Does Your Dog Have a Super Power?
Your dog can’t shoot lasers out of his toenails, but he can see in the dark much better than humans can. The reason lies in your furry pal’s heritage.
When dogs were wild canines they were active primarily at dusk and dawn. They needed to be able to see movement and shapes in the dark to hunt their prey. As their canine ancestors evolved, they kept the ability to see in the dark, while adapting to also seeing in broad daylight.
Dogs have a higher number of light-sensitive rods in the retina of their eyes. Rods gather dim light, which enables better night vision. The human retina is dominated by cones that detect color and function in daylight.
A dog also has a secret weapon in the eye called the tapetum lucidum. The tapetum is a layer of reflective cells behind the retina. It acts as a mirror within the eye, reflecting the light that enters it and giving the retina another opportunity to register that light. This process magnifies and enhances visual sensitivity under low light conditions. It increases the dog’s ability to detect objects. We are not as lucky. Human eyes don’t have the tapetum.
When you flash a light or take a flash photo of a dog, their reflection may be a glow in their eyes. This is the tapetum reflecting the light back and it's called eyeshine. In fact, various breeds will have different colors of eyeshine.
Most dogs also have eyes located more on the side of their head than humans do. This can vary according to the breed. This location gives dogs a wider range of vision than humans have and they can scan their environment quickly.
Give your dog credit for this super power that humans don’t have. They can sur[rise you with how well they see in the dark.