Have you ever looked into the eyes of a sheep or goat? You may notice that they are very unusual for other animals.
Sheep and goat eyes are also very similar, almost indistinguishable. But there are some differences.
Let’s analyze the two: sheep eyes versus goat eyes. Learn about the appearance, vision and functionality of sheep and goat eyes.
Comparison of sheep eyes vs. goat eyes
|Characteristics||goat eyes||sheep eyes|
|Colour||Brown or greenish-tan||Light brown or blue|
|Field of view||270 to 320 degrees||320 to 340 degrees|
|Vision Function||Poor depth perception, blind spot in front of his nose||Sufficient depth perception and no front blind spot|
Key Differences Between Sheep Eyes vs. goat eyes
Sheep and goat eyes are very similar in appearance. You may not see a difference just by looking at it. However, there are clear differences, especially in functionality.
The easiest difference to spot is the color. The eye color of sheep ranges from brown to greenish yellow and goat eyes are usually blue or light brown.
Most of the differences are hidden from the naked eye and are known only through scientific studies. Goats have a better field of vision than sheep and better depth perception.
Let’s discuss the differences in shape, color, vision and purpose.
Sheep eyes vs. Goat eyes: shape
Both goats and sheep have rectangular pupils that resemble horizontal slits. People have described their eyes as unusual and disturbing to look at. And while they may differ significantly from human eyes, their appearance serves a purpose.
If you look closely as a sheep or goat turns its head, you will notice that its eyes remain perfectly parallel to the ground. Why is this?
The eyes are located on the sides of the head, combined with elongated pupils. This remarkable combination provides a wide field of view. These animals can essentially see everything around them.
This odd pupil shape provides improved illumination and image quality of the animal’s environment.
In fact, goats and sheep are not the only animals with rectangular pupils. All grazing animals have split pupils. You see the same shape in horses and deer.
A comparative study conducted on sheep and goat eyes found that the size and shape of the optic disc were different. The optic disc represents the beginning of the optic nerve, which also acts as a blind spot.
Goats have a narrow blind spot behind their heads, while sheep have a blind spot directly in front of their noses and behind their heads when lifted.
Sheep eyes vs. Goat eyes: color
Goat eye color varies between light blue, light brown or amber. Blue eye color is a dominant trait most commonly seen in Nigerian dwarfs. It is common for goats to have almost all white irises with a blue speck.
In rarer cases, you can see goats with marbled eyes (brown and blue mixed) and two differently colored eyes (one brown and one blue).
Sheep eyes are usually different shades of brown. They can range from light brown to a darker amber color. The eyes of some sheep take on a more green color mixed with brown. Lamb’s eyes are often golden yellow to light brown in color.
In rare cases, sheep may have blue eyes. This phenomenon occasionally occurs in rams.
Sheep eyes vs. Goat eyes: vision
Sheep and goats have excellent visibility.
Goats have almost a full 360-degree view of their surroundings (between 320 and 340 degrees). Sheep also have perfect peripheral vision with vision between 270 and 320 degrees.
Both sheep and goats have adequate night vision and like to graze unattended in the dark. However, they still see better during the day. The shape of their pupils determines the amount of light entering the eye. More light comes in at night and less during the brightest part of the day.
Contrary to popular belief, goats and sheep can see color. But because they only have two color receptors, they can’t see the full color spectrum. These animals seem to notice yellow, orange, green, violet, blue and red colors.
Because of their excellent peripheral vision, they lack depth perception. Goats have slightly better depth perception (up to 63 degrees), especially peripheral depth perception. Sheep have a depth perception between 20 and 60 degrees.
Due to their wide viewing angle, these grazing animals are extremely sensitive to movement. The slightest movement around them can startle them.
Sheep eyes vs. Goat eyes: target
The pupil shape determines whether an animal is a predator or prey.
The rectangular pupil of sheep and goats indicates that these species are prey. The horizontal slits give prey a broad view of the world around them and they can detect even the smallest movement.
Grazing prey animals have evolved for the greatest chance of survival against predators. Even for sneaky animals that sneak up behind them, they have up to 340 degrees of vision and can easily detect movement. These features allow them to escape from their predators and run to safety.
When a goat or sheep bends its head to eat, its eyes remain parallel to the ground, always on the lookout for predators. The pupils also regulate the amount of light that enters, so they can see clearly in the dark and during the bright afternoon.
The only visual limitations of these animals are their poor depth perception and blind spots.