If you have a newborn litter of puppies, you’re probably wondering, when do puppies open their eyes? Newborn puppies are squirming and adorable bundles of joy with an unmistakable puppy smell that can leave us all entranced.
But puppies develop amazingly fast after being born completely helpless with both ears and eyes closed. It’s vital to know details like when puppies open their eyes and how the eyes develop so that we know what to expect and when there may be a problem.
After all, canine eye care and eye hygiene really begin at birth, and making a habit of using dog eye-cleaning wipes early is an essential part of canine grooming and health care. So let’s look at puppy eye development and answer related questions like when do puppies walk?
When do puppies open their eyes?
A puppy’s eyes open between 10 and 14 days after being born, with smaller breeds opening their eyes earlier than larger dogs. Some breeds, like the Fox Terrier, may only open their eyes at around 21 days. How long the puppies were in the womb also affects when they open their eyes, with puppies born earlier usually taking a few days more.
Puppies in the same litter will also not open their eyes simultaneously. Littermates can develop at different rates in the womb, depending on their position in the uterus, how much nutrition they get, and when they were conceived.
Yes, littermates are often conceived at different times while the mother is fertile, sometimes even with different fathers. You can read more about this, how many litters can a dog have?
When puppy eyes open, the newly open eyes are still immature and have a blueish-gray or cloudy appearance. This can lead many people to incorrectly assume their pup’s eyes are blue when it’s simply that the cornea has not yet become fully transparent.
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.
Because dogs have eyes as close together as humans do, they don’t have our depth perception. This means they aren’t as accurate about judging how close they are to objects, or length, width, and depth.
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.
Early Puppy Development By Week
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
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.
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. Read this article if you want to know if your dog is prone to eyesight problems.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
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.