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Puppy opening his eyes

When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?

4 min read

Puppies are born very helpless. When they first come into the world, they’re deaf and blind. They have their eyes closed and their vision develops later on. However, the good news is that puppies don’t really have any need for vision or hearing at first because they are able to compensate with other senses such as smell, touch and pheromone detection.

If you want to learn about how old puppies are when they open their eyes and what their first glimpse of the world looks like, keep reading and find out all you need to know.

When do puppies open their eyes?

Puppies open their eyes when they are between 10 and 14 days old. Interestingly, when they actually open their eyes can vary by breed – for example, Cocker Spaniel puppies often open their eyes sooner than Fox Terriers. Most puppies will open their eyes one at a time over the course of a few days and it’s important for owners to be patient and let this happen naturally.

Why do they stay closed for so long?

4 puppies sleeping

The reason puppies’ eyes are closed straight after birth is because their brains and eyes are still developing. With dogs, the central nervous system is still developing at birth, and the optic nerves and the eyes themselves are not yet fully formed.

Keeping those peepers behind their lids offers much-needed protection and prevents irritation and damage from foreign objects or infections, all of which could impact their eyesight in the long run. So now you see why it’s so important that you never try and help them open their eyes along the way!

What can puppies see when they first open their eyes?

When puppies open their eyes, they really can’t see that much. They can’t focus very well, and their eyesight is quite blurry. On top of this, they can’t tolerate bright light very well, so you should bear this in mind and keep them in a dimly lit location to protect their eyes and avoid direct sunlight.

How do puppies’ eyes develop?

Dog with puppies laying on the floor

At first your puppy’s eyes will be a milky grey/blue colour – don’t be alarmed, this is completely normal and will clear with time. Their eyes won’t actually fully mature until they’re between four and five weeks old.

As their eyes mature, they develop the ‘tapetum lucidum’, a layer of tissue behind the retina (the back of the eyeball) that helps dogs see at night – it’s also what gives them that green/yellow glow when you see their eyes reflected in headlights or with a camera flash.

When to contact your vet

In the majority of cases, puppies’ eyes open naturally by themselves without any assistance from you or a vet, but you should still be monitoring their progress along the way. Things you should be on the lookout for include:

  • Swelling or bulging beneath the eyelid: this could be a sign of an infection
  • Pus or discharge from around the eyes: again, this could be a sign of an infection
  • If they don’t open their eyes by the time they’re two weeks old. If this date passes and their eyes still aren’t open, it could be a sign of a developmental problem

If you notice any of the above signs, contact your vet straight away. Puppies’ eyes are so delicate and getting the correct care as early as possible can make all the difference in ensuring their eyes are not impacted later on in life.

Now you know when eyes open in puppies and why they’re born with their eyes closed! Want more puppy health advice? Check out our guide on puppy teething and learn what to expect..