In Defense of Crusty White Dogs

The internet finds a new subject to direct their bottled up angst at every couple of months. Like fads, topics such as the ice age baby, Matthew Morrison, and baby boomers cycle under internet scrutiny. Recently, the target has been crusty white dogs. You know the kind. The ankle-biting, yappy, tear-stained, white dogs. Often a Maltese or Shih Tzu. 

If you are not familiar with these dogs, the crust is caused by dried up tears and mucus that builds up on the fur around their eyes. The tears also cause red-brown tear stains that are extremely visible on white dogs. Here’s the science behind it: porphyrin molecules, found in dog tears, are rich in iron. When exposed to oxygen, the porphyrin molecules dry and leave behind a rust-colored stain. Thus, crusty white dogs.

Tara Duong

Now as a proud owner of a white dog (his name is Jasper), I feel that it is my duty to intervene. Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, I speak for the crusty white dogs. While the dog in question is neither a Maltese nor a Shitzu, he is indeed white, and he has been known to be frequently crusty. My Havanese enjoys long naps and rolling in grass on sunny afternoons. Newly blind, his crustiness factor has noticeably increased for reasons that I am unsure of. Maybe he is unaware that his eyes are open for too long which results in an excess production of tears. Maybe he falls asleep with his eyes partly open. Maybe his constant encounters with the legs of chairs and bottom steps of stairs make him particularly teary? I would ask him if I could. Nevertheless, I can confirm that his eyes are in fact crusty. I also must bring up the fact that my other dog, Moose, who is the same breed as Jasper but brown, is also proportionally crusty. 

Tara Duong

To learn how to combat the crust factor, I did a little research. The only way to stop the staining and build up of crust is to consistently clean your dog’s undereye fur. Since the stains are caused by tears, it would make sense that cleaning the fur is the solution. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself… Anyways, I bought two short, thin-toothed combs with rounded teeth that are made for this exact job. Every couple of days I heat up a little bowl of water and use it to soften the fur around Jasper’s eyes. I make sure the water is a safe temperature. When the fur is softened and the crust is loosened, I gently comb the fur. I have been doing this procedure quite consistently for several weeks and I can see a huge difference! My dog is used to it now and has no issue with the combing. I have also heard of special eye drops that you can use as well but this method works great— I would also be afraid to put anything in Jasper’s eyes. 

In conclusion, crusty white dogs are only crusty due to a lack of care from their owner. It’s not their fault! Blame the human, not the innocent Havanese. If you are a fellow crusty-white-dog-owner, I implore you to buy a tear stain remover comb as well. And to the haters I beg the question: why bully the crusty white dogs when dogs of other fur colors are equally crusty? How about white cats? If eye crust does not discriminate, your anger towards small animals should not either. Hate all or none. Thank you, good night.

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