Pupils at Wairakei Primary School, asks :-

Why are dogs born with their eyes closed?

Alex Davies, a retired veterinary anatomist at Massey University's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Science, responded.

The eyelids of a puppy start to form when the mother is about half way through pregnancy. Soon, the eyelids fuse across the eyes. The lids come apart again 13 days after birth. Puppies don't see well until they are 8 weeks old. They don't start to stand until they are 3 weeks old, about the same time as they start to respond to a loud noise.

Other animals like foals, calves and lambs are born with good sight and hearing, and strong legs to keep up with their mother, and their milk supply. Their mother makes the milk from grass that grows all around, so she can keep an eye on her baby while she gets enough to eat. A newborn animal is easy prey for a meat-eating hunter such as a dog.

While the puppies born at your place might be protected, in the wild a puppy's mother must leave her litter in a safe place while she hunts for food. She could have kept the pups longer in her uterus until they were mature, but this would weigh her down and make it harder to hunt down and kill her prey. The puppy's father has left long before the puppies were born, so she makes a nest hidden in a dark den. She leaves them without a babysitter, hoping that her babies will not stray.

So it's a good idea if these babies are blind, deaf and can't walk, until they are a bit older. Mum still has to do the houskeeping in the den and clean up their messes, but it's worth it to know that her pups will be there when she comes back with dinner.