Have you ever wondered what your dog’s experience of life is compared to your own? Our pets live alongside us, and most of us have no idea of what goes on in their heads, what they think, or what they even really see. So, what do dogs see and how do we even know that?

In this article we will discuss:

  • Are dogs color blind?
  • Can dogs see in the dark?
  • 10 things dogs can see that you can’t

Are Dogs Color Blind?

Many people think that dogs can only see in black and white, and that they are therefore color blind. This is actually a myth, because dogs can see in color, they just don’t see in color the same way that we do.

Cones and rods are light receptors in the eyes that allow us to see things. Cones help us to distinguish different colors, and rods help us to see in dimmer light conditions. Dogs have a different number of cones and rods in their eyes than humans do, and this makes them see the world around them differently.

New studies showed that dogs do see color, but they don’t see as many colors as humans because they have fewer cone receptors. Humans have three cone receptors, red, yellow and blue, whereas dogs only have two and see the world as a mixture of just blue and yellow, although there is some uncertainty among experts around which colors they actually see.

To give you a better idea of what the world looks like to a dog in contrast what we see, a dog’s world probably looks similar to what the world looks like at dusk to a human.

Can Dogs See In The Dark?

Dogs have more rods in their eyes than humans. Rods are what control how dim or bright the light looks. This means that dogs see better in the dark than we do because the brightness is increased, revealing shapes in the dark more clearly.

Dogs’ eyes are also different to human eyes because they contain a layer of eye tissue that we don’t have, called tapetum lucidum. This reflects light back into the retina boosting the dog’s ability to see more in the dark. This is also why dogs’ eyes appear to shine or glow in the dark.

10 Things That Dogs Can See That You Can’t See

10 Things That Dogs Can See That You Can’t See

Aside from the difference in color and the ability to see more in the dark, you may also have noticed your dog on occasion to look at something that isn’t there, or stare intently at something that you can’t see. Here are ten things that dogs can see that you cannot.

1. A night sky that looks even more infinite

Light pollution is not a problem for your dog, so even if you live in the middle of the city, your dog gets to see the starry night sky as it should look. This is how it would look if you were viewing it from the darkness of the countryside.

Unfortunately, due to light pollution people living in the city don’t get to enjoy viewing the stars like that because so many of them are simply not visible to us here.

2. Black light things

You and I need an actual black light in order to see black light things, but dogs have a built in black light so that they see all of the things that are invisible to the human eye.

3. Quinine

Quinine is used to treat malaria, but you may know it from tonic water. Essentially it is an extract that glows blue in your dog’s vision, because of UV light.

4. Lint and hairs

You may think that your clothes are lint and pet-hair free, but your dog knows different. They can see every single little tiny bit of it all over your clothes. Luckily, our dogs don’t care if we don’t take more pride in our appearance.

5. Glowing banana spots

You and I can all see those brown spots that appear on bananas when they ripen, but did you know that your dog not only sees those dark spots, but he also sees a glowing blue ring around each one? Spooky!

6. Really bright human teeth

Have you ever been to a rave where people’s teeth glow? Fluoride-based toothpastes and other teeth products create this effect. In your attempt to have white teeth, you may be blinding your dog with such a dazzling psychedelic smile.

7. Layers in paintings

Your favorite works of art look completely different to your dog, and far from perfect. Due to your dog’s ability to see UV light, they can also see every artistic decision, change of heart and mistakes, as well as the corrections made.

So, dogs literally get to see the artists’ journey and how a finished painting has come to look as it does. They don’t just get to see the finished work of art, they get to see the whole work of art.

8. Security features on money

It’s a shame they don’t employ dogs to work in stores because they would be a real help in spotting counterfeit money.

9. Pee Marks

This is probably something that you’re glad you can’t see, especially if you are a little bit OCD. Visiting your friends who have pets just wouldn’t be the same again!

Yes, your dog not only smells dried up pee, but he can also see the residue that is left behind when pee hasn’t been fully cleaned up. This is because urine stains are on the UV wavelength.

10. The Earth’s magnetic field

This is perhaps one of the coolest things dogs can see that we can’t. Did you know that whenever your dog pees, he aligns himself with the north-south axis? This is because they can actually see the earth’s magnetic field. It’s a handy thing to know if you’re out with the dog and you lose your way!


A dog’s vision of the world seems so much more exciting and mysterious than ours. If humans had dog vision not only would we make great detectives, keep our living environment much cleaner of things like pee, and get to enjoy the full effect of the starry night sky regardless of where we live, but life would also feel like an old movie where colors are that little bit muted, juxtaposed with the psychedelic vibe of a 60’s glow stick rave. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?

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Shelly lives in Iowa with her husband and Australian Shepherd named Tex. She's been an animal lover since she was a child. Currently, she enjoys reading and writing about dogs, and spending time with her family and getting involved in all things pets.