4 min read


Can Dogs See Their Noses?



4 min read


Can Dogs See Their Noses?


You have probably read that humans can see their noses all the time, but our brains actually “erase” them. Our noses are something that is always in our field of view, so our brains have adapted to it by erasing it.

If you don’t believe this, try to recall when there’s something in your field of vision, like a random fluff that’s really annoying to see, and when you try to remove it, you realize it’s actually on your nose?

Is the same thing true for our dogs? Well, our dogs have a somewhat different field of view, so read on and find out whether they can see their noses.


Signs That Dogs Can See Their Noses

Your dog’s field of view is wider than ours, they can see more, and while their noses are in their field of view, there’s been no indication that they are bothered by this. The same as with humans, the dog will react only in instances there’s a change; for instance, if something’s on their nose, or their nose becomes swollen because of an insect sting.

In such instances, the dog will show signs that they are bothered by their nose (or the object on the nose). The most common signs include:

  • Head tilting – the dog will try to remove the object from their nose by tilting and shaking their head. This is the simplest way to get rid of anything stuck there, be it dirt, leaves or an insect.

  • Chewing – the dog will try to get a hold of the object, especially if they smell it and determine that it can be eaten.

  • Scratching – the dog might try to remove a particularly persistent object by scratching their nose or pawing at it.

  • Whining – the dog will whine and show distress in case they can’t remove the object themselves and/or the object brings them discomfort

Other common signs your dog will show are pacing, panting, and barking.

Body Language

Things to watch for that indicate your dog sees it's nose include:

  • Barking
  • Head Tilting
  • Whining
  • Scratching
  • Pacing

Other Signs

More clues that the sight of their nose is bothering your pup are:

  • Pawing At It
  • Rubbing Their Nose On The Ground

History of Dogs Seeing Their Noses


The dog’s sight works best in lower light conditions because of the way our dogs developed from their ancestors. Every animal will have eyes that are heavily specialized for their habitat and lifestyle. For dogs' ancestors, this meant they required eyes that gave them a wide angle, so they have a good overview, sight to spot prey as soon as they move, and strong enough vision to hunt during dusk or dawn, even night.

Our dog’s eyes have all the features that can help with that: they see better than us in the dark, the cones and rods in their eyes have ratios that favor rods that are specialized for low light conditions and movement detection, and their eyes are located in such a way that they have a very wide field of vision.

This is due to their ancestors being pack animals, so when they were hunting, they required good coordination, which would be impossible if they couldn’t see where the other pack members were located. One more reason why they have such a wide field of vision is that they aren’t just predators, they are scavengers. 

Most apex predators have a narrower field of vision because they don’t have natural enemies they have to look out for. Wolves have natural enemies, so a wider field of view also keeps them safe.

Science Behind Dogs Seeing Their Noses


The sight of your canine companion is quite complex, actually much more complex than was thought before. Dogs can see certain colors, and they even surpass our vision in some instances. When it comes to sight, the dog will judge any object or occurrence in three ways: whether it moves, the contrast, and the colors.

Their sense of motion is much better than ours. This has to do with their ancestors, of course. This is also the reason why most of our canine friends have no interest in TV, as they only see random light flashes, not a fluid movement.

Most dogs can easily spot a moving object even if it’s 800 yards away. If the object doesn’t move, however, the dog will only be able to see it from a distance of 500 to 600 yards.  

Their field of vision is about 270°, but there are differences depending on the breed. Specifically, their field of vision depends on how close together their eyes are. There’s even a rule of thumb that states that the longer their nose, the wider the field of vision. The range of their vision is from 220° for a Pug, all the way to 290° for a Borzoi. In comparison, humans only have 180°.

When you look at the diagrams that show the dogs field of vision, you will notice that their overlapping area, the area they see with both eyes, is narrower than ours. However, you will also see that their snouts and nose are within their field of vision. This basically means that they see their noses all the time, but their brains do the same nifty trick they do to us: they just block it out, since it’s always there.  

Training Your Dog Tricks with Their Nose


Your dog will not react to seeing their own nose, but they will react to an object placed on the nose. You can find a number of YouTube videos where owners put treats onto their dog’s nose and the dog stays very still until the owner says they can have the treat. This is something that you can train your dog, but it will take a lot of time.

The best way to start is to search for some guidelines and begin by training the dog to wait with eating their food until you signal it’s okay to do so. Make sure to only use positive reinforcement, as any other type of training can have a severe negative impact on your dog’s well-being.

With enough time and persistence, you can easily train your dog to do tricks, and even make your own video featuring your canine friend being a good boy ro girl and waiting for the treats you are stacking up on their nose.

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Written by Charlotte Ratcliffe

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/18/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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