No one will argue with us when we say that pug puppies are adorable, even with their eyes tightly shut. Once those eyes open, it’s impossible to avoid being charmed by the faces that hold such human-like expressions.
Their eyes seem soulful one moment and looking for mischief the next. It was this feature that endeared them to the royals and aristocrats who first bred them. The pug expressions have been capturing hearts since 400 BC China where they first originated. It is easy to appreciate their intelligence when you look at them.
So when do pug puppies open their eyes?
Eyes Tightly Closed
Pugs, like all puppies, are born after 58 to 63 days gestation, with their eyes tightly closed. The pups’ organs and bodies are still developing even after their arrival into the world. And it’s not just their eyes that are shut; their ear canals are as well. Why would nature design animals to be born functionally blind and deaf and needing so much care? It all comes down to evolution.
Cows, horses, and deer give birth to large, fully-developed offspring that can see, hear, and stand on wobbly legs within a few minutes. A couple of hours later, the young are running in the fields and forests and can keep up with their moms in play and the face of danger.
Females of these species can graze and find enough food to eat and are unencumbered by the heavy, developing fetus. They are also able to flee from predators even while very pregnant.
From nature’s perspective, it made sense for these particular animals to have long gestation periods resulting in offspring that could see, hear, and run. Scientists use the word precocial to describe these babies. It translates to “precocious”, a phrase we often use to describe human children who seem intelligent and mature beyond their years.
Canines Are Different
Canines are different. Why? Because they have to hunt for their food. The little pug puppy, with its eyes tightly closed, has distant relatives like foxes and wolves, who chase down their food.
A female in this species who has a long gestation period and a heavy belly would be utterly ineffective working with her pack in hunting and running down faster prey.
As a result, nature devised it so that canines would have a gestation period just long enough for the young to be viable outside the womb and put defenses in place to protect developing organs like the eyes and ears. Biologists call these young ones altricial, which harkens from a Latin root word that means to nurse, nourish, or rear.
While the mom is off hunting, or in the case of the pug, doing its best to look so cute you can’t resist doling out a treat, the pups can be left safely alone in a den or whelping area.
What To Expect As Pugs Eyes Begin To Open
It takes, on average, about two weeks for the eyes of a newborn pug puppy to open. During this time, the optic nerve is getting closer to being developed, and the eye is in the last stages of formation. The eyes shut tight keeps out light, dirt, debris, bacteria, and viruses that can damage it and lead to infections and loss of vision.
The puppy’s eyes will open on their own when the development is finished. Don’t worry if it starts to happen on day 7 or not until day 14 because every pup is different.
At first, you’ll notice a tiny slit begin to open, usually one eye at a time, and you’ll catch the first glimpse of those beautiful eyes. They will likely appear a bit milky and grayish-blue, but that changes over time. Over the next couple of days, they will open wider and wider until you are staring into eyes that will bring you much joy and laughter over the years.
Pug Puppies That Go Bump In The Night
Once the pug puppy’s eyes are fully open, the little one will act a lot like a newborn human does as they take in all the sights of the world they just entered. The pup’s vision will be a bit distant, unable to focus on one thing at a time because the development isn’t quite complete.
There is a transition period in which everything is blurry, and they are still sensitive to bright lights. To protect their eyes, it’s a good idea to keep them contained in a dimly lit area and not take them into direct sunlight.
It takes 4 to 5 weeks before the eyes have fully developed, which means that the pup will be relying heavily on its nose and will be a bit clumsy, bumping into things as he sorts out images and depth perception.
The layer of tissue behind the retina is called the tapetum lucidum and is responsible for night vision. It’s forming during this time, so keep the puppy’s living area clean. A bacterial infection leading to conjunctivitis during this phase could lead to vision loss or the loss of the eye itself.
Let Nature Take Its Course
Almost all pug puppies naturally transition from functionally blind, deaf, helpless infants to energetic, silly, loving balls of fur. Don’t try to force the eyes open.
There are three unusual signs to keep watch for and if you see them, they warrant a call to your veterinarian who will almost certainly ask you to bundle up the puppies in a basket and bring them and the mom in for a visit.
- Swelling or bulging under the eyelid indicates an infection.
- Pus, gunk, or discharge from the eyelid or nose is also an indicator that an infection might be brewing.
- Two weeks have come and gone, and the eyes still aren’t open. Every puppy is different, but the general rule of thumb is that by two weeks the eyes should be open. If they aren’t, there may be a development issue.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
About the author
Rachael is the co-founder and editor at Pug Facts. Owner of one elderly Pug, she’s dedicated to helping other Pug owners create healthy, happy, lives with their furry best friends.