Behavior Pet Facts Do Dogs See Color: Surprising Facts Owners Should Know

Do Dogs See Color: Surprising Facts Owners Should Know

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Have you ever stared across a lake and marveled at the intense blue green of the water or the vividness of the green lawn? These are things that most humans take for granted, although there are plenty of humans who have color blindness and see different shades of color.

You’ve potentially established that a dogs visibility range is reserved to black and white. However, this morcel of fact is not the complete picture. They see an array of colors but when asked ‘do dogs see color?’ You are required to appreciate the solution to this dilemma is not a straightforward as yes or no.

The Truth Regarding Do Dogs See Color

Nerve cells in the eye allow you to perceive color. These are backed up by two types of cells, rods, and cones. The cones are capable of differentiating between colors, known as color receptors, while the rods allow you to track movement.

Humans have three types of cones, allowing you to distinguish between blue, red, and green; its issues with these cones that create the most common red-green color blindness in human eyes. Interestingly, this version of sight is closest to what dogs see. Incidents of blue and yellow color blindness are less frequent.

A dog’s vision has only two cones, giving them a range of blue and yellow color vision, known as dichromatic vision. That’s a significant improvement on shades of gray like so many people are led to believe. It’s also the reason that dogs prefer colorful dog toys like these ones, if you have ever seen a dog with a ball you know they prefer a yellow tennis ball, although a bright orange ball like this will work as well, it’s just easier for them to see.

Compensatory Senses

There is no doubt that a dog’s eyes will not appreciate the same depth of color as human eyes. However, they are compensated with both an excellent sense of smell and more rods. This translates as a superior ability to see movement, even in dim light, you will recognize this ability from when they dart off at dusk and you have no idea what has caught their attention.

short-coat brown puppy. Part of the "Do Dogs See Color: Surprising Facts Owners Should Know" article.
Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

To give you an idea of how good their sense of smell is, a dog has 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. In contrast, humans have approximately 8 million receptors thanks to an evolutionary process that de-emphasizes the importance of smell.! It’s the combination of an acute sense of smell and an appreciation of color that’s significant. It allows them to track down the ball you have just thrown. Coincidentally the ability to detect motion is of assistance.

So What Can Dogs See?

Yes, dogs do see color, just not the same color as you see, a person who has a red coat will appear to a dog as though they are wearing a brownish-gray coat. Yellow, orange and green all appear to be different shades of yellow, but blue is exceptionally easy for them to see. Of course, you can argue that purple has more than a passing resemblance to blue.

The lack of color appreciation does mean that dogs have less sensitivity to brightness, they are also near-sighted. Although they can see things at a distance they will not be able to bring them into focus in the same way that a human can. Of course, this near-sightedness is a benefit for them when hunting prey, they will only chase an animal fairly close to them.

It’s also worth noting that the dog’s eyes are more on the side of their head than humans, giving them better peripheral vision, again useful for locating prey. This does affect their ability to distinguish the depth of an object.

Additionally, a dog’s pupil will dilate faster and larger than a humans, allowing them maximum vision in dull light. This is enhanced by a layer of reflective cells on their eyes, known as the tapetum, which absorbs light, improving vision while giving your dog shiny eyes.

Should you still be wondering whether dogs see color, the answer is a definitive yes. The colors they observe are not the same as the human visibility range. Find more articles about the same subject here.


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