When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?

Sleeping Golden Retriever puppy, lying on a cozy blanket

Everyone loves puppies. The soft coat, big eyes, little squeaks and that special puppy smell seem perfectly designed to make you want to scoop up and cuddle puppies forever. Because most people get puppies when they are 8 to 10 weeks old and ready to leave their mother, you may be surprised to find out that puppies are actually very helpless when they're first born. They're born without a sense of hearing and with their eyes closed, and these senses continue to develop after the puppy is born. So, when do puppies open their eyes? We've got the answers right here.

When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?

Most puppies open their eyes when they're between 10 and 14 days old. However, this can vary a bit by breed. For example, on average, Cocker Spaniels open their eyes sooner than most Fox Terriers. It's important that a puppy's eyes don't open too soon because they are continuing to develop behind the protection of the eyelid. If they open their eyes too soon, it could cause damage to their ability to see.

Hearing develops even later than sight, with most puppies being able to hear around 3 weeks of age. Luckily, puppies can smell as soon as they are born, and they use this sense to be able to move closer to their mother to nurse and to start to identify their litter mates. By the time a puppy is weaned, which is usually by 8 weeks, it can hear, see, smell and run around after humans and other puppies alike. This is also the age when puppies are ready to go with their new human families.

Why Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes Closed?

Every animal is different in how developed its babies are when they are born. Many reptiles are fully independent at birth, and marsupials still develop for months inside the mother's pouch. Dogs are somewhere in the middle. They are dependent on their mother's care for the first few weeks of life and are born deaf and blind.

The reason that puppies are born with their eyes closed is because their eyes aren't fully developed at birth. Over the next two weeks, the eyes continue to develop, which means that they need to be protected from outside factors that could damage them. This includes light, particles in their air like dust or dander and potential scratches from litter mates, who haven't yet perfected their paw coordination.

Even after a puppy's eyes open, it's important to take care not to accidentally expose them to too much strong light before they are ready. If you notice that your puppy has milky spots on the eye or doesn't seem to be able to see things by 3 or 4 weeks old, it might mean that the puppy is blind or has some kind of eye issue and needs a vet check.

Remember, you should never force a puppy's eyes open. Every breed, litter and puppy within that litter will open their eyes at their own pace when they are ready. Forcing their eyes open before they are ready can lead to infection, eye damage and even permanent blindness.

In most cases, mother dogs know just what to do to nurse and raise their newborn puppies, but bringing a puppy home to your human family can be a completely new experience. Get tips on feeding, potty training and exercising your new puppy in Purina Canada's library of dog and puppy articles.

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