• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Can Dogs See in The Dark? Facts & Myths About Dog Vision


Apr 26, 2023
white shepherd dog walking in the dark


white shepherd dog walking in the dark

Considering how closely intertwined dogs are with humans, and how much time we spend with them, there have been and are still a lot of rumors and myths surrounding them. In particular, there are some misconceptions about their sight and how they see. Dogs do have much better nighttime vision than people, as they can use low light levels to see more, in a similar way to cats. However, they can’t see in total darkness.

They do have much better peripheral vision than humans, typically having approximately a 250-degree field of vision. And despite inaccurate myths, they don’t see in black and white, although they cannot see the same range of colors as people, and they don’t see colors in the same vivid detail as we do.


Dog Night Vision

Dogs have more light-sensitive rods in the retinas of their eyes. These rods pick up light and enable them to see better in the dark. This enables them to hunt at dawn and dusk when their prey would either be getting ready to sleep or just waking up, making them more susceptible prey. However, they do need some light to be able to see, so dogs are unable to see in total darkness.

It is also worth noting that dogs do not solely rely on their eyesight and many dogs use their other senses over eyesight. Your dog can likely find its way around a dark room better than you can because it is using its hearing, smell, and other senses to assist.

girl walking in the night with dog on the street
Image Credit: Maksym Fesenko, Shutterstock

Peripheral Vision

As well as being able to see better than humans in low-light conditions, dogs can also see movement better than us and they have a wider field of view. Humans can see approximately 180 degrees, although, at the very edge of our view, things become heavily distorted. Dogs have a field of view between 240 and 280 degrees so they have a much better chance of seeing movement to the side and even slightly behind them.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

Humans do have an advantage over dogs when it comes to seeing colors and differentiating shades of the same color, although dogs do not see in black and white, which is a myth that still abounds even today.

Dogs have dichromatic vision. This means that they can only see blue and yellow. Where we see reds, for example, dogs see more of a yellow color. Their ability to see yellow more clearly than other colors may be one of the reasons that dogs love tennis balls so much.

Depressed Sad Senior Havanese Dog Laying and Doesn't Want to Play with his Toys
Image Credit: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

Are Dogs Near-Sighted?

Dogs rely on their senses of smell and hearing before they rely on their sense of sight. Their noses and ears are far more sensitive than ours, which means they can pick up noise and scents from a very long distance. When hunting, they would use these senses to get them close to their prey before then combining them with their sense of sight to help home in on their quarry. As such, dogs do not see that well over long distances.

As opposed to humans, who have 20/20 vision, dogs have approximately 20/80 vision. This means that we can see clearly at 80 feet, a dog would need to be 20 feet away to see that object clearly. Items further away appear blurry and difficult to differentiate for dogs.

Can Dogs See What’s On TV?

Another myth surrounding dogs and their vision that was prevalent for a long time was that dogs couldn’t see objects and movement on TV. The proliferation of videos on social media showing dogs chasing animals and balls on screen obviously disproves this myth, but there may be some degree of truth to it.

Dogs have a much higher flicker rate than humans and they can only clearly see movement on a screen when the display shows 70 frames per second or more. A lot of modern TVs have a refresh rate, which is the number of frames displayed per second, of 60MHz so dogs can struggle to make out movement clearly and accurately.

woman watching tv with her do
Image Credit: Lazy_Bear, Shutterstock



Dogs have amazing senses of smell and hearing, but their vision is arguably not as strong as ours. They struggle to see things that are far away and cannot see the same range of colors or as much color depth, although they are tuned to pick up on tiny movements and they can see movement on TV and see better in low light conditions than people do.

Featured Image Credit: Ksenia Raykova, Shutterstock

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