This is probably one of the most frequently asked question about whether dogs can actually see colors. The simple answer is No. Dogs are not color blind. But dogs see the world in such a unique way. No matter what you may have heard about dog’s ability to see different colors, dogs do not only perceive white and black. Dogs, just like humans can see different colors. However, they will not be able to see as many colors as human beings. Dogs have only two types of color detecting cones in their retinas so this explains why they may not be able to see a myriad of colors like their handlers.
Are dogs color blind or is their spectrum limited?
Dogs, like most mammals are dichromats. They have two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones in their retina for color recognition and potential to see details. On the other hand, human beings are trichromatic. The eyes of human beings have three types of light sensitive cones; green, blue and red sensitive. This lets humans enjoy different colors in the visible spectrum. The dog’s eye has more rods and no fovea at all which is the one that gives humans a sharp visual detail. What results is canines have a superior night vision which makes them able to track movements in the dark better than humans.
Myths about dog color blindness demystified
In 1989, researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara realized that the dog’s world is not only black and white after examining the color vision of three dogs. A toy poodle and two Italian greyhounds were observed for a period of time in terms of their behavioral patterns. The findings later showed that dogs have some color sensitive cones in their retina which are located at the back of the eyeball. The findings were later confirmed through electroretinography. This is a test that is like an electrocardiogram apart from that it measures how the eyes respond to light.
In a funny twist, dogs will see colors just like the way people with red-green color blindness perceive colors. This is a rare disorder which is common in males and often accounts for about 4% of a population.
People with this type of disorder will tell you that they can actually see colors but they have challenges differentiating some hues that other people can easily single out. In most cases, the colors they have difficulties telling apart are pastels or muddy shades that are in the red-orange-green assortment.
According to evolutionists, this is because all mammals originate from crepuscular shrewlike creatures that do not have eyes adapted for daylight vision or color contrast. However, the retinas of birds, fishes, reptiles are more elaborate in detecting color contrasts.
Exactly what colors do dogs see?
Instead of dogs seeing the colours of the rainbow as violet, blue, blue-green, yellow, orange and red, dogs will see it as dark blue, light-blue, gray, light-yellow, darker yellow(kind of brown) and really dark gray. In short, dogs see most colours of the world as blue, gray and yellow. They see the color green, yellow and orange as yellowish and they perceive violet and blue as blue. They see blue-green as gray.
One odd thing is that a lot of popular toys for dogs are either in orange (the bright orange red on safety vests) or red. But the red color is difficult for dogs to notice. It may look very dark brown gray or even black. This means that the bright red toy for your dog that you can see from miles may be difficult for your dog to notice even at a close range. So when you toss that bright orange or red toy to your dog and he/she runs past it, it doesn’t mean they are stupid or stubborn. It’s actually your fault because you chose a toy with a color that is difficult to differentiate from the grass on the lawn.
Dogs are in most cases nearsighted to some extent. For example, a poodle is approximated to have a 20/75 vision in United States and about 6/24 in other parts of the world.
What does this mean for your canine?
When we put together their ability to move fast and night sensitivity with a bigger degree of outer vision than human beings, we realize that dogs’ eyes are ideal for hunting swift moving prey. According to Miller, the best way to take care of your dog’s vision is proper healthcare. Feeding dog’s healthy, well balanced meals and offering them the right amount of exercise is the perfect thing we can do for their vision and well-being.
Still, dogs may outdo human beings in some visual capabilities. Dogs are highly sensitive to motion from a distance. This could be anywhere from 10 to 20 times more than human beings. Their vision is also highly suitable for hunting early in the morning and late in the evening. So next time, don’t waste your money buying those red balls for your dog. They are probably too boring for him!