Do Dogs’ Eyes Grow?

Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

You might have heard that eyes are the gateway to the soul. It’s even more true with our dogs. 

Studies show that nearly two-thirds of all dogs use their eyes to communicate with their owners. 

When we look into our dogs’ eyes, we often wonder what they’re trying to tell us. Sometimes we wonder about the eyes themselves. 

Are dogs’ eyes different from ours? If so, how different are they? Do dogs’ eyes grow?

Today, we’ll cover all of these questions… and more. But first, we’ll cover some interesting facts about dogs’ eyes.

Fascinating facts about dogs’ eyes

  1. We generally know that our dogs’ eyes don’t have the same visual acuity as ours. But how weak is their vision? 

To quantify it, dogs generally have 20/75 vision. Which means they need to be 20 feet away to see something that we can see from 75 feet.

  1. Our dogs love looking into our eyes, but so do we. Eye contact with our dogs triggers the release of oxytocin, also called the love hormone, in both us and our dogs. 

Just a few minutes of eye contact is enough to foster a feeling of love and companionship in both us and our dogs.

  1. Dogs are red-green colour blind. While they can see colours, their vision is basically the same as a person who is red-green colorblind (without our visual acuity). 

To our dogs, the world just contains blue, yellow, and grey. One advantage our dogs have over us, though, is that they can see in ultraviolet.

  1. Your dog’s breed plays a huge role in how s/he communicates with you using his/her eyes. 

A research found that dog breeds which are closely related to wolves make eye contact with us less often. They also make eye contact with us for much shorter than dogs from other breeds.

  1. Huskies are famous all over the world for their blue eye-colour. However, the blue eye-colour in huskies is an optical illusion, their eyes aren’t actually blue. 

Huskies’ eyes appear blue because of the way light enters and exits their eyes.

Do puppies’ eyes change colour? 

They do. Puppies are often born with blue eyes, but their eyes change colour about 9-12 weeks after they’re born. 

The process happens slowly and gradually, and their “final” eye colour emerges weeks after they’re born. 

Why do they do this?

Newborn puppies’ eyes lack melanin. When they open their eyes and start taking in the world around them, the light that enters their eyes kickstarts melanin production. 

How much melanin is produced in the eyes depends on the genetics of your puppy. The higher the amount of melanin in the eye, the darker the resulting eye-colour will be.

What diseases cause dogs to have small eyes?

The most common disorder that causes dogs to have smaller eyes is microphthalmia. It can be an inherited disorder which results in one or both of a dog’s eyeballs being noticeably smaller. 

Microphthalmia can also occur in puppies whose mothers were on certain medications during pregnancy. 

Other, more serious diseases that can cause small eyes include nerve damage, stroke, or a tumor.

What diseases cause dogs to have inflamed eyes?

There are a lot of diseases that can cause eye inflammation in dogs. Some of them include:

  1. Obstructed tear ducts
  2. Physical trauma to the eye
  3. Irritation from foreign bodies
  4. Bacterial/viral/fungal infection
  5. Parasitic disease
  6. Canine herpes
  7. Adenovirus
  8. Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  9. Lyme disease
  10. Cataracts
  11. Autoimmune disease
  12. Diabetes
  13. High blood pressure
  14. Toxemia
  15. Cancer
  16. Corneal ulceration

This list is far from exhaustive and there are other diseases that can cause your dog to have inflamed eyes.

Please contact your vet if you spot inflamed eyes in your dog.

Why did my dogs’ eyes get bigger?

This can occur in two situations. We’ll list them below:

  1. Exophthalmos: Exophthalmos occurs when the eye gets displaced and appears to bulge out of its socket. 

While the eyes might appear bigger in this case, the eyeball itself hasn’t gotten bigger; it has just gotten pushed forward.

  1. Buphthalmos: In this case, the eyeball physically gets bigger.

Distinguishing between exophthalmos and buphthalmos can be hard. They can occur because of a variety of diseases, including glaucoma, blunt trauma, cancer, infection, hemorrhage behind the eye, inflammation, cysts, and more. 

If you suspect that your dog’s eyes have gotten bigger, get in contact with your vet immediately.

Can one-eyed or blind dogs have a good quality of life?

A lot of dog parents are hesitant to adopt blind dogs. People also get understandably concerned when their dogs go blind. 

The answer is that blind dogs can lead happy and fulfilling lives. Thanks to their keen senses, dogs are not as reliant on their eyes as human beings, and they can adapt much better to losing their eye(s) or being born blind.

As the owner, you may need to make some adjustments in your dog’s environment. These adjustments include fencing the yard, keeping your dog on a leash at all times when you’re outside, and keeping the dog’s environment clear of obstructions and unusual objects. 

Most blind dogs will also need help navigating the stairs. However, blind dogs are so good at adapting that, in their home environment, most people can’t even tell that these dogs are blind.

Why do dogs growl when you look them in the eye?

For dogs, direct eye contact is seen as a sign of aggression. When we stare at them for longer periods, most dogs will break eye contact and disengage. 

But sometimes, dogs will choose to respond to that aggression by being threatening. A good rule of thumb is to not look a new dog in the eye. 

With your own dog, it’s fine because it is a way for us to bond together. However, when you meet new dogs, don’t look them in the eyes. 

Also, when dogs are being aggressive to begin with, looking them in the eyes will most likely escalate the conflict.

What are the main eye shapes that dog breeds have?

While the eyeballs of every dog (regardless of the breed) are round, the external appearance can vary. 

The main eye shapes that dog breeds have are: round, oval, almond (can be further divided into thin almond eyes and round almond eyes), diamond-shaped, and triangular.

How does a dog’s eyesight differ from a human’s eyesight?

Dogs’ eyesight differs from ours in 6 major ways:

  1. Visual acuity: As mentioned earlier, dogs generally have a 20/75 vision. Which basically means that dogs need to be much closer to see the same amount of detail that we can from much farther away.

How much farther? They generally need to be about 20 feet away to perceive the same amount of detail as we can see from 75 feet away.

While some dog breeds have keener vision than others, there’s still a difference in visual acuity when their vision is compared with ours.

  1. Better sensitivity to motion: Our dogs’ eyes are much more sensitive to moving objects.

Before they became our best friends, they lived in wild conditions where they hunted down prey. As such, their eyes evolved to be very sensitive to movements. 

  1. Colours: Dogs see the world in shades of grey, blue, and yellow. Research also suggests that, unlike us, they can see ultraviolet light.

Essentially, dogs see the world the same way as a red-green colour-blind person does.

  1. Field of view: While dogs’ field of view is dependent on their breed, as it determines where their eyes are placed, their field of view is wider than human beings’.

Dogs’ FOV generally covers 240-degrees (though this figure can vary depending on the breed), whereas ours covers only 180-degrees.

  1. Better low light vision: Dogs’ retinas contain a lot more rods than ours do. They also have a tapetum layer in their eye, which is responsible for reflecting the light back.

Both of these help the dogs see in the dark much better than we can. It’s estimated that dogs’ low-light and night vision is 7-8 times better than ours.

  1. Worse vision in brightly lit conditions: While they can see better in low-light, dogs’ vision in brightly lit conditions is worse than ours. The world appears dimmer to them.

How can I better care for my dog’s eyes?

We’ll briefly cover some ways you can take better care of your dog’s eyes.

  1. Inspect his/her eyes regularly: You want to do this daily to make sure that there aren’t any issues with your dog’s eyes. Some common things you want to look out for are:

Make sure that the eyes are clear and there’s no cloudiness in the eye(s), there’s no discharge from the eyes.

Both pupils should be equal in size and react to light, your dog should be able to hold his/her eyelids open, and the third eyelid should not be visible.

  1. Clean your dog’s eyes daily: If left uncleaned, the mucus and the crust that build up in dogs’ eyes can cause quite a bit of pain. Clean the corner of your dog’s eyes daily using a damp cloth, and use eyedrops specifically made for dogs.
  1. Keep the hair trimmed around your dog’s eyes: These hairs can scratch your dog’s eyes, which will cause injuries and irritation in your dog’s eyes. Make sure to trim them every once in a while.
  1. Protect their eyes during bathing: Even if you use a tearless shampoo, your dog’s eyes can get irritated from it.

Make sure to keep your dog’s eyes clear of any products during bathing. Rinse them out as soon as possible if something gets in your dog’s eyes.

Do dogs’ eyes grow?

Dogs’ eyes at birth are already a substantial percentage of what their full size will be. As your dog matures, his/her eyes grow by 20-25%.

The change will not be very noticeable to you. That basically covers the natural reason for eye growth in your dog.

Your dog’s eyes can also get bigger due to diseases, as we’ve covered earlier in the section “Why did my dogs’ eyes get bigger?”

These diseases can result in either exophthalmos or buphthalmos. If this is happening, make sure to take your dog to the vet immediately.