Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Are Dogs Color Blind

Have you ever wondered if dogs can see color?

Many people think that their pet dog lives in an old black and white movie, unable to distinguish colors. It seems that it must be a ho-hum world indeed. Poor Fido can't even enjoy that handsome winter sweater we so carefully picked out for his days at the dog park. And what about that fancy blue ball he loves to fetch? Is it merely a dim grey orb lolling about in bleak grey grass? Well, not quite.

Can Dogs See Colors?

Until rather recently, the 1990s in fact, it was thought that dogs could not see color at all. After advanced research, science has come to find that your dog's retinas actually do contain the color-sensitive components called cones.

However, dogs have only two types of cones in their retinas, while humans have three. Dogs probably actually see the world in much the same way as a person with red-green color-blindness does.

The following graph (courtesy of Dr. Mark Plonsky PHD, University of Wisconson, Stevens Point) is a wonderful and easy-to-read example of how your dog's vision compares to our human vision:

DogColorSightChart

Through this chart, we can see that certain colors are indistinguishable to dogs, and colors look less vibrant to them. The color red looks brownish-grey or brownish-black, and orange, green, and yellow all look yellow. Your dog is able to see the color blue, but purple also looks blue. Greenish-blue and green look grey.

More Interesting Information About Dog Vision

Just because we can see more colors than our canine pals doesn't mean that they don't have other advantages in the area of eyesight. This is because, along with cones, the retina also contains rods, and dogs have more rod cells than we do. Having more rods allows dogs to see better than us in dim light, have a greater ability to distinguish shades of grey, and detect motion better than we can.

Dogs are near-sighted creatures and do not see clearly at distances of more than 20 feet. So, while they are able to detect movement at great distances, they don't have the ability to differentiate between a person and a small tree.

References:

  1. 1. Plonsky, M. (1998). Dr. P's Dog Training - Canine Vision. Retrieved from the web 3/4/2010. http://www.uwsp.edu/PSYCH/dog/LA/DrP4.htm

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