Can Dogs See Through Glass? (Windows or Tinted)

can dogs see through glass

If you’ve ever walked past a house to see a dog forlornly looking through a window, you might wonder what they are thinking, or even what they are seeing. After all, science tells us that dog eyesight is not as good as human vision.

This guide will explain whether dogs can see through glass such as tinted windows, car windows, and the like. Here’s a quick summary first though.

Can dogs see through glass? Yes, dogs can see through glass windows. However, dogs have 20/75 vision meaning what they see through the glass will need to be closer to them than it would be for a human to see clearly. It will also depend on the health of the dog’s eyes too.

As you might have picked up on, our dog friends don’t have the best sense of sight, but they can see through glass and know what’s on the other side providing it’s close enough.

But you might have seen your dog walk into a glass window or door, which will naturally make you wonder if your dog can see through windows. Here’s how it all works, when to worry, and what to check if you feel your dog might have a vision problem.

How well can dogs see through glass windows

One thing we know for sure is that our canine companions have a phenomenal sense of hearing and smell. But their sense of sight? That’s not so good.

Unlike humans who have 20/20 vision, that of the average dog is 20/75. In simple terms this means a dog needs to be 20 feet from something to see it as well as a human standing 75 feet away.

There’s also the consideration that dogs don’t see color like we do. For example, they cannot see the color red. In fact, they have very poor vision compared to us. Whilst dogs dp look through glass windows, they won’t be seeing as clearly as we do.

The Psychology Today website say:

“To give you a feeling about how poor this vision is, you should know that if your visual acuity is worse than 20/40 you would fail the standard vision test given when you apply for a driver’s license in the United States and would be required to wear glasses. A dog’s vision is considerably worse than this.”

Perhaps this explains why many people assume our dog friends can’t see through transparent stuff like glass. Well, that assumption is too far-fetched. Just because dogs don’t have the most appealing sense of sight doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t able to see the other side of a glass barrier.

dogs and glass doors
Dogs can see through windows and glass, just not very well.

Can dogs see through car windows?

Yes, just like any other form of clear glass, dogs can see through car windows. However, due to their poor vision, they will not see things as clearly through a car window as we do.

As we now know, a dog with no eye problems can see straight through clear glass. Or think of it this way. If we can see through any kind of glass, it’s likely that dogs can see through windows too.

The only difference is, they’ll see things (and people) that aren’t more than 20 feet away from the glass. Everything will seem blurry if your pooch tries to check out something more than 20 feet away from the glass.

Also, keep in mind that our canine companions only see through clear glass, not colored or frosted glass. Remember, if we can’t clearly see through a specific kind of glass, there’s no way dogs can, given the fact their sight is worse than ours – tinted glass is a case in point.

A dog’s ability to see through clear glass is pretty much tied to how we humans see the same.

Clear glass makes it easier for light to pass through and enter our eyes. Our retinas (the tissue lining at the back of our eyeballs) have special photoreceptor cells called rods that usually react to the light rays passing through our eyes.

These cells convert the light rays into signals that travel to our brain. Once the brain processes these signals, it forms clear images of the animals, objects, or people outside the glass door or window.

In the same way, dogs can see what’s on the other side of a glass barrier because of the many light-sensing cells — rods — in their retina (Yes, their eye structure of our canine companions isn’t that different from ours).

So, when you dog is looking through a glass window or glass door, this is what happens:

  • The light passing through the glass will enter their eyes through their pupils and onto the retina.
  • Next, the light will be picked by the rod cells and converted into signals your dog’s brain can process and interpret— that is, what’s on the other side of the glass barrier.
  • Their brain creates a fine image of the object or person outside the glass window or door, so your dog will see exactly what’s on the other side.

That’s why your dog might bark or try to move closer when they spot a bird or squirrel through your clear window. Or start whining and quickly dash to the door when they spot you (through a clear window) entering the gate.

They can see it all. If dogs couldn’t see through clear glass, you’d never notice these reactions from your pooch.

But if your furry friend suffers from eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts, they might have difficulties seeing clearly through glass.

Rods aside, dogs also have cells in their eyes called cones that deal with color vision. Our eyes have several cone cells, hence why most of us can see and distinguish all sorts of colors.

In contrast, dogs have a countable number of cones in their eyes. So, when looking outside through clear glass, your dog might not see all the vibrant colors you normally see in the environment.

Can dogs see through tinted windows
My dogs can see through this glass door.

Dogs can see through glass at night too

Think of the times you forget to draw your curtains in the evening, leaving your glass windows bare. I bet you do notice your dog going crazy over something they’ve supposedly seen through the window, despite it being a bit dark outside (but with the moonlight visible).

How is this possible?

Well, right behind a dog’s retina is a unique membrane known as the tapetum lucidum. Our eyes lack this part, that’s why we often have a hard time seeing through a clear glass window at night while we are in a lit room. The tapetum enhances your pooch’s vision at night.

Plus, dogs have numerous rods in their eyes than us.

Rod cells get fully activated in the presence of little light, giving our canine friends an advantage when it comes to spotting stuff through a glass window or glass door at night.

Why then do dogs run into glass doors?

It’s hard not to giggle when you watch your dog running towards your glass door, only to slam their face on the glass.

Oftentimes, it’s simply an issue of forgetfulness. Dogs, too, have their awkward moments, just like us. There are times you’ll bump your head onto the glass door in your office because you mistook the door for a clear pathway.

That’s what happens to our canine friends at times.

They simply come running because the glass door gives the “invisible door” kind of vibe. So, when your dog knocks their head on the glass, they’ll remember afterwards there’s a glass door they need to watch out for!

And maybe that’s why some dogs develop trust issues towards glass doors. Once they experience what It feels like to hit glass and make a fool of themselves, they wouldn’t want to fall into that trap again.

Your canine friend might start being skeptical of walking through a glass door even if it’s already open, like this cute little dog here.

Dogs will learn how to behave around glass windows

It’s correct to say that a dog’s ability to perceive clear glass comes with experience. The more they get used to seeing the clear glass door open and close, the more they become aware of its presence.

Most importantly, dogs don’t truly understand the concept of glass barriers like we do. Reason your canine friend might be lying next to the glass window and jump back when water droplets from your lawn’s sprinkler suddenly hit the window. Or take a step back when they see their rival next-door dog passing outside.

In short, dogs aren’t smart enough to fully understand the role glass plays as a barrier.

One more thing, dogs don’t have a sharp vision to see their subtle reflections — the ones we often see when we gaze through a sparkling clean glass window or door.

These reflections help us remember there’s glass in front of us, and that it also serves as a barrier. Since dogs can’t see these reflections, it’s harder for them to remember the glass door exits.

But what if you are noticing your dog doesn’t seem to be detecting glass like he once did? Well, you can do a quick home eyesight test on them, and if then concerned take him to a vet for a professional checkup – here’s what to test first at home to see if your dog is going blind.

“You can check your dog for vision problems or if they are experiencing blindness is by testing their menace reflex. To do this, make sure your dog is calm and hold your palm open a short distance away from their face. Keeping your hand open, rapidly move your hand forward and then stop a few inches away from their snout, being careful not to accidentally strike them in the process. If your dog can see, it should react by blinking or moving away. However, if they barely react or stay completely still, they are probably experiencing vision loss.”

You can also test your dog’s hearing with these tips previously posted on Doggysaurus.

Related questions

Can my dog see through the window?

Yes, your dog can see through the window, provided it’s clear glass.

Can dogs see through sunglasses?

Whilst dogs will struggle to see through tinted windows, they can see through the sunglasses specially designed for canines. This is because the tinting isn’t quite as much as a darkened window, but still enough to protect them from UV rays.

Handy Hint: Did you know that dogs can get snow blindness, which is why some working dogs wear sunglasses in winter.

Can dogs perceive glass?

Dogs can’t fully recognize glass, especially if it’s clear glass. They rely on their experiences to know if there’s glass in front of them or not.

What animals can’t see through glass?

Most animals can see well through clear glass, just like us.

Can cats and dogs see glass?

Cats and dogs can’t fully see glass because they don’t completely understand the “invisible” aspect of clear glass.

Conclusion

You’ve probably walked in on your beloved canine friend chilling on the couch next to the glass window, doing nothing other than lazily staring outside and sunbathing.

Some people say dogs can’t tell what’s happening in the outside world through glass, while others believe they can.

From what the science says, it’s fair to say that both statements are correct.

Whilst dogs can see through glass windows, they can’t see as good as we can.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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