Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dogs and depth perception: Dog Falls 5 Stories & Survives

Natasha posing outside on the balcony of our 16th floor apartment

We live on the 16th floor in apartment that has balconies that nearly surround it. Families of small children often put safety netting around to keep their children from tumbling over the edge. You can see by the photo above that the bar comes just to the top of a chair, about to the middle of a person. There have been times I've worried that a ball tossed may go over the edge with Natasha Rose dutifully following after it. We've been smart to make sure that doesn't happen, keeping all toys inside, training her to stay away from the edge and not to jump onto the balcony bars surround it.

Or have we simply been lucky?

Gauge a vizsla in the Twin Cities was not so lucky, falling five stories, shattering his hip on impact and sustaining internal bleeding. His owner owner, Betsy Strachota, who brought him into work with her one Saturday explains  “We have a rooftop deck on our office. When I let him out to go to the bathroom, he looked across the roof and it looked like it continued. He couldn’t see it dropped off, and he jumped.”

A dog’s depth perception and field of view are  determined by how its eyes are set. Dogs, like humans have eyes set close together. Human eyes are set straight forward while dog eyes, depending on the breed, are usually set at a 20 degree angle. This angle increases the field of view and therefore increases the peripheral vision of the dog.

However, with a dog's increased peripheral vision their binocular vision is compromised. Binocular vision occurs where the field of view of each eye overlaps. Binocular vision aids in jumping, leaping, catching, and many other activities fundamental to predators' survival. Dogs with wider-set eyes have less overlap and less binocular vision -- thus less depth perception. Dogs’ depth perception is best when they look straight ahead.  This is not an ideal situation as their nose often interferes.  While a dog's binocular vision provides them a sense of depth, as to recognizing danger, that would probably depend on the strength of their prey drive, training, and experience.

But what happened to poor Gauge you may be worrying!

He was  lucky to be saved by veterinarians at the University of Minnesota.  Using their new 3-D CT scan the surgical team was able to have a much more in-depth picture of his injuries and save his life. Currently the dog continues to undergo costly physical therapy and will be evaluated for possible further surgery. His owner says it is worth it.

You may read the full story here and watch that video of Gauge in therapy:
Dog Falls 5 Stories & Survives Thanks To U Of M Technology « CBS Minnesota


  1. Your depth perception explanation is very good!

    1. Thank you for visiting the page and your complement.

  2. Gauge the Vizsla and Betsy need your help!! Please note that the Twin Cities Vizsla Club has set up a donation fund for Gauge to help Betsy his owner with the massive vet bills she is now facing- You may learn more about the fund by visiting mu updated post: