Are Dogs Color Blind?

July 30, 2020
Share this:

 

Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through your dog’s eyes, or thought about whether dogs can see all colors of the rainbow? Have you ever pondered the question, “Are dogs color blind?” You are not alone.

Dog color blindness and dog color vision have been extensively researched, and while we do not know everything, we can give you some answers to these questions.

Dog Color Blindness: Fact or Fiction?

First, you’ll need to understand how the eye works. The eye is made up of specialized cells and receptors called rods and cones. Rods are responsible for detecting motion and aiding vision in varying shades of light, while cones help to differentiate color.

People have three types of cones, while dogs have two. This means that people can normally identify three color combinations (red, blue, and green), while dogs are limited to two (yellow and blue). Dog color vision is therefore described as dichromatic, or “two-colored.”

What Is Color Blindness?

Color blindness describes an inability to differentiate between colors or to see certain colors at all. This condition stems from an abnormality in the color-sensing receptors in the eye.

In people, there are two types of color blindness: red-green color blindness and blue-yellow color blindness. The type a person has depends on which color-sensing receptors are affected. For example, a person with red-green color blindness cannot differentiate between those two colors.

So What’s the Truth About Dog Color Blindness?

Having yellow-blue dichromatic vision means that dogs are most similar to a red-green color blind person. They are very good at distinguishing between variations of blues and yellows, but cannot really see red and green all that well.

Which Colors Can Dogs See?

Dogs and humans see and experience color differently. Being dichromatic means that a dog’s perception of color will be limited when compared to humans.

Research leads us to believe that dogs see the world through a unique color spectrum. Yellow and blue are dominant colors in dog color vision. Blue, blue-green, and violet look like varying shades of blue. Shades of red and green probably look more like browns and grayscale to a dog.

Chart of Colors dogs can see

Examples: 

Dog visionexample dog vision

Images created using the Dog VISION Image Processing Tool 

References:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.170869