Sunday, March 6, 2011


People used to think that dogs couldn't see any colors, and that in a dog's eyes, the world looked kind of like an old black-and-white movie.  But now people know better because a bunch of scientists have been studying the subject of what dogs can see.  And what they figured out was that dogs can actually see some colors, but not as many colors as a human can see.  In fact, dogs see stuff pretty much the same way that people do who have what's called red-green colorblindness.  Here is a picture of the colors people can see and also the colors they think dogs can see.  Of course, since I am a dog, both of them look alike to me, but my human readers will probably be able to see the difference.

Anyway, the reason people can see more colors than dogs can is because the two species evolved in different ways so they could find the food and stuff they needed.  So humans, who are primates, the same as chimpanzees and monkeys, went around looking for food in the daytime, and they needed to be able to see colors so they could find nice, ripe fruit and other yummy things to eat.  Also, they used to live in trees, and they had to be able to see where the next tree limb was so that they could jump there without falling down and breaking their necks.

But dogs were nighttime hunters, so they didn't need to see colors so much.  What they needed to see was some animal moving in the tall grass or in the trees, even in the dark.  So their eyes evolved to be able to see movement at a distance.

If you took biology class in school, you might have learned about rods and cones, which are these things inside your eyes that help you see.  The cones are what you need to see color, and the rods help you see better when there's not much light.  People have three kinds of cones, and dogs only have two, so that is why people can see more colors than dogs can.  But the 4% of men who are red-green colorblind only have two kinds of cones, just like dogs.

People have this part of their eye called the fovea, which is made of 100% cones, but dogs don't have this.  What they do have is a bunch more rods than humans have, so they are lots better at seeing in the dark.  And besides that, dogs have something called a tapetum lucidum, which is in the back of the eye, behind the retina, and it reflects light, kind of like a mirror.  So when you see a light shine in dogs' eyes, this is why the eyes look all silver and like "alien eyes," which is what Mom always calls them.

Okay, so besides color, there is something called "acuity," which means how well you can see little details.  And humans have about six times better acuity than dogs do.  In the picture just above, there are some lines, and a human can supposedly make out the separate lines in the top picture, but to me they just look like a gray blur.  I can see the bottom lines, though, because they are wider.  So anyway, if you compared a human's eyes and a dog's eyes using one of those eye chart things, and the human had 20/20 vision, the dog would have something like 20/75.  So this means that dogs are nearsighted.

But guess what!  When it comes to seeing movement, dogs are much better than people.  Some tests that scientists did with dogs showed that the dogs could recognize their humans moving when they were really far away, like 800-900 yards.  But if the humans were standing still, the dogs could only tell them apart when they were 500-600 yards away.  Which is still pretty good, if you ask me.

Another thing that helps dogs see movement is that dogs' eyes are more on the sides of their heads than people's eyes are, and that way, dogs can see a wider range of stuff.  This wider range is called the "field of vision," and dogs that have long muzzles, such as sighthounds, might have a field of vision that is 270˚.  This is much wider than a human's field of vision, which is only 180˚.  But dogs with flat faces, like for instance pugs, see in a range that is more like a person's.

Anyway, even though people see better in some ways than dogs do, in other ways dogs are better.  And just remember that when it comes to seeing the world through scent, dogs will always be the very best of all!


  1. This belongs in a pet magazine, if you ask me. Interesting stuff. And from what I've read, somewhat similar to what cats see. Thanks, Eva and Piper. Alarie

  2. Dear Aunt Alarie,

    Thanks for saying that my blog writing is good enough for a pet magazine. That makes me feel all happy inside, which is way better than feeling all hungry inside! LOL

    I have not done any research on how cats see, but I think you may be right when you say it could be similar to how dogs see. Maybe I will do some in-depth research and write about it in my blog someday.

    Your friend, Piper

  3. Dear Piper,
    I think it was a very good occasion that you mentioned the colour blind thing because my neighbor that recently just moved a couple of days ago, and she couldn't tell red from blue! Anyways it is only depends what shade the colour is so... yea... Anyways, I would like to know if any animals can't see any color at all! Oh and I have a really good idea for your blog, Write about Axolotls!!! They are really funny looking creatures and I want to know about them! Well it is really your choice but you can google Axolotl pictures to see how weird they are! Did you know that that they can regenerate all their major organs? INCLUDING their heart!!! is that cool or WHAT??? Anyways AWESOME blog, now I CLEARLY know why Dog's Eyes turn why when somebody shines a light at them!
    Your # one fan, Tas

  4. Dear Piper,
    See that comment up there, well I made a mistake when I said 'turn why when somebody shines a light at them' why in that phrase is actually supposed to be *White so sorry for the mix up!!!
    Your #1 fan, Tas

  5. Dear Tas,
    I don't know if there are any animals that can't see color at all, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were. I would have to do a bunch of research to find out, and my Chief Research Assistant says she would rather watch TV right now!

    I looked at some pictures of axolotls, and they are very weird and interesting-looking. I never heard of them before, and neither did Mom, even though she lived in Mexico for most of a year long ago, when she was lots younger. So I will try to write about axolotls sometime.

    Oh, and I already figured out that "why" was supposed to be "white." I can be very clever like that! LOL
    Love, Piper

  6. Hey Guys Be Nice...Anyway This Is Also Good For My Prject Even Better Than The Last Article I Read By You.

  7. I love this article !!! Articulate explanation with visuals !!! Excellent !!!

  8. Dear Anonymous,
    Thanks! I'm really glad you liked my blog entry!

  9. Hey here is a tough question what color do big foots see? No but nice blog very informative stuff

  10. Awesome info it helped alot. Only thing is that the reason dogs and people see different colors is the variety of cones not evolution. No need to put religious beliefs, it doesn't change the facts.
    Thank you.
    Jason hopkins

  11. Could you be so kind and share a link to other resources that open up this theme of course in case you happen to know any of them.

    1. If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you research it by using your web browser to find more information on canine eyesight. I only know what I wrote in my blog entry here because that's all the research my Chief Research Assistant (a.k.a. Mom) did for me!
      Sincerely, Piper

  12. Where is the like/love button here lol

  13. Fantastic article! Than you very much! :) :) :) :) (made my a bit gray sunday colorful! :))

  14. thanks for the info