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29 Apr What do dogs see?

You may have heard the rumour going round that dogs can only see in black and white, but is this true? Well actually, no. Although canine vision differs to ours, they can in fact see in multiple colours. But what else is there to discover about our dog’s vision? We reckon it’s time to find out.

Springer Spaniel with lake as a backdrop

Are dogs colour blind?

Let’s start with some science.

It all begins with receptor cell cones. These clever cells are what allow us and other creatures to see colours. While we humans have three types, a dog only has two, which means, they cannot see the world as we do. In fact, a dog’s eyes can only see blue, yellow and grey. So if you’re playing fetch on green grass with a red ball, that means all your pooch is going to see is a mix of dark browns and greys. But don’t feel bad for them, they more than make up for it in other ways. 

How far can they see?

Dogs are very nearsighted with an average 20/75 vision. This means that what we can see from 75ft away, is what they can see at 20ft away. This may not seem like much, but even though they can’t see things close up, they have an incredible ability to sense things that are far away.

It’s said that dogs can detect motion somewhere between 10 – 20 times better than people because of their higher sensitivity. They also have a much wider degree of peripheral vision which means they’re not really at any disadvantage. 

Vizsla looking at at owner in river

Can dogs see in the dark?

Yes! Whilst you’re still munching carrots in the hopes of one day having night vision, your pup already has this one covered. 

Your dog’s eyes have larger pupils and lenses, meaning they take in more light. Because of this, there are more light sensitive cells in their retina, allowing a better response to lower light levels. 

Their lens is also much closer to their retina than ours is, which makes everything appear much brighter. A mirror-like feature in the back of the eye is what makes their eyes glow, and improves their vision even further. This means that dogs can see up to 5 times better at night compared to us.    

Can dogs see with their noses? 

A dog’s nose is leaps and bounds stronger than ours. To put it into numbers for you, a person’s nose has around five million smell receptors, whereas dogs will have about three hundred million! 

This might begin to explain how they always seem to find fox poo in even the largest of fields. So keep an eye out, as if they discover it you can bet they’re going to roll in it, adding hosing them down to your list of jobs when you get home.

Their nose superpowers don’t stop there though. By sniffing a spot just a couple of times they can tell what has previously happened there. There have even been cases of dogs sniffing out diseases in the human body. We know right, these guys really are incredible. 

Dog running in field away from owner

So there we have it, dogs do have a similarity of colour blindness to humans, but it doesn’t hold them back, as they’re able to see much better at night, can detect at a much higher level, and their noses help guide them to that forsaken pile of poo. 

Want more questions about your dog answered? We got you. PitPat’s activity monitor gives you an exercise goal that is tailored to your dog’s age, weight and breed. So you can say goodbye to questioning if you’ve got the balance right, with PitPat you’ll know you have. 

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