Unlike human babies, puppies don’t start seeing the world the moment they are born. So, when do puppies open their eyes? Their eyes, like many animals, are closed shut for some time after they are born. For how long you ask? Here’s the short answer.
Puppies have their eyes closed for about two weeks after they are born, which is the time it takes for their eyes to fully develop. This time period can vary but the general consensus is that it takes about 10 to 14 days for a newborn puppy’s eyes to fully open.
But why do newly born puppies need at least a couple of weeks before they can see the world, and what happens to their eyes during this time? Here’s why.
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Why Does a Newborn Puppy Have its Eyes Closed?
Their are several reasons why puppies have their eyes closed at birth.
During the first few weeks of life, puppies are not mobile enough to roam around on their own. They spend most of their time resting or drinking milk from their mother.
Moreover, the reason why newly born puppies don’t open their eyes sooner is because their eyes are still developing.
During the first few days of a puppy’s life, the ocular nerves are still developing. Their eyes are sensitive to bright light which makes them photophobic.
It takes at least several days for puppy eyes to fully develop so they can tolerate bright light.
This is actually a good thing because intense light can hurt a puppy’s eyes during the development phase, which may even cause permanent damage.
Another reason why newborn puppies open their eyes after birth is because puppy eyes are prone to nasty infections.
A natural covering on the seeing surface of a puppy’s eyes works great to prevent major bacterial and parasitic infections in the first fortnight of life.
Why Aren’t a Puppy’s Eyes Fully Developed Before Birth?
Puppies are not born blind, they just have their eyes shut. Puppies open their eyes after a some time of being born simply because of the pattern of their CNS development.
Every living being has a different pattern of CNS development. Since dogs are only pregnant for about 63 days, baby pups do not get enough time for their senses to by fully developed before they are born.
When your pup is about 4 to 5 weeks old, that is when the tapetum lucidum develops properly. This is the layer that sits behind the retina and helps your dog see better at night and in a dimly lit location.
Puppies are born with this layer still developing which is your puppy sees only a gray haze during the first few days of life.
Are There Any Other Senses a Newborn Puppy Lacks?
Puppies are born with tons of sensory deficits. A puppy’s vision is strong evidence for that.
Most puppy senses are still undergoing development when they are born. This is the reason why their ears open after some days of birth as well, and also why their baby teeth need several weeks to develop as well.
Other senses also need several days to fully mature before a pup is ready for the world.
Puppy Development: When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
The short answer to the question “when do puppies open their eyes?” is about 10 to 14 days. But it can take so much more time for their eyes to develop fully.
Here’s an outline showing step by step process of puppy development by week.
Puppy Eyes: How Do They Develop?
As mentioned before, it takes at least a couple of weeks for puppies to open their eyes. If your young puppy has not opened his eyes even after the first few weeks of being born, you should be concerned. At about two weeks old, your puppy will start to see the world around it.
This is when a puppy’s eyes develop fully and their sensitivity to light is reduced markedly. Your puppy might not have the best eyesight at this stage, but it should be starting to see a lot of things that it wasn’t able to before.
Puppy eye development is random but sequential. Two-week-old puppies might still see worse than 3-week old puppies and vice versa.
It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a puppy’s eyes to attain an acceptable level of visual acuity. Even now, your pup’s eyes continue to develop even further.
Your dog might still have trouble with depth perception and differentiation between two objects, but it can definitely see at this point.
At 8 weeks
After about eight weeks of development, your pup’s eyes have developed considerably and now your young pup is almost ready to fully explore the world. If your puppy still has vision problems, call your vet immediately.
Do Puppies From The Same Litter Open Their Eyes at The Same Time?
All puppies in a liter will be born with their eyes closed, but not all of them will open their eyes at the same time.
Puppies mature at different rates and their eyes open at different times as well. Similar to how different breeds open their eyes at different rates.
However, it is established that the largest puppy in a liter will open its eyes sooner than all the remaining ones.
What If Your Puppy’s Eyes Are Still Closed?
Different dog breeds open their eyes at different rates. But if your puppy is older than 8 weeks and still hasn’t opened its eyes, you should be concerned.
Your puppy might have a CNS abnormality that prevented the maturation of ocular nerves, or it might have had an eye infection that caused serious damage to the eyes.
Either way, you should take your puppy to a clinic for immediate veterinary care.
Is It a Good Idea for an Owner to Help Puppies Open Their Eyes?
It is definitely not a good idea to try to manually open your newborn dog’s eyes.
For starters, trying to manually open your pup’s eyes can cause damage to their eyes.
You could accidentally poke your fingers into the eyeball when trying to pry your puppy’s eyes open.
If this happens, you could damage the cornea – a thin transparent layer over the eye that is vital for proper function and vision.
Trying to manually open your pup’s eyes can also introduce foreign objects into their eyes. Dogs can’t take out stuff from their eyes like a human can, so you have to be very careful when handling your dog’s eyes.
You could also induce an eye infection into your pup’s eyes when trying to pry their eyes open. Dog eye infections are a problem if left untreated and should be avoided at all costs.
If your puppy gets an eye infection, try using a cotton ball soaked in warm water to clean the debris on one eye first.
Clean only one eye at a time and use a different cotton ball for the other eye. Also, make sure to take your puppy to the nearest vet for proper treatment of the infection.
Let your dog open its eyes naturally. While it is normal for dogs to open their eyes at about 14 days of age, it is also natural for some pups to take longer than that.
What to Do If My 3 Weeks Old Puppy’s Eyes Won’t Open?
If your pup has not opened its eyes even after 14 days, consider waiting a little more. If your pup has not opened its eyes even after 8 weeks of age, take it to a veterinary clinic at the earliest.
When can you touch newborn puppies?
Puppies are very delicate at birth. They are soft and squishy, and also prone to infections. This is why it is a good idea to handle your newborn puppies only after they are 3 weeks old.
When do puppies start walking and open their eyes?
Puppies start to walk after the 4th week of life and open their eyes after 2nd week of being born.
What should I expect from a 1 week old puppy?
Nothing much. During the first week of life, your puppy will spend most of its time either sleeping or feeding with the mother dog. This is important for your dog’s development.
What can I expect from a 2 weeks old puppy?
Your puppy will now be more active, trying to stand on its own and roam around. Be careful during this stage of life as your puppy may encounter nasty eye infections when roaming around and exploring the world.
Dogs are born with their eyes closed. Their eyes only partially open a few days after birth. Most puppies open their eyes about 14 days after being born. Even then their eyes will continue to mature for some time.
Dog owners should not be too concerned if their puppies have closed eyes even after a fortnight of birth because most puppies do that.
The reason why it takes most pups three to four weeks to open their eyes is that their CNS development is severely lacking up to this point.
Just let your pup grow and wait till your puppy opens its eyes on its own.
Do not, at any cost, try to interrupt your puppy’s development and open its eyes manually. Take your puppy to the vet if fails to open its eyes even after growing bigger, or if it has an eye infection