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5 Dog Breeds Whose Eyes Are Unforgettable

The Pug’s soulful eyes put him on our list, but what other breeds have memorable eyes?

Lynn M. Hayner  |  Dec 2nd 2016


Doubtless we all believe our dogs have beautiful eyes. My German Shepherd Dog’s eyes are indeed pretty, but in her senior years mainly I notice she spends more time rolling them at me! But some breeds are specifically renowned for lovely, large, or unusual eyes. Five such breeds have agreed to describe why their eyes are so gosh-darn memorable.

1. Pug

Pug courtesy Robyn Ginther

Pug courtesy Robyn Ginther.

My eyes certainly make a big impression. I was bred with large, bold, and prominent eyes. We’re an ancient breed, adored by Chinese royalty. Bred small to fit in royal sleeves, some of us have prince marks (vertical bars copying the Chinese character for prince) on our foreheads. Do you notice my wrinkled brow draws your attention to my soft, solicitous eyes? We became popular with European monarchs as well. Today we mesmerize the whole world. Of course with such big eyes I need to carefully avoid scratches. Racing through fields of thistles and branches isn’t wise, but it’s also not my ideal activity. I relish comings and goings, but I was bred for cozy companionship, not hard work.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel courtesy Carol Swearingen

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel courtesy Carol Swearingen.

My round, expressive eyes will capture your attention and steal your heart. Set wide apart, my dark brown eyes appear both lustrous and limpid. My ancestors were developed to sit on regal laps. We were comforters and companions, with just enough spaniel sprightliness for romps. Charles II, the merry monarch and my namesake, included us in all his doings, from attending council meetings to church. We also were depicted alongside Charles in royal portraits. My soulful eyes lead you to believe I have a gentle personality. And I don’t have Lyin’ Eyes. I really am as absolutely sweet as I look!

3. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier courtesy Cathi Tower Chiscaden

Dandie Dinmont Terrier courtesy Cathi Tower Chriscaden.

We may have dreamy eyes, but we’re a working terrier, bred in Scotland to go to ground for prey such as badgers. We have elongated bodies and short legs, developed specifically for down-to-earth (literally!) purposes. A sassy, silky topknot frames my face. Dark and round, bright and full, my eyes give me a soft, wise expression. I suppose when my predecessors faced down badgers or otters, they somehow hardened up our soft look?

4. Bernese Mountain Dog 

Bernese Mountain Dog courtesy Bethany Tracy

Bernese Mountain Dog courtesy Wasatch Canine Camp/Bethany Tracy.

We breeds in the working, sporting, and herding breed groups usually don’t have especially large eyes. Perhaps big eyes would be harmed more easily during work? All the same, I’ve been named on the unforgettable eye list. My lovely tri-colored face makes a striking impression. Eyes to die for aside, I have a working story to tell. Developed in Switzerland to thrive in a cold climate, I worked as a general farm dog, drover, and drafter. With my even-temperament, I also made a wonderful friend. Today when I gaze at you, you’ll notice my affectionate, calm nature reflected in my eyes.

5. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog courtesy Jason Frederich.

Old English Sheepdog courtesy Jason Frederich.

Surprised to see me on this list? My eyes aren’t remarkably large, and my profuse coat (a signature trait) sometimes covers my eyes. But when you pull my forehead hair up into a topknot and look into my eyes, my friendly gaze will enchant you. Our eyes can be china blue or dark brown, or we can have one of each color. My disposition is as delightful as my friendly expression. Bred for an adaptable, even-keeled nature as well as a working drive, my ancestors come from the southwestern counties of England. We worked as drover dogs, driving sheep and cattle to market. So while we do have a clownish streak, today we still show a biddable, working spirit. And if my hair occasionally falls in my eyes, don’t worry. I’ll still find the sheep and the people I love!

Top photo: Bernese Mountain Dog, courtesy Wasatch Canine Camp/Bethany Tracy.