Puppies are bundles of energy and activity, and oh, so cute. But at birth, puppies are essentially blind, deaf, and unable to move around except at a slow crawl. They remain entirely dependent on their mother for weeks after birth. This leads to an interesting question: when do puppies open their eyes fully?

Puppies start to see around 14 days old, but their vision continues to improve over time.

An eye-opening process

Puppies generally open their eyes when they are about ten to fourteen days old.1 At birth, a puppy's eyes are closed round the clock. And that's for a good reason—her eyes aren't quite ready for the world yet. All dogs have nerves in their eyes that are receptive to light and send visual information to the brain. But the nerves in a newborn puppy's eyes are under-developed and overly sensitive, so the eyelids stay shut to protect the eyes. Eventually, when the puppy is ready, she starts to open her eyes, sometimes only one eye at first.

Even after her eyes open, a newborn puppy's vision is not very clear. The nerves in her eyes continue to develop, and her eyesight continues to improve for the next several weeks. Soon, she can see movement and things around her. Now she's ready to begin playing and having fun. Even in adulthood, a dog's vision is different from a human's. Humans have better vision for details, but dogs see better in the dark.

Keep an eye on the eyes

The exact amount of time it takes for a pup to open his eyes varies from puppy to puppy. If a puppy is more than two weeks old and his eyes are still closed, your veterinarian may attempt to clean the eyes and open them manually. (Don't try to open your puppy's eyes yourself!)

If a pup's eyes are still closed and you notice swelling, discharge, etc., around the eyes, it's time to arrange a visit with your veterinarian.2 (A pet carrier will help keep the puppy comfy if he has to spend a few minutes in the waiting room.)

So, when do puppies open their ears?

Puppies are deaf at birth, and it takes time for their ear canals to open and for their hearing to “turn on." It takes about 21 days for puppies to hear sounds. So puppies have a sense of smell at birth, then develop a sense of sight, and finally gain their hearing.3 At about the same time, their first baby teeth arrive.

It takes time to become a grown-up dog, but hey, it's a big job!

  1. deBara, Deanna. The Dog People. “ When Do Puppies' Eyes Open?" https://www.rover.com/blog/when-do-puppies-eyes-open/
  2. Ward, Ernest. VCA Hospitals. “Breeding for Dog Owners - Caring from Birth to Weaning," https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/breeding-for-dog-owners-caring-from-birth-to-weaning
  3. Meyers, Harriet. AKC. “ Puppy Senses: How Your Puppy Sees, Hears, and Smells the World," August 28, 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/puppy-senses/