Pets & Animal Veterinary Medicine

What Are the Causes of Canine Entropion in Retrievers?

    • Many retrieving breeds are prone to entropion.retriever image by Angelika Bentin from

      Canine entropion is a painful condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and small hairs surrounding the eye to rub against the dog's cornea. Entropion causes significant discomfort, and over time, the cornea can become ulcerated and infected. Any dog can have entropic eyelids, but it's common in retrieving breeds such as Golden or Labrador retrievers. Entropion can be surgically corrected by removing excess skin around the eyelid to align it correctly.

    Congenital Entropion

    • Inherited entropion is perhaps the most common cause. Julie Gionfriddo, DVM, writing for the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF), notes that conformational entropion is a complex inherited disorder. It is not controlled by a single gene, but rather by different genes that control the shape of the skull and eye opening, the amount of facial skin, eye shape and other factors. One possible inherited cause of entropion is a lack of muscle in the lids and tissue surrounding the eye, which allows the lids to roll inward. Retrievers with entropion should not be bred as they can pass the disorder on to their offspring.

    Puppy Entropion

    • Some retriever puppies need to "grow into" their eyelids, according to the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Teaching Hospital. If the eyelids are temporarily tacked to keep them turned away from the eyes to keep the pup comfortable, it relieves pain and irritation as the puppy grows. The stitches are left in place for two to three weeks, and the procedure can be repeated several times as the retriever matures.

    Secondary Entropion

    • Entropion can be secondary to other eye disorders. Ocular pain or discomfort that makes the dog squint and blink frequently is called spastic entropion. It can be relieved by temporary tacking while the eye is treated and heals.

    Cicatricial Entropion

    • Cicatricial entropion can be acquired by adult retrievers and is secondary to eye injury or infection that shrinks the eyeball, or if the eyelid is injured and becomes thickened with scar tissue.

    Obesity and Entropion

    • If a retriever is allowed to become obese, the increased weight of fat and skin folds around the eyes can exert pressure on the lids, causing them to roll inward.

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