A dog getting its ears checked out at the vet.

When Can A Puppy Hear?

4 mins |

The unmistakable squeaking sound of day-old puppies and their adorably tiny features makes us want to cuddle them all day! Despite being impossibly cute, puppies are pretty vulnerable after birth as they need extra time to develop their senses. In this article, we’ll explain when a puppy can hear.

Puppies can hear limited sounds around 3 weeks after they’re born. However, it takes around 2 months for their hearing to fully develop.

Why Can’t Puppies Hear Right After Birth?

A dog getting a checkup at the vet.
Getting a checkup and some love!

In the animal world, most things are about survival! When it comes to dogs, who lived in packs before domestication, a key part of that survival relates to the birth of their young. During gestation (pregnancy) female animals are at a disadvantage because their ability to hunt for food is reduced.

Often, predator animals (such as wolves and dogs) have shorter gestation periods so they can return to their normal activity level faster. However, this does come at a cost! Since puppies spend less time growing inside their mother, they are born less developed compared to other animals with a longer gestation length.

In the wild, this usually wouldn’t be a problem, as a mother would hide these young, vulnerable puppies in her den whilst she went out in search of food. For pet parents, it just means you might have to keep a closer eye on young pups during their first few weeks of life.

Are All Puppies Born Deaf?

Yes! All puppies are born deaf. The ability to hear noise will begin after around 3 weeks but before then a puppy can sense vibrations.

You’ve probably heard a dog’s sense of hearing is much better than a human’s. This is because they have a much deeper canal than we do. Naturally, this structure takes longer to develop and isn’t finished when they’re born, hence why they can’t hear straight away!

When Is A Puppy’s Hearing Fully Developed?

Although they can hear sounds after around 3 weeks, a puppy’s hearing will not be fully developed until they are 2 months old. In the beginning, they will only be able to hear loud sounds or moving objects. It takes longer until they can fully understand, differentiate, and hear every sound.

How Can You Know If A Puppy Can Hear?

After 3 weeks, a puppy should start reacting to sounds around them. They might not yet recognize the squeak of their favorite toy or the sound of food packets rustling but they should react to loud sounds.

However, if you’re worrying about your puppy’s sense of hearing, contact your vet

Got some questions about puppies and development? Here are our answers below.

When Can Puppies See?

It takes around 10-14 days after birth for a puppy’s eyes to open.

During the transitional stage (2-4 weeks after birth), their sense of sight will continue developing. This will help them during the next stage of development, the socialization stage. This stage is important because it’s the time when a puppy meets other dogs and learns social behavior.

When Can Puppies Smell?

Puppies can smell straight after they are born! This sense is important because it allows them to find their mother (and milk!).

Dogs have a special organ called the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ. This organ helps puppies to smell their mother even when they can’t see or hear her!

When Can Puppies Start Eating?

As mammals, after birth puppies will drink milk from their mother. After around 3-4 weeks, they can begin to eat solid food. This is because their teeth and the gastrointestinal system will have developed enough for them to chew and digest food. 

When Can Puppies Walk?

To reduce the chances of them becoming sick, you should only walk your puppy outside after 2 weeks of a vet fully vaccinating them against infectious diseases.

Before then it’s probably best to only let them outside in your garden and be careful about the dogs they come into contact with. 

Conclusion: When Can A Puppy Hear?

So, now you know when your new best friend can start learning their name! How exciting!

Have you had any interesting experiences related to your dog and its sense of hearing? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte is a final-year veterinary medicine student at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She has been a volunteer at her university's clinic for 4 years, and completed internships in Spain, Belgium, and Austria. She is also an editor of her university's scientific journal, and dog mum to 13-year-old Chiki, who she rescued from a shelter.