Why Are My Golden Retriever’s Eyes Droopy? Causes & Solutions

Seeing our fluffy four-pawed partners with droopy eyes is undeniably concerning; with all the scenarios that cross our minds and are lost, not knowing what to do can get hard.

I’ve been there, I can relate to what you’re thinking; Golden Retrievers are unfortunately prone to many eye problems. Droopy eyes also tend to be more common than we would like them to. So why does it happen?

Why are my golden retriever’s eyes droopy? Your golden retriever’s eyes are droopy due to one of 2 conditions: Ectropion, a condition in which the eyelid rolls out, or Horner’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that impairs the eye and facial muscles. Horner’s syndrome is more common with golden retrievers than Ectropion condition.

These conditions, although sounding severe, are typically not fatal if they occur on their own. Yet, if they are indications of underlying causes, this is where it might get a bit concerning.

But there’s no need to worry; this article will guide you through it; I will point out the reasons, causes, symptoms, or droopy eyes and guide you to what is best to be done to prevent the worsening of the case and get your golden retriever to his/her optimum health state.

Keep on reading to know more about your golden retriever’s droopy eyes, from the causes to things that you should do to ensure his/her well-being.

Why are My Golden Retrievers’ Eyes Droopy? 

droopy golden retriever eyes to show why are my golden retrievers eyes droopy

Your golden retriever’s eyes may become droopy due to one of two conditions: 

Ectropion Condition

This is an abnormal eyelid condition that leads to drooping of the lower lids. Ectropion exposes the delicate conjunctival tissues lining and covering the surface of the eyelids, causing the tissues to dry.

Dogs with ectropion show symptoms of droopy’s lower eyelids, redness, conjunctival inflammation, and excessive tears.

Keratitis can also occur when the surface of the eye or the cornea dries up (corneal inflammation). Corneal injury can also cause scarring, which can impede or block vision.

Both eyes are afflicted in most cases of Ectropion. Ectropion is often detected in dogs under the age of one year.

Horner’s syndrome

This is a neurological disorder that impairs the Muller’s muscle: a structural muscle that functions to maintain the upper eyelid elevation. Horner’s syndrome affects dogs because the nerves of a dog’s eye have been inflamed or damaged. 

Dog’s with this syndrome will have tiny pupils, their eyelids will be partly closed, and the third eyelid will be raised and projecting somewhat. 

Horner’s syndrome, while not fatal on its own, may suggest nervous system issues.

Horner’s syndrome is more common with golden retrievers than Ectropion condition.

Are Golden Retrievers droopy eyes normal? 

The answer to that may be indefinite; Droopy eyes, or as it’s scientifically named: “Horner’s syndrome,” commonly affects golden retrievers with no identifiable cause, and it’s mostly not harmful if it’s on its own, but Horner’s syndrome may sometimes indicate health problems with the nervous system, which where it can get a bit concerning.

If your golden retriever gets droopy eyes, you need to run some tests to make sure there are no underlying causes like a tumor, broken bone, or injury.

A veterinarian will often do a variety of basic tests, including a urine sample analysis, a CBC (a blood sample analysis to count the types of cells and their relative quantities), and a physical exam.

If the vet suspects a tumor, broken bone, or injury, medical imaging will be needed, such as an X-ray and ultrasound. If the case appeared to be more severe, your vet would probably request an MRI and CT scans – these might require a hospital though

Suppose your dog appears feverish and displaying abnormal behavior. In that case, your doctor may conduct a spinal tap: inserting a needle between the vertebrae to collect spinal fluid to determine if your pet has an infection of the nervous system.

Why is my golden retriever’s third eyelid showing? 

There are various reasons for a golden retriever’s third eyelid showing, sadly the cause may sometimes be Idiopathic (no identifiable cause), but it may also be induced by head trauma, bite wounds, a herniated disc, a growth pushing on a nerve, a pharmaceutical side effect, or a middle or inner ear condition.

Some neurological diseases may cause loss of function to the nerve that supplies the third eyelid.

Horner’s syndrome is one of these common neurological diseases, dogs who are affected by it are often characterized by sunken eyes, droopy eyelids, droopy facial features, small pupil size, and third eyelid showing.

Other neurological diseases that might reveal the third eyelid can be Tetanus and Dysautonomia.

Third eyelid showing may also happen due to some physical reasons like the following: 

  • Spinal cord or brain infection
  • Brain, neck, or chest trauma
  • A tumor in the brain or spine
  • Infection compromising nervous tissue

How does a droopy eye recover?

That depends on your dog’s case, but if your dog’s droopy eyes have no definite reason, they might take from 24 hours to 3 weeks with prescribed ointments and eye drops.

Careful though, dehydration and infection are reasons that droopy eyes may reappear every once in a while, so make sure your dog is protected against these two.

In general, the condition is not fatal and will resolve on its own, but a vet’s role is a priority in all cases nevertheless.

Related Questions 

How do I fix my dogs’ droopy eyes? 

You can fix signs of droopy eyes with eye drops. However, an underlying cause like bacterial meningitis will need antibiotics, whereas tumors will need surgical removal, radiation, or chemotherapy, and trauma will require surgical intervention.

Can puppies grow out of Ectropion? 

Puppies usually grow out of Ectropion by the age of one year, if mild. Even though most cases of mild ectropion will require little to no surgical intervention and can just be treated with topical drops and ointments, instances of severe ectropion will not improve without surgical intervention

Why are my dogs’ eyes sunken in? 

Dogs’ eyes may sink in due to Horner’s Syndrome: a Neurological disorder that impairs the upper eyelid elevation. Symptoms include sunken eyes, tiny pupils, partly closed eyelids, and a third eyelid showing. Horner’s syndrome is not fatal on its own but may suggest nervous system issues.

What does it mean if my dog’s eyes are red and droopy?

Dogs’ eyes may get red and droopy due to Horner’s syndrome or Ectropion. A combination of droopy eyes and redness may indicate that your dog developed the condition due to various health issues such as nerve damage, infection, injury, or severe chronic inflammation of the eye.

Helpful Resources

Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs

Eyelid Ectropion in Dogs

A review of Horner’s syndrome in small animals by Danielle M. Zwueste and Bruce H. Grahn

[su_box title=”Disclaimer” box_color=”#ede51f” title_color=”#131313″ radius=”20″]This article was reviewed and edited by a vet for accuracy, but it was not meant to – and shouldn’t – replace your vet in any way.

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

If you liked the article, you can share it using the share and pin buttons at the end of the post. I’ll really appreciate it ♥️♥️


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

Recent Posts