How Dogs See Colors and Why?

Dogs are very loyal and lovable creatures. As a dog lover, I have always wanted to know how dogs see colors. You may have heard the saying “dogs see black and white“. But is this true?
In this article, I want to share with you the results of my research on this topic. Join me if you’re interested!

How Can We See Colors?

The nerve cells in the eye detect color. Rods and cones are the two major types of retinal cells that detect light levels and motion, and differentiate colors, respectively. There are three types of cones in the human eye that can identify combinations of red, blue, and green. Dogs possess only two types of cones and can discern only blue and yellow color – this limited color perception is called dichromatic vision.

While humans have more cones, allowing them to see more colors and see them brighter, dogs have more rods, which give them the edge when it comes to seeing in low light or identifying moving objects.

What Is Color Blindness?

Color blindness refers to a loss of perception of color. Color blindness in humans depends on which color receptors in the eye are affected. In people, red-green colorblindness and blue-yellow colorblindness are the two basic forms of color blindness. People with red-green colorblindness cannot distinguish between these two colors. A person with blue-yellow color blindness cannot distinguish between a yellow and a blue.

A dog’s normal vision is most similar to a person with red-green color blindness when it comes to distinguishing colors. However, no further degrees of color blindness have been recorded for dogs.

Comparing A Dog’s Vision to Human Vision

Dogs may not appreciate the entire spectrum of colors like humans, but that does not mean they cannot discern different hues. They just may not see the “true” color of an object.

Infograph about comparing humans and dogs vision

As an example, dogs perceive red as dark brownish-gray or black. Yellow, orange, and green all appear yellow to a dog. In fact, blue is really easy to see for them, but purple appears the same to them as blue. Dogs cannot tell the difference between a red ball and a yellow ball when playing fetch. Fortunately, they have an excellent sense of smell, so they are able to recognize their ball in the park and avoid confusion.

Other Visual Differences Between Dogs and Humans

Compared to humans, dogs have some advantages in terms of vision. As dogs have eyes set more to the sides of their heads, they have a broader range of peripheral vision than we do. Dogs don’t have the same depth perception that we do because of their smaller range of visual acuity.

A dog’s pupils dilate maximally, capturing the most light possible. Additionally, they have reflective cells under the retina, which form the tapetum. The tapetum gives dogs the appearance of “shiny eyes” and improves their ability to see in low light.

how dogs see colors one blue eye of a huskie dog

Additionally, dogs have more rod cells in their retina than humans. The rods are responsible for detecting light and motion, even at great distances. As a result, dogs can see in dim lights (dusk and dawn) and can detect motion more accurately than humans.

What Does This Mean to You and Your Dog?

You should choose products for your dogs that feature colors they can see now that you know they cannot see certain colors. This could be a reason for dogs going crazy over yellow tennis balls, but being apathetic towards the same ball in pink or red.

It’s a good idea not to choose something red for your dog to retrieve from the grass or the lake when you’re throwing a ball or bumper. You may also want to consider using one blue and one yellow dumbell if you’re trying to teach him the difference between two toys or dumbells.

photo about how dogs see colors a dog with a yellow ball in the mouth

Final Thoughts

Dogs’ perception of colors is a little different from humans’ perceptions. Knowing what colors dogs can see can be both fun and helpful in choosing toys to play with them.

Dog Vision offers an online tool to help you see things as your dog sees them. There are also apps that you can use to see what your dog is seeing at any time.

Posted by

This is Zahra. I'm in love with different languages and colors. So I decided to be the messenger of the world of colors! Here in Dopely, I write about colors and I like to take you to their world with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *