The objective of this study was to describe and compare the efficacy and duration of topical anaesthesia induced by 2 per cent lidocaine (L), 0.5 per cent bupivacaine (B) and 1 per cent ropivacaine (R) in the dog using 24 clinically healthy beagles with normal ocular examination. Dogs were randomly divided into three groups: 2 per cent lidocaine (n=8), 0.5 per cent bupivacaine (n=8) and 1 per cent ropivacaine (n=8). The baseline corneal touch threshold (CTT) was measured using a Cochet-Bonnet aesthesiometer. Following baseline CTT measurement, a single drop of the assigned anaesthetic was applied to each eye and the CTT was measured bilaterally within one minute after administration and every five minutes until the basal CTT value was restored. Data were analysed with non-parametric analysis of variance models and Dunnet's test for post hoc analysis. One per cent ropivacaine was the most effective drug (L CTTmax=3 cm, BCTTmax=2 cm, RCTTmax=0 cm; P<0.001), and had the shortest latency (LLatency=5 minutes, B Latency=5 minutes, RLatency=1 minute; P<0.001) and the smallest AUC (Lauc=80 cm×minute, Bauc=68.25 cm×minute, Rauc=36.88 cm×minute; P<0.001). There was no statistical difference in the duration of corneal anaesthesia between the groups (P=0.09) and all topical anaesthetics tested reduced corneal sensitivity, although 1 per cent ropivacaine had the maximal and quickest anaesthetic effect. This drug could be used for specific diagnostic procedures where quick and short, but effective, corneal anaesthesia is needed.