When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes? What Comes Next?


The first few weeks of puppyhood include some of the most important moments of a dog’s life! Because many pet parents don’t meet their furry friends until they’re around two months old, it’s natural to wonder what happens during this special time.

You might know that puppies are born blind (and deaf), but it’s not long before they take their first look at the world. Let’s explore when puppies open their eyes…and what happens next!

So, When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?

Puppies generally open their eyes when they are about 10 to 14 days old, although dogs of some breeds, such as Fox Terriers, may open them a few days later. It’s also common for pups to open their eyes one at a time over the course of several days.

What Happens When Puppies Open Their Eyes?

puppy lying down

Pups don’t see their surroundings clearly at first. Although this is a critical (and adorable!) milestone, their developing eyes initially have a blurry view and are especially sensitive to bright light. So, it’s key to keep your puppy away from direct sunlight and other luminous sights if you’re lucky enough to have them in your home this young. Once puppies open both eyes and their vision starts to improve, they’ll begin to socialize with their mother, littermates, and human companions.

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Why Don’t Puppies Open Their Eyes Right Away?

Our furry friends are born underdeveloped, which means some of their senses are not fully functional from the get-go. Newborn puppies’ optic nerves and central nervous system continue developing during their earliest days, so keeping those cute little eyelids down helps pups shield their immature eyes from debris—preventing infections and damage.

But why are dogs born this way? It all has to do with survival in the wild! Female dogs in nature cannot effectively catch fast-moving prey while carrying a litter of puppies. So, giving birth as quickly as possible gives females an advantage while allowing them to care for their pups between hunts, according to Psychology Today. As a result, the gestation period generally lasts about two months and puppies are born before their vision and hearing have matured.

When Do Puppies’ Eyes Change Color?

jack russell terrier puppy

Although all puppies are born with milky blue eyes, their eyes may start to show signs of their permanent color after three or four weeks. This process happens gradually and it often takes an additional nine to twelve weeks for eye color to completely settle in, according to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Around the time when puppies’ eyes change color, the tapetum lucidum develops behind their retinas. This reflective layer of tissue enhances dogs’ vision at night and in other low-light situations, causing their eyes to “glow” in the dark.

-> RELATED: Puppy Development Stages

Can Puppies Get Eye Infections?

Puppies’ fragile eyes are especially susceptible to infections, and some can occur even before a pup opens their peepers. Eye damage at a young age can lead to serious vision problems down the road, so it’s important to watch out for eye infection signs. Contact your veterinarian if you notice these symptoms:

  • Bulging, swelling, or redness around the eye
  • Pawing at the eye
  • Frequent blinking or squinting
  • Smelly or watery discharge near the eyes
  • Extreme light sensitivity

In addition, puppies who don’t open their eyes after three weeks may suffer from a developmental problem. Do not open their eyes for them, as they are not yet ready to be exposed to light. Instead, consult your veterinarian for advice.

As your puppy gets older, you’ll want to keep their eyes clear of debris. Gently wipe around the eye area with dog eye wipes to remove tear stains and other discharge.

So Much to See (and Smell, and Taste)

Not long after puppies are born, they’ll be ready to explore with all five senses! From exciting play toys with high-visibility colors to delicious chew treats featuring DHA Omega-3 to aid in brain and eye development, stock up on essentials to stimulate their mind and body. And of course, don’t forget to admire those cute puppy eyes!

Preparing to welcome home your new furry friend? Learn the dos and don’ts of the first night with your puppy


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