A few years ago, a friend had called me with the question ‘can Chihuahuas see in the dark?’ when her elderly Chi started bumping into things.
Later, the dog even lost its daytime vision owing to severe hypertension. The pet got on okay within the house and the yard, but a year ago, they had to put down. It was a very sad story.
To answer the question: Can Chihuahuas see in the dark? The answer is yes.
Chihuahuas with normal healthy vision can see fairly well in the dark. They can certainly see better than humans can. In fact; their night vision is 5 times better than human vision in dim light.
Dogs, in general, have better senses – especially hearing and the olfactory sense too – when compared with humans.
In this guide, we will talk about Chihuahuas and whether they can see in the dark, reasons why can Chihuahuas see in the dark and also common eye problems in this small dog breed.
Why Can Chihuahuas See in the Dark?
Here are the reasons why ‘Can Chihuahuas see in the dark?’
1. Special eye structure
A Chihuahua can see well in the dark thanks to the presence of special membrane called the tapetum lucidum present in its retina.
This along with the greater number of rods (the photoreceptors that are responsible for vision at low levels of light) help our Chihuahuas see better than us humans when the light is dim or when it is fairly dark
Also, Chihuahuas’ eyes have wider pupils which let in greater amounts of light
2. Dog vision
Inherently, all dogs are gifted with 20/75 vision. This means, your Chihuahua can see something as clearly as a human would 75 feet away.
3. Combination of senses
In addition to having better night vision thanks to species characteristics and special structures, Chihuahuas also combine their sense of smell and hearing to perceive what their eyes see. In short: your Chihuahua (like all dogs) will use all its sense to tell it something that it already knows.
For example, a senior dog that is going blind will use its sense of smell to navigate around the house without bumping into furniture. Similarly, an older dog with limited vision might use its hearing – such as the owner’s footsteps – to know s/he will enter the room.
Thanks to all these reasons, Chihuahuas can see well in the dark.
What Does a Chihuahua’s Vision Look Like?
Human vision and Chihuahua vision are very different.
Difference between human and Chi vision
1. Different eye structures in humans and dogs
A Chihuahua has only 2 types of cone cells in their eyes where humans have three types. Cone cells are the photoreceptors responsible for vision in daylight.
Chihuahuas certainly have better vision than humans at dusk and dawn. They also see moving objects better than humans do.
On the other hand, humans have better vision up-close and at a distance. In short: we can say that a Chihuahua has low-resolution vision compared to humans. Up-close, objects might appear slightly blurry to your pet.
2. Dogs have dichromatic vision and are color blind
Chihuahuas, unlike humans, can only see two colors – blue and yellow.
They have color blindness like all dogs. It is due to this fact that your Chi has difficulty in distinguishing between red and green colors. Your Chi sees both colors as yellow.
So, if you plan to play ball or fetch on your lawn, make sure you select a ball that your Chi can see. If you select a green or red ball, it might not be able to see it on the grass. Select one that is blue with white stripes so your Chihuahua can see it much more easily.
Chihuahuas uses all other senses to ‘see’
As mentioned earlier, a Chi will use all of its senses and not vision alone when ‘seeing and perceiving things’. You could say that your Chi uses ‘smellvision’ when it sniffs up a tree to tell who was there before her.
How Good is a Chihuahua’s Vision in the Dark?
When we answer the question, ‘Can Chihuahuas see in the dark?’ we must quantify it.
- Humans have perfect eyesight when they have 20/20 vision.
- Chihuahuas with healthy eyesight have 20/75 vision.
Your Chihuahua’s rod-dominated eyes can see a lot clearly at dawn and dusk and even in the pitch dark. Its tapetum lucidum also enables it to see nearly 5 times better than humans can. This membrane is also the reason why your Chihuahua’s eyes will shine brightly at night or when your camera’s flash falls on it.
The way it works is this: the tapetum acts as a mirror. It reflects back all the light that falls on it and gives your Chihuahua’s retina another opportunity to see things in low-light or dark.
Can your Chi see in pitch dark?
Yes, a Chihuahua with normal, healthy vision should be able to find its way around without bumping into things even in pitch dark. This is thanks to the tapetum that reflects back the little light that enters in your pet’s eye. However, the tapetum also scatters some of the light entering the dog’s eyes and that could cause blurry vision in your pet.
What Common Eye Problems in Chihuahua Should You Be Aware of?
Chihuahuas have large luminous eyes which make this dog breed so appealing and beautiful.
However, these same features also make their eyes susceptible to injuries and vision problems. The common eye issues in Chihuahuas are:
Cataract usually affects older or senior Chihuahuas. It occurs when the normal mechanics of the eye lens changes and there is an imbalance in the water and protein in the eye.
- Whitish or cloudy appearance in one or both eyes.
- Without treatment, the dog could lose its vision.
For mild cases, topical treatment can help. For serious cases, surgery is the only option.
2. Lens luxation
This condition occurs when the lens of the eye is not in normal position.
- Iris and lens trembling
- Acute or chronically red and painful eyes.
- Diffused corneal swelling
- Could lead to glaucoma
Veterinary ophthalmologist might recommend lens removal surgery in case of acute anterior lens luxation. For milder cases, therapy will be directed to prevent increase in eye pressure.
Glaucoma is an increased ocular pressure in dogs. The normal eye pressure is 10-23mmHg. In glaucoma, the aqueous humor eye fluid does not drain properly.
- Leading cause of blindness in Chihuahuas
- Severe eye pain – affected dog might have red eye and scratch or paw the eyes continuously.
- Drugs to relieve eye pressure and relieve pain
- If this does not work, surgery may be necessary.
4. Retinal detachment
This is typically a hereditary disease in Chihuahuas. That is why it is important to buy your Chi from reputed breeders who would not breed dogs having RD. Sometimes, trauma, illness, or injury can also cause RD. Chihuahuas with severe hypertension are also at a risk of retinal detachment.
Symptoms are clinically inconspicuous which makes this disease difficult to diagnose. The folds on the retina appear white. Some dogs go blind due to this disease.
- Treat underlying diseases to halt progression.
- Surgery for retinal attachment can also help.
5. Optic Nerve Coloboma
Optic nerve coloboma or ONH is a congenital disease in Chihuahuas.
- It is characterized as a gray pit in the optic disc.
- ONH can also cause lesions on the eyelid, iris, or lens.
- It may also be seen with other eye defects.
- Surgery and drug therapy.
6. Progressive retinal atrophy
PRA causes painful symptoms in Chihuahuas. One of the first signs you may notice is that your dog shows extreme separation anxiety. It might even refuse to go in a dark room. Affected dogs become clingy and start bumping into things.
- Loss of night vision
- Cloudy look in the eyes
- Daytime vision deterioration
- Depth perception changes – reluctance to climb up the stairs
- Dilated pupils
- Early treatment and lutein supplements could help your blind dog have a better quality of life. Make sure you adjust your furniture to make your pet more comfortable.
Why Do Some Chihuahuas Have Problem with Depth Perception?
If your Chihuahua is suddenly having trouble going up and down the stairs, it could be an issue with her depth perception.
Many vision problems in Chihuahuas start small: bumping into things, problem with peripheral vision, loss of visual acuity, and problem with depth perception.
A Chihuahua puppy may be inherently clumsy and may have trouble going up and down the stairs. But, in an older or adult Chihuahua, if depth perception suddenly starts being an issue, you may want to get your pet’s eyes examined.
Here are some symptoms to watch out for
- Depth perception issue can also occur if your dog is unable to see in one eye.
- Altering behavior: refusal to go up and down the stairs
- Hesitating to jump up and down the bed.
- Looking in the wrong direction when you toss a toy or a treat
- Sniffing the treat instead of actually seeing it.
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to see in the dark.
Any of the above common Chihuahua eye problem can cause above symptoms. So please see a veterinary ophthalmologist right away.
How to Tell if a Chihuahua is Going Blind?
If your Chihuahua is going blind, it is important to have it examined by your vet so that you can save canine vision and also improve its quality of life.
Here are some signs that your dog’s eyesight may be failing:
1. Changes in the eyes
You will notice small changes in your dog’s eyesight and dogs eyes. These include cloudy lenses. A pet owner might also see white spots on the eye ball. Puffy, red, or swollen eyes are other issues you might notice in the beginning.
Your Chihuahua might not make eye contact with you as it did before. Moreover, its pupils won’t dilate as it did in darkness or dim light. This could cause loss of night vision.
2. Behavioral changes
Not playing as it once did. Your dog might be reluctant to go on walks. It may not enter dark rooms. Many Chihuahuas get clingy as the dog’s vision loss progresses. They might refuse to jump on bed or furniture as it did before. The affected dog might also squint and paw at its eyes.
Some dogs startle when petted.
FAQs on Can Chihuahuas See in the Dark
1. How do I remove tear stains from my white coated Chihuahua?
2. Do Chihuahuas have color preference?
Chihuahuas do not have color vision and their perception of colors is limited. They only see yellow and blue colors and do not have any preferences for the same reason.
3. What colors can Chihuahuas see in the dark?
Chihuahuas can only see yellow and blue color. In the dark, they might make out the lighter hues but they certainly do not just see black and white as is the common perception.
Can Chihuahuas see in the dark?
Yes, a Chi with a healthy, normal vision can easily see in the dark. In fact, Chis can see 5 times better at dusk and dawn than humans can.
This is thanks to the tapetum lucidum membrane which acts as a mirror and reflects some of the light entering your dog’s eyes. This can enable it to see better than humans can in dim light.