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When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? Vet-Verified Age & Vision Development Facts

Written by: Jaimie Wisniowski

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

Newborn basenji puppies

When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? Vet-Verified Age & Vision Development Facts

VET APPROVED

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSC GPCERT (OPHTHAL) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

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 eyelids are closed and can’t open. Their eyes are still developing, so they must keep them closed to allow the last stages of maturation to occur. But when do they start to open their eyes and see the world around them? Puppies will usually open their eyes 7 to 14 days after being born.

Read on to find out about eye development in puppies and when they start opening them.

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Birth to 2 Weeks: From Closed to Open Eyes

Puppies are always born with their eyelids closed. They are born unable to open their eyes because they are still developing, and puppies don’t really need their vision right away. Their bodies cannot move well, and the mother should always be nearby to feed, so vision isn’t the most important sense to have as newborns, and instead, they have well-developed senses of smell and touch. Along with their eyes being closed, newborn puppies also have closed ears at birth.

It generally takes around 10 to 14 days for the eyes to open, or around 2 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.

Newborn puppy in a person's hands
Image Credit: ziviliebj, Pixabay

Week 2 to 6: Vision Starts to Develop

From the time they open their eyes to around 6 weeks, newborn puppies undergo maturation of their retina. When born, the development of a puppy’s retina is equivalent to that of a baby at 3 to 4 months of gestation. While they won’t really see much, their vision begins to change and develop as their retina matures

The next few weeks are crucial for proper eye development. Make sure puppies spend all their time with their mother and other siblings and that they have adequate nutrition. Puppies’ eyes should look bright and free of eye discharge.


Week 6 to 8: Clearer Focus and Vision

Once puppies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age, their vision becomes a bit more clear and sharp. They will be able to distinguish things up close and may start to recognize their mother and littermates at this age, but they are already familiar with their scents.

Bossi Poo puppy
Image Credit: Songdech Kothmongkol, Shutterstock

Onward of 8 Weeks: Fully Matured Vision

From 8 weeks of age, puppies begin to have more functional vision. At approximately 3 months of age, the retina of the puppy has its adult appearance, although sometimes this occurs just before 6 months of age. Their ability to see both at short and long distance sharpens, 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.

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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. You may wonder if this is caused simply by how their eyes are developing or if a medical condition is causing a delay. Look for signs of swelling, bumps, or discharge and always consult with a veterinarian to ensure everything is developing correctly. Some puppies may take up to 3 weeks for their eyes to finally open.

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.

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Things to Check Once Your Puppy’s Eyes Are Open

From the time your puppy’s eyes are open, 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.

Conclusion

When puppies are born, their eyes and ears are closed until they are approximately 10 to 14 days old. They rely on their other senses, like smell and touch, and are totally dependent on their mother for survival. Once puppies’ eyelids open, their eyes are still developing so they will not have fully mature vision until approximately 4 to 6 months of age. This is why it’s vital to ensure the overall well-being of the puppy so that they can develop normally and become healthy and strong adult dogs.

Related Read:

Here are some signs to look out for that need a vet visit for a diagnosis:
  • Milky, white film over the eyes
  • Cloudy, smoky spots
  • Irregular-shaped pupils
  • Discharge and swollen eyelids
  • Swollen tear ducts

Featured Image Credit: Rosa Jay, Shutterstock

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