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My dog really doesn't like people or animals wearing fluorescent clothing. I thought it was just my dog, but recently, whilst stuck on a motorway at night in the rain, following a crash, a policeman in full day glow overalls stuck his head next to the car and... well, the policeman remarked that it was common for dogs to dislike fluorescent clothing.

So the question that I would like to know is, why this might be?

I know dogs have different colour vision than humans, as represented in the below image:

spectral differences in colour vision human vs.dog

Initially I was thinking that the fluorescence might appear particularly bright for them, (looking at the bright yellow 'band') and this was what dogs disliked.

But then I saw this image (below) to do with reflectance of fluorescent ink (fluorescence is occurring either end of the human visible spectrum) and it made me think, is it actually possible that rather than making things seem brighter, fluorescent clothing makes things almost disappear to a dog? In such a scenario the dog is scared because they just see bits of objects moving not a complete picture.

reflectance of fluorescent ink

  • See past answer regarding canine color vision. What they see isn't what we see. If there really is such an effect (I'm not convinced), any theory about it will have to take that into account. – keshlam Jan 15 '17 at 22:41
  • What do your mailmen wear? I met some dogs that where curious about me because my jacket is the same yellow as that of our mailmen! – Layna Jan 19 '17 at 11:05
  • The postmen wear red here. – nmtoken Jan 19 '17 at 11:22
  • I’d love to know the answer to that. My dog became terribly afraid of my wife’s coworker after he wore a safety vest into the office, and she also went nuts when she saw a giant fluorescent orange construction sign on the side of the road. There is something to this – Alex Feb 27 '18 at 0:30
  • What do you mean exactly with "fluorescent"? Bright colors like "neon"; this silver reflection stripes on clothes; colors which glow under "black light" or this special colors collecting light and then glow in the dark? – Allerleirauh Jun 24 '19 at 10:20
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Not a full answer, but an assumption:

Most "fluorescent" comes along with UV light. Human lenses filter the UV light before it come into the eye. "They do not see it"

This research article [1] lists dogs in table 1 with "61,3% UVA transmitting" lenses. (For comparison mouse is first with 81,4% and capuchin, prairie dog and grey squirrel are last with 0%)

So one can assume that the mentioned colors may collect and concentrate the intensity of light, so it may be to bright for the dog. Like a human who is illuminated in the dark with a flashlight.

One point for this hypothesis may be the fact, that some dogs for rescue or dog sledge in the snow wear goggles to protect them from UV light, because it could issue eye cataract. For examples you can visit this site with pictures and some explanation about the reasons in German language.

[1] The spectral transmission of ocular media suggests ultraviolet sensitivity is widespread among mammals; R. H. Douglas and G. Jeffery; Published:07 April 2014

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