How do dogs see the world?
It’s easy to think that dogs experience the world in the same way that we do. We all seek snacks, snuggles, sleep, shelter… We’re both sociable creatures and encounter all kinds of emotions. Who recognises a ‘stubborn’ dog as similar to a stubborn human? Incidentally, there are only ever two reasons why a pooch won’t do what you’ve asked:
- They don’t understand what you’ve asked them to do
- They’re not motivated enough to do it
But dogs do view the world differently from us and have surprisingly distinct visual systems to humans. While dog eyes are made up of the same biological building blocks as our eyes, their organic components are arranged to create a distinctly different way of seeing the world.
The main difference between human and dog eyesight comes down to the two main photoreceptor types found in retinas: rods and cones.
Dogs only have two types of cone to decipher colour, whilst humans largely interpret colour through three (which filter blue, red and green light).
However it’s not all bad news for our pups - they can see extremely well in dim light due to the volume of rods in their eyes. It is an evolutionary adaptation that ancestors of the domestic dog enjoyed when hunting at dawn and dusk.
Are dogs colour blind?
Whilst dogs’ worlds are much brighter than monochrome, it is true they are colour blind and experience a much lower range on the colour spectrum. Their colour palette is far more limited than the average human, and probably similar to what we see at dusk.
Dogs’ eyes only recognise two colours: blue-violet and yellow. Everything else is a shade of grey. Choosing dog-friendly colours for toys will definitely help to aid agility and training, and will make playtime far more engaging for our pooches. A lot of people buy bright red toys because they think dogs will be able to see them against green grass. Dogs will see them, but they will be a yellowy-brown shade to them. Not quite as fun!
How can dogs spot squirrels?
Dogs retinas are predominantly rods, which allow high detection of motion and vision in dim and dark light. They are also typically nearsighted with a wider field of view than humans, which helps their hunting efforts and provides better motion detection. Great for sniffing out those sneaky squirrels!
Humans have a much poorer peripheral vision as our eyes are set forward. However, our 140° overlapping eyeline allows us to see objects far away in greater detail than dogs do. It’s why when your pooches run to the other side of the park, they are unlikely to recognise you from sight alone.
Is my dog watching TV?
Who doesn’t love it when their pooch pal joins them on the sofa for a bit of quality telly time? Well, it turns out they love it as much as we do! You may have noticed that they can distinguish between canines and other animals without the aid of audio or smell cues. It is hard to know what dogs are “thinking” when they watch TV, and some may take it much more seriously than others, but they can indeed roughly see what we see on a modern flat-screen telly.
Jurassic Bark anyone?