So, when do puppies open their eyes is a question which is in fact closely knitted with their evolutionary history. A puppy is devoid of fully functioning eyes and ears at its birth.
Over a period of 2-8 weeks, they gradually gain the full capacity of both these organs. Why are they not born with effective organs at the very beginning?
Well, the answer lies in the evolutionary backgrounds of the dogs and the wolves.
In so many other wild animals like giraffes, zebra, cattle and deer, we see that they are born with fully capable body parts. They can even run immediately after birth. But it is not the case with the dogs.
Important one: Why is my dog sleeping with eyes open
Can puppies see when their eyes open?
Puppies can see only blurry things at the initial stage as they open their eyes between 10-14 days. They are capable of identifying movement and shapes at this time though not precisely or accurately. The puppy eyes are open but they are still immature.
Eye opening merely indicates that they have effectively put their blind stage behind them. You can notice a blueish-grey color on the top section of their eyes during this period. In short, they have very limited vision.
Related one: How many hours do dogs sleep in a day
What if we artificially open puppies eyes?
This is a completely bad idea. Nature has bestowed them with what is necessary. Their incomplete nervous system may shutter altogether if we try anything like this. If you try to open their eyelids forcefully, the puppy may lose its sight at the extreme.
However, permanent damage insight is quite normal in such a case. The photoreceptors of his eyes are not prepared to receive any light yet.
Because his optical nerves are super sensitive during this time. Those seemingly useless eyelids are actually protecting nerves and membranes.
The reason behind this late physical progress:
The question regarding when puppies open their eyes leads us to an amazing story. In the first week, their eyes are still developing underneath the eyelids. Those are undergoing quite a heavy construction at this moment.
The evolution of the canine world has taken this shape for survival reasons. The dog is both a predator and a mammal. Contrary to many other mammals such as zebra or deer, a wild dog has to look for her meals using physical superiority.
No fitness equals no meals. So, female dogs experience a short gestation period extending between 58-63 days. They deliver fewer grown babies.
Because it relieves them from the heavy burden of full growth inside the womb which would negatively impact their search for food. They will be unable to keep pace with the herd. As they must chase prey, this premature birth helps keep alive the female members.
Otherwise, the whole species would have gone extinct long ago or moved to a different food chain. Incapable babies can be left behind in the den.
As they cannot move or see, they also do not need anything other than a good shelter. It gives an edge in parental responsibilities with respect to the personal mobility of the parents. The predatory role of the dogs in this context has been well described in a finely written piece.
How can you take care of his closed eyes?
Well, you do not need to undertake any caring act at all unless there arises an obvious issue. Its mother is fully capable of taking necessary measures. In case its mother is absent, you can actually do something. Take a good look into those eyes.
If you notice anything bulging or swelling in the eyes, go to a vet. If you are unable to do so, only then you can carefully open the eyelids and gently massage using a damp cotton bud. The cotton bud should be dampened in warm water. Apart from this, a normal dog care program is enough.
They are totally dependent on their mother during this initial stage regarding their safety and well being. It will require several weeks before their eyes reach normalcy.
This is indeed a spectacular ocular development process to be seen in the canine world.
Their evolutionary success tells us that it is quite an efficient physical mechanism that has crowned the dogs as one of the highest achiever species.
To sum up, you should not become too concerned over puppies opening their eyes late.