How to care for Wrinkly Dogs?

Wrinkly Dog
Humans may wrinkle as they age, but there are some breeds of dogs that are born that way.  Some, like Pugs, keep most of their wrinkles around the face.  Others, like the Shar-Pei, can have wrinkles over their entire bodies.  There are occasions when a breed-defining characteristic can be problematic, and wrinkles are a good example.

Skin Problems

Folds and wrinkles in the skin can trap dirt, dust, saliva, dead hair, and other debris.  Anything trapped in the folds can irritate the skin, and the deeper the crease, the more likely it is to also trap humidity.  Moist skin folds are an ideal home for bacteria and fungus.  Signs of a bacterial infection called pyoderma can include frequent scratching, especially when focused on a particular spot, unpleasant smell, red, bumpy skin or raised lesions, oozing sores, pustules (anything from a pimple to a blister filled with pus), crusty or scaly skin, hair loss.

Is My Dog at Risk?.

Any breed with wrinkles is more prone to pyoderma, including (but not limited to), Bulldogs, Pugs, Shar-Pei, Neopolitan and Bull Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and Pekingese.  Dogs with shortened noses can have very deep facial folds.  Any dog that has wrinkled skin, even just crinkles under the eyes, and dogs that develop wrinkles or folds due to age or weight change, are more likely to experience skin problems.


Dirt and debris can build up quite quickly in skin folds, potentially causing discomfort, irritated skin, and infection.  The best way to prevent this is daily cleaning.  Certain dogs may need to have their wrinkles cleaned more often, such as dogs who manage to get food trapped in their facial wrinkles when they eat.
• Assemble tools.  You can use a washcloth, cotton balls, baby or canine wipes.  Anything that is or can be moist and won’t irritate your dog’s skin.  Shampoo isn’t necessary for daily cleaning, and can leave residue if not properly rinsed.  Plain warm water is fine.  You will also need a cloth or towel to dry up after.
• Lift and clean.  Get into every fold and gently wipe away any debris.  Pay particular attention to face wrinkles, especially under the eyes.  If you use a washcloth, make sure you rinse it frequently to avoid transferring debris from one fold to another.
• Bathe regularly.  Make sure every fold is cleaned, and use a gentle shampoo that rinses well.
• Dry thoroughly.  Whether bathing or just wiping after a meal, any moisture retained in the folds is counterproductive to the cleaning process.
• Trimming.  If you have a long-haired dog with watery eyes and under-eye creases (common in Shih Tzus but present in some other breeds), keeping the hair at the inside corner of the eye trimmed short can help keep things clean and dry.


Despite daily cleaning, your dog may manage to develop irritation or an infection.  Keep an eye out for any of the signs listed above, and take your dog to a veterinarian.  Depending on the problem, your vet may prescribe a topical and/or oral treatment.  They can also recommend products to help prevent further infections.