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Can dogs see in the dark?

Can dogs see in the dark?

How well can dogs see at night?

Dogs generally have great vision. In a previous article, can dogs see colour?, we found out they see colour but do lack the colour spectrum humans have. So what happens when the lights go out or the sun goes down. How well do dogs see during low levels of light?

Dogs see much better than humans in low light situations. They have larger pupils which let in more light and their retina contains more light sensitive “rod cells” but less colour sensitive “cone cells” (you can read more about how dogs view colour in the article: Are Dogs Colour Blind?). The light-sensitive compounds in the retina respond to lower light levels. And the lens is located closer to the retina, making the image on the retina brighter.

So you might think that having more light senstive cells are the end of the story, but dogs actually have another mechanism which helps to prove its eye sight at night. The dogs eye has a mirror-like structure at the back called the tapetum which reflects light that gives the retina a second chance to register light. You can see the tapetum if you see the dogs eyes glow at night from something like a torch. Although this improves dogs vision during the night it may also degrade the dogs vision by scattering light. So dogs vision may reduce from 20:20 vision to about 20:80.

So dogs can see during low light conditions, approximately 5 times better than humans. Their eyes are formed to be more sensitive to light (extra rod cells) and also the tapetum reflects light. Though also keep in mind that not all dogs eyes are the same shape. Some breeds have different shaped eyes, which makes sense depending where in the world they came from (habitat would vary how a dog has evolved to its surroundings).

So what might a dog see at night when compared to a humans vision, here is a photoshop graded photo of what a dogs night vision might look like:

How dogs see at night

 

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