How To Clean Tear Stains on a French Bulldog

If you see rust-colored stains around your French bulldog’s eyes, it might cause some anxiety. Are tear stains a sign of something more serious? Why are they the same color as blood? Can you get rid of them? You might be wondering how to clean tear stains on French bulldog.

You can clean your French bulldog’s tear stains with a warm, damp washcloth. Rub away from their eyes so nothing gets in them or their tear ducts. Cleaning eye discharge and tear stains regularly is an important part of your dog’s grooming routine.

Generally, tear stains on your French bulldog’s face are nothing to worry about. However, you might still be wondering why they’re there and how often to clean them. My article will go into what tear stains are, how often you should clean them, and when to be concerned about your dog’s tear stains.

How Often Should I Clean Tear Stains on French Bulldog?

Cleaning your French bulldog’s tear stains should be part of their regular face cleaning. You should wipe their faces, particularly in the folds of their faces, at least once a day. Make sure to dry the skin completely after you’ve washed it.

Tear stains can often have bacteria in them. If they aren’t regularly cleaned off, the bacteria can get into other parts of the face, including back into the eye. This can result in infection.

While cleaning your Frenchie’s face cuts down on tear stains, it has another benefit. Your French bulldog’s cute face wrinkles can also store bacteria. Regular cleaning and drying cuts down on bacterial growth in general, which means less chance of skin infections and dermatitis.

Here is a video on how to keep your French bulldog’s face clean.

Why Does My French Bulldog Have Tear Stains?

All dogs excrete regular discharge from their eyes. This is part of the natural tear production process. While some breeds don’t usually have visible tear stains, others need regular cleaning and grooming help because of them.

Tear stains are especially common among brachycephalic breeds. These are dog breeds with short, flat faces, like boxers, English and French bulldogs, pugs, and Boston Terriers. While it makes these dogs adorable, selective breeding for a flat face and short nose produces a range of health issues.

Like most flat-faced breeds, French bulldog eyes are further forward in their skulls than in other dogs. This can make their tear ducts either too narrow or crooked. Sometimes, this results in more serious eye issues. Most of the time, this just means your Frenchie gets more tear stains.

How To Clean Tear Stains on a French Bulldog

Why are My French Bulldog’s Tear Stains Red?

Red tear stains often freak out new French bulldog owners, especially if their dog has light-colored fur. However, there’s an easy explanation. Dogs release a chemical compound called porphyrin in their tears, saliva, and urine. Porphyrins are the result of your dog’s body breaking down iron molecules. They also cause red and brown discoloration in bodily fluids. Some dogs produce more porphyrin than others. 

When you see red or brown tear stains below your dog’s eyes, you can rest assured that this isn’t blood. Porphyrin might make tear stains look weird, but that’s all it really does.

Can I Get Rid of My French Bulldog’s Tear Stains Permanently?

Tear stains can be stubborn. Even after cleaning, some color might stay on your dog’s face. With other breeds that get tear stains, groomers often recommend cutting the hair around the dog’s eyes. Since French bulldogs have short hair on their faces, this isn’t really an option.

Some sources recommend solutions of diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide, but these can be very dangerous. Hydrogen peroxide and bleach can cause a lot of damage if they get in your dog’s eyes, much more than a gentle soap or face wipe.

Most experts say getting rid of deep tear stains on a dog’s face will probably take some time. They also argue there is no miracle “cure” or “solution” for these tear stains. Even after months of dedicated cleaning, there might still be a slight stain, like a red wine stain on a carpet.

As long as you’re keeping your Frenchie’s face clean, tear stains pose no health problems.

When Should I Be Worried About My French Bulldog’s Tear Stains?

Sometimes, excessive tear stains are a sign that something else is wrong with your dog’s eyes. It’s important to look out for other symptoms alongside the tear stains.

Concerning symptoms include:

  • Excessive tears
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Impaired vision
  • Cloudy eye discharge (usually yellow or green)
  • Pawing around the eyes

These symptoms occur in a few conditions, including allergies, dry eye syndrome, corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, and cherry eye, which is an infection of a dog’s third eyelid. Cherry eye is especially common in French bulldogs. If you’re concerned, talk to your vet. They can help with diagnosis and treatment.

Do not ignore any issues or unusual symptoms. The sooner you can help your French bulldog, the better.

What Should I Use to Clean My French Bulldog’s Face?

For facial cleaning, you have lots of options. Online retailers like Amazon and Chewy sell vet-recommended gentle face wipes and cleansers specifically for dogs with face wrinkles. All-natural and unscented options work well if you’re concerned about your Frenchie’s skin reactions.

Looking for face wipes? This article rates 4 of the best.

Alternatively, you can clean their face with just a warm, damp cloth. Vets often recommend unscented baby shampoo if you want a cleaning agent. Do your best not to get anything in your Frenchie’s eyes. In fact, it’s best not to use any cleaners close to your Frenchie’s eyes in case of irritation.

What Else Can I Do About My French Bulldog’s Tear Stains?

If you see any of those dark goopy clumps or eye “boogers” on your French bulldog’s face, you should get them off as soon as possible. Letting them sit on your Frenchie’s fur will give them more time to leave a stain.

Eye discharge and tears usually have another purpose: removing sources of irritation from your dog’s eyes. If you live in a dusty area, you might be concerned about particles from the outdoors getting into your Frenchie’s tear ducts. It might be a good idea to invest in some dog goggles for their walks or motorcycle rides.

Some pet owners and vets swear by probiotics or a change in diet to reduce or eliminate tear stains. Others recommend food additions like buttermilk and apple cider vinegar. While it’s unlikely these will harm your dog, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet before starting any of them.

In most cases, tear stains are just cosmetic and not a sign of any underlying health issue. If you have any doubts, it’s always a good idea to call your trusted veterinarian.


Now you know how to clean tear stains on French bulldog. Make sure to wipe downwards and away from your dog’s eyes. Cleaning tear stains on French bulldog should be a regular part of their daily face wash. Usually, tear stains are just cosmetic, and their rusty color is because of porphyrins, not blood. If you see any other symptoms or eye irritation, contact your vet.

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Dan James

Dan James is the founder and editor of FrenchBulldogio, a canine enthusiast who writes about what he's learned on the way of being a French Bulldog owner and sharing his advice, tips, and research.

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