Why Are Shih Tzu Eyes Crossed?

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Ever wondered why Shih Tzu eyes are sometimes crossed? It’s a question that has puzzled many pet owners and dog enthusiasts. These adorable little pups with their luxurious coats and expressive eyes often capture our hearts, but what’s the deal with their unique eye appearance? In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Shih Tzu eyes and uncover the reasons behind their crossed gaze.

When you first lay eyes on a Shih Tzu, you might be captivated by their endearing, wide-eyed look. But why are their eyes crossed? Well, it turns out that Shih Tzus have a special feature called brachycephalic syndrome, which is common in dogs with short and flat faces. This syndrome can lead to various eye issues, including a condition called medial canthal entropion, where the lower eyelid curves inward towards the eye. As a result, the eyelashes irritate the surface of the eye and cause discomfort, leading to a crossed or squinting appearance. It’s important to note that not all Shih Tzus have crossed eyes, but it is a common occurrence in the breed.

Now that we have a better understanding of why Shih Tzu eyes can be crossed, it’s essential to remember that their unique appearance doesn’t affect their overall health or wellbeing. These adorable pups are still just as lovable and playful as any other dog breed. So, the next time you come across a Shih Tzu with crossed eyes, embrace their individuality and appreciate their charm. After all, it’s their distinctive traits that make them truly one-of-a-kind companions.

Why Are Shih Tzu Eyes Crossed?

Why Are Shih Tzu Eyes Crossed?

Shih Tzu dogs are known for their adorable appearance, with their large round eyes being one of their most distinctive features. However, some Shih Tzus may have eyes that appear crossed or misaligned. This can be a cause for concern for many pet owners, who may wonder why their beloved furry companion has crossed eyes and if it is a sign of a more serious underlying condition. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why Shih Tzu eyes may be crossed and provide some insights into how to manage this condition.

Genetic Factors

Crossed eyes in Shih Tzus can often be attributed to genetic factors. The breed is known to have a higher prevalence of certain eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts, which can contribute to the misalignment of the eyes. These conditions can be inherited from the dog’s parents and may manifest at a young age or later in life. It is important for breeders to conduct thorough health screenings to minimize the risk of passing on these genetic conditions to future generations.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

One of the most common eye conditions in Shih Tzus is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA is a degenerative disease that affects the retina, leading to vision loss and, in some cases, crossed eyes. The condition typically starts with night blindness and progresses to complete blindness over time. While there is no cure for PRA, early detection through regular eye exams and genetic testing can help manage the condition and slow down its progression.


Cataracts are another eye condition that can cause crossed eyes in Shih Tzus. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded, leading to blurred vision and, in severe cases, blindness. They can be inherited or develop as a result of aging, trauma, or underlying health conditions. Cataracts can often be treated with surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one, restoring vision and alleviating the symptoms of crossed eyes.

It is important to note that while genetic factors play a significant role in the development of crossed eyes in Shih Tzus, there are other potential causes that should be considered. Eye injuries, infections, and neurological disorders can also lead to misalignment of the eyes. It is always recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment for your Shih Tzu’s crossed eyes.

Managing Crossed Eyes in Shih Tzus

While crossed eyes may not always be preventable or curable, there are steps that can be taken to manage the condition and improve the quality of life for affected Shih Tzus. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian are crucial to monitor the progression of any underlying eye conditions and make timely interventions. This may include the use of prescription eye drops or ointments to alleviate discomfort or manage inflammation.

In cases where crossed eyes are caused by underlying health conditions such as cataracts or PRA, surgical interventions may be necessary. Cataract surgery can restore vision and correct the misalignment of the eyes, improving the overall well-being of the dog. However, it is important to note that not all cases of crossed eyes require surgery, and the decision should be made in consultation with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

In addition to medical interventions, there are some simple measures that can be taken to support the eye health of Shih Tzus. This includes keeping the eyes clean and free from debris or discharge, as well as providing a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. Regular grooming and maintaining good overall health can contribute to the well-being of your Shih Tzu’s eyes.


In conclusion, crossed eyes in Shih Tzus can be attributed to various genetic factors and underlying eye conditions such as PRA and cataracts. While not all cases of crossed eyes require medical intervention, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options. Regular eye examinations, proper grooming, and a nutritious diet can help support the eye health of Shih Tzus and improve their overall well-being.

Key Takeaways: Why Are Shih Tzu Eyes Crossed?

  • Shih Tzus can have crossed eyes due to a condition called strabismus.
  • Strabismus occurs when the muscles that control eye movement are imbalanced.
  • This condition can be genetic or caused by injury or illness.
  • Shih Tzus with crossed eyes may have difficulty with depth perception.
  • Treatment options for crossed eyes in Shih Tzus include surgery or corrective lenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Shih Tzu eyes naturally be crossed?

Yes, it is possible for Shih Tzu eyes to naturally be crossed. This condition is known as strabismus, and it occurs when the muscles that control eye movement are imbalanced. This can cause one or both eyes to turn inward or outward, leading to a crossed appearance. While it may be a genetic predisposition for some Shih Tzus, it can also be caused by injury or illness.

If you notice that your Shih Tzu’s eyes are crossed, it is important to have them examined by a veterinarian. They can determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include corrective lenses, medication, or surgery.

Are crossed eyes in Shih Tzus a health concern?

While crossed eyes in Shih Tzus may not necessarily be a health concern on their own, they can be a sign of an underlying issue. Crossed eyes can be a symptom of a condition called brachycephalic syndrome, which is common in flat-faced breeds like Shih Tzus. This syndrome can cause various respiratory and eye problems, including crossed eyes.

Additionally, crossed eyes can affect a Shih Tzu’s vision and depth perception. They may have difficulty focusing on objects or judging distances accurately. Regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor your Shih Tzu’s eye health and address any concerns.

Can crossed eyes in Shih Tzus be corrected?

In some cases, crossed eyes in Shih Tzus can be corrected. The appropriate treatment depends on the underlying cause of the crossed eyes. If the issue is due to an imbalance in the eye muscles, corrective surgery may be an option. During the surgery, the muscles are adjusted to align the eyes properly.

However, not all cases of crossed eyes can be fully corrected. If the crossed eyes are a result of a structural abnormality or a genetic predisposition, the condition may be managed rather than completely resolved. Your veterinarian will be able to provide guidance on the best course of action for your Shih Tzu.

Are there any ways to prevent crossed eyes in Shih Tzus?

While it may not be possible to prevent crossed eyes in Shih Tzus that are genetically predisposed to the condition, there are steps you can take to promote overall eye health. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to catch any eye problems early on and address them promptly.

Additionally, it is important to provide a healthy diet rich in nutrients that support eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and antioxidants are beneficial for eye health. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure your Shih Tzu’s diet is well-balanced and includes these essential nutrients.

Can crossed eyes in Shih Tzus affect their quality of life?

Crossed eyes in Shih Tzus can potentially affect their quality of life, particularly if the condition is severe or if it is accompanied by other health issues. Crossed eyes can impact a dog’s vision and depth perception, which may affect their ability to navigate their surroundings and interact with objects and other pets.

However, many Shih Tzus with crossed eyes lead happy and fulfilling lives. With appropriate care and management, they can adapt to their condition and live comfortably. Regular veterinary check-ups and proper eye care can help minimize any potential impact on their quality of life.

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Final Thought: The Mystery Behind Shih Tzu’s Crossed Eyes

So, why are Shih Tzu eyes crossed? After digging into this intriguing question, we’ve uncovered some fascinating insights. While there isn’t a definitive answer, it seems that a combination of genetics and breeding practices may contribute to this adorable characteristic.

One possible explanation is that Shih Tzus have a shallow eye socket, which causes their eyes to protrude slightly. This, combined with their short snouts and prominent forehead, can create the illusion of crossed eyes. Additionally, a condition called strabismus, where the eyes do not align properly due to weak eye muscles, can also be a factor.

While some may see crossed eyes as a flaw, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t affect a Shih Tzu’s overall health or quality of life. In fact, many Shih Tzus with crossed eyes lead perfectly happy and fulfilling lives. So, instead of focusing on their unique appearance, let’s celebrate the charm and personality that these little dogs bring to our lives.

In conclusion, the crossed eyes of Shih Tzus are not a cause for concern. Rather, they are part of what makes these lovable companions so endearing. Whether it’s their playful antics or their unwavering loyalty, Shih Tzus have a special place in our hearts, crossed eyes and all. So, embrace their uniqueness and enjoy every precious moment with these delightful furry friends.


I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

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