What Do Dogs See? (Discover Life Through the Eyes of Your Pooch) | Herepup
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What Do Dogs See? (Discover Life Through the Eyes of Your Pooch)

Dogs see the world differently than humans, and not just because they aren’t six-foot tall, two-legged creatures. While it’s agreed upon that that there is variance between dog eyesight and human eyesight, there are plenty of long-standing misconceptions about a dog’s visions, too. These misconceptions should be cleared.

Dog Vision: It’s Not a Black and White Issue

There is a popular belief that dogs do not see color; that their world is reduced to shades of black and white. Yet this has relatively recently proved to be an inaccurate sentiment. In reality, the vision of a dog is similar to a person that is red-green color blind.

The reason that your pooch’s visual color palate is dichromatic, meaning that they are limited to primarily seeing blues and yellows is because they have fewer cones in their eyes. These cones are responsible for allowing dogs to pick out different colors. Due to the limited number of cones, your dog will see a limited range of colors.

However, dogs also have more rods in their eyes than humans have. Because they have these extra rods, they can pick up on light and movement far better than we can. So while they may not be able to use color to differentiate from red and green, they could rely on stuff like contrast and brightness to tell the difference between one object and another.

A Clear Difference in Vision


Further research has determined that a dog’s vision is not as clear as a human's eyesight. The eyesight of your pooch tends to be a little blurrier, which means that they aren't likely to pick up on as many visual subtleties as you can. Even though their vision isn't the sharpest, they are capable of using their vision to recognize their surroundings and pick out their loved ones.

They also make up for this clear vision deficiency for having far better night vision. This trait is rather evident if you’ve ever witnessed your dog poke around for something at night. It’s also on display when you see a dog react to even the slightest movement when the lights are out.

Does This Affect the Type of Toys I Should Buy My Dog?

Plenty of dog toys are designed to be red. Yet if you've ever wondered why your dog shows little interest in that snazzy red toy that you bought for him to play with, it could be because it is not as visually stimulating to him. This may be because he may have a tough time picking the colors out, particularly if he's in an environment dominated by muted colors.

As such, you should try to pick out colors that fall on your dog’s vision scale when you are buying him toys. These images will tend to catch out because they pop - especially if played against a background or environment dominated by colors that are bland to him. Anything that comes across as a sharply yellow or distinctively blue should have no problem catching his eye.

A Dog Doesn’t Need Eyes to See

While we may perceive a dog "lacking" in vision, the truth is they make up for these perceptions by having a sense of smell and hearing acute enough to make up for any perceived deficiencies. For instance, their sense of smell is strong enough to allow them to break down information that we can't through our noses. This information can range from figuring out what the animal or person ate and what they have touched to, in some cases, being able to smell cancer on individuals.

Dogs can also detect sounds in a larger frequency range than humans can. What’s more, your dog has as many as three times more muscles in his ear than you do, and this extra bulk allows them to be mobile. This also enables them to “see” sounds that we may not be able to hear.

This is Only Speculation

Because we are not dogs, we can’t say we know what a dog sees with 100% certainty. All conclusions derived are based on what we know about a dog’s retina and what its cells look like. Still, it is quite accurate to say the way a dog sees things and the way we see things are very different.


Laura Harris

Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

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