Can Dogs See In The Dark? Yes, Here’s The Complete Guide To Canine Vision

can dogs see in the dark

If you’ve been questioning yourself, “Can Dogs See in The Dark?“, you’ve landed in the right place. The answer is yes, your dog can see in the dark. However, they might not be able to see in complete pitch-black darkness.

They can see even better than humans in the dark thanks to a special tissue in their eyes called Tapetum lucidum.

Let’s discuss a dog’s vision first. According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, vision is the collective summary of the ability to perceive light and motion, visual perspective, the field of view, depth perception, visual acuity, and color vision.

 You might also be interested in What Do Dogs See In The Dark? 

Can Dogs See In A Pitch-Black Room?

Dogs surely have eyes with a great mechanism to illuminate; they can see better in low light conditions. However, they are not able to see in a perfect pitch black condition. Their vision does not entirely depend upon their eyesight; their reflexes are equally reliable. If your dog can recognize where you are even in a pitch-black room, it’s because of their reflexes and familiarity with the surrounding. In unfamiliar places, dogs may tumble and cause injuries upon themselves, so it is recommended never to leave your dog in such pitch-black rooms and other dark areas.

In The Dark, How Well Can Your Dog See?

Dogs have a third eye that has a large pupil. It is believed that cats’ eyes have a tapetum lucidum, which is another name for a reflective layer of tissue behind the retina. In dogs, this reflective tissue reflects light back to the retina which improves the depth of field and helps with depth perception. In cats’ eyes, there is a reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum. In dogs, however, this layer is relatively filled with. Dogs can’t see color in the dark, however, they can still see shapes and movement quite well. Even though these animals have a strong sense of smell, they rely on sight for hunts at night.

Is It Normal For A Dog To Appear To Be Looking Aimlessly In The Dark?

The answer is yes, it is normal. My dog may appear to be aimlessly looking around in the dark as she tries to recognize the positions of her surrounding objects. This might also happen when she sees a shadow or an unfamiliar object and tries to figure out what it is before barking at it.

How Do Dogs See In The Dark?

Dogs have larger pupils so that in dim light conditions, light trapped will be maximized, and their sight in the dark is optimized. The other interesting thing is the dog’s rod-dominant retina that collects all of the light. Moreover, the retina uses a thin tissue behind itself (which is like the mirror in the lens of cameras), to focus on what your dog is looking at carefully. This delicate tissue is known as tapetum lucidum. This tissue is responsible for enhancing light for pooches to see in the dark.

Can All Dogs See In The Dark?

All dog breeds have a similar spectrum of colors and can see in the dark similarly. However, structural differences, such as a longer snout or the position of the eyes, can cause slight differences in how different dog breeds see color and how they perceive images in the dark. A dog with a longer snout will have disturbance in the overlapping of vision of eyes, but a dog with a shorter muzzle will have more of a binocular vision.

A cataract prevents an image from forming onto the retina which causes vision loss in dogs. However, light may still pass through the lens, and your pet can see the light and dark but they won’t be able to see clear pictures. Seeing blurry images is also the main reason why your dog barks a lot at night.

Can Old Dogs See In The Dark?

 Dogs have better vision when they are fully grown adults. It’s common for their vision to worsen as they age, similar to humans. The eye of a dog possesses many layers, like an onion. After 7 years of age, it gets pretty hard for dogs to see well in the dark; their vision becomes cloudy and less reliable. It’s not a good idea to leave your aged dog in dark places.

Can Puppies See In The Dark?

Puppies’ eyes are still developing, so they might not be able to see very well as adults do. They use their eyes more for safety or survival and less for perspective. Dogs of all ages can only see in dim light conditions at night. It is best to keep them indoors at night and on a leash when they are allowed out.

Can Dogs See Better In The Dark Than Humans?

Dogs can see better in the dark than humans because of their extremely organized eye system. Due to the lack of fovea, they can concentrate on motion more comfortably compared to humans. Also, the field of view that dogs see in general is more extensive than what humans have. But they see softer details and have a blurrier focus than we do.

Check out our full article on Can Dogs See Better In The Dark?

Why Do Dog’s Eyeshine At Night?

Dogs have those glow-in-the-dark eyes that seem like independent flashlights that help them see in darker nights. This is known as the eyeshine phenomenon. This happens when unabsorbed light reflects off the eye’s tapetum lucidum, which is a mirror-like membrane. Go ahead and see those shiny green eyes while you go for a night’s walk. A dog’s eyeshine phenomenon is not the same as an optical reflector, as it is a natural process that occurs in the eye. Many dogs exhibit an eyeshine when the photo is taken in lower light, but it’s difficult to capture this effect on a dark background.

Should You Leave Your Dog Alone In The Dark?

 Dogs have good night vision, however, it’s not perfect. They may be able to see better in low-light environments, however, you should still keep them in a well-lit area at night. If your dog is staying alone, it’s a good idea to leave a night light on for him or her to move around the house without stumbling. Also, never leave your dog in an unfamiliar room and turn off the lights. Because if I do this, it will make them scared and they will probably bark at everything they see.

It’s common for dogs to get scared when placed in dark places.

Do Dogs Need Light?

 If your dog is afraid of dark places and has separation anxiety, it’s best to keep a small source of light on. Many owners don’t like to leave their lights on because they are prone to be knocked over, which may lead to risks of fire. Some dogs may even feel comfortable in dark places, while others might better prefer a well-lit environment. Performing experiments with different light conditions and following the best response from your pup might be a good idea.


In summary, dogs can see well in low light conditions, but always remember never to leave them in fully dark rooms. They can barely see clear pictures at night. It is better to keep your dog indoors at night. If you don’t want to leave children alone in the dark, a night light could be a good idea.

Also, it’s important to remember that their eyes will get cloudy as they age and grow older. Adult dogs might not be able to see very well. Your canine might get lost or injured if you take them into an unfamiliar place.

 Thank you for reading the article.

To explore more, check out our other dog vision-related articles that you might be interested in.

Has your dog ever made their way to you even in a pitch-black room? Or do they get lost as soon as the light is out? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

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