Can Dogs See In The Dark?


Have you ever wondered whether your dog can see in the dark? In short – yes they can! Dogs have excellent night vision and are able to see in the dark much better than we can, (although not as well as cats). Dogs have evolved to see well in dim light. This Holidays4Dogs article looks into the subject of a dog’s nocturnal vision.


Dog’s eyes have many adaptations which make it much easier for them to see in low light conditions. This feature allows wild dogs to have the best possible opportunities to hunt animals during the night.

Canine eye structure.

They have large pupils that let in the maximum amount of light. The middle of the retina has many more light-sensitive cells, which work more efficiently in dim light. The lens in a dog’s eye is also located much nearer to the retina. This makes the image on the retina much brighter.

The biggest advantage for the dog in dim light is the ‘tapetum’. This is a structure in the eye which acts rather like a mirror. It is located at the back of the eye where it reflects light to the retina, thereby improving the dog’s night vision and enabling him to see in the dark.

The tapetum is the structure in the dog’s eye that causes them to glow in the dark – or in photographs taken with flash. Often resulting in some quite creepy-looking images!

While dogs aren’t colour blind, they do see colours differently than we do – for more on this, head over to our other article here.

If my dog can see in the dark – do I need to leave a light on a night?

Even though dogs can see roughly five times better than we can under dim light, they still can’t see in total darkness. Your dog may be more adept at making his way around the house in pitch black. However, this is probably due in part to the fact a dog’s sense of smell is so much better than ours.

As a result, dogs can ‘see’ their way around by using their noses. In addition, dogs can see moving things much better than stationary objects, even in dim light. Therefore, if you go out at night, it is still a good idea to leave a light on so your dog can see his way around.

Final thoughts.

Dogs can most certainly see quite well in dim light conditions and are very good at seeing in the dark. However, if you are worried that your dog’s vision seems impaired – either during the day, or at night – do make an appointment with your vet to get your dog’s eyes checked over. This is particularly important if you notice any discharge, or redness, in the eyes.