ectropion.jpg (14597 bytes)What is ectropion?

Ectropion is a defect of conformation in which there is a sagging or rolling-out (eversion) of the eyelids. This results in abnormal exposure of the eye, which often leads to irritation.



How is ectropion inherited?

It is likely that ectropion is influenced by several genes (polygenic inheritance) that affect the skin and other structures that make up the eyelids, and that affect the way the skin covers the face and head.

What breeds are affected by ectropion?

Ectropion is most commonly seen in dogs with exaggerated facial features where it is often a breed characteristic. It is found in the basset hound, bloodhound, boxer, bulldog, bull terrier, Clumber spaniel, English and American cocker spaniel, Gordon setter, Labrador retriever, springer spaniel, and Shih tzu.

Ectropion is also common in giant breeds such as the Great Dane, mastiff, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, and Great Pyrenees  In these breeds the central lower lid is often ectropic while the lid at the corners of the eye is entropic.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does ectropion mean to your dog & you?

Because of increased exposure of the eye, dogs with ectropion are prone to develop allergic or bacterial conjunctivitis - inflammation of the thin membrane which covers the periphery of the surface of the eye and lines the eyelids. Affected dogs may develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca because of reduced efficiency at wetting and cleaning the cornea.

Dogs who have had surgical correction for a defect such as ectropion are prohibited from exhibition in the show ring.

How is ectropion diagnosed?

In addition to the sagging of the eyelids, dogs with ectropion commonly have a mucopurulent discharge in the eye, reddening of the exposed conjunctiva, and decreased tear production. To check the latter, your veterinarian will do a Schirmer tear test.

How is ectropion treated?

With mild entropion, no treatment may be necessary. If secondary problems such as conjunctivitis develop, these are treated as required.

More severe ectropion can lead to chronic problems associated with eye irritation. In these cases, surgery is performed to remove a small wedge of tissue from the margin of the eyelid.

Breeding advice

Ectropion is one of the eye conditions that is a result of selection by breeders and a demand by the public for such features as excessively prominent eyes and heavy facial folds. A responsible breeding programme will choose animals for breeding with a more normal head conformation, so as to select away from these exaggerated facial features and the problems associated with them.


Copyright 1998 Canine Inherited Disorders Database. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 08, 2003.