It’s a chilly afternoon, and you are happily playing fetch with your dog. You throw the ball towards different directions, and your pet excitedly runs to get it for you. Then you decide to throw the red ball on the lawn, and your dog suddenly seemed confused as to where it landed.

This scenario frequently happens, and most of us don’t have any idea why it does. As a pet owner, don’t we all sometimes wonder what dogs can actually see? How does the world look like from a dog’s point of view?


Common Queries, Misconceptions, and the Reality


1. Dogs only see the world in “black or white.”

While a dog’s color vision is different and may have certain limitations as compared to us humans, they do see colors. Although it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly which color our pooch is seeing, the rods and cones in their eyes which serve as light receptors can detect some colors.

Although their color vision is not as bright, they do see the world mostly in blue, yellow, or gray. It is contrary to the common belief that dogs usually see the entire world in black and white.


2. Are dogs really “color blind”?

The vision of a dog is, to some extent, similar to a person who is “red-green” color blind. Like humans, dogs usually have two color receptors. These are the cones, which is responsible for day vision, and the rods, which deals with peripheral along with the night vision as well as the shades of gray.

Humans have three types of cones, each one able to detect a different wavelength of light. Through these cones, we can recognize a wide array of hues. Dogs, conversely, has only two forms of cones. Hence, it limits their capability to see different colors.

The eyes of dogs have a different structure so that their brain can interpret signals from their cone cells the same way a color blind person’s mind does. To see color, both dogs and humans rely on neural reactions inside the eye’s retina.

In color blind people and dogs, both green and red lights have impartial effects on the retina. Without a signal to interpret, their brain cannot perceive the color. Therefore, where a normal human sees green or red; your pet only sees gray.


3. Are dogs “near-sighted”?

Dogs have a tendency for nearsightedness in varying degrees. A particular test explicitly created for dogs puts them at approximately 20/75 vision. To give you an idea of how weak this vision means, imagine that a human with a vision of 20/40, which will have you fail a standard vision test when applying for a driver’s license.

In the United States, this will require you to wear glasses when driving. It also means that the pattern a human can detect at 75 feet, a dog can see at 20 feet.


4. Can dogs see in the dark?

Dogs generally have more light receptors than humans. These receptors, or rods, enable them to detect and understand better in the dark. This is an ability to see better in dim light. It is made possible through the light reflecting cells found at the back of the dogs’ eyes.

Sometimes, it is known as the tapeta lucidum, a mirror-like structure which reflects light, and allows the retina a second chance of processing light which has entered the eyes. Although it helps their vision in the dark, it also scatters the light. It somehow lowers the dog’s vision from the standard 20/20 to about 20/80.

These cells leave them a blurry vision in bright light. They also cause your dog’s eyes to often glow in the dark.


What Makes Dog’s Vision Better Than Humans?


1. A dog’s binocular vision

Unlike us humans, dogs have eyes located at the side of their head. It allows them to have a much more full visual field of 250 degrees, as compared to the human visual field of 190 degrees. It is a 60-degree peripheral vision advantage of dogs over humans.

In canines, the central or binocular vision is about half of that of humans. It is where the visual field of both eyes usually meet and intersect. It helps gauge and interpret the distance of an object in view. This distance is hard to decipher with areas of the field where only one eye can see, but they can still see color, movements, or shape.

Some dogs like Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labradors, have binocular overlaps of about 75 degrees as compared to around 120 degrees in humans. No wonder why these dogs are famous for being guide dogs! It is because while we have eyes in front of our face, dogs have eyes which are 20% apart.


2. Motion and Distance Acuity

It is an area where a dog’s visual ability outperforms that of a human. Canines are about 10 to 20 times more sensitive to motion at a distance than humans. Since they are more adept to see in dim lights, their vision makes them very effective when they hunt during dawn or dusk.


Tips to Take Good Care of Your Dog’s Eyes

Bacteria can be the main reason for infections of your dog’s eyes. You can treat these infections by using antibiotics and solutions. Conjunctivitis is categorized by the amount of redness around the eye and some greenish or yellowish discharge.

It is the most common cause of canine’s eye infection. Other reasons can be trauma, eyelash abnormalities, or foreign body in the eyes.

Here are some moves to lessen the chances of your pet acquiring an eye infection.

  • Avoid scraping the hair around your dog’s eyes to prevent the introduction of bacteria. Also, trim it regularly using blunt-nosed scissors.
  • Make sure that the corner of your dog’s eyes is mucus free by using sterile veterinary eyewashes.
  • When using insecticides or bathing your pet, make sure to use protective ophthalmic ointment to prevent eye irritations and infection.
  • Keep your dog away from situations that might cause eye trauma. For example, exposure to irritating substances or fights with other dogs.
  • Use tear stain removers for removing excess tears spilling down the eyelids. It can be a hotbed for bacteria since some canines don’t have the mechanism for draining tears from the lacrimal gland.



Although dogs may not see as thoroughly as humans, these differences did not hinder man and dog from living alongside each other.

While humans rely heavily on their vision, dogs have learned to use their other senses to interpret the world. In fact, their noses are estimated to be 100 million times more sensitive than humans.

So, the next time you throw a ball on the lawn and your dog can’t seem to find it, remember that it has other means to discover it. And chances are, it will.


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