10 Facts About Dogs' Eyes, Vision & How They See Color | Pupford
September 25th, 2023
Filed under Lifestyle + Stories
Ahh, puppy dog eyes. Those all-powerful eyes that give dogs the power to get their way more often than we’d care to admit. But there’s so much more to dogs’ eyes than just emotional manipulation. So, let's look at some facts about dogs' eyes!
We get a lot of questions in our community about how our dogs see. Can dogs see colors? What does the world look like through their eyes? How does their vision differ from ours? Etc…
Today we’re going to answer those questions and share more facts about life through your dog’s eyes!
1. DOGS DO NOT ONLY SEE IN BLACK AND WHITE
There’s a common misconception that dogs see in black and white – but while it’s true that dogs see color differently than we do, they are able to see some color.
Dogs see similar to a person with red-green colorblindness. They can’t recognize red, green, or orange in the way that people with full-color vision can, but they can pick up some yellows and blues.
This is because dogs only have about one-tenth of the number of cones in their retinas, which are the cells responsible for color perception. They also only have two color receptors (dichromatic) vs. the three (trichromatic) that most humans have.
Here’s a of the differences in how a person sees vs. a dog:
They can also discern different shades of gray, – but unlike popular opinion, they’re not limited to just that.
2. DOGS ARE DRAWN TO CERTAIN COLORS
Since dogs are only capable of seeing certain colors, they naturally are drawn to the ones they can see best.
Based on the chart in the previous section, it makes sense that dogs gravitate towards blue and yellow.
But then why do we see so many dog toys with reds, oranges, greens, and other bright colors? It’s simple…it’s more pleasing to the human eye, and easier for us to see the toy against backgrounds like grass.
The truth is, your dog will probably be able to engage more easily with objects that are yellow or blue. But, they’ll likely enjoy playing no matter what!
3. DOGS RESPOND WELL TO CONTRASTING COLORS AND PATTERNS
Since it’s a little more difficult for dogs to distinguish colors, high-contrast colors and patterns are very attractive to them.
There are even some that believe if you wear clothing with contrasting colors and patterns, your dog will respond better. This is believed to be because you will stand out from the background which makes it easier for your dog to pay attention to you.
It’s definitely something worth trying – especially if you’re due for a wardrobe upgrade ;)
4. DOGS TYPICALLY HAVE 20/75 VISION
Having 20/20 vision is considered “perfect” because it means that an object that is 20 feet away from you is seen with the clarity of an object that is actually 20 feet away.
Dogs, however, typically have 20/75 vision, meaning they see objects that are 20 feet away in the same way most people see objects that are actually 75 feet away. This means most objects are blurrier and harder to focus on detail for most dogs.
Some breeds, like greyhounds, whippets, and labrador retrievers have vision that’s closer to 20/20.
5. DOGS HAVE EXCELLENT NIGHT VISION
Dogs see much better than we do in the dark.
Remember before how we said dogs have fewer cones in their retina which means they can’t process color as well? On the other hand, they have more rods than people do, which are the cells responsible for processing light.
They also have an extra layer on their retinas called the tapetum lucidum which reflects light to further improve low-light vision.
These two things allow dogs to see objects in much lower levels of light than we do. A room that’s pitch black to us is usually easily navigated by a dog.
6. DOGS HAVE GREATER PERIPHERAL VISION THAN HUMANS
We have a 180-degree field of vision meaning we can see in front of us, and to the sides, but not behind us.
Dogs, however, have about a 240-degree field of vision, with some breeds having even closer to 300 degrees! Their peripheral vision is much stronger than ours, and they can see things that are even slightly behind them!
7. DOGS MAY BE ABLE TO SEE IN ULTRAVIOLET
A study in The Royal Society Biological Sciences journal suggests that dogs can see ultraviolet.
There’s not a ton of research out there to explain why this is just yet, but dogs can see a broader spectrum of wavelengths than we can. Fun fact: cats, hedgehogs, and ferrets can see in UV also!
8. DOGS' EYES GET HAZY WITH AGE
Have you ever noticed an older dog’s eyes look cloudy? This is called lenticular sclerosis or nuclear sclerosis and happens as connective tissues in the eye lens change with age.
While this condition is normal and mostly harmless, it does closely resemble cataracts in appearance. It’s important to have your dog’s eyes regularly examined to rule out cataracts and other serious conditions.
9. DOG VISION DEVELOPS SLOWLY
Did you know that puppies don’t even open their eyes until 10-14 days after being born? From there, it takes several weeks for their vision to develop fully.
Luckily, they can rely heavily on other senses like smell and feel to navigate their surroundings while their vision develops.
10. SOME DOGS CAN BE PRONE TO PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA) & CATARACTS
While we always hope our dogs can stay happy and healthy for their whole lives, it’s good to know the signs of potential issues:
- Cataracts are cloudy lenses in the retina that are typically inherited genetically but also can be caused by diabetes. The good news is that unless the cataract covers more than a third of the lens, there usually isn’t a disruption to vision.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a progressive disease where photoreceptor cells in the retina deteriorate, leading to blindness. The first sign of this disease is often night blindness, where dogs are reluctant or nervous in dark spaces.
The best way to catch eye issues early and prevent progression (when possible) is to bring your dog for a routine checkup every year.
RECAP OF FACTS ABOUT DOGS' EYES & VISION
Dogs' vision and eyes are incredible! They have unique characteristics that help dogs accomplish some amazing things.
What other questions/comments do you have about your dog’s vision? Share them in the comments below!