How Your Dog Sees the World

24th July 2019

Your dog's eyes are very different from your own, but probably not in the ways that you think. Here's some fascinating information about your dog's vision that will help you understand how they see the world.

Not just black and white

It wasn't too long ago that most people believed that dogs could only see in black and white, not in colour. However, research has shown that dogs do see in colour, but not quite the same way that people do.

It's believed that dogs see similarly to a person who has red-green colour-blindness. This means they see primarily in hues of yellow, blue, and grey. Why the colour limitation? The structure of a dog's eyes is similar, but different, to those of humans. Humans and dogs both have a type of photoreceptor cell in the eye called cones. Humans have three types of cones, while dogs have two.

Better night vision

Having fewer photoreceptor cells limits the dogs' visual spectrum in regards to colour, but nature has made up for that by giving dogs the ability to see better in low light. Humans may have more cones in their eyes, but dogs have more rods, or cells that help with seeing in low light and detecting movement. This is why your dog seems to navigate spaces much easier at night than you do.

If you've ever seen your dog's eyes shine at night, you've witnessed the light reflecting off their tapetum lucidum, or "shining layer" that helps reflect light to make it easier for the dogs to see in the dark.

Dog senses

Dog's sight isn't the only way they witness and interact with the world. They may not see colour as well as humans or some other animals, but they can detect motion in low light. Their sense of smell is heightened, too, as is their sense of hearing. All these senses work together to help your dog navigate the world, and understanding them will help you when it's time to train your dog.

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