When we catch our dogs looking at us with their puppy-dog eyes, we just can’t help but feel as if they’re looking into our souls. This makes us wonder: What exactly do our furry pals see when they look at us and the world around them?

From a scientific perspective, we might be wondering how our furry pal’s eyes work and how they compare to our eyes. During the night, for example, do dogs find it hard to navigate their surroundings like us humans, or do they have night vision that allows them to explore even when it’s dark? What do dogs see in the dark?

Let us take a closer look at the anatomy of a dog’s eye and get a clearer picture of what a dog can see during the night.

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  1. Can Dogs See in the Dark
  2. Can Dogs Be Scared of the Dark
  3. Do Dogs Like to Sleep in the Dark
  4. Why Do Dogs Eyes Glow in the Dark
  5. Conclusion

Can Dogs See in the Dark

When it comes to anatomy and function, dog eyes are quite similar to human eyes. However, a dog’s eyes have the advantage when it comes to what they can see at night. So can dogs see in the dark? While we humans may need to tiptoe to get to the light switch, dogs can get around in the dark without much difficulty. You may have noticed how they seem to be able to navigate in the dark when you walk them at night. So how exactly does a dog’s vision in the dark work? What do dogs see in the dark?

Dog Eye Structure

First of all, dogs have big pupils that make it more possible for light to enter their line of sight, enabling them to see in the dark. Having eyes with more rods as compared to humans, they can distinguish light from shadow better. Rods can sense shape, motion, and dim light, so more rods help dogs see in the dark. This also allows them to detect moving objects better, having a motion sensitivity of 10–20 times more than humans. According to the National Library of Medicine study, a membrane called “tapetum lucidum” (located at the back of their eyes) lets the light that the rods aren’t able to absorb bounce to their retina so that more light gets in.

On the other hand, as compared to most humans, dogs see fewer colors. When it comes to depth perception, dogs are more nearsighted than humans, so they can only recognize specific objects when they’re near. While they have a poorer depth of perception than humans, their overall field of view is wider.

Having a pet camera with a night vision feature such as the Petcube Cam 360 may help you observe how your dog behaves and moves about during the night, especially when you’re asleep or away from the house. With amazing features such as 1080p Full HD Video, 360-degree panoramic view, and 8x zoom, the Petcube Cam 360 will also be very handy in monitoring your dog for any signs and symptoms of illnesses and changes in their behavior. That way, you can address them early on.

Can Dogs Be Scared of the Dark

“Are dogs scared of the dark?" you might ask. Because some humans are scared of the dark, you might be wondering whether some dogs are also afraid of the dark. But because dogs can see better in the dark than us humans, it is not common for them to be afraid of the dark in itself. However, some factors may cause dogs to feel scared of the dark.

Factors that can cause a dog to be scared of the dark:

Poor eyesight

A dog with poor eyesight may be more prone to bumping into furniture or other objects when it’s dark. In effect, the dark may cause them anxiety and confusion.


If your dog has separation anxiety and sleeps in a different room than you, the dark may trigger their anxiety and fear. This is because they may associate darkness with feeling alone. On the other hand, certain dog breeds are more prone to anxiety (which may also make them more susceptible to anxiety during the night). Among these dog breeds are Yorkshire Terriers, Bichon Frises, Border Collies, Chihuahuas, Italian Greyhounds, and German Shepherds.

Bad memories

If a dog has bad memories linked to being in the dark, this may trigger fear and strange behaviors when they’re in the dark.

Note that even though dogs can see better in the dark than humans, they still need some level of light to be able to see for photoreceptor cells to be stimulated. While dogs may still be able to navigate better in complete darkness than us humans, they won’t be able to see without the presence of light. Thus, complete darkness may also cause them to feel anxious and afraid.

To better understand our dog’s behavior, including what they are afraid of, us pet parents need to monitor them. Good pet cameras, such as the Petcube Cam, allow you to watch over your pet 24/7. That way, you may be able to take a closer look at how they behave and what causes these behaviors. When you’re away and your dog is feeling afraid, the camera also has a smooth 2-way audio feature, which may allow you to comfort them with your voice. Apart from its innovative features, you also get access to a 24/7 online vet service, so you can consult and have a more thorough conversation with certified vets anytime and anywhere you may be.

Do Dogs Like to Sleep in the Dark

You might be wondering, “Do dogs like sleeping in the dark?” Or “Do dogs sleep better in the dark?”. The fact is, most mammals (including dogs) have circadian rhythms that signal the body when it’s sleeping time. As a result, the dark may signal your dog that it’s time for bed and help them have better sleep.

On the other hand, it’s common for dogs to nap during the day as well, which is normal for canines. However, having several hours of sleep in the dark allows for deep sleep, which helps them feel well-rested.

Know that, like what was mentioned earlier, darkness may also signal anxiety in some dogs, so they may benefit from some source of light when it’s dark, such as a nightlight.

Why Do Dogs Eyes Glow in the Dark

When it’s dark, a dog’s tapetum lucidum membrane, which is found at the back of their eyes, can reflect light. Its function is like a mirror, allowing light to reflect and letting the rods and cones of their eyes register the little amount of light in the night. As an effect of this, it may appear like a dog’s eyes glow in the dark.

The color of the glow may vary depending on the amount of riboflavin or zinc (both of which are agents that have reflective properties) in the special pigment cells in the dog’s tapetum lucidum membrane. The breed of dog may also be a factor.

Meanwhile, the age of the dog may affect the eye's shine or luminescence. This is because as a dog's age increases, the density of their lenses increases, which may affect reflectivity.

A dog’s eyes are indeed amazing and beautiful. However, their eyes are vulnerable to issues and injuries if precautions are not taken. Eye emergencies, for example, may happen unexpectedly. And because eyes are delicate, immediate medical care may be needed. But how can we prepare for such emergencies as pet parents? While it may catch us off-guard, having the assurance and support we need when it happens would be a big help. Petcube’s Emergency Fund, for example, provides much-needed support for both pets and pet parents when emergencies occur.

With the Pet Emergency Fund, you get up to $3000 for pet emergencies for up to six pets, regardless of their age, breed, and medical history. Not to mention, this also gives you access to an online vet service to help you with first aid guidance and emergency triage, as well as other pet concerns you may have.

To help you start, we are offering an exclusive 27% discount on Pet Emergency Fund subscriptions for our blog readers if you follow this link.


A dog’s eyes were designed to see better in the dark as compared to us humans. This allows them to see things as long as there is a little light in their surroundings. Having circadian rhythms like us humans, a dog’s body also signals them when bedtime is during the night. While they also like taking naps during the day, sleeping when it’s dark allows them to have deep sleep.

Note that some dogs may be afraid of the dark, but not usually because of the dark per se. Most of the time, it is due to separation anxiety or a bad memory they may have of being in the dark. Addressing these issues may help a dog overcome their fear of the dark.

Don’t you just love it when a dog looks at you with their puppy dog eyes? Not to mention, it's amazing how their eyes function and how it affects the way they see you and the world around them. Ultimately, a dog’s eyes are indeed precious, so it is important to take care of them.

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