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When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? Early Puppy Development - PawSafe

When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? Early Puppy Development

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

when do puppies open eyes

If you have a newborn litter of puppies, you’re probably wondering, when do puppies open their eyes? Welcome to the fascinating world of puppy development, where every small change signals a significant step in a young dog’s life. One of the most eagerly awaited milestones is when puppies open their eyes for the first time.

This article dives into the journey of puppies as they transition from being newborns with their eyes tightly shut to taking their first look at the world around them. Guided by insights from Dr. Sarah Grundy, whose expert article provides a deep dive into the subject, we’ll explore the timeline for this important development stage, what to expect, and how to care for puppies during this time

Puppies are born with their eyes closed, a natural part of their development process that protects them from infections and light while their eyesight matures. Generally, puppies start to open their eyes between the ages of 10 to 14 days. However, it’s not uncommon for some puppies to take a little longer, potentially up to 2 weeks.

This eye-opening process is gradual and may occur over several days. Initially, puppies’ eyes may seem a bit cloudy or blue — this is normal and part of their eyes’ maturation. During this period, their vision is not fully developed; they primarily perceive light, shapes, and movement.

It’s essential to understand that while the opening of the eyes is a natural process, the environment and how we interact with newborn puppies can impact their health and development. Dr. Sarah Grundy emphasizes the importance of providing a safe, calm, and clean environment for puppies during this vulnerable stage. Direct intervention to open a puppy’s eyes is not recommended and could cause harm.

As every puppy is unique, some may begin to peek into the world slightly earlier or later than others. Breed differences can also play a role, with some breeds opening their eyes a bit sooner. However, if a puppy’s eyes haven’t started to open by the 14-day mark, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying health issues.

It can take up to eight weeks before the cloudiness disappears and they have their full adult eye color.

Read this article if your older dog is showing cloudy eyes or signs of eye allergies, such as rubbing their face on the carpet.

Puppies can’t see much when they open their eyes initially. Their eyes open around the two-week mark, but it is another four-to-six weeks before they have their adult vision.

They can’t see as well as us when it comes to detail, although they can see much better at night (part of why their eyes glow). Some dog breeds, like German Shepherds, tend to be near-sighted, especially as they age, while others tend to be far-sighted.

In short, eyesight is not your puppy’s strongest sense. That’s why their nose and ears develop so much better, so much sooner. But let’s look at how puppies and their eyes develop by week.

Can Puppies See Anything Before They Open Their Eyes?

two week old puppy sleeping eyes not open yet

Before puppies open their eyes, their vision capabilities are extremely limited. In the earliest days of life, puppies are essentially blind and rely on their senses of smell and touch to navigate their surroundings, find their mother, and feed. While their eyes are still closed, they cannot see in the way we understand vision. This period allows the puppies’ eyes to develop fully in a protected environment, safe from light and potential infections that could harm their delicate developing vision.

My Puppy Is 2 Weeks Old and Hasn’t Opened Its Eyes Yet, Should I Worry?

If your puppy hasn’t opened its eyes by the 2-week mark, it’s understandable to feel concerned. However, slight delays in eye-opening can be normal for some puppies. Give it a few more days, as some pups may take a little longer than the average 10 to 14 days. If your puppy’s eyes still aren’t open after 14-16 days, it’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian. A vet can check for any possible complications, such as an infection or developmental issues, to ensure your puppy’s health and well-being.

What Do Puppy Eyes Look Like When They First Open?

When puppies first open their eyes, their vision is far from clear. Initially, their eyes may appear cloudy or have a blueish hue. This is perfectly normal and part of the development process. Puppies’ eyesight is initially blurry, and they’ll only be able to see shapes, light, and movement at close range. Over the subsequent weeks, their vision will gradually improve as their eyes mature, eventually developing full clarity and color perception.

Do All Puppies Open Their Eyes at the Same Time?

No, not all puppies open their eyes at the exact same time, even within the same litter some puppies will open their eyes a couple of days later than their siblings. There is a natural variation in the development rate of puppies, influenced by factors such as breed and individual growth patterns.

While the average age for puppies to start opening their eyes is between 10 to 14 days, some may begin to open their eyes a few days earlier or later. This variation is typically no cause for concern unless the delay is significant, in which case a veterinary consultation is advised. Observing the diversity in development can be fascinating and highlights the uniqueness of each puppy as they grow.

What Happens to a Puppy’s Vision After They Open Their Eyes?

Once puppies open their eyes, their vision starts a journey of rapid development. Initially, their sight is limited to distinguishing light, shapes, and movement at close distances. Over the weeks that follow, puppies’ eyesight improves markedly. They begin to recognize their surroundings, their littermates, and human caregivers with greater clarity. Full visual capacity, including depth perception and color differentiation, develops as they grow. It generally takes a few weeks to months for a puppy’s vision to fully mature and for them to see the world as an adult dog does.

Is It Okay to Touch a Puppy’s Eyes When They First Open?

It’s best to avoid touching a puppy’s eyes directly, especially when they first open. Newborn puppies’ eyes are extremely delicate and susceptible to infections. While gentle petting around their head is fine, direct contact with the eyes should be avoided to prevent any potential harm. If you need to clean near a puppy’s eyes, for instance, if there’s discharge, use a soft, damp cloth and gently wipe around the eye area without touching the eye itself.

Can Certain Dog Breeds Open Their Eyes Earlier Than Others?

Yes, there can be slight variations in when puppies open their eyes based on their breed. Smaller breeds tend to open their eyes a bit earlier, sometimes as soon as 7-10 days after birth, while larger breeds might take a full 14 days. Fox Terriers are known to take up to 3 weeks to open their eyes.

However, these are general trends and can vary from one puppy to another. Genetic factors and individual development rates play a significant role in determining when a puppy will open its eyes.

Caring for a Puppy with Sensitive Eyes After They Open

After a puppy opens its eyes, it’s important to monitor them for signs of irritation or infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. Keeping their living area clean and dust-free helps prevent irritants from affecting their sensitive eyes. Avoid direct exposure to bright lights or sunlight, and consult your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms. Regular check-ups can ensure their eyes are developing healthily.

How Long Does It Take for a Puppy’s Vision to Fully Develop?

A puppy’s vision continues to develop and improve for several weeks after their eyes first open. While they can start seeing immediately upon opening their eyes, their vision is initially blurry and limited. Puppies typically gain full visual acuity and depth perception by the time they’re around 8 weeks old. However, some aspects of visual development, such as complete color perception and detail recognition, can take up to several months to fully mature. Regular vet visits can help ensure your puppy’s eyes are developing correctly and catch any potential issues early.

Early Eye Puppy Development By Week

week by week puppy eye development

The development of a neonatal puppy’s eyes from birth to 8 weeks is a complex process that marks significant milestones in their growth and ability to interact with their environment. This development occurs in stages and involves both the physical opening of the eyes and the maturation of vision.

Birth to 2 Weeks

Puppies are born with their eyes firmly closed. This protects their still-developing eyes from light and potential infections. At this stage, puppies are essentially blind and rely heavily on their sense of smell and touch to navigate their world, primarily to find their mother and littermates for warmth and feeding.

10 to 14 Days

Around the end of the first week and into the second week, puppies begin the process of opening their eyes. This does not happen all at once but gradually over several days. The eyelids slowly start to separate, revealing the eyes, which are initially cloudy and have a bluish tint. At this point, while they can perceive light and movement, their vision is quite blurry.

2 to 4 Weeks

As the puppies’ eyes open fully, their vision starts to improve, but it remains limited. They begin to see more of their surroundings and can start recognizing shapes and possibly the larger forms of their littermates and human caregivers. Their eyes may also start to change color during this period, transitioning from the initial blue to their permanent color.

4 to 8 Weeks

This is a period of rapid development for puppy vision. Their eyesight sharpens, allowing them to see more details and move around with greater confidence. They become more playful and curious, exploring their environment with increased enthusiasm. Puppies start to develop depth perception and can judge distances more accurately, which is crucial for their physical coordination and social interactions with littermates and humans.

By 8 Weeks

By the time puppies are 8 weeks old, their vision is mostly developed, although it will continue to refine over the next few months. They can recognize different objects, people, and their littermates with clarity. This development supports their learning and socialization processes, as they begin to understand visual cues and respond to their environment more effectively.

Throughout these stages, it’s important for caregivers to monitor the health of the puppies’ eyes, watching for any signs of infection or abnormal development, and consult a veterinarian if any concerns arise. The journey from being born blind to fully opening their eyes and developing mature vision is critical not just for the puppies’ ability to see but for their overall growth and well-being.

What Can I Expect From a Newborn Puppy?

When puppies are born, they are altricial, meaning they are completely helpless. Their eyes and ears canals are closed. The optic nerve and other eye structures are not yet fully developed, so the eyelid is closed to allow the eye to finish developing. Over time they will start to sense light even with the eyelids closed.

They can sense warmth and smell, and they have a Jacobson’s organ in their mouth to help them use pheromones to find their mother and the teat.

In these early days, puppies are extremely vulnerable and cannot regulate their own body heat. Breeders must look out for puppy fading syndrome during the first two weeks. Another problem is that certain mothers may lay on their own puppies or squash them.

What Can I Expect From a One-Week-Old Puppy?

Depending on the breed, a puppy should have gained between 5 ounces and 2.5 pounds in the week after birth. The eyes and ears are still closed, and the puppies wriggle to get to their mom’s teats. Breeders must keep an eye on runts who get pushed aside or can’t huddle with others for warmth, as this is a danger in 1 week old puppies.

Keeping an eye on the temperature in the first few weeks of a puppy’s life is absolutely crucial. Puppies huddled too closely together could be a sign that they are cold, and puppies sprawled apart is usually a sign that they are too hot. They cannot manage their own body temperature yet, so they are extremely sensitive to being too hot or too cold.

Mom will clean up after them, but their environment must remain clean as infections can spread quickly in the litter.

What Can I Expect From a Two-Week-Old Puppy?

At two weeks, the puppy’s eyes should be opening, but they will not be able to see properly. Their eyesight should be blurry, and they’ll mostly only be able to see movement and light. Avoid very bright or artificial light at this stage, as their little eyes are still developing.

In you are googling “puppies eyes not open at 14 days”, you may need to have to check the overall health of the litter. A vet could assess the young dogs to tell if there are any congenital or other issues behind the closed eyes. However, keep in mind some puppies may not have open eye until they turn 3 weeks.

Two weeks is also when their ear canals will start to open up, and they will start to hear. They are still crawling at this stage and cannot walk.

What Can I Expect From a Three-Week-Old Puppy?

If you’re googling “3 week old puppy hasn’t opened eyes,” don’t worry too much. Some breeds can open their eyes up to 21 days, like some Fox Terriers. However, if this delay is not common for the breed, it may be time to see a vet.

At about 3.5 weeks, most puppies will start to develop teeth. You can read more about puppy teeth development in our article on how many teeth dogs have. This means that the breeder will start introducing them to fresh water and food in the form of a watery gruel. This is so that they can start learning to eat and lap, and begin the very early stages of the weaning process.

What Can I Expect From a Puppy Between Four and Six Weeks Old?

A puppy can see enough at four weeks to get by, although their vision is still blurry and unclear. They can hear and walk, but their walk will still be wobbly and unsteady. Although they are still nursing, they will also be eating soft food multiple times a day at this time.

Their mother will leave them for longer periods at four weeks, which usually marks the beginning of the weaning process. They can hear at this stage, and their eyes are developing rapidly.

Between four and six weeks, puppies will become steadier on their feet and more interested in exploring their environment. The weaning process should be complete by the time they reach six weeks, although they will still try to nurse from their mother given a chance.

This marks their first socialization window when they learn about people and how to interact with their environment and littermates.

Puppy Eye Development From 7 to 8 Weeks

At 7 weeks, most puppies should be able to see with their adult vision, and their eyesight is usually complete by eight weeks. At this time, the cornea should be completely transparent, and unless your puppy has vision problems or blue eyes, the cloudiness and the bluishness should be gone.

Some breeds may have congenital eye defects like cherry eye, entropion, or other issues. Certain colors, like the merle you may see in the blue merle Corgi or merle Pit Bull, are associated with more eye issues. So can be helpful to have your puppy’s vision and eyes assessed at 8 weeks and note if there are any problems that may cause issues later in life.

The seven-to-eight mark is also the first time that most puppies are fully weaned and suitable to go to their first homes. Certain breeders may keep their puppies longer but only allow this if the breeder does this for a reason, such as starting potty training and early socialization.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When do puppies start eating food?

Puppies will nurse from their mother until roughly 6 weeks. However, their puppy teeth generally start to erupt at 3.5 weeks, and this is the first time the breeder may introduce them to thin, watery gruel. Gradually, their food will become more solid until they can eat dry food by 6 or 7 weeks, depending on the breed.

When do puppies start walking and opening their eyes?

Puppies start trying to stand at around 2 weeks, and they can crawl and wobble around at three weeks. They are usually fairly stable on their feet at four weeks and can walk quite well. By the time they turn 5 or 6 weeks, keeping them in one place without a well-designed puppy pen becomes very difficult.

When do puppies open their ears?

Puppies’ ear canals open for around the time two weeks, usually after 12 days. It takes time for them to fully develop their sense of hearing, and the answer to “when do puppies hear” is about 5 weeks old. Only at 5 weeks should they be able to distinguish sounds roughly as clearly as they can as adults.

Final Thoughts

Puppies usually open their eyes between 10 and 14 days. However, some breeds, like the Fox Terrier, may take up to 21 days. Regardless, eyesight is perhaps the last sense that dogs have to fully develop, with their eyes only fully developing at eight weeks old.

Even then, dogs can’t see as much detail as humans can, and while they can see color, they can’t see all the colors we can either. Some dogs are near-sighted, while others are far-sighted and hereditary eye issues are common in many purebred dogs.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.