When do puppies open their eyes? It’s a question a lot of people have. You might be a breeder with their first litter, have an accidental litter from a dog and be raising the puppies, or you might be on a waitlist for your own dog and waiting for their eyes to open! Whatever your situation, the anticipation can be a lot.
Here’s everything you need to know about when puppies open their eyes and what you can expect.
When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Puppies’ eyes generally open within 10-14 days of life. While there can be a few days of variation on either side of this, a lot more is cause for concern. This means you can reasonably expect a puppy’s eyes to be open when they’re around two weeks old!
Keep careful track of when the puppy was born. Not all puppies open their eyes at the same time — they might crack one eye and then a few days later, the other will open. You should always keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re developing as they should.
Can They See Right Away?
Many people assume that once a puppy’s eyes open, they can see right away. This isn’t true! Puppies don’t reach full vision until around 8 weeks of age.
Before this time, they might try to wander and explore. In fact, they likely will! However, this doesn’t mean they can see everything and you should exercise extreme caution when letting young puppies explore. Keep them in a very controlled environment and try not to let them go anywhere that could be dangerous for them.
Even when their eyes are open, puppies need extreme supervision for many weeks of their life. Never underestimate the trouble they can get into!
Can You Tell The Color?
Puppies’ eyes usually start out blue and remain that way until they’re around six weeks old, when most turn brown. However, some dogs do have amber, green, or permanently blue eyes, and this can be important to some people. For example, Australian shepherds often have blue eyes and this is a very desirable breed trait so when choosing a puppy, people often want to guarantee a blue eye (or heterochromia, which is one brown and one blue).
When a puppy’s eyes first open, they’ll look blue, and nothing is guaranteed.
However, some breeders swear by what’s called ‘the flash test’. If you take a picture of the puppy with the flash on, and they get red-eye, that means their eyes will stay blue. Some breeders refuse to use this technique as it can be wrong, and others love it for predicting eye color.
For the most part, it does seem to be accurate, although mistakes can be made.
What If My Puppy’s Are Late?
If you have a puppy whose eyes haven’t opened when their siblings have, don’t peel their eyes open. You should let this happen naturally and if it’s taking longer, it could be a sign of a developmental issue. If this is happening you should take them to the vet.
You should also take your puppy to a vet if you notice discharge and swelling when their eyes are opening, because it could be a sign of infection.
Why Does It Take This Long?
Many people wonder why it takes so long for a puppy’s eyes to open!
The truth is, when puppies are born, they’re still developing. Their nerves aren’t fully there yet, and that includes their optical nerves. That means their eyes couldn’t handle bright lights, so their body keeps their eyes closed until they can.
That’s why the time a puppy’s eyes open can vary by a few days, as everyone develops at different rates.
If you’re waiting on a puppy’s eyes to open, it can feel like forever! Whether you’re waiting on your dog’s litter, or you’re following the journey of a puppy you’re getting, any developmental stage can feel like a lifetime. Rest assured, however, before long, your puppy will be up and exploring the world and you’ll be struggling to keep up! Just remember to let them develop at their own pace. Don’t force their eyes open and see a veterinarian if you’re having any concerns.
Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.