Can Dogs See in the Dark? (& How Well?)

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If you've ever walked your dog during the wee hours of the night, you may have wondered, "Can dogs see in the dark?" Perhaps you've even asked, "Do dogs have night vision?"

As a pet parent, you want to keep your furry family member safe and comfortable when you walk them during the nighttime. Knowing the answers to these questions can make all the difference. Let's take a closer look at how your dog's vision works so that you know whether or not they're safe when the lights are low or off completely.

In the evening, the hostess took a golden dog for a walk

Can Dogs See in the Dark?

There's no need to worry — your dog can see in the dark. It's safe to take your pet for a stroll in the evening hours or let them roam around your house unsupervised at night. In fact, your dog's vision, in some instances, is better than a human's would be. However, dogs are more nearsighted than their human counterparts, and they see fewer shades of colors when processing visual objects.

Wondering how it all works? The structure of your dog's eyes is what makes them able to see in the dark — their large pupils allow them to let in more light. Because of the additional rods in their eyes, dogs are able to tell the difference between light and shadow. Dogs also have a membrane along the rear of their eyes called tapetum lucidum, which, according to Animal Planet, "allows light that is not absorbed by the rods to rebound to the retina, letting it take in more light, which enables the dog to see better."

So, the answer to "do dogs have night vision?" is yes. Your dog should be well-equipped to handle the late-night hours if you bring them for an evening ride or they decide to sleep in another room in the middle of the night. Who knows, maybe your dog will even see ghosts in the night!

Do All Dogs Have Great Vision?

Yes, but some dogs may be born with certain eye issues or develop problems with their sight later on.

Young woman with her greyhound on in the city

While dogs generally do have great vision, some breeds — such as greyhounds and whippets — may see differently than others simply due to the positioning of the dog's snout and eyes, which may make their vision slightly different from others. Similarly, some dogs may develop problems with their vision due to an illness, injury, aging or even from a hereditary issue.

According to Memphis Veterinary Specialists and Emergency, " ... your dog's natural aging process can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor issues to complete blindness." They continue, "It's important for pet parents to understand that occasionally blindness itself isn't the primary issue, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition, such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders or systemic diseases."

Are Dogs Able to See Colors?

As you're considering your pet's night vision, you may also wonder whether everything they see is in black and white. Although that was a long-held belief, dogs actually are able to see in color — but they are unable to see reds and greens, due to their processing of the color spectrum. That said, this won't affect them much while in the dark. At night, no one's vision is very crisp when it comes to making out colors.

Now, there's no need to worry or question whether dogs can see in the dark. Still, if you're concerned about a pet whose vision seems to decrease whether it's night or day, it's best to reach out to your veterinarian to check your dog's overall health.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.

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