Can Dogs See Color? Find Out the Truth About This Popular Dog Myth!

For many years, people believed that dogs are unable to see color and only see the world in black, white, and gray. The fact that dogs are colorblind has been widely misinterpreted. 

Dogs do see color but not as we do. 

In this blog post, we’ll get down to the bottom of this.

How Can We See Colors?

Here’s a bit of science for you…

Our eyes have two main types of cells: rods and cones. 

Rods are the cells that detect light levels and motion. Cones are the cells that allow us to differentiate colors.

Humans have three types of cones: green, blue, and red. The fact that we have these three types, allows us to have a full range of color vision.

Dogs, however, only have two types of cones: green and blue.  This means that dogs have a dichromatic vision. So their range of color vision is limited when compared to our own. 

On the other hand, dogs have a lot more rods than we do. This means that they beat us when it comes to seeing in low light or detecting movement!

can-dogs-see-color-dog-with glasses

What Is Colorblindness?

Being colorblind doesn’t mean that someone is completely unable to see color. It simply means that they don’t see as many as a person with normal color vision. 

This is exactly what happens with dogs.

How someone’s color vision is affected depends on which cone isn’t working properly.

The two most common types of colorblindness in humans are: red-green colorblindness and blue-yellow colorblindness. In red-green colorblindness, it’s impossible to distinguish between red and green. And, in blue-yellow colorblindness, it’s impossible to distinguish between blue and yellow.

What Colors Can Dogs See?

Jay Neitz at the University of California in Santa Barbara tested the color vision of dogs in his study.

He showed dogs three light panels in a row. Two of the panels were the same color and the third was different.

The dog’s job was to find the one that was different and press it. If he was right, he would get a tasty treat.

With this experiment, Neitz confirmed that dogs do see color but not all of them. 

He concluded that dogs have a dichromatic vision. They don’t have the cone that is able to see red color. This means that their color vision is like someone with red-green colorblindness.

Dogs see the world in yellow, blue, and gray.

In the next image, you’re able to see the whole spectrum of a dog’s color vision, compared to our own:


What Does This Mean for a Dog’s Day to Day Life?

Not much, actually. Just because they can’t see every color we see, it doesn’t mean they’re missing out on anything.

It’s true that they’re unable to see the color red but they can see blue and yellow really well!

So, if you want to take your dog to the park to play fetch, take the yellow ball with you instead of a red one. Otherwise, your dog will have a hard time seeing the red ball in the middle of the green grass.

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