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sad as a hound dog's eye. Sad, pitiful.

This is a simile based on the droopiness of hound's eyes, making them appear, in anthropomorphic terms, sad. The odd quality of the term is that structure of a hound's eye does not actually indicate the emotional state the dog is in. It suggests that this kind of sadness might be inauthentic, like crocodile tears. On the other hand, the implication of pitiful or pathetic may be more to the point. When dogs look sad, they work it.

In Lloyd Lewis' essay “The Holy Spirit at West Point,” he describes a Chickamauga war veteran as “six feet tall, blond-whiskered, his blue eye always sad as a hound-dog's.”reference 1

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a roll-over image that shows before and after images of an eye that had a  'hound's eye' look before surgery, not so afterwards spacer
figure 2

Having hound dog eyes is apparently not a desirable feature. If you have such eyes, you can opt for a Blepharoplasty or eyelid tuck that will “rejuvenate the eyelid and remove eyelid bags and dark circles under the eyes...” Cosmetic surgeon Brooke Seckel informs us that this is the third most common cosmetic...operation performed in the United States.”reference 2 Run your cursor over Figure 2 to see the “after” image, that is, the result of surgery to “correct” for hound dog eyes.



1. Lewis, Lloyd. 1950. The Holy Spirit at West Point. In The American Mercury, edited by H. L. Mencken and G. J. Nathan. New York: Knopf.
21: 359.

2. Seckel, Brooke R. . 2006. Blepharoplasty Boston- How to Avoid “Hound Dog Eyes”. Save Your Face. WordPress. Accessed Mar 28 2008 from http:// whatsnew/ 2006/ 11/ 05/ blepharoplasty-boston- how-to-avoid- %e2%80%9choundog-eyes %e2%80%9d/.

About the illustrations: Figure 1 shows a basset hound's eye, adapted from an image from Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopaedia.reference 3 © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 2 is a detail from Brooke Seckel's before and after pictures of his blepharoplasty surgery. The main image is the before picture, the roll-over image shows the after.reference 4

3. Hutchinson, Walter. 1935. Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopædia. London: Hutchinson & co. ltd.

4. Seckel.

see also: hound
hang dog look
Last updated: July 28, 2008
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