HOW DO DOGS SEE?

LittleDog

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Many questions and curiosity arise about how dogs see. We’ve all heard at some point that dogs are colorblind, that they only see in black and white or shades of gray, but that’s not true. Can they watch TV? Do they have excellent night vision? In this article, we provide answers to all these questions to clear up any doubts.

How Do Dogs See Colors?

The answer is yes, dogs can see colors, but not in the same way or intensity as humans.

Dogs perceive everything in shades of yellow, blue, and gray. Green, yellow, and orange colors appear as variations of yellow to them. There has been much speculation about whether dogs can see the color red, and it turns out they perceive red and orange as a dark gray color.

Why do dogs see colors differently? It all comes down to cones, which are cells located in the eye responsible for capturing light.

There are three types of cones, each designed to capture one of the three primary light colors: red, green, and blue. Studies have shown that dogs only have two types of cones instead of three, which is why they can see colors but not as many as we can.

While dogs’ brains receive a lot of information through their vision, their ability to perceive colors is more limited and reduced compared to humans. Their visual acuity is also much lower than what’s considered normal for a human. Dogs can see objects and shapes, but they can’t see many fine details clearly.

How Do Dogs See in the Dark?

Dogs have the ability to see in the dark. As descendants of wolves, they inherited great scotopic vision due to their crepuscular nature, meaning they were nocturnal hunters. The key to their excellent night vision lies in the wide dilation of a dog’s pupils and a high number of rods (photoreceptor cells in the retina). Additionally, dogs have a layer called the tapetum lucidum, which acts like a mirror, intensifying light. This allows them to see well in low-light conditions and perceive details. However, they can’t see in complete darkness and need at least a small, dim light source to amplify.

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Why Do Dogs’ Eyes Shine in the Dark?

You’ve probably seen the strange green or yellowish glow in a dog’s eyes when a light shines on them at night. It can be unsettling, but it has an explanation. That peculiar glow is also caused by the tapetum, located behind the retina, which acts as a mirror. The tapetum reflects and amplifies light through a photoelectric phenomenon called fluorescence. Fluorescence changes the color of the reflection, resulting in the yellow or greenish glows you see.

In summary, dogs can see in the dark thanks to their dilated pupils, numerous photoreceptor cells in the retina, and the tapetum. The tapetum is responsible for the nighttime shine in dogs’ eyes.

Can Dogs Watch TV?

Some dog owners report that their pets completely ignore the television, while others claim their dogs watch attentively, even barking at animals on the screen. What’s happening here?

When we perceive movement on a TV screen, it’s actually changes in the light pattern that our retina captures. Although we perceive it as continuous light, it’s made up of flickers, but at a frequency too high for us to notice. Dogs stop perceiving these flickers at a frequency greater than 75 Hz, whereas humans stop at a frequency above 55 Hz.

Until recently, dogs only saw flickers when watching TV, but it’s becoming more common for dogs to react to images of animals on the screen. This is due to technological advances and high-resolution screens with a higher Hz frequency.

Now you have a clearer understanding of how dogs see, which can help you better grasp your pet’s perspective of the world. While their vision provides them with a lot of information, their most informative sense is their sense of smell. If you’re curious about how much better dogs smell than humans, you can check out our article that explains fascinating facts about dogs’ sense of smell.