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Dr. Marcia
Dr. Marcia, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  I am a Companion Animal Veterinarian with 15 years of medical and surgical experience
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My dog has hair growing out its eyeball - it does not ...

Resolved Question:

My dog has hair growing out its eyeball - it does not appear to be in any distress of discomfort - can you advise please
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Marcia replied 9 years ago.

Hello,Customer Thanks for your question.

What you are likely describing it what is called a dermoid. This is an abnormal growth of skin/hair tissue in an abnormal area, such as on the cornea of the eye. These are not very common! They are often seen in very young dogs as it is a congenital problem they are born with. However, it may take some time for the hairs to grow out to the point that they are noticed. If the hairs are not causing discomfort and irritation to the eye, it does not necessarily have to be surgically removed. But if the dermoid is causing tearing, eye infection, discharge, etc. then surgery is needed to have it removed.

Here's some information I cut and pasted from my the vet information network. Some of it is quite technical, but maybe you will find the photos interesting!


Disease description:
A dermoid is an ectopic growth of cutaneous tissue. The growth generally contains elements of normal skin including keratinized epithelium, hair, sweat and sebaceous glands, and fat. Pigmentation is variable. It is a congenital condition that may affect the conjunctiva or cornea. Although the lesion is congenital, age at presentation to the practitioner varies considerably, depending on the size, degree of pigmentation, presence of hair, degree of ocular irritation and astuteness of the owner. Dermoids do not enlarge over time.

Disease description in this species:
Corneoconjunctival dermoid is an uncommon condition in dogs and its pathogenesis is unknown. However, some breed predispositions exist,1,2 which might suggest a hereditary problem. In the dog, most dermoids are corneoconjunctival, usually arising at the lateral limbal region and extending into the cornea to varying degrees (Figure 1).2 Dermoids affecting the nictitating membrane and eyelids also occur.3 Dermoid may occasionally coexist with eyelid coloboma (Figure 2).4 They may be unilateral or bilateral. Corneal contact with hair from the mass often causes epiphora and keratitis, consisting of edema, vascularization, pigmentation and scarring may also be noted. Overt ocular discomfort is variable.

Genetic, hereditary
Idiopathic, unknown

Breed predilection:
Doberman pinscher
German shepherd
Saint Bernard

Age predilection:

Clinical findings:
Blepharospasm, eyelid closure
Cachexia, weight loss
Conjunctival mass
Epiphora, lacrimation increased
Ocular discharge

Diagnostic procedures: Diagnostic results:
Biopsy and histopathology of tissues involved Epidermal and mesenchymal elements cornea


You may click on the image to view a larger version

Corneal dermoid in a 6 month old Rottweiler
Click to view larger image
The raised, fleshy, haired mass at the temporal cornea in this dog is typical of a corneoconjunctival dermoid. Mild associated corneal edema and vascularization are present. An encircling third eyelid is also noted, but is unrelated to the dermoid. Surgical excision of the dermoid by superficial keratectomy was curative.
Ocular dermoid and eyelid coloboma in a 1 year old large mixed-breed dog
Click to view larger image
The dermoid in this dog is predominantly conjunctival, with minimal corneal involvement. Dermoid excision and surgical correction of the eyelid coloboma were performed successfully.


1) Surgical excision by superficial keratectomy and/or conjunctivectomy is curative.


1) Topical ophthalmic broad spectrum antibiotics should be applied 2-3 times daily until the corneal surgical site is epithelialized as determined by fluorescein staining.

Preventive Measures:
Do not breed affected animals.

Special considerations:
Dermoids that are not causing ocular discomfort may be left untreated.

Differential Diagnosis:
Corneal neoplasm
Non-neoplastic corneoconjunctival inflammatory mass


You may notice there at the bottom that it said that these can be left untreated if it is not bothering the dog.

I hope that helps, and thank you so much for your interesting question!

Dr. Marcia

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