4 min read


What Can Dogs See in the Dark?



4 min read


What Can Dogs See in the Dark?


The vision of dogs seems like such a mystery to humans, but scientists have been able to determine a lot about how and what dogs are able to see. Even though pet owners often think of cats as the experts at seeing in the dark, dogs can also see well in low-light situations.

Being able to see in the dark allows dogs to have a unique advantage at night or in dark rooms. Unlike humans, dogs are fine navigating in the dark, but just what can they see? Let’s find out just how well dogs can see in the dark.


Signs Dogs Can See in the Dark

Have you ever noticed your dog staring and walking through dark rooms with ease? You may have wondered just how they are able to navigate in the dark without bumping into your walls, furniture, or the odds and ends you have lying around. You know that your dog is able to see because they haven’t hurt themselves or knocked things over.

You might notice that your dog paces or barks in a dark room like they would in the daylight. That could have something to do with the fact that they are able to see even though it is dark.

When dogs see things, you may notice that they are alert, and they may also bark, wag or stare at things. Dogs will do the same thing when see things in the dark. Crazy enough, dogs don’t act any differently in the dark than they do in the light. 

Body Language

<p>Here are some body language signs you might notice your dog display when it is looking at something in the dark:</p>

  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Wag Tail

Other Signs

Other signs that your dog can see in the dark include:

  • Walking Around With Ease
  • Acting No Different In The Dark
  • Finding Toys Easily
  • Looking Into The Distance At Night

HIstory of Dogs Being Able to See in the Dark


When dogs lived in the wild, they would need to be able to at least see enough in the dark to protect themselves against predators. While dogs don’t have perfect vision in the dark, and probably can’t see as well as cats without light, they can still see much better than humans can with the lights out.

In the wild, a dog who couldn’t see enough to run away in the dark probably wouldn’t make it very long—especially against predators like wolves, bears, and coyotes. A dog needed to be able to navigate through the woods in the dark to evade larger predators.

Also, since dogs are den-dwellers, the dogs would need to be able to see around the dark den to care for offspring and do other tasks while in the den. If dogs were unable to see in the dark, it is likely that they would have a different type of shelter in the wild.

Science Behind Dogs Being Able to See in the Dark


So, now that we know that dogs can see in the dark, let’s take a look at how they can see in the dark. First, dogs have a larger pupil than humans do. In the retina, there are light-sensitive cells called rods that help the dog see in low light. Dogs have more rods in their retinas than humans do, which allows them to see better in low light situations than humans do.

Another aspect of a dog’s ability to see in the dark is its Flicker Fusion Frequency, or, FFF. The FFF is the frequency point at which flickering light no longer seems to flicker, and instead appears as a constant illumination. For dogs, the FFF is higher than humans, which makes it better able to see in the dark.

The real secret weapon for your dog’s ability to see in the dark is a special part of his or her eye. Dogs have something in their eyes called tapetum lucidum. The tapetum lucidum acts like a mirror in a dog’s eye. It reflects backlight that enters the eye to give the retina a second chance at registering the light, which helps dogs see better in the dark. The tapetum also causes your dog’s eyes to glow in the dark.

Dealing With Your Dog Being Able to See in the Dark


Now that you know that your dog can see in the dark and other low light situations, you can make their lives easier for them. If you know that your dog will be in a specific space of your home in the dark, try to keep that area clean and free from any clutter that could injure your dog.

Keeping your dog safe indoors is much easier than keeping your dog safe in the dark when they are outdoors. First, if you are letting your dog outside in the dark at night, be sure to keep an eye on them. There may be other animals that can harm or even kill your dog, and it will be even more difficult for you to help them in the dark.

During late night or early morning walks, you will also want to keep your dog leashed, and preferably on a fairly short leash to prevent them from getting too far away from you and ending up somewhere that they could get hurt. You will also want to wear bright clothing or carry some kind of light or reflector with you to keep both you and your pet safe. With the availability of light-up collars, you may also want to consider one of these for your pet. They can help other people see you and also help you keep track of your dog if they get off leash in the dark for any reason.

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Safety Tips for Dogs Seeing in the Dark

  1. Keep areas where dogs will need to see in the dark clean and tidy.
  2. When walking your dog at night, take extra precautions to keep them safe.
  3. Don't leave your dog alone outdoors in the dark.

By a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies

Published: 02/14/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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