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What Your Dog Sees

For many years, it was believed that dogs did not have the ability to see color at all, that the world came to them mostly in black and white and shades of grey. Today we know that this is not true - dogs do see color, but because their eyes lack the three types of color receptors that we humans have, they do not see the variety of color that we do. It is similar to what we call red-green colorblindness. According to an article on, "Whereas a human with full color vision sees red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet along the spectrum of visible light, a dog sees grayish brown, dark yellow, light yellow, grayish yellow, light blue and dark blue, respectively—essentially, different combinations of the same two colors, yellow and blue."
Consequently, it has been thought that dogs do not rely on color to distinguish between similar objects but that they use its relative brightness or darkness. However, a recent study released in July of 2013 indicates that this may not be true and that dogs may actually be able to distinguish between colors after all. More research will need to be conducted as the test group was small, but this is indeed intriguing information.
Another belief we have is that cats by far, have better night vision than either humans or dogs. To date, research indicates that this is probably true but dogs' eyes have adapted well for vision in low light. They have large pupils, which let in more light and more light-sensitive rods in the retina. Additionally, the lens in a dog's eye is located closer to the retina, making the image on the retina brighter.
One important advantage that dogs have for good night vision though, is the tapetum which is a mirror-like structure that reflects light, giving the retina a second chance to register light that has entered the eye. It is also what makes a dog's eyes appear to "glow" in the dark.
So, if your dog is young and healthy, it is thoughtful but not really necessary to leave a night light on for him when you go to bed. And though it appears that more will be revealed with further research, your dog may well be seeing the world similarly to how we see it too.

Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer