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Doggy Vision

Updated: Jan 4




Most people are aware that our dogs have different vision that we as humans do. But just how different?


Dogs see like a colorblind human. Many people think that a person who is red / green color blind cannot see any color, but there are variations of color blindness. Most people have vision that is trichromatic (three-color variations). People who are red / green color blind are dichromatic (two color variations). Dogs’ retinas can distinguish two colors. These colors are blue-violet and yellow. Dogs can also differentiate between shades of gray. Dogs are unable to recognize green, yellow, orange, and red.


Dogs use other cues (such as smell, texture, brightness, and position) rather than relying solely on color. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, may not distinguish between a green or red stoplight; they look at the brightness and position of the light. This, along with the flow and noise of traffic, tell the dog that it is the right time to cross the street.


Dogs typically have 20/75 vision. What this means is that they must be 20 feet from an object to see it as well as a human standing 75 feet away. Certain breeds have better visual acuity. Labradors, commonly used as seeing-eye dogs, are bred for better eyesight and may have vision that is closer to 20/20.

If you’re silently standing across the field from your dog, don’t expect him (her) to recognize you. He’ll recognize you when you do some sort of motion particular to yourself. He (she) may also recognize your presence by his outstanding sense of smell and / or hearing. Because of the large number of rods in the retina, dogs see moving objects much better than they see stationary objects. Motion sensitivity has been noted as the critical aspect of canine vision. Much of dog behavior deals with posture and appropriateness. Small changes in your body posture mean a lot to your dog. Dog owners need to modify training based on this fact. If you want your dog to perform an action based on a silent cue, we suggest using a wide sweeping hand and arm motion in order to cue your dog.


When dogs go blind, owners often wonder if the dogs’ quality of life has diminished to the point where they are no longer happy. Humans deal well with being blind, and humans are much more dependent on their eyes than are dogs. Blind dogs lead happy lives as long as they are comfortable. The owner may need to make some adjustments in the pet’s environment. Some of these adjustments include fencing the yard, taking leashed walks, and not leaving unusual objects in the dog’s normal pathways. Obviously, most blind dogs cannot navigate stairs very well. When blind dogs are in their normal environment, most people don’t know they are blind.


Often times, if a dog is not seeing properly, it can be an issue caused by the fur in their eyes blocking their vision. If your pup sometimes struggles to see things that are right in front of them, it may be a good indication that it is time for a groom! To schedule your next appointment, call 847.247.4809.

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