Puppies are a lot of work and responsibility at any age, but they’re even harder to care for when they’re newborns. There are a lot of things to watch out for, especially in the first few weeks after birth. Puppies are still developing after birth, so it’s crucial to ensure they develop at a healthy rate.
When puppies are born, their eyes are closed and can’t open. The retinas in their eyes are still forming and growing, so they keep their eyes closed to protect them from the light. But when do they start to open their eyes and see the world around them? Read on to find out about eye development in puppies and when they start opening them:
Birth to 2 Weeks: From Closed to Open Eyes
Puppies are always born with their eyes closed, which are still developing after birth. They are born without the ability to open them because they don’t really need their vision right away. Their bodies cannot move well, and the mother is typically nearby to feed, so vision isn’t the most important sense to have as newborns. Along with their eyes being closed, newborn puppies also have closed ears at birth.
It generally takes around 10–14 days for the eyes to open, or around two weeks of age. While this may seem like a long time, it’s perfectly natural and a necessary part of puppy growth. However, their eyes at this stage are far from being done with developing. Their vision will be very blurry, both close up and with distance, but they’ll be able to blink, open, and move their eyes.
2 to 6 Weeks: Vision Starts to Develop
From the time they open their eyes to around 6 weeks, newborn puppies go from near-blindness to some clarity. While they won’t really see much, their vision begins to change and focus up close. Their ability to see at a distance doesn’t develop until later, so visual abilities are all nearsighted.
The next few weeks are crucial for proper eye development, but puppies’ eyes are especially sensitive to bright lighting. To ensure no damage or vision development issues, puppies should stay in a place with dim lighting. Once their eyes grow accustomed to being open and taking in light, they can begin to see the world around them.
6 to 8 Weeks: Clearer Focus and Vision
Once puppies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age, their vision becomes clearer and sharper. While they’ll still struggle with distance at this stage, they will be able to distinguish things up close. Things like light sensitivity won’t be as much of a problem, but very bright places may still cause discomfort. Puppies will start to recognize their mother and littermates at this age, but they are already familiar with their scents.
As puppies hit the 8-week mark, seeing things at a distance will be clearer and sharper. While their distance vision is still becoming less blurry, their close-up vision is typically done developing. Puppies can also start to distinguish faces, which is why puppies are sometimes sold at as young as 8 weeks.
8 Weeks and Older: Fully Matured Vision
From 8 weeks and on, puppies will start to have fully-working vision. Their ability to see at a distance starts to sharpen, though it can take up to 16 weeks to completely finish developing. By the time your puppy reaches 16 months of age, their eyes should be fully done maturing. Vision at a distance and close-up should be sharp and no longer blurry unless there are medical reasons for a delay in development.
What if My 3-Week-Old Puppy’s Eyes are Still Closed?
Although puppies should have their eyes open by 14 days, there are some puppies that can take longer to develop. Whether it’s simply how their eyes are developing or a medical condition causing a delay, some puppies may take up to 3 weeks for their eyes to finally open. Look for signs of swelling, bumps, or discharge and consult with a veterinarian to ensure everything is developing correctly.
Puppies may open their eyes at 2 weeks, but it can be somewhat difficult to tell if their eyes are actually open at first. They may not open them very wide, so an open eye may actually look closed. Watch their eyelids to see any squinting or movement, which may indicate blinking or opening.
Things to Check Once your Puppy’s Eyes are Open
From the time your puppy’s eyes are open to the last week of development, you should check for any signs of vision impairment or eye conditions. Although it can be hard to tell at first, it’s important to check. However, never force a puppy’s eyelid open, especially before the eyes open on their own.
Featured Image Credit: Rosa Jay, Shutterstock