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What Do Dogs See?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
What Do Dogs See?

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It is a very common question that dog owners and people who live with dogs on a daily basis to ask themselves. How does my dog see me? Do dogs see in two dimensions? Does my dog see the world in the same way I do or other animals do?

To answer this question, at AnimalWised we have created this article, which addresses this issue in detail, to help you understand what dogs see, what colors they perceive, their capacities and other fun facts, such as the evolution of their vision. Continue reading for more!

You may also be interested in: Can Dogs See Ghosts?

When do dogs start to see?

At birth, a puppy is blind and totally dependent on his mother. It is around 3 weeks of age when they start to open their eyes and see.

Later, at about 5 weeks of age, the puppy has fully developed peripheral vision. It is considered that between five and seven weeks of life we can start to train the puppy, since it is more independent of the mother and most of its senses are developed.

Do not forget to educate them in an environment with few stimuli, as the dog will not be distracted and will learn faster. When they reach three months of age, the puppy already sees in the same way as a fully grown dog.

What Do Dogs See? - When do dogs start to see?

How do dogs see humans?

Unlike humans, dogs do not want to spend their time staring at a computer or a mobile phone. Their concerns are more focused on survival and their vision is continuously adapting to it.

Dogs spend the day observing the world around them and seeing their beloved family. Their vision is very different from ours, so the dog does not see the way we see them.

A dog's vision and the way it sees the world depends on several factors:

  • Ability to measure distances (visual field and depth perception): the position of the eyes in an animal's head determines peripheral vision and the amount of visual field that the dog can observe with both eyes. This is known as binocular vision. It allows them to see in depth and measure distances correctly. A dog's field of vision is 240º, while ours is 200º. Contrarily, the binocular vision of humans is superior to a dog's.
  • Ability to focus on objects (visual sharpness): this ability allows them to focus on different objects and tell the difference between one from the other. The cornea and lens are responsible for this ability.
  • Perception of movement: dogs have a very sensitive vision to movement. There are even studies that reveal that they can detect moving objects or animals up to 800 meters.
  • Telling colors apart:cones are cells that are found in the retina, which determine the perception of colors, as long as they are stimulated by the light of different wavelengths.

Do dogs see in black and white or color?

You have surely been told more than once that dogs see in black and white. What is the truth behind this myth? What do dogs see when it comes to color? Dogs do not see colors the way we humans do, but the claim that they see black and white is a false myth.

The cones, the cells found in the retina that we mentioned before, allow the dog to perceive different colors, thanks to light. While humans have a high sensitivity to three different colors: red, blue and green (trichromatic vision), dogs are sensitive only to two colors: blue and yellow (dichromatic vision). Therefore, they are not able to perceive red but can see a certain amount of color. In the picture below you can see the difference between what colors a human sees and those that a dog perceives.

What Do Dogs See? - Do dogs see in black and white or color?

Can dogs see in the dark? What is their vision like at night?

Of course! Dogs can see in the dark and it is one of the most important characteristics they have, therefore, they are great night hunters.

The dog's pupil has a great capacity for expansion and that allows the retina to receive more stimulation the milder the light is. The reflecting cells in the retina form a layer of tissue called tapetum lucidum, which is what makes mammals have nocturnal vision. We humans do not have this capacity.

Of course in the total darkness the dog will not be able to see anything, since they require some light, however, if it is dim it will be enough to stimulate these cells.

Can dogs see long distance?

A dog manages to distinguish objects that are about 6 meters (19.6 ft) away, unlike a person, which can see up to 25 meters away. This ability depends essentially on the cornea and lens so, as with humans', a dog's lens can be better or worse depending on each individual.

Some dogs suffer from myopia and others from farsightedness. The Labrador Retriever, for example, is one of the breeds known to have better sight, while the German Shepherd or the Rottweiler tend to suffer from myopia.

What Do Dogs See? - Can dogs see long distance?

Other facts about dogs' sight

Next we are going to review some curious facts related to a dog's eyesight:

  • A dog is not able to see more than half a meter from the ground and, some smaller breeds, just see a few centimeters. For example, a Pekingese has a much smaller visual range than a Newfoundland.
  • Another interesting fact is that the dog's visual memory is not as good as ours, they prefer to remember through the senses of hearing and smell.
  • Why don't dogs look at themselves in the mirror? Have you ever asked yourself this question?The truth is that the dog manages to see their image reflected in the mirror, but the first times they are not able to recognize themselves, so they tend to attack, flee or bark.
  • It is also often asked if dogs see ghosts. It is very common to think about it if we catch our dog staring into thin air or barking at the "nothingness". The truth is that many people wonder if their dogs have paranormal abilities and if it is true that dogs see spirits. We can never really know.

The incredible abilities of dogs are mainly due to their incredible sense of smell, which allows them to even find survivors in catastrophic scenarios. The vision of the dog is very different from ours, but it is perfectly adequate for the needs of the species.

What Do Dogs See? - Other facts about dogs' sight

If you want to read similar articles to What Do Dogs See?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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Fasinating.

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