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Can dogs see what’s on the Television Screen?

Can Dogs see TV ScreensMaybe you were sitting in your lounge watching TV with friends and your dog walks up to the TV and starts to look or react to it. One of your friends laughs and says “look he sees the dog on TV”, then someone shuts him down by saying “No, Dogs can’t see images on TV”. This sparks a sometimes fierce debate on the issue of whether dogs can actually see images on the Television. You decided to turn to the internet to find the answer maybe just to cool the argument down, or maybe sometime has past and something has re-sparked the interest in answering this debate once and for all.

If you want the quick answer then just click here: Can dogs see what’s on TV.

Why do people think dogs can’t see images on a TV Screen?

If we look at monitor or TV screens with low refresh rates we sometimes get a headache or can actually see a slight flicker on the screen. Refresh rates are measured in Hz and the lower the refresh rate, for example 50Hz or 60Hz the slower a screen will refresh the image. Because it’s slow your eye can actually pick this up by seeing the black space better the refreshed frames. You can see this happening when you film your TV screen or computer monitor using a camera with an incorrect refresh rate. If your TV has a higher refresh rate, for example around 70 or 80Hz then you won’t notice normally any flicker.

It is for this reason that many people debate whether a dog sees a TV screen at the same refresh rate as a human. Many people believe that dogs in fact see at a higher refresh rate than humans therefore making it hard for them to see a standard consumer TV with refresh rate of 50 – 60Hz. It has being found that this is true and most dogs will a TV Screen picture with a refresh rate of 70 – 80Hz and above. If below this refresh rate they will see flicking pictures, but as with most things there is more to it than a simple yes or no answer.

How have they worked out that dogs have the higher refresh rate?

There is a technique where they can measure the refresh rate called flicker fusion. This involves observing the cone cells in the retina as different frequency of light is emulated. They work out what level of light intensity before the cells can’t process anymore light. They have determined from this that humans have tolerance of 50 – 60 Hz while dogs are 70 – 80 Hz. As mentioned above this means TV or screens with a refresh rate of 60Hz and over will appear normal to humans while dogs may require rates of 70Hz or over to see the TV picture.

By now it should be scientifically proven that dogs won’t be able to view images on TV unless they have a refresh rate over 70Hz. So if their is an arguement over whether a dog can see a TV screen then the answer is yes if you have the correct refresh rate, otherwise it may just be seeing a flickering screen. Another interesting thing to note is about dogs nose shape to their eye sight (which will be in another article coming up: How does nose size effect a dogs vision). Dogs generally with smaller noses have better middle view and poorer peripheral vision (they lack the visual streak). They however make up for the lack of visual streak in the eye by the area centralis having three times the density of nerve endings as a visual streak. This means they see in greater detail, which might explain why the smaller pug nose type dogs can often be seen watching TV or watching their owners face. To humans they come across more attentive to us because humans are very visual. Larger nose dogs often have better peripheral vision and therefore are better at seeing movement around the outside of their eyes, often making good retrieving dogs, but they are usually less visual to humans since they use their other sensors more such as smell and audio.


So what sort of conclusions can we make? Can dogs view TV Screens? 

Yes dogs can see TV screens, however it has being tested that dogs might not be able to properly see screens with refresh rates below 70Hz (could be viewed as a flickering screen). Also you might find that dogs with smaller noses are more attentive towards the Television due the fact they generally see more detail with their middle vision, this is due to area centralis having three times the density of nerve endings to longer nose dogs which have visual streak (longer nose dogs have a better peripheral vision with the addition of the visual streak).

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