Eye Shape

Without looking, can you name the shape of your breed’s eyes? Is it almond, circular or oval?  Triangular or diamond?

All of us can identify our dog’s eye color, but outside of show fanciers, how many of us pay attention to eye shape? And if you fancy yourself breed savvy, can you identify on demand the appropriate shape of, say, a Polish Lowland Sheepdog? (yes, they have eyes). It’s oval.

How about a Papillon? They’re round.

And finally, the Clumber Spaniel? They’re either diamond shaped or have a rim with a “V” on the bottom.

In all breeds, the eyeball itself is always round regardless of the eyelid’s shape, but phenotypically, it ends there. The external shape of a dog’s eye is determined by the amount of fat behind the eyeball, the orbital ring of bone that partially surrounds his or her eye, the width between the top and bottom eyelids, and even how much weight the dog is or isn’t carrying.

In some breeds, round eyes are undesirable because they are more prone to getting damaged by brush, branches or dirt when hunting, treeing, or digging into a tunnel. In other breeds, slanted, slit eyes are a fault not only because they’re unappealing in a dog’s expression, but also because it limits how much a working dog can see in the field when spotting birds, watching a flock, or scanning for predators. Eye shape matters.

“Little Monkey Dog Portrait” by Dottie Dracos (Affenpinscher eyes? They should be “round, dark, brilliant….”)

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