the tear ducts as they do with other dogs. Instead, the tears will roll directly onto the face.

Some Frenchies will also have malformed tear ducts where the entrance has never opened up during development. If this is the case, there’s a possibility that your vet will be able to open the tear duct with surgery.

There is also a chance that the blocked tear duct is the result of a chronic eye infection or allergy. If this is the case, your vet should be able to provide some relief by flushing the tear ducts.

Foreign bodies

If your Frenchie has managed to get something caught in their eyes, such as sand, grass, or dirt, this may result in excessive tearing.

Aside from this, you may also see signs of eyelid spasms, light sensitivity, involuntary blinking, swelling, reduced vision, and general eye irritation.

If you suspect that your Frenchie has something in their eye, you will need to take your Frenchie to the vet as soon as possible for treatment. Possible solutions may include flushing the eye or removing the foreign body while your Frenchie is sedated.


Distichiasis is a common condition that results in abnormal eyelash growth (view the definition on VCA Hospitals website). When this happens, eyelashes can rub against the cornea and irritate the eyes in general.

As a result, your Frenchie will typically produce more tears as the body attempts to flush out the “foreign body”.

If you suspect your Frenchie has this condition, it’s best to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, distichiasis can cause scarring, which will further exasperate tear production and tear staining.


Where your Frenchie has had an eye injury or a chronic eye infection, it can eventually lead to scarring of the inner eye. Distichiasis can also result in this if left untreated.

The scarring can either hinder or block normal tear drainage, resulting in increased tear staining.

Allergies and infections

Allergic reactions and eye infections are two other common causes of excessive tear production in dogs.

When looking at allergies, which could include hay fever, food allergies, or a reaction to plastic, here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Swelling of the face, eyelids, and lips.
  • Red and inflamed skin.
  • Itchiness.
  • Sneezing.
  • Hives.
  • Ear infections.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Irritated eyes.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.

When it comes to eye infections, whether it be conjunctivitis, an inflamed cornea, or uveitis, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Red and irritated eyes.
  • Swelling around the eyes.
  • Squinting.
  • Frequent blinking.
  • Keeping eyes shut.
  • Excessive, thick, and/or smelly tear production.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Pawing at the face and eye.

Eye infections

French Bulldogs are unfortunately prone to several eye problems, which includes dry eye, cherry eye, corneal ulcers, general eye injuries, and eye infections.

Owing to the positioning of Frenchie’s eyes and their flattened muzzles, their eyes are less protected than other breeds. As a result, they are more prone to a variety of eye injuries and infections.

Some of the most common causes of eye infections in Frenchie’s includes:

  • Fungus.
  • Viruses (herpes, canine influenza, hepatitis, etc).
  • Bacteria (Lyme disease, leptospirosis, canine brucellosis, etc).
  • Irritants.
  • Foreign bodies.
  • Parasites.
  • Damage to the cornea.
  • Eye trauma.

Eye infections can also be symptomatic of more serious medical conditions, such as:

  • Tumors.
  • Cherry eye.
  • Eyelid abnormalities.
  • Poisoning.
  • Tear duct problems.
  • Glaucoma.

When to call a vet

Excessive tear production and tear staining are not unusual in Frenchies and are usually nothing serious. However, if you notice any combination of the symptoms listed below, you should get your Frenchie seen to by a vet as soon as possible:

  • Sudden onset of excessive tear production or tear staining in adult Frenchies.
  • Eyelid spasms and involuntary blinking.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Reduced vision.
  • Swelling of the face, eyelids, and lips.
  • Red and inflamed skin.
  • Itchiness.
  • Sneezing.
  • Hives.
  • Ear infections.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Red and irritated eyes.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Squinting.
  • Keeping eyes shut.
  • Excessive, smelly tear production.
  • Pawing at the face and eye.

Eye infections, chronic allergies, and clogged tear ducts can all lead to more complicated health conditions with time if left untreated. In light of this, it’s essential that you get your Frenchie the right treatment if you notice anything off.

What other Frenchie owners say

I wanted to also see what other people say about cleaning and reducing their Frenchie’s tear stains. I found some comments on social media which I found very interesting; see what you think.

“I found that since we started putting a small amount of apple cider vinegar in our dog’s water and a bit in his food it has made a massive difference. The tear stains have reduced significantly.”

“We have a white French Bulldog and struggle with red tears stains too. There was just one thing that worked for us, and that’s been a change in food. We swapped to a fish variety of kibble and have seen a big reduction in eye stains this year.”

“If your Frenchie has constant teary eyes, check at their skin that’s around each nail and on the inside of his paws. You need to look out for any redness and sores. If you see any, treat with antiseptic Sudocrem, and then wipe the paws with fragrance free water wipes. I say this because it could be an environmental issue that causes tear stains and allergies.”

“We switched from giving our Frenchie tap water to filtered water and it’s made an amazing different to the tear stains. I don’t know how it helps but it does and we’ve noticed a huge change in our white Frenchie’s eye stains.”

“Wipe the eyes with cool boiled water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda in it. It has a whitening effect and is also antiseptic. It won’t cure tear stains overnight though, as you need to do it daily. If your dog will tolerate it, you could make it into a paste as smear it on the stains rubbing into the fur which will speed up the process. I have used it this way to remove green duck poo stains prior to bathing our dog.”

“Clean your Frenchie’s face every day with warm water. Focus on the folds especially as you must keep them very clean otherwise your dog can develop frequent tear stain infections.”

“I am using charcoal face wipes on our Frenchie with good results (he is fawn not white though). It’s a wipe with charcoal and bamboo. I also recommend you keep their wrinkles dry as possible too.”

“I’ve done more nutritional training than a standard vet and believe the most likely cause of tear stains is grain in the food. It’s commonly found in dog food, bread, and pasta. You should try a complete diet change.”


In almost all cases, tear stains are nothing to be concerned about. As I’ve mentioned, we clean our Frenchie’s eye stains once or twice a month, and that’s it.

However, as with anything of this nature, you should always seek professional advice if in any doubt about the health of your dog.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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