Can Dogs See Color? Are Dogs Color Blind?

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Close up of dog's colored eyes (Caption: Can Dogs See Color?)

You may have heard that dogs only see the world in black and white and shades of gray. This was the accepted belief for years. But that thinking is in the past. Research has shed some fascinating light on how dogs see color and how their color vision differs from humans.

Can Dogs See Color?

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Yes, dogs can see color but not the same way as people do. Research has found that dogs don’t see as many colors as humans, and they don’t see colors as brightly as we do. How do dogs see the world? Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as vibrant as we see it, but dogs certainly don’t live in a black and white world.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

Dogs do have a form of color blindness, just as some humans are color blind. Dogs’ color vision is most similar to humans who are red-green color blind.

Are all dogs color blind? Yes, unlike humans, all dogs have a form of color blindness.

How Do Dogs See Color?

You might be wondering, how do dogs see? And how do scientists know that dogs are color blind? It comes down to the structure of dogs’ eyes. The eye’s nerve cells (in humans and animals) are responsible for detecting colors.

The retina has two primary types of nerve cells — cones, which detect and differentiate colors, and rods, which detect motion and light levels. Dogs only have two types of cones, whereas humans have three. Therefore, dogs can’t detect as many colors as people do.

What Colors Do Dogs See?

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As we said above, the dog color spectrum is limited compared to ours. While people see colors as various shades of blue, yellow, green, violet, red, orange, etc., dogs can only see blue, yellow, gray, and brown shades.

Can Dogs See Blue?

Yes, blue is one of the two dominant colors in a dog’s vision. Researchers believe that dogs can only distinguish purple and violet as blue.

Can Dogs See Yellow?

Yes, in addition to blue, yellow is the other dominant color that dogs can see.

Can Dogs See Red?

No, dogs can’t see red. So a red toy, for example, likely appears as gray-brownish or even black. The same is true for orange.

Can Dogs See Green?

You might think that dogs can see green because they can see blue and yellow, but, in fact, dogs cannot see green. Green appears to dogs as gray-brownish.

Does Toy Color Make A Difference?

Check out this video about dog vision and why you might want to choose blue or yellow-colored toys over others. See our picks for the best dog toys.

How Else Does Dog Vision Differ From Humans?

Dogs have more rod cells in their retina than humans. Since rod cells are responsible for detecting light and motion, dogs can see much better in lower light conditions and can detect motion much better than humans — especially at longer distances. This is thought to be a survival adaptation so that dogs can hunt and protect themselves in the wild more than humans need to do. Also, dogs can see better in the dark than we can.

Do Dogs Need Glasses?

Some research has shown that many dogs are naturally nearsighted, so they may benefit from glasses. But even if you don’t think your dog needs glasses to see better, some products can help protect your dog’s eyes from the elements. See our article about dog goggles and protective eyewear to learn more.

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