Dogs are incredible animals with superhuman-like abilities that we can’t even comprehend. And although dogs are known for their incredible sense of smell or their superior hearing, I would argue that it’s really their amazing vision that stands out.
A dog’s vision is not necessarily “sharper” than a human’s vision. However, they have many benefits and advantages that allow them to see really cool things. In fact, here are 10 strange things that your dog can see, but you can’t!
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Table of Contents
- 1. Dogs can see anything blacklight…without using a blacklight
- 2. The electricity flowing through power lines
- 3. Dogs can see the Earth’s magnetic field
- 4. Dogs see glowing blue rings on bananas
- 5. Dogs can see counterfeit money
- 6. Dogs see more stars in the night sky
- 7. Dogs can see anything in the dark
- 8. Dogs can see your teeth glowing.
- 9. Dogs can see objects behind them
- 10. Dogs see a world with primarily blue and yellow highlights
1. Dogs can see anything blacklight…without using a blacklight
Anything that’s branded as “blacklight,” including highlighters, shirts, shampoos, tattoos and chalk, are all something that requires a blacklight for humans to see. Well, this isn’t the case with dogs.
According to a 2014 study, dogs are able to see ultraviolet light, which is essentially what black light is. For us humans, it’s blacklight. For dogs, it’s just…light.
So if you’ve ever wondered why your dog is able to accurately pee in the same spot over and over again. The fact that they can actually see their past pee marks probably helps.
2. The electricity flowing through power lines
Have you ever taken your dog for a walk, only to catch them staring blankly at the power lines on your street? To us, we see just metal wires. But for dogs, they see power lines as glowing and flashing bands across the sky!
Well, it’s because power lines actually emit a huge amount of UV light through them. And as we’ve learned, dogs are able to see this “invisible” light.
In fact, it’s not just dogs. Plenty of animals and insects, including cats, reindeers, bees, hedgehogs, butterflies and even some species of birds, see the same thing.
It’s a terrifying sight for wildlife and likely explains why migration routes have changed course as more power lines were built in the wild.
So next time your dog refuses to cross under that big powerline on your street, you’ll understand why it’s such a scary thing for them to do.
3. Dogs can see the Earth’s magnetic field
Our Earth houses a special magnetic field that’s always around us, at all times. Of course, we’re not able to see it. But believe it or not, dogs and other primates have the ability to see and sense these fields.
This amazing ability is called “magnetoreception.” Sounds a bit crazy, right? How do we actually know dogs can see magnetic fields? It’s not like they can tell us, right?
Well according to scientists, one of the easiest ways to tell is to observe your dog when they go outside to “do their business.” When scientists began monitoring a group of 70 dogs during their bathroom breaks, they observed something really interesting.
After displaying their typical behavior of pacing around, going in circles, and sniffing, most of the dogs would consistently end up facing north or south when using the bathroom.
Because of this observation, scientists concluded that when the fields are calm, dogs align themselves along the north-to-south axis. This wasn’t by luck. The only way they’re able to do this is having the ability to see and sense the earth’s magnetic field.
4. Dogs see glowing blue rings on bananas
You know those black spots you see on a ripe banana? Dogs see that a bit differently. Not only are the banana spots glowing, but they’re also blue.
As bananas begin to ripen, the dying tissue causes the black spots we see on the peels. These spots are actually the release of chlorophyll in the banana peels, which ultimately breaks down into a fluorescent particle.
And when you shine a blacklight at a banana, you’ll see the same thing as your dog. No wonder my dog loves to eat bananas! They must look like the coolest foods ever!
5. Dogs can see counterfeit money
Did you know there are thousands of dogs working at the customs administrations all over the world? Not only are those dogs used to sniff out narcotics and other illegal substances, but they’re also used in spotting counterfeit money.
That’s right, plenty of criminals have tried to make counterfeit bank notes but aren’t able to reproduce exact replicas because of the security features we have on the bills.
For example, US bank notes have a security strip that can only be seen with black light. Well, that is, if you’re a human. For dogs, they’ll spot that security feature right away. But what’s really interesting is that some dogs are actually trained to sniff out counterfeit money.
6. Dogs see more stars in the night sky
One of the worst parts of living in a large metropolitan city is that we don’t get to see any of the stars in the night sky! Thanks to the heavy light pollution, we could only wish for a clear sky or drive out into the rurals to get a glimpse.
Luckily for dogs, they don’t seem to have this problem. Dogs have larger pupils than us humans, which actually allows for more light to enter into their eyes. Their eyes are much less sensitive to light pollution, giving them an ability to appreciate the starry skies whenever they want.
However, there is a downside to this. Because the eyes of a dog are able to absorb more light, their vision isn’t as sharp as ours. So while dogs can see more stars, they aren’t able to distinguish individual stars like we can.
7. Dogs can see anything in the dark
These amazing animals have a number of ways to navigate through the dark. For example, dogs can rely on their ultra sense of smell, their super sensitive hearing, or even their incredible night vision.
Dogs have a secret weapon when it comes to seeing in low light conditions. It’s called the “tapetum lucidum.” The tapetum is a unique layer of reflective cells located behind the dog’s retina. It acts as a mirror that reflects any light that enters into their eyes.
Have you ever taken a picture of your dog at night while using the flash? The dogs’ eyes are always glowing in these pictures because of this very reason. But what this does is enhance your dog’s visual sensitivity when there’s very little light coming into the eyes.
It’s pretty much night vision for dogs. Unfortunately, humans don’t have the tapetum, and we’ll need to continue relying on flashlights.
8. Dogs can see your teeth glowing.
If you regularly brush your teeth, like with most people, you may actually look like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. No, seriously. Toothpaste gives our teeth a bright glow when viewed from the perspective of a dog.
And as you may have guessed, it’s the fluoride ingredient that’s used for whitening in most toothpaste that’s causing this unusual glow. Go brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and smile under a black light. You’ll see it too!
9. Dogs can see objects behind them
No, dogs don’t have eyes in the back of their heads. But they might as well. Unlike humans, most dogs have their eyes placed on the side of their heads, allowing for a much wider range of vision.
Most humans have a 200 degree field of vision. On the other hand, the placement of a dog’s eyes results in a 240 degree vision field!
What’s even more amazing is that some dog breeds, such as the Greyhound, can see objects within a 270 degree vision field. They’re going to almost always see at least part of an object approaching from behind.
This special ability was undeniably inherited from the prehistoric wolves that dogs descended from. Wolves didn’t have many predators creeping up on them, however, they needed a wide range of vision to spot movement from their potential prey.
So if you’re planning on trying to sneak up on your dog, well, good luck. With their hearing and sense of smell, combined with their insane vision field, it’s nearly impossible to do so!
10. Dogs see a world with primarily blue and yellow highlights
There’s a longstanding myth that dogs can only see in black and white. In fact, this was the belief for several decades. But with recent studies, we now know that dogs actually do see color, though with a limitation.
Eyes have two types of receptors. Rods and cones. To make things simple, cones are essentially responsible for color vision.
Most humans have three types of cones, giving us the ability to see a wide and diverse range of colors. However, dogs only have two types of cones, which limits their range of colors to primarily blue, yellow and any combination of those two colors.
In other words, the visual acuity of a dog is comparable to the visual acuity of people with red-green color blindness. Because dogs see a world with primarily blue and yellow, it’s probably a good idea to buy your dog some toys with primarily blue and yellow hues.
Did we miss something weird that only dogs can see? If you think something deserves to be on this list, let us know in the comments section below!
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