How to Tell if a Puppy Is Blind: 6 Home Checks

How to Tell if a Puppy Is Blind

In a perfect world, no puppy would ever have to deal with life-changing conditions like blindness. But the sad reality is that puppies can go blind or be born with no eyesight at birth.

You could be seeing some strange behaviors from your puppy. They could be bumping into furniture, or not focusing on you properly. Here’s how you know if a puppy is blind.

There are several ways to tell if a puppy is blind including an unusual eye color, clumsy movements, reluctance to walk, unresponsiveness to menace gesturing, and lack of eye reaction to light. 

Nothing can replace the correct diagnosis by a vet, but if you want to check at home, those are signs your puppy could have either partial or full blindness.

Below I go into more detail on how to check if a puppy is blind, with a step-by-step process. 

How do you know if a puppy is blind?

Almost every breeder will tell you there’s no greater joy than watching a puppy’s sense of sight unfold right before you. The world is a beautiful place for puppies to be in, and their eyes enable them to explore all the wonders in the world. 

1. Abnormal eye color

The first thing you can do to check if a puppy is blind is monitor eye color. When a puppy opens their eyes for the first time, they will have a cloudy, grayish-blue hue. 

But as the weeks pass, their eye color will darken to either brown, green, or blue (the cloudy appearance shouldn’t be there anymore).  

If your puppy’s eyes still look milky several weeks after birth, it could possibly mean they are blind or going blind.

2. Constantly bumping into things  

You can also tell if a puppy is blind by the way they move around your home. When a puppy loses their sight, they will lose their balance and become clumsy. 

You will see them bumping into walls, tripping while climbing the stairs, knocking over objects located in spaces they were once familiar with, or walking straight into obstructions when outdoors. Because of this, they should never be left home alone.

Handy Hint: Here is a list of the best things you can buy for a blind dog if the worst happens.

3. Eyes don’t react to light

Another sure way to know your puppy has gone blind is by observing how their eyes behave in the presence (or absence) of light.

Normally, you should expect the pupils to widen If your puppy enters a room with low lighting. And if they are in a well-lit room, their pupils will get smaller. They might also squint their eyes.  

In the case of a blind puppy, their pupils will remain in the same state throughout, whether in a bright or a dark room. 

check puppy is blind
Check if your puppy is blind by how they react to light.

Here’s a simple experiment you can do to tell if your puppy is blind. 

Bring your puppy into a dark room (curtains closed and lights off) and stay with them in there for a few minutes. Then, switch the lights on and pay attention to how their eyes react. 

If their pupils don’t get smaller or your puppy doesn’t squint their eyes, they could be blind.

4. Not following moving objects with their eyes

A blind puppy will have difficulty tracking objects in motion with their eyes. But if the object in question makes a lot of noise, their hearing senses can help them chase after it. 

You can know if a puppy has gone blind by rolling a soundless object in front of them, like a ball of yarn. If your puppy does not react it could mean loss of eyesight.

A puppy with normal vision will keep their eyes glued to the yarn as it rolls away and even run after it. But a blind one won’t notice the yarn’s movement, leave alone run after it.  

5. Unresponsive to menacing gesture

See how you usually move backward or suddenly close your eyes when someone tries to poke your eyes? 

Your natural reaction, in scientific terms, is known as a menace response. And the person attempting to poke your eyes is doing what science calls a menacing gesture.   

Like in humans, a menacing gesture should make a dog blink or move its head. 

If you try to point your finger quickly towards your puppy’s eyes (ensure you don’t touch their face, as this will alert them), they should at least blink or stare at your finger’s movements. 

But if they don’t react in any way, that’s a sign they are blind.

6. Reluctance to walk or run

You can tell it’s a blind puppy as they will often be hesitant to walk and keep their nose close to the ground when outdoors. They do this to sniff their way around since they can’t see. 

Blindness will also make your puppy quite nervous and clingy. They will constantly whine out of fear since they can hear many strange things in their environment but can’t see what’s happening. This fear will make them want to stick as close to you as possible while walking. 

Plus, a blind puppy will be reluctant to run to you when you call out their name from a distance.

Be aware… newborn puppies are born blind

Unlike human babies, puppies are born with their eyes closed and are temporarily blind. This happens because newborn puppies have an underdeveloped central nervous system. The optic nerves are part of this system.  

A newborn puppy’s optic nerves aren’t mature enough to tolerate light and transmit impulses from the eyes to the brain. For this reason, their eyes naturally remain shut after birth to give the optic nerves time to develop fully. 

Besides the immature optic nerves, a puppy’s eyes aren’t yet properly developed at birth. Being born blind allows the eyes to develop safely without the risk of foreign stuff (like dust) entering and affecting the eye development process. 

A puppy’s eyelids open naturally once the optic nerves, and the eyes are ready for the world. 

It takes anywhere between one and two weeks for the eyes to finally open. But for some puppy breeds, it can take up to three weeks. 

Most puppies’ eyes open fully when they hit the two-weeks-old mark. However, their vision will be blurry for some time.  

Their eyesight gets better as weeks go by. When a puppy is around eight weeks old, they should be able to see their surroundings more clearly.

Sadly, some puppies are born blind and stay blind (their eyes remain shut forever). Others get a chance to open their cute little eyes, but blindness strikes along the way. This can happen due to genetic defects or eye infections.

Caring for a blind puppy

Some cases of puppy blindness are reversible, that’s why it’s important to take your puppy to the vet immediately you notice signs of blindness. 

Other puppies, unfortunately, must live with the blindness for a lifetime. While it can be challenging at first, they can still live a happy and comfortable life

Blind puppies fully rely on their sense of smell and hearing to explore their surroundings. To help your puppy adjust to their sightless life, there are a few lifestyle tips you can keep in mind:

  • Make sure your puppy’s food bowl, water, bed, and toys are in the same place all the time. Blind puppies are good at mastering a house’s layout — only if you don’t move things around.
  • Don’t re-arrange your furniture every other time. These unnecessary changes make it difficult for them to maneuver around the house.
  • Keep your home environment safe for your puppy. For instance, ensure there are no sharp objects lying around and add padding on furniture with sharp corners.
  • Not being able to see can make your puppy feel defenseless and scared. For this reason, you should never sneak up on them. And even when walking towards them, always make some noise. They will feel secure knowing it’s you approaching them.           

How do I know my 3 weeks old puppy is blind?

It can be hard to tell if three weeks old is a puppy is blind since some puppies take three weeks to open their eyes. 

But if they are way past three weeks old and you realize their eyes still have a cloudy appearance, they bump into things, and their eyes don’t react to light, they might be blind.  

How do blind puppies act?

As discussed earlier, blind puppies are often reluctant to walk or run, clingy and fearful, and constantly bump into things.

Can a puppy be born blind?

Yes, that’s right. As noted earlier, all puppies are born temporarily blind. For some puppies, though, the blindness at birth may remain permanent due to genetic reasons.

At what age do puppies see clearly?

Most puppies begin to see things more clearly when they are eight weeks old.  

You might also like…

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

Recent Posts