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What Colors Can Dogs See?

Dogs are incredible creatures that build infinite bonds with their owners. But many owners wonder what their dogs can see.

Dogs have potent senses, but their eyesight is not the strongest. They tend to have 20/75 vision, meaning their sight is considerably weaker than human beings, and they see things in a grainy, less-vibrant way than we can.

Some dogs have healthier eyesight than others. Some Labradors have sight that is far closer to 20/20 vision.

But what colors can dogs see best? This article will answer that exact question and give an understanding of what colors dogs can see. 

The eyes of a dog work just like a camera. Light will enter the pupils, and the iris will decide what light is allowed in. The retina has color-sensitive cones that transform light into electric signals. However, dogs only have two cones, whereas humans have three cones.

Scientists estimate that dogs only have 20 percent of the cone photoreceptor cells as humans, meaning they can only detect 20 percent of the color that humans can.

That is why dogs can’t see the same colors as humans. And why they see considerably fewer colors than humans. 

The difference in evolution

Being initially bred from wolves around 14,000 years ago a dog’s vision comes directly from their howling ancestors. Wolves love to catch their prey at night time meaning they need excellent night vision. Therefore, they have rod-dominated retinas, allowing for better color vision in the dark to help the dog with hunting.

Rods are highly sensory cells that catch movement and perform best in low light, whereas humans have cones that work in bright light but not in low light.

What Colors Can Dogs See?

What colors can dogs see?

The best way to describe a dog’s color vision is to compare it to a colorblind human. Dogs do see color, and it is similar to 8 percent of human beings that are red-green colorblind. 

Humans that are red/green colorblind are called dichromatic, meaning they can see two color variations. Dogs are the same; they can see two color variations. But those colors are yellow and blue. Dogs can also see different shades of grey colors.

The vibrant green, red, orange, and yellow colors that many humans see – dogs cannot. That’s why people refer to dogs’ vision as grainy and dull because they can’t see the bright colors that many humans can. 

What is the best way to compare colors to humans? Many apps detail the differences in color perception between dogs and animals. You can open the apps and they will show you a dogs color vision through the camera. But pretty much everything a dog can see is a grayish-brown color. 

So if you look at that beautiful green tree outside your window during the summer, your dog will see it as a gray colorless object. Furthermore, the beautiful red dress you wear on a night-out will look like a grayish colorless object to your dog. 

How does this affect your dog?

Now you’re aware that your dog only sees a few different colors, there are some essential things to note. 

If you’re in the park, playing with your dog and throwing a ball for them to fetch. It would help if you didn’t use a red or orange ball; they will struggle to find it in the grass due to the lack of color.

However, dogs adore yellow balls because their vision can strongly differentiate the color yellow. If you’re training your dog to distinguish between two toys, you should use a blue and yellow ball to ensure that it can differentiate between the two. 

Unfortunately, many manufacturers design dog toys in red or orange colors despite their natural weakness in perceiving these colors. 

Some owners may misunderstand their dog when they choose not to play with a ball or toy of these colors. They might not be disobedient, they just might not be able to see it.

In conclusion

There is a myth in society that dogs can only see black and white – that isn’t true.

Dogs can see colors, and they can see yellow, blue, and grey strains of color. But they cannot detect the bright colors such as green, red, and orange that humans can. 

Don’t bother dressing up in your brightest and prettiest clothes to impress your dog; they probably all look the same to them. 

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