How Far Can Dogs See [AMAZING FACTS]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Dogs perceive the world very differently than humans and rely much more on their ears and noses to navigate their environments.

Though their eyesight is not as good as a human’s, they do have certain sight abilities that humans lack. So, how far can a dog see?

Dogs typically have 20/75 vision. This means they can see something clearly that is up to 20 feet away versus a human who would be able to see the same object standing 75 feet away.

Like humans, dogs have eyes that are set closer together and point forward.

Humans’ eyes point straight ahead while dogs’ eyes are set slightly on the sides of their heads.

This differs slightly between breeds but it results in dogs having a visual field of 240 degrees on average compared with 200 degrees for people.

Though dogs have better peripheral vision than humans, they have less visual acuity.

Visual acuity is the ability of the eye to distinguish the shapes and details of objects from a distance.

In this post, we dig deeper into a dog’s eyesight and try to understand more about how our pets see the world through their eyes.

Doggy says, read this too: Dog won’t move with cone on?

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Dear Dog Owner

How Far Can a Dog See at Night? Do Dogs Have Night Vision?

Dogs may have fewer cones than humans, however, they also have more rods. Learn more about cones and rods here.

Rods are much more sensitive to light and are responsible for vision in dimly lit environments.

They are also responsible for detecting motion. 

Dogs have rod-dominated retinas and it allows them to see better than humans in low light.

However, they do not have night vision.

Dogs will not be able to see well if it’s very dark or if there’s no light.

Because they have many more rods than humans, dogs also have better motion visibility than people.

They are much better adapted to notice small movements in both light and darkness. 

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What Colors Can a Dog See?

To understand what colors a dog can see we need to first understand the basic structure of a dog’s eye and compare it to that of a human’s.

A crucial component of the eye is called the retina which is located in the back of the inside of the eyeball.

The retina contains light-sensitive cells that receive information and send it to the brain which is what enables sight.

It contains two types of light-sensitive cells: rods and cones. 

Cones are responsible for providing color perception and detailed sight.

Dogs have only around one-tenth the number of cones that humans have, so they perceive much fewer colors and details than humans.

Dogs perceive colors the same way that a color-blind human would.

There are 3 kinds of cones typically found in the human eye: red, blue, and green.

People that are color blind are only able to perceive 2 of the colors, and dogs are the same.

Dogs can distinguish two colors: blue-violet and yellow. They can also differentiate between shades of gray.

Dogs cannot see the colors green, orange, and red.

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Things That Your Dog Can See but You Cannot

Though dogs do not see as many colors as us, they can see ultraviolet light which human eyes cannot detect.

Because dogs can see UV light, it means they see many things that we cannot. 

For example, bananas emit UV light when they are becoming overripe.

The brown spots that we see appearing on bananas will have a blue-ish glow to them for a dog.

Flowers also emit UV light to help attract butterflies and bees for pollination. Therefore, flowers will have that same blue-ish glow visible to dogs.

A bottle of tonic water will look clear to human eyes, but it will glow to your dogs!

Tonic water contains quinine, which is a bitter compound that comes from the bark of the cinchona tree.

The quinine in tonic water absorbs ultraviolet light and then re-emits it as visible light, giving the water a fluorescent brilliant, bright blue color that your dogs can see.  

Basically, anything that emits UV light humans can only see glowing under a black light.

Dogs see the same thing all the time. 

Doggy says, read this too: Do bully sticks make dogs aggressive?

Which Dogs Have the Best Eyesight?

Certain dog breeds have features of their eyes and nose shape that allow them to see better than others.

These breeds are referred to as “Sighthounds” and are dog breeds that are very fast and rely more on their vision rather than smell.  

Sighthounds have the best peripheral vision out of all dog breeds because they have long, thin noses and the slanted position of their eyes gives them a field of vision of 290 degrees.

Some examples of sighthounds are Afghans, Whippets, Salukis, Greyhounds, and Borzois.

These dogs can see the movement of jackrabbits, coyotes, deer, and other animals at incredible distances.

Some studies have found that these dogs could detect motion at 1000 yards away, excellent dog vision distances!

dogs with good eyesight

How to Test Your Dog’s Vision at Home?

If you suspect your dog is having issues with their vision, getting a vet to check them out is your best option.

However, there are some at-home tests you can do to provide insight into possible vision impairment. 

One thing you can do is build an obstacle course for your dog using different objects like chairs, pillows, and bins.

Make sure there is a clear path for your dog to follow through the obstacles and see how your dog handles them. 

Another test you can try is called the Menace Response Test.

This tests whether a dog will blink as a reflex to an object quickly passing close to its eyes.

It should be a quick reflex for them to blink, and a dog with visual impairment will either not blink or react slowly to the movement. 

You can also try testing your dog’s pupil response to light.

In a dimly lit room, take a flashlight and hold it 1 – 2 inches away from your dog’s eye and watch how the pupil behaves.

Just like a human, their pupils should contract when the light is shining on their eyes and dilate in the darkness. 

Doggy says, read this too: Do Havanese dogs like water?

What Does Dog Vision Look Like?

It is fascinating to know how our best friends see the world, and thanks to advancements in technology and research, we now have a better idea.

Since dogs have one less color receptor than us, how they perceive the world is less colorful.

It’s almost like slapping on a filter on our photographs to create an effect, but it happens to your dog naturally.

Here is a really good example:

dog vision comparison
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Sighthound?

Sighthounds are dog breeds characterized by the fact that they hunt primarily by sight and speed rather than by scent. Some sighthounds have a field of vision of 290 degrees due to their long, thin noses and the position of their eyes.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

No, dogs are not color blind but they do not see as many colors as humans. Dogs only have two color receptors in their eyes and most humans have three. Because of this, certain colors appear dullish and gray to dogs, like green. They also cannot see red or orange colors and have difficulty distinguishing between indigos, blues, and violets. 

What Colors do Dogs Dislike?

Dogs do not dislike certain colors but they do tend to gravitate towards toys and colored objects that are blue or yellow since they can see those colors most vibrantly. Red, orange, and green colors will appear dull and grayish, so they may be less inclined to play with toys of those colors. 

Do Dogs Need a Light at Night?

Dogs have better vision in dim light compared to humans, but they do not have night vision and cannot see in total darkness. If it’s completely dark, dogs will most likely just sleep. However, if you’re going out for the night and won’t be around for a while, your dog will feel better having some light left on, especially when they need to go drink water or move around a bit.

Can Dogs See Farther Than Humans?

It is unsure if dogs can see farther than humans, but they do not have as sharp eyesight as us. However, it seems that they might be better at detecting motion across longer distances, as evidenced by their staring into the distance and adopting an alert stance.

Can Dogs See UV Light?

Yes, studies have shown that dogs are able to see UV light. They possess UV transparent lens, where UV light enters and passes through the retina, and is then transformed into nerve signals by the brain’s visual system.

In Conclusion: How Far Can Dogs See?

What we do know is that dogs in general have good eyesight but are not as sharp as humans.

It is widely accepted that most dogs have 20/75 vision, which means they have to be standing 20 feet from an object to see it well versus a human standing 75 feet away.

The way we perceive colors is also vastly different from a dog.

Dogs are known to see like color-blind humans, but their eyes also allow them to see UV lights that we humans cannot.

No matter what or how far away your dog can see, it is nevertheless fascinating to know what their world looks like!

Our dog’s behavior is fascinating, and you can read more interesting articles like why do dogs sleep with their tongue out, why a puppy lunges at your face, or why your dog shakes its head and barks?

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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