Let’s be fair, we all love puppies. They are so cute to cuddle and are so full of life, making them incredibly fun to play with.
Dogs are honestly so pure of heart, and too good to be true. They are loyal, friendly, loving and will definitely become your best friend.
That is why it is so exciting when more dogs are born, or if your dog has puppies! You just cannot wait until they are old enough to start bouncing and playing with! However, you will notice when puppies are born how timid, gentle and defenceless they are.
When puppies are born, they are completely blind, and rely entirely on their mother.
These canine companions will wriggle around, unable to see, bark or hear at first, but it will not be long before they are scampering around, whimpering and looking out at their new surroundings.
Puppies are so sweet, cute and innocent, but they are also very vulnerable. Being born unable to see or open their eyes makes them weak and in need of a lot of care from their mommy.
But then, at only 8 weeks old, puppies are ready to be weaned off their mother, and able to find new families and homes to care for them, ready to take on the world!
So, why are puppies born with their eyes closed, and when do puppies fully open their eyes after being born! We are here to tell you everything you need to know about why newborn puppies have closed eyes.
When Do Newborn Puppies Open Their Eyes?
When puppies are born, just like any other offspring, they are heavily dependent on their mother.
Even for the first four weeks, puppies will need to be cared for by their mother, and by the breeder to ensure that they are healthy, happy and developing properly.
You may have noticed that when puppies are born, they are born with their eyes shut, which can make you wonder when newborn puppies will open their eyes.
For the most part, newborn puppies will begin to open their eyes sometime between the 10th day and the 14th day after they have been born.
It is after this time that you start to notice that the eyes are beginning to open, and sometimes both are not fully open at the same time, as this whole process can take about 10 days for them to open completely!
When newborn puppies first open their eyes, they will not be able to see much. This is often because the eyes open gradually and not fully until after a few days longer.
Therefore, when those little wriggly bundles of pure happiness open their eyes, all that they will be capable of seeing is their fellow pups and their mother.
From the moment a newborn puppy begins to open their eyes, it can take a further 10 days for them to open completely, so their vision is usually a little cloudy or unclear at first.
The eyes can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks to start opening, and even after that they may not fully open until the puppies are up to 8 weeks old!
In addition to being unable to see properly, a puppy has no sense of sound either when it is born, as their ears do not open fully until about 2 weeks after being born, too. What a place the world must be being born deaf and blind as a little puppy!
As the eyes begin to develop and open, so do the ears too, and the puppies will start to hear, feel and see around the same time!
Now you know how long it takes for puppies to start to open their eyes and ears, you may be wondering why they are born with them closed in the first place.
Why Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes Closed?
Puppies are born with their eyes closed because they have evolved in this way. With dogs being born and bred over a long period of time, puppies are born sooner, and before the eyes have fully developed.
This is why the eyes remain closed for a short while, as the eyes take longer to grow, develop and function after birth fully.
The story goes that, because dogs are descendents of wolves before they were domesticated, it would have been difficult for predatory wolves to carry puppies and keep them safe for long periods of time.
Therefore, over time, dogs evolved naturally to give birth sooner, so that the mother can carry on hunting and doing what she must to survive and feed her litter.
A pregnant dog is an easy target, as she would be much slower, and easier to catch, but a belly full of pups would also make hunting a struggle for her. Therefore, puppies are born as soon as possible, which leaves the eyes closed, not ready to open and work.
The mother can leave the puppies to go hunt, and return and care for them for days in between looking for food and sustenance.
As the puppies are born too early, the eyes, ears and other senses are not fully developed, which is why puppies are unable to walk, see, or hear when they are born.
Despite dogs now being domesticated creatures, it seems that this survival tactic and trait has stuck with them for centuries, and puppies are still born deaf and blind.
How Come Puppies Do Not Open Their Eyes Straight Away?
Puppies do not open their eyes as soon as they are born, as the eyes are not fully developed.
Keeping the eyes shut is a means of allowing the eyes to fully form, grow and develop for a few more days after birth, so that they function normally for the rest of their lives.
The same goes for puppy ears, as these are also not fully formed, and will take about 2 weeks to develop fully. Take a look at our puppy development timeline, which shows at what points after birth puppies are able to see, bark and leave their mothers.
Puppy Development and Growth Timeline
To give you an idea of how the eyes develop for newborn puppies, we have created a timeline that you can follow of the development and growth of puppies’ eyes.
- Day 1: Puppies are born with their eyes closed
- Day 10: Puppies eyes begin to open, and they start to see
- Day 14: Puppies ears open, and they begin to hear more, and learn to make noises
- Day 21: Puppies may take first steps, and the teeth begin to grow through
- Day 28: Puppies can begin to eat solid foods, and will start to move more
- Day 35: Puppies should be running around, with all puppy teeth now grown in
- Day 56: Puppies are 8 weeks old and can then leave their mother
- Day 70: Eyes may change color from blue to brown
Do Puppies Open Their Eyes Too Soon Sometimes?
Yes, a puppy can open its eyes too soon after being born. Some ill-informed breeders may even try to open the eyes of the puppies themselves to hurry the process along, but this is not safe for the puppies at all.
Puppies need time for their eyes to open naturally so that they have proper function and use of their eyes later on in life.
However, sometimes, puppies’ eyes can begin to open by accident, if another pup clambers on top of one, and its foot pushes the eyelid, and opens it.
Although it may happen by accident, you should always leave puppy’s eyes open naturally and on their own, as forcing them open can be painful, and detrimental to their eyesight forever.
What Happens If Puppies Open Their Eyes Too Soon?
If puppies open their eyes too soon, they may not be fully developed, partially blind, or have damaged eyesight for life.
The eyelid is closed when they are born to protect the eyes, and allow them to completely form by themselves, safely and naturally.
Puppies are born completely blind, and so opening the eyes fails to shield the eye from harm, bright lights and does not provide any protection.
Even when puppies open their eyes, they need time to adjust, and they should be kept in dimly lit conditions.
If puppies open their eyes too soon, it could cause them to become permanently blind or damage their eyesight for the rest of their lives.
Do Both Eyes Open The Same Time?
Strangely enough, both eyes of a puppy do not always open at the same time. Sometimes, one may open more than the other, and one has more catching up to do.
This is completely normal and nothing to worry about! Just give it a few days and the other eye will soon open too.
What Happens If A Puppy’s Eyes Don’t Open?
Sometimes, puppies can be slow developers. A puppy’s eyes should start to open after 10 days to 2 weeks from when they are born. However, if after about 18 days from the birth, the puppy is still not opening their eyes, then they may need some help to do so.
This can be quite normal and nothing to worry about, as sometimes gunk and grime from the mother giving birth can get stuck in the eyes, eyelashes or on the eyelids, which can make their eyelids stick together and hard for little pups to open them.
In these cases, you can help them open their eyes, or seek advice from a qualified veterinarian.
Can You Open A Puppy’s Eyes?
As described in the above situation, you are able to open a puppy’s eyes, but only if they are fully formed.
You should never attempt to open a newborn puppy’s eyes, and you can only assist them opening, or get your pet’s veterinarian to do so if it is well past the eye development stage and the puppy is struggling to open them themselves.
In these cases, you will notice some discharge, grime or gunk around the unopened eyes, and maybe even some smelling. Only then should you try to open the eyes to help the puppy. Make sure you look at the how to open the puppies eyes section to do this!
How To Open Puppies Eyes
If advised to by your veterinarian, and if your puppy’s eyes are fully formed and developed, you can assist them in opening their eyes.
Usually, the eye gets stuck if some birthing fluid or gunk is stuck in the eye, making it hard for a small puppy to open.
To help them open their eyes, you may use a clean cloth, soaked in warm water. Use the cloth to gently wipe around the eye that is closed, which should work to remove a build up of gunk, and help your puppy open its eyes by itself.
Can Puppies See Straight After Their Eyes Open?
No, puppies actually cannot see perfectly as soon as their eyes open. Despite it taking them much longer to open their eyes after being born, puppies’ eyesight will be limited even after they are open.
This is because it takes a while for the sense of sight to really be clear, and the same as a fully grown dog.
After 4 weeks old, puppies will be able to see better, and may begin to look and investigate the world around them, but it still will not be a perfect, fully developed vision.
What Is A Puppy’s Eyesight Like?
You may be wondering what a puppy’s eyesight is like once the eyes are open, but the answer is not great! When a puppy first opens its eyes, they will be blurry, sensitive and not as clear as a fully grown dog’s would be.
Even after a few weeks, a puppy’s vision will improve, but they may still see objects as blurry, or as blobs around them for a while.
Once a puppy has fully matured, their vision will be much better, and no longer blurry.
However, a dog’s vision is nowhere near as good as its sense of smell, or as good as human vision. Human vision is 20/20, whereas a dog’s vision is about 20/75. In short terms, a dog would fail an eyesight test and need glasses if it was a human!
That being said, puppies and dogs have far better night vision than humans, and are able to see up to 5 times better than us in the dark once their eyesight is fully developed.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not colorblind, but they see colors differently than humans do. For example, dogs cannot see the color red, and they will instead see blue or yellow tones in everyday life.
How To Look After Puppy Eyes
As previously mentioned, puppies are incredibly vulnerable when they are born. Their eyes are even more vulnerable and sensitive, so it is paramount that you properly care for them when puppies are newborn and developing.
For example, puppies should not be exposed to harsh or direct light for up to 8 weeks after they are born. This is because the eyes are not fully developed, and bright lights can damage their eyesight until they are properly formed.
If you are caring for puppies, make sure that they have a cozy den away from bright lights or direct sunlight, as this will help their eyes to fully form safely and properly.
Do Puppy Eyes Change Color?
Yes, you may be surprised to find that puppy eyes can in fact change color. All puppies will be born with milky blue eyes that will gradually develop and change color a few weeks after they are born, and as they grow.
For the most part, these blue puppy dog eyes will change from the light blue color, and transform to brown at about 10 weeks of age. However, for some dogs, such as huskies, their eyes may remain a bright, glittering color blue for their entire lives.
To conclude, puppies are born with their eyes shut simply because evolution has meant that they are born too soon to be fully developed. Having the eyes shut helps them to develop fully, so that the puppy’s eyesight can function properly.
Puppy eyes tend to stay closed until about 10 to 14 days after they are born. You should always leave a puppy’s eyes to open naturally and on their own timeframe, unless there is a medical issue or you have been directed to by a veterinarian.
Once a puppy starts to open its eyes, it can even take a few more days for the eyes to open completely, and even then their vision is not always fully functional, and may be blurry and sensitive to light.
After about 8 weeks of care, attention and lots of cuddles with mom, puppies are able to walk, bark, see, smell and hear everything around them, and are ready to find themselves a place in the world, and a new family to care for them.