How Dogs See The World

Is it all black and white for a canine?

By Catalina Barrios

My what nice eyes you have!

Dogs, dogs, dogs, a human’s most loyal companion. They easily become part of our lives. They listen to us, enjoy when we spoil them, and even are okay if we punish them. They forgive us. They get to know us so well that know when we’ve had a bad day.


They have feelings as we do, and enjoy when we hug them, when we make them feel part of our family. We see them grow and learn new tricks. But have you wondered what can they really see? I can say you probably already know their sense of hearing and smell is way better than humans’.

For a long time I asked myself if my dogs see the same as I do, will she see the same shapes, sizes, or even colors?


As you will learn in this article, dogs see different than humans. I will explain why…

The main difference between what a dog sees compared to a human lies within the eye  itself. The eye has light receptors called cones and rods. The cones help us distinguish different colors while rods help us see in low light.


Humans have more cone receptors than dogs, which means we can see more colors. Human cones can detect 3 colors: red, green and blue while dogs can only detect 2 colors; it is unknown which are those colors. According to Alexandra Horowitz, author of Being a Dog, what dogs see is similar to what we can see at dusk. In daylight, dogs see a bit blurry.


Good thing they have good noses to “see” you through smell.

Dogs can see better than humans at night because they have more rods. To make it more interesting, dogs have a layer of eye tissue that us humans don’t have, called tapetum lucidum. This layer reflects light,  making dogs have a better night vision.


We can see about 1,000,000 different shades of colors in contrast to our furry friend’s vision. Dogs have see about 10,000 different colors. Obstacles at a dog competition are in blue and yellow colors; this is because those are the 2 best colors dogs can see. Dogs can’t perceive the color red. Next time you buy a dog toy, choose a blue or yellow as they will have a hard time identifying red objects near green things such as grass.


These puppy eyes are big enough to see you at night, my dear.

Now that you know dogs have better night vision than humans, you can see why their eyes can be up to five time more sensitive to light than humans. This is because dogs have more rods than humans as well as larger pupils. The increase of rods also gives dogs better motion detection than humans.

Let’s continue learning…


The average human has 20/20 vision while dogs have 20/80 vision. This means a dog has to be 20 feet away from something to see it as clearly as we could if we were 80 feet away! As for movement, dogs are able to spot fast moving objects faster than us.


It’s okay – dogs can find you better than you can find them.

Don’t worry that dogs can’t see as much as we can. What they lack in visual ability, they make up for in their sense of smell. It is said that a dog’s nose can be up to 100 million times more sensitive than humans. No wonder dogs are trained to work with police and rescue organizations. They have an amazing ability that humans just do not have.


Every day we learn something new… Why not learn about the creature living with you!