Have you ever been around a litter of newborn Labrador puppies? It’s a special and adorable experience.
If you’re getting a Labrador puppy for the first time, you might have many questions about what happens from the time the puppies are born until you pick your puppy up, which will be approximately 7-8 weeks after birth.
One of the questions people have when getting a new puppy is, “When do puppies open their eyes?”
Labrador puppies usually open their eyes after about 2 weeks of age. They are undergoing many changes throughout this time, and opening their eyes is one of the most important developments that they experience during the first month of life.
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Let’s look at some other aspects of Labrador puppy life in the first few weeks.
The Newborn Puppy Experience
Newborn Labrador puppies are born after an approximate gestation of 63 days, and when born are very small and delicate!
They are completely dependent on their mother and their human helpers to care for them, protect them, and give them a safe environment to grow.
We became caretakers for a litter of AKC Labrador puppies when the home they were born into was unable to care for them in a safe manner. The original breeder was unable to care for the dogs correctly and asked us, as experienced Labrador owners, if we would step in and take over the care of the mother dog and pups.
We brought them inside our home and created a cozy environment for the mother and puppies for the next 8 weeks, watching the development of these amazing puppies each day.
Though we were already experienced Labrador owners, and familiar with Labrador puppies, we quickly had to learn everything important with very little notice about raising and caring for newborn Labrador puppies and the mother dog after birth.
What Are Newborn Labrador Puppies Like?
Puppies go through many changes from birth until they are ready to go home with you. Labrador puppies learn to crawl, walk, bark, whine, get teeth and begin to learn all about the world around them in those critical first few months with their mother and their human helpers.
Ideally, a Labrador puppy would be born into an environment where they have an attentive and healthy canine mother, as well as loving humans around to support the mother dog and care for these amazing tiny puppies.
Labrador puppies spend most of their first few weeks sleeping and eating, staying close by their mother. They are only able to crawl around small distances and use their sense of smell mostly to locate their mother and each other.
They are very delicate and sensitive to extreme temperatures and need to be kept inside where the temperature is kept at a moderate and stable level to protect them.
When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
Labrador puppies usually open their eyes around the end of the second week of life. Before then, they are completely dependent on their mother and their sense of smell to direct them.
Lab puppies are born blind and deaf until several weeks later when their eyes and ears have developed enough for them to use. Their eyes are still developing after birth and stay closed as protection against elements that may cause irritation or damage to them until they are more developed and ready to be opened.
Labrador puppies are born with blue eyes, though this may change later on as time passes. Even when their eyes open after the first few weeks, they are not a fully sharpened field of vision but will improve in clarity over the next few weeks.
Labs are also red-green color blind, which means when their eyes develop later on and become clear, they can still see only certain colors on the spectrum as well as different shades of gray.
What Other Changes Do Labrador Puppies Experience in the First Few Weeks?
In addition to Labrador puppies beginning to use their eyes and ears after the first few weeks of life have passed, other significant changes occur in the early life of a newborn pup.
In the first early weeks of life, Lab puppies go through many changes. They learn to bark, whine, walk on their legs, jump, play with littermates and run.
After about 4 weeks, Labrador puppies get their puppy teeth! Prior to that, they are not able to eat puppy food and can only nurse from their mother. They will continue to do so until approximately 5-6 weeks when they can begin to eat more solid food preparations.
If you’re around a litter of Labrador puppies, you might notice that those puppy teeth are very sharp! They will stay that way for several months until their puppy teeth fall out, and are replaced by larger (but less-sharp) adult teeth.
Puppies need to be kept close to their mother at all times and remain in her presence. They are extremely delicate and fragile and should only be handled when absolutely necessary in the first couple of weeks, and with extreme care.
The bond between mother dog and puppy is critical to the success of the puppy later on. Keep an eye on your mother dog and puppies carefully, and report any issues to your veterinarian.
After the first few weeks, at the end of the first month of life, Lab puppies are better equipped to be handled more and socialized with humans.
If your veterinarian gives you permission to socialize the puppies with other dogs in your home (besides the littermates and their mother) make sure you check with your vet about vaccinations, as the puppies won’t be vaccinated at the beginning and will be vulnerable to what other dogs could expose them to.
It’s not a good idea to bring other dogs, friends’ dogs, or dogs not in your household around a protective mother dog or her puppies. You might also want to keep even the other dogs in your home away from the mother dog and litter of puppies for at least the critical first few weeks.
Regular vet visits for the mother dog and puppies are important to make sure the puppies are developing on the right schedule, and that any health issues can be addressed by a professional right away.
When socializing the puppies with humans, it’s important to be careful with gently handling the puppies, as well as introducing Lab puppies to their environment in a positive way.
You’ll want to make sure that you give the puppies proper and safe socialization and positive interactions with humans and their environment. You don’t want to cause stress to the litter of puppies or negative interactions with humans (or other animals) that can affect their development later on.
Wrap-Up: A Guide to Newborn Lab Puppies
Labrador puppies usually open their eyes after about 2 weeks of age. They are undergoing many changes throughout this time, and in the first month will learn to use their eyes and ears, as well as get their puppy teeth and learn to walk and run!
It can be an exciting adventure watching newborn Labrador puppies develop and grow, and prepare for a future life in a loving home.
For more guidance on life with Labrador puppies, including what to do before you bring your new Lab puppy home, check out our Puppy Guide!