How do Dogs See us?

Posted by Eddie Salama on

Our pets have one of the most precious and beautiful eyes. There’s one with blue, green, brown and even gray ones. You might even be jealous by looking at their eyes. However, there’s actually a lot of interesting facts about their vision. Today, we will be learning about it.

You’ve probably heard of stories like dogs are colorblind or they can only see us in black & white. Mind you, there are many existing accounts on dog vision and they all have different words to say. It’s true, dogs compared to human vision have a different way of looking at the environment. Apparently, dog’s vision is more limited than human’s. So, how exactly does our dogs view the environment? Let’s look at these amazing information from Cesar’s Way and Purina:

dog vision

Dogs have forward facing eyes, enabling them to spot movement ahead of them. In dim light they can dilate their pupils and they also possess a reflective layer - the tapetum - which helps dogs see at dusk and dawn.

Your dog’s vision is not perfect and, in fact, they may not be able to focus on objects in great detail, seeing the world as slightly blurry. When you stand across the park from your dog, they may not be able to focus on you.

For dogs, their color vision is most similar to a human with red-green color blindness, although there are other differences. Dogs are less sensitive to variations in gray shades than humans are, as well as only about half as sensitive to changes in brightness, Cesar’s way says.


Facts behind Eye colors.

Don’t you just love those canine big, brown, soulful eyes gazing into yours? Dogs’ eyes, by default, are brown in color. Your dog’s eye color is based on their genes, with our domesticated dogs differing from their wolf ancestors, whose eyes were a variety of colors and shades, Purina says.

Dogs can have eye colors other than brown. Liver-colored individuals will tend to have lighter, amber eyes. Blue eyes tend to be associated with a lack of pigment in the coat, often occurring in dogs with a merle gene or in those with a large presence of white on their coats and faces. Blue eyes can also be inherited as a completely separate gene, commonly seen in Huskies. In some dogs one eye will be brown and the other blue. 


Dogs are not colorblind.

According to Purina, dogs do see colors differently to us but they are not colorblind. This is because they have fewer cones, the light-catching cells that respond to color. Humans have three different types of cones, enabling us to see a whole spectrum of colors, while dogs only have two different types.

dog vision

On color-discrimination tests, dogs can distinguish shades of yellow, blue and grey. While we may see their dog toy as a vibrant shade of red, they view it as a dull grey! However, they can see many shades of grey, as they have more rods, light-sensitive cells.

So, the next time your dog can’t find the red ball that you just threw onto a green lawn, remember that their world, while still full of vivid blues and yellows, is probably a bit less colorful than your own. But don’t feel sorry for dogs because of this. What they lack in visual ability, they make up for in sense of smell. Their noses have been estimated to be up to 100 million times more sensitive than yours. Their eyesight may be limited, but they can smell in 3D, IMAX, and Technicolor.


They tend to be Nearsighted.

Dogs also tend to be nearsighted to varying degrees. A poodle, for example, is estimated to have what we would call 20/75 vision in the US (about 6/24 elsewhere in the world).

However, dogs do outperform humans in some visual abilities. Dogs are much more sensitive to motion at a distance — anywhere from 10 to 20 times more sensitive than humans. Their vision is also well-suited to hunting during dawn and dusk.

Combining their motion and twilight sensitivity with a wider degree of peripheral vision than humans, a dog’s eyes are perfectly suited for hunting down fast-moving prey.


Dogs can recognize their owners.

Ever wondered if your dog can recognize you?

dog vision

Purina says that dogs recognize their owners, probably as a combination of visual and scent stimuli and familiarity with our behavior. Dogs are also highly attuned to our facial features, being more attentive to us when they can see our faces.

We can, in turn, become highly attuned to our dogs’ expressions. Have you ever noticed that when you greet your dog, after a period of separation, they move their left eyebrow upwards?  When your dog is frightened, you may be more likely to see a furrowed brow or the whites of their eyes, as they turn their heads away in an attempt to avoid the situation.


How important is vision for our dogs?

As animals age, their senses, including sight, often deteriorates. Alternatively dogs may lose their sight due to injury or other medical conditions. Dogs rely more on other senses such as smell and hearing, so losing their sight is not such a major issue as you might think. Keep your dog’s environment consistent – don’t move furniture around and take care if out walking or interacting with other dogs.

dog vision

Apart from learning these amazing facts on dog vision, as responsible dog parents we should also be reminded to take good care of our dogs. Dogs won’t tell if there is something wrong about them. However, as precious as dog’s eyes are, it can also tell us much about their health. We can check them regularly by looking at their eyes. If you notice something different, like cloudiness, teariness or redness, it’s best for you to consult your veterinarian.

Think of how important your vision is for you. That’s also how important vision is for our dogs. They feel happy simply by seeing us and being with us. Let’s take good care of our dogs. This will be our secret on raising up healthy and a happy dogs.


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