Neonatal puppies begin their lives as highly altricial creatures. Far from self-sufficient, wee puppies rely greatly on the diligent care of their mothers, and feeding activities are just the start of it all. Puppies spend the first days of their lives without the presence of two key senses: hearing and eyesight.
If you look quickly at a newborn puppy, his eyes and ears both provide helpful clues on the state of his vision and hearing, respectively. After all, both of these organs are still completely closed off to the world. It takes the eyes and the ear canals numerous days to open up in tiny puppies.
Puppies' ear canals open up roughly five to eight days after they are born. Although their ears begin opening at this point, their hearing is still in the process of development -- nowhere near fruition yet.
Puppies' eyes open up somewhere from eight to 14 days after birth. This is a rather slow process, and is in no way instantaneous. The eyes begin to open from the nose area. When puppies' eyes are first visible, they are always deep blue in coloration, albeit only temporarily. At this point, puppies' irises and pupils appear to be the same in color, with no division.
Although puppies' eyes and ears open relatively early on, it takes both organs several weeks to come to their full potential. The furry guys generally gain total eyesight and hearing once they're in the range of 26 to 56 days in age. At this point, puppies employ their handy vision and hearing skills to curiously explore the world around them.
Outside of just sight and hearing, newborn puppies' bodies initially have a lot of growth and progress in front of them. Not only are they still learning standard reflexes, they also are still in the process of managing their body temperatures. Lastly, they are also unable to handle their elimination processes. Their mother dogs -- or human caretakers -- prompt those functions in them.
- ASPCA: Newborn Puppy Care
- The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Behavior Basics
- UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program: Canine - Guide to Raising Orphan Puppies
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: Care and Management of the Neonate Puppy
- Sacramento SPCA: Puppy Development and Socialization
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: Whelping Your Puppies
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