Almost every dog owner has had the same, solitary question cross their mind at some point in their lives: How do dogs see? On the surface, it appears to be a straightforward question, but it turns out that a dog’s vision is highly complicated and distinct from that of humans.
Understanding those distinctions can assist us in better understanding why our canine companions behave in the peculiar ways they do.
Basics of Vision
There are two fundamental structures in the retina of mammals that allow them to see. These are referred to as rods and cones, and each is responsible for a particular aspect of vision. Rods are crucial for seeing in low light conditions and are very sensitive to light.
Cones, on the other hand, are responsible for color perception and hence require more light to function properly. Humans and dogs both have rods and cones in their eyes, which are similar in appearance. However, these distinct cone types are present in varied quantities, and dogs are missing a particular form of cones.
While dogs’ color vision is limited and different from ours, they do see color, and looking at the world through a dog’s eyes can reveal some interesting insights. Humans see the world in color because their eyes include three types of color receptor cells, or cones. The brain combines the varying intensities and proportions of the three colors seen by our eyes to create the full-color world we know.
Dogs’ color vision is most similar to that of a person who suffers from red-green color blindness, while there are some differences. Dogs are less sensitive to fluctuations in grey tones and brightness than humans.
Dogs are also commonly nearsighted. A poodle, for example, has 20/75 eyesight in the US (and 6/24 vision overseas). But dogs do have some optical advantages over humans. Dogs are up to 20 times more sensitive to distant motion than humans. Their eyesight is ideal for hunting at dawn and dusk.
Dogs’ eyes are perfectly suited for hunting fast-moving prey, combining motion and twilight sensitivity with a larger peripheral vision than humans.
What Colors Can Dogs See?
According to Jay Neitz, director of the Neitz Color Vision Lab at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington, a dog’s color vision is identical to that of a person with red-green color blindness.
Dogs can distinguish between the hues yellow and blue, as well as mixtures of those colors. This brings about a lot of the globe to look dull and brown. There that verdant lawn? There is a good chance that it appears like a field of dead hay. Isn’t that red velvet pillow eye-catching? But it seems like a dark brown, watery lump to the dog.
It is possible to see things through your dog’s eyes using an online program called Dog Vision. Aside from that, there are applications that you can use to see what your dog is seeing at any given time.
Dog’s Vision at Night
It is more than simply the tapetum that contributes to improved night vision in dogs. The eyes of dogs contain more rods than the eyes of humans, which allows them to see in much lower light than we can.
Dogs also have larger pupils than humans, which is another advantage. Pupils dilate automatically in order to regulate the amount of light that enters the eye. When it’s dark, human pupils will dilate as much as they can to allow in as much light as they can to see clearly. The pupils of dogs behave in the same way.
Their maximum dilation, on the other hand, is significantly larger. As a result of these adaptations, dogs are incredibly proficient at tracking movement in low light. Through the sacrifice of a few colors and fine details, they are able to detect the presence of rustling prey in the dim light of the waning moon.
Because of this trade-off, their wolf-like ancestors were better able to thrive in the wild.
How Dogs See Details
In one experiment, canine participants were asked to compare two patterns side by side in order to determine whether they were nearsighted or farsighted. One had vertical black and white stripes, while the other was grey.
A treat was given if the dog recognized the striped pattern. The stripes got smaller as the test went on. The dog could only perceive two similar solid grey patterns when the striped pattern blurred together.
Scientists turned a dog’s stripe width into the standard 20/20 visual acuity rating. The dogs’ final acuity was around 20/75. That means a dog can see at 20 feet what a human can see at 75 feet. Dogs are therefore exceedingly nearsighted.
Again, evolution for night hunting seems to be the explanation. The tapetum, a reflecting membrane, enhances light reaching a dog’s eyes. However, it also scatters some of the light, making their eyes less able to focus on minute details.
What Do Dogs See When They Watch TV?
In the old days, prior to flat-screen TVs, dogs most likely viewed the television as a giant flashing light. This is due to the fact that, despite they appeared to be continuously generating light, previous televisions actually flickered at a rate that was only faster than the human eye could perceive (which is about 60Hz, or 60 cycles a second).
Because most dogs are able to detect light flickering at a frequency of approximately 70–80 Hz, it is likely that they saw these screens as a strobe lighting machine.
In today’s world, however, the refresh rate of a modern flat-screen television is approximately 120 Hz. This means that dogs can get a general idea of what we are seeing on the screen. Even without the use of audible cues, dogs have been found to be able to distinguish between canines and other animals on modern screen.
What Does This Mean to You and Your Dog?
This makes sense because you now know that dogs are unable to see certain colors, thus it would be in your best interest to purchase things that highlight the colors they can see. With this knowledge, it may be possible to explain why certain dogs get obsessed with yellow tennis balls but are apathetic to the same ball in pink or red.
Picking something red for your dog to retrieve in the grass or water is a bad idea if you want him to get it. He will loose it if you choose something red for him. When teaching your dog to distinguish between two toys or obedience training dumbells, it is best to use two different colors: one blue and one yellow.
Maintaining Healthy Vision in Dogs
While dogs have exceptional senses of smell and hearing, it is apparent that their eyes are also essential for them to lead a normal life. Providing a dog with a nutritious meal frequently is all that is required to promote healthy vision in the animal.
If you’re looking for a healthy snack, carrots are a good choice. Carrots can be beneficial to our dogs’ eyes in the same way that they are beneficial to our own. They are a fantastic source of beta-carotene, provitamin A, vitamins B, C, D, E, and K, as well as a variety of other minerals and antioxidants.
Other critical nutrients for vision include omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as vitamin A and C. (DHA). A dog food that contains cold water fish is an excellent approach to ensure that your dog’s diet has an adequate amount of EPA and DHA.