Do you wear white jeans or pants? Honestly, I can't remember the last time I owned a pair of light colored pants or jeans. It was definitely "pre-dog." White is harder to keep clean, whether it is your jeans, your carpet or your dog! Many attentive pet lovers ask us how to wash their dog's face to keep it naturally white, especially when it comes to removing those blasted tear stains. Just like that white pair of jeans is tougher to keep clean, but worth it when you step out looking fresh, keeping your white dog WHITE takes a bit more work, but is worth the effort.
White and lighter colored dogs often have visible reddish, rusty looking tear stained areas. This is a multi-pronged issue and cannot be remedied by wiping their face off. Tear-stains on dogs that are already visible cannot be removed completely, unless you bleach the hair, cut the hair off or it grows out.
Dogs with bigger, rounded eyes create more tears than dogs with standard almond shaped eyes. They just do. My flat-faced, round-eyed cream French Bulldogs would have a tendency toward tear staining, while my snow white Great Pyrenees had absolutely none.
The more tears your dog creates, the wetter their face will be and the more prone to tear staining they will then be. Tears oxidize with air and create rusty looking stains. IMHO, what the dogs is fed also contributes to the tear staining (more on that in a bit).
Of course, thoroughly cleaning the dog's eyes and face will help the appearance. Some of the lighter staining will be removed and your dog's face will look brighter. Cleaning a dog's eyes and face also loosens some of the stained, weaker hair and removes it, which also lightens the fur.
There are gentle bleaches and hydrogen peroxide mixtures, but using anything with active ingredients around eyes can have risks, so explore those carefully. Breeders who show their Maltese, Bichon Frise and other flatter-faced white breeds may have useful tidbits of info.
Of course, nobody wants to wait for the changes that come about via diet changes. It can take 2-4 weeks (at least) to see changes and they may be subtle. But once you get a handle on this it will make it easier to maintain.
We were at a trade show once and a guy with a booth near us kept asking me how to remove dog tear stains naturally from his Frenchie's face. He did not want to hear any suggestions that involved more than wiping the dog's face off…once. I wished him luck and sighed.