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Can Dogs See In The Dark?

8 min read

To see in the dark without a light source is not a common thing we, as humans, can experience.

Taking a walk at night or getting in a dim area, we know that without the usage of a flashlight or any source of light our chance for seeing is more close to zero, but does our dogs have to deal with the same thing? Can dogs see in the dark?

Dogs have got the ability to see five times better than humans, thanks to “Rods” the cells that are responsible for light sensitivity and its location in the eye, dogs could receive images with a brighter aura even in dimmer areas. Also, the tapetum, which is a mirror-like part found at the back of the eye, would help in reflecting the light which will give dogs better chances for registering the light, thus, a better view of any images, even in dark areas.

a dog and a man at dawn-dogs see in the dark

Although cats are the most famous for having a great ability to see in the dark, our canines have got an exceptional night vision too, it is not only a catty advantage!

How Can Dogs See In The Dark?

a dog- dogs see at night

The structure of our canines’ eyes makes them able to distinguish a lot of things even with the absence of good light source.

Plenty of adaptations are found in a dog’s eyes so he could see efficiently in the dark, for instance, dogs have got large pupils which allows more light to get through the eye, thus, better vision.

Digging deeper and knowing more about the anatomy of the eyes, there are more in a dog’s eye that will make his night vision better than ours;

The cornea(the transparent part of the eye) wouldn’t only protect the eye but also helps in focusing the light in the retina(the part that is responsible for sending the nerve pulses to the brain for picture formation).

The pupil is the brownish part in the center of the eye and is responsible for the amount of light getting into the dog’s eyes.

As for the Iris (the colored area of the eye), it controls the amount of light that is getting into the eyes by making the pupil of the eye large or small depending on the amount of the light found.

Besides all of these are the most important element in better vision for our dogs which is the light-sensitive cells, in other words, the Rods.

Rods are photoreceptor cells along with cones, rods are responsible for making the eyes work better in dim areas, as for cones, they are responsible for detecting colors.

Dogs and cats have more rods in their eyes than humans which allow them to easily detect things in the dark, also the lens in dogs’ eyes are closer to the retina than in a human eye and this allows the picture to be brighter.

The tapetum lucidum( a mirror-like part at the back of the dogs’ eyes) also helps in reflecting light giving the retina the chance to register the picture more accurately.

You know that mirror glowy eyes’ gaze from our pets that frightens the heck out of us at night sometimes? Blame the tapetum for it!

Also, dogs have another assist to make him see in the dark which is flicker fusion frequency.

The flicker fusion frequency or FFF is the level of frequency in which the dog can see the light without any flickering, but as a source of light, he can depend on.

The higher the FFF gets in a creature, the better his vision in the dark would be, that’s why dogs and cats have the ability to see more efficiently than humans as they have got higher FFF.

Can Some Dog Breeds See Better Than Others?

a dog in front of campfire-dogs can see in the dark

Experts agreed that all dog breeds have the same ability for viewing colors and the ability to see in the dark, but there are anatomical differences in dogs that would make a dog being able to see much better than another one in the dark.

The position of the eyes or the length of the snout would make a dog has a more efficient view in dark spots and distinguishing the light.

A dog with a small range between the eyes and a short snout would overlap in the range of his vision a dog with a long snout and eyes slightly away from each other, this is known as binocular vision.

Another fact is that the wide-ranging view of dogs’ vision is thought to be about 240 degrees. Even cats won’t beat dogs when we are talking about the range of viewing, with a 200 degree which is about 15% less than the viewing range of dogs, kudos canines!

So, does that mean that our dogs’ vision is different than ours in more things?

Is Dogs Vision Is Different from Human Vision?

a little girl hugging a dog-dogs can see in the dark

Dogs vision is different than human vision in many aspects than seeing in dark areas, humans got a thing called fovea that is responsible for seeing vivid details, our canines don’t have it.

The absence of fovea in dogs’ eyes makes them see the details in many things as we can, maybe the lack of fovea made dogs can’t witness details like us but they could detect motion way better than us.

As dogs can’t see details, their eyes have the chance to focus on detecting motion and movements, that’s why our dogs have the ability to see a squirrel or any other animal on trees that are about 50 feet away.

a dog wearing a mask-dogs can see in the dark

In terms of a 20/20 vision scale, dogs will get a 20/75.

To further explain this, dogs would barely notice any details on the range of 20 feet while a human with a 20/20 vision could see with no much effort at a range of 75 feet.

This doesn’t mean our dogs are blind they just don’t have the ability to detect details like us.

They see the world from a different perspective, their abilities to see guaranteed their survival until now so there is nothing wrong with our canines of seeing.

If you are interested in knowing how a blind dog walks or deal with its surroundings, check How to Make A Blind Dog Bumper Collar (A DIY Guide Using 9 Items)2019 to know the benefit of making this collar and why a blind dog needs it.

Why Do Dogs Need to See In The Dark?

Maybe our domesticated dogs won’t need this ability in their lives so often, but long ago, dogs used to live in the wild along with other wild creatures and for surviving, dogs will need more than their claws.

Wild dogs needed to defend themselves from other predators, so they needed to be able to locate them day and night.

Coyotes, bears or wolves were a threat to the dogs’ lives, and dogs needed to look out for them.

If a dog can’t locate these larger predators like those then his life is at risk or maybe he would be deeply wounded by them and this just because he can’t defend himself without seeing the threat.

Yes, dogs’ vision is not ideal, but all that they need is to be able to navigate in the woods or even in their dens if it is too dim for any possible enemy.

Even our dogs now would need the ability to see in the dark to be able to play anywhere, navigate anything that may hurt them and be alerted to prevent any incidents from happening.

How to Make Sure My Dog Is Seeing In The Dark?

There are some signs that will ensure that your dog can see at night, the most common one of them is that you never noticed that your dog doesn’t have any problems while roaming in the house at night and also, never run into anything while doing so.

Noticing any kind of movement without having much light on that spot is considered one of the signs also, getting things even in the dark, your dog roaming the backyard, or home and come with zero injuries.

Another indication that your dog is seeing well at night is the dog’s body language, our canines will show the same signs when he sees something in the daytime as well.

These signs include barking at things that approach him or stare at small animals or squirrels at night as he does at day time.

You may find your dog alert, wiggling his tail and staring at a specific spot, if you looked closely, you may detect the thing that got your dog’s attention.

All these signs should make you assure that your dog is not having a problem to see in the dark.

Who Can See Better at Night Dogs or Cats?

Maybe dogs will win over cats at the competition of the range of viewing, but cats will not lose the battle of seeing better at night.

Dogs and cats have very sensitive eyes for light more than that found in humans, dogs can detect things in the dark five times more than a human can, while cats, on the other hand, can see seven times better than a human.

So, cats would rule in the darkness of the nights!

Whether our dogs have got the ability to see at night or not, we need to realize that our dogs have different structure and comprehension level than us and we need to always keep that in mind.

You could also check When Should We Introduce Puppies to Gruel + 5 Gruel Recipes and Can Adult Dogs Regrow Teeth? Is It Possible? for new interesting information about how to take care of our beloved canines.

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