Dog Colour & Night Vision Explained

In this week’s article we will discuss two very common questions about dog vision:

  1. Do dogs see colours or just black and white?
  2. How do dogs see at night?

By understanding more about dog vision, we will be able to understand our dogs better

Do dogs see colours or just black and white?

Yes dogs can see colours however they can only see Yellow and Blue. They have what is called Dichromatic vision. We humans can see Red, Blue and Green and consequently have Trichromatic vision.

The picture below compares the visible colour spectrum of humans and dogs. While we humans are able to see a range of colours, you will notice that dogs only see a spectrum ranging from yellow to blue.

Dog vision v.s. human vision comparison

This difference makes dog vision less coloured than ours and only based on shades of yellow and blue. That is why a blue ball is more visible to your dog. A red or pink ball are the least colour your dog can see.

How do Dogs See at Night?

Dogs see very well at night. Dogs eyes have a higher number of rod cells in the retina compared to human eyes. This is what allows them to see better a night. Scientist estimate that dog night vision is five times better than ours.

Additionally, dogs have a layer of cells that reflects light within their eyes. This layer is called the tapetum lucidum and is what makes your dog’s eyes shine at night.

This is why you can never take a good photo of your dog when you need to use the flash light! Their eyes just shine and glow eerily back at you! The shine that you see is the result of this reflection by the tapetum lucidum.

Dog tapetum lucidum glowing eyes with camera flash

Why we at Pet Sitting Algarve love blue!

If you have every seen us during one of our dog walks, you may have noticed that we are always wearing some blue t-shirt or jacket. We do this on purpose! Because we want to help the dogs see us better!

Now that you know what your dog’s eyes are seeing, think twice before choosing your dog’s next fetch. Always take a blue ball with you when you go to one of the many Dog Friendly Beaches in Portugal.


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Written by:

Matthew

Hi I'm Matthew. I am a scientist by profession with particular interest in canine behaviour.

I take time to deliver weekly blog posts relating to various interesting topics about our pets. I am also responsible for our Dog Walking Service and Pet House Sitting Service at Pet Sitting Algarve.