A popular concept is that dogs only see in black and white. Is this really true, or one of those statements that you hear enough you just believe it to be true? Can dogs see color and if so, what colors do they see? Let’s find out.
What Colors Do Humans See?
First, to get a better understanding of vision, let’s look at what a typical human can see. We see the colors that we do because we have receptors in our eyes called cones and rods. In a person with normal vision, the three types of cones receive information on colors blue, green and red. The rods allow us to see in the low or dim light.
Different intensities of these colors are then interpreted by our brain and allow us to perceive color in the full spectrum of the rainbow.
You or someone you know may have a genetic condition that prevents the brain from interpreting certain colors, depending on which receptor isn’t firing correctly. This is what is called color-blindness, the most common being blue-yellow and green-red.
Since this is a genetic condition, men are more prone to being color-blind that women, as men only have one X chromosome. As a reminder to 7th-grade science class, men have XY and women have XX chromosomes.
For a man to be color-blind that would only need to receive the defective gene from one parent, where a woman would need to get it from both parents.
What Colors Do Dogs See?
Research has shown that normal vision for a dog is similar to a human eye with red-green color blindness. Of course, we don’t know for absolutely sure that this is the case, but scientists can make a pretty educated guess based on various experiments.
Below is the color spectrum that dogs most likely see.
What does a dog or a person with this condition actually see?
Humans with normal vision see the rainbow spectrum of color as violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red.
Dogs most likely see dark blue, light blue, gray, grayish-yellow, brownish-yellow, and dark grey. The colors we see as green, yellow and orange are seen by them as tones of yellow. Violet and blue as tones of blue. Blue-green is gray.
Overall, dogs see the world around them in hues of yellow, blue and gray. The lush-green meadow full of colorful wildflowers looks like a field of dead hay to your dog.
Now that you know what colors your dog actually sees, it is interesting to note the brightly colored dog toys that fill the aisles. They are definitely marketed to what we humans like, and not the dogs. Which makes sense, because we are the ones with the credit cards in our pocket.
Most of the toys seem to be in the color range of red and safety orange. However, dogs don’t see these colors. They see variations of grey instead.
That explains why your dog runs right by them when you are playing fetch. He is not dumb or stubborn, instead, he must rely more on his sense of smell than sight to find that red ball (grey) in the green grass (grey). You are actually at fault for getting the wrong color toys,
If you want to help your dog out, next time you are buying toys, choose dog toys that are yellow or blue.