Puppies are born blind and deaf, only being able to experience touch and smell.
It usually takes about 10-14 days for most puppies to start opening their eyes. Some breeds like Bulldogs and Cocker Spaniels, however, can take closer to 21 days. This is also around the time it takes their ears to open and their teeth to start developing.
Puppies’ eyes are not fully developed when they are born. When they first open their eyes, they can’t see clearly yet. Their vision will be blurry as their eyes continue to develop over the next couple of weeks.
Puppies’ eyes will be very sensitive to light at this stage and may appear grayish or blue. This eye color will change, however. Gradually, as the eyes continue to develop, the puppies’ eyes will start to look more and more like the real eye color they will have as adult dogs. You may also see puppies’ eyes open one at a time, with only one eye opening at first and only a day or two after, the second one. This whole eye development process may take up to 16 weeks (4 months). At this time, a particular part of their eye called the Tapetum Licidum finishes developing. Puppies then finally gain the ability to see to their full potential.
It would be best if you let the process unfold naturally. Forcing puppies’ eyes to open may hurt them if their eyes are still not developed enough yet. The eyes will open by themselves when the time is right - unless there is an underlying problem.
If you see any swelling, bulging, pus, or discharge from the eye or eye area, it could be a sign of infection. It is important to keep infections at bay as they can cause problems with the eye’s development and, in some severe cases, make the puppy go blind. For this reason, it is essential to keep the puppy’s area clean to reduce the chance of infections like conjunctivitis from occurring.
If your puppy’s eyes didn’t open after 2-3 weeks since birth, it could mean there is a developmental issue.
If you spot any of those signs, please consult with a professional veterinarian.
You can and should assess your puppy’s vision after opening his eyes to ensure the eyes have developed correctly. A simple assessment can be as simple as quietly and slowly moving your hand in front of the puppy’s eyes and watching for a reaction. At this stage, the puppy still can’t see clearly. Nevertheless, your hand movements should be able to divert his attention momentarily. If there is no reaction whatsoever or you have a reason to suspect that something might be off, you should have the puppy assessed by a vet.
If you found this article useful, you may also want to learn more about how dogs see the world.