Can Dogs Know When Another Dog Is Blind?

When an Akita named Kiaya got glaucoma and started losing her vision, her dog brother, Cass, immediately noticed.

“I don’t know how [Cass] knew, but I would see him consistently staying on her blind side,” Jessica VanHusen, Kiaya and Cass’s owner, told The Dodo. “He would brush up against her going up the stairs, and he would position himself and sit on her blind side in the back yard. I don’t know how it happened — it was definitely not something I facilitated.”

Kiaya and CassJessica VanHusen

VanHusen ended up adopting a third Akita — a puppy named Keller — and he seemed to pick up on Kiaya’s blindness too.

Keller, Kiaya and CassJessica VanHusen

“It was like the two boys knew to take care of the matriarch,” VanHusen said.

Keller, Kiaya and CassJessica VanHusen

Cass and Keller aren’t the only canines who have picked up on another dog’s blindness.

Gladys DiCanio, a volunteer with Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, has also cared for dogs who have guided each other. “I had a blind and deaf cocker spaniel and my golden retriever became her seeing-eye dog, helping her go up and down stairs, staying by her side in the yard and following her through the house,” DiCanio told The Dodo. “It was truly amazing.”

So how can dogs tell if another dog is blind? Dr. Erika Loftin, a veterinarian at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon, thinks it has to do with dogs’ keen observation skills.

“[Dogs] would be able to tell that there’s something different about [blind dogs] from the way they interact,” Loftin told The Dodo. “They would be able to sense that the other animal is vulnerable.”

Blind Dog Rescue Alliance

It’s possible that a blind dog might act more “clingy,” Dr. Gwen Sila, a veterinarian from BluePearl Vet Clinic in Southfield, Michigan, told The Dodo. And once a dog notices this, his relationship with the blind dog might change.

“I think the nonvisual dog will follow the visual dog around, and a new dynamic kind of develops,” Sila said. “One almost becomes the…

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