Comparison of visual and auditory functioning between dogs and humans


“I spy something with my little eyes (and ears)….”. This old children’s game would reach another level, if you would like to play it with animals. While humans act on an anthropocentric view of the world, assuming that experiences of others are similar to theirselves, the reality is that animals senses most likely function in a totally different way than human ones. The second reality is that we often do not understand how their senses are functioning, resulting in a lack of knowledge how they perceive their world. Having this basic knowledge and appreciating differences and similarities is especially important when considering that there are animals that live and act in close relation to us, that are our companions and guardians, that rely on us and that we sometimes trust with our lives – yes, I am talking about dogs.

When looking at the physiology of dogs and humans there are obviously differences between them. Besides those obvious differences between humans and dogs, it is also important to pinpoint to the fact that dogs belong to the most diverse species on this planet. There are dogs with upright or floppy ears, with long or short muzzles, with blue, yellow or brownish eyes, with long or short legs, with tinny-tiny and large ears, with long and short fur and so on. If we want to guarantee and facilitate well-functioning dog-human relationships all of these differences have to be appreciated and we need to disentangle what these differences imply for every-day life.

This project therefore investigated differences and similarities of two crucial senses, i.e. vision and audition in dogs and humans. We have conducted an extensive literature review and have compiled current knowledge about (1) vision and visual functioning as well as (2) hearing and auditory functioning in dogs and humans.

Both reviews have been accepted for publication in “Comparative Cognition and Behaviour Reviews“, issue 15, 2020. To read the publications please click on the picture or title: