Skip to main content

Rescue dog sees a mirror for the first time and hilarity ensues

It’s safe to say that nearly everyone has been startled or taken aback by their own reflection, only to realize oh yeah, that’s me just milliseconds later. In a now-viral Reddit video, user Mordessus tries to give his rescue dog the same experience, and the dog can’t seem to grasp the concept of mirrors. When this rescue dog sees the mirror, equal amounts of cuteness and hilarity ensue.

Aside from clever jokes and sweet comments from other Reddit users, many have begun to ask whether dogs can see themselves in mirrors. And if they can, do pups understand what—or who—they’re seeing in the reflection? While we may have to wait for an answer backed by science, researchers are busy testing hypotheses.

We rescued a TM a little while back and those first months in an outdoor kennel did not prepare him for mirrors. from AnimalsBeingDerps

Mirror, mirror on the wall

In a 26-second video posted on Reddit’s “r/AnimalsBeingDerps” page, his caring human dad talks a Tibetan mastiff through the dog’s first encounter with a mirror. The big floofer, whose dad calls him “Bruiser” in the video, can be seen standing inches from a full-length mirror, barking at his own reflection.

“That’s you,” his dad soothingly explains between the mastiff’s barks—or boofs, if you will. “You’re barking at you.”

The adorable pup breaks eye contact with his reflection to look at his dad in the mirror while appearing to listen. Then, another little boof. Bruiser watches his dad’s finger point from dog to mirror—trying to show him how reflections work—but it’s not certain whether or not Bruiser gets it. That’s okay, Bruiser! You’re perfect exactly as you are.

“He’s doing a motivational self-talk and you’re interrupting him,” user Sillyist joked. Several others interpreted Bruiser’s expression as pure confusion, with PoundApprehensive868 saying, “Look at him wondering why his human has multiplied into 2 humans.” Yeah, we’d be confused if that happened, too.

A West Highland White Terrier looks at the camera through a mirror

Can dogs see themselves in mirrors?

Many users were quick to notice the video’s accompanying text: “We rescued a [Tibetan Mastiff] a little while back and those first months in an outdoor kennel did not prepare him for mirrors.” Several commenters can relate, citing experiences with their own pets and the mixed signals around reflections.

“My dog looks at himself in the mirror all the [time],” explains  No_Butterscotch_9149. “[…] and sometimes [he comes] down and he’s at a sit position staring at [himself]. Especially after a hair cut lol.” Sounds like Bruiser needs to learn from this dog!

Redditor DoctorCrocker spurred discussion with a comment about the mirror self-recognition (MSR) test, which scientists use to examine animals’ self-awareness. To perform this test, an animal is anesthetized and marked with paint on a part of their body that’s visible only in a reflection. When they wake, they’re given a mirror. If they take interest in the mark on their body by appearing to notice it in the mirror, they’ve passed the MSR test.

It’s impossible not to take note of how few species have passed the test—dogs, for example, are missing from the list. Of course, that’s not to say that pups don’t see or react to their reflections, but they don’t necessarily recognize the image as themselves.

That said, Bruiser might have more than one adventure with mirrors! He’ll likely become used to them in time, whether or not he entirely gets it, but his human dad may have a tricky time teaching him to understand that he’s barking at himself. Don’t worry, Bruiser, you’ll figure out mirrors in your own way. Good boy!

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Why does your dog lie on you? It’s (usually) a good thing
All the reasons why your dog considers you their favorite pillow
Dog lying on the leg of person with white sweatshirt

Snuggles and unconditional love were likely part of the reason you brought home your furry friend in the first place. You may have envisioned yourself scratching their ears and spending nights petting them after a long day at the office. You may not have expected that the bed you splurged on would be tossed aside in favor of your lap. You may wonder, "Why does my dog lay on me instead?"

Dog-human relationships are as sweet as they come, but a language barrier complicates them. Your pet can't answer this question for you, but we have some theories. The good news? Unlike other common dog behavioral questions, chances are, the reason your dog has chosen you as their favorite pillow is a positive (and sweet) one.
Why does my dog lie on me?

Read more
This is why your dog always wakes you up howling in the night
Plus, what you can do to fix nighttime vocalizing
Dog howls while standing near a flock of sheep in a pasture

You may enjoy watching wolves howl at the moon on TV, but you probably don't like it when it comes to life in your own home. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, your dog will wake up and channel their inner Canis lupus (wolf). Both of you need sleep, so you might want to try to tamp this down with a little retraining.

Of course, the first step to fixing your noise problem is to figure out the underlying cause, which involves paying a bit more attention to exactly what your pup is doing and when. So, if you wonder, "Why is my dog howling at night?" we suggest you note a few factors.
Why do dogs howl?

Read more
The most adorable toy dog breeds (that also make great pets)
You'll love the charming faces and spunky personalities of these toy breeds
A Yorkie wears a jacket on the street with his owner

When you think of a dog, we suspect you picture a statuesque German shepherd or possibly a sweet and droopy-eared golden retriever. But some of the best and most loyal buds don't have the size or the hunting instincts and yet are still unmistakably canines.

Toy dogs represent an entirely separate breed group, alongside others such as terrier and herding. While pups in the toy group aren't necessarily related genetically, they have a few characteristics that connect them together. Most obviously: Toy dogs are pawsitively adorable. If you want a teddy bear to come to life, consider one of the cutest toy dog breeds.
What makes a dog a toy breed?

Read more