Can Dogs See Color?

Can Dogs See Color?

5 minutes read

Whenever we see a rainbow, we view different shades and colors that range from red, orange, and green to indigo, violet, and blue. The ability to see these different colors is one of the greatest marvels of life and is one that we simply can’t live without. Now, your dogs, on the other hand, do you ever wonder about them? Do they perceive colors in the same manner that you do? Is it able to distinguish between black, white, red, green, etc.? Do colors appear blurred to your canine pals?

If you are interested in learning more about this phenomenon then we are here for you. This is a topic of eminent discussion amongst dog owners and researchers alike. So, allow us to bring you up to speed on this important topic with the following information.

What is Color?

The first thing that you need to understand before we venture forth is what color is. Color is ascertained by the nerve cells within our eyes. There are two types of cells in the retina of the human eye and they are rods and cones. Cones detect colors and rods detect light intensity and motion. The human eye contains 3 different types of cones that allow it to discern between amalgamations of numerous colors like red, blue, green, etc. with ease. On the other hand, dogs have only 2 types of cones and can distinguish between blue and yellow color. This constrained perception of color is referred to as dichromatic vision.

The human eye contains more cones which allow it to see more colors as compared to dogs. But dogs have a larger number of rods in their eyes which allow them to see much more effectively in the dark and low-lit areas. They can also detect motion much readily than a human as well.


Colorblindness is a phenomenon in which the eye is incapable of perceiving different colors. Human colorblindness and its intensity are mainly connected to the type of color receptors that are affected. Humans have 2 types of colorblindness:

  1. Red-Green
  2. Blue-Yellow

Such people can’t tell these colors apart from each other and end up mistaking one for the other. Dogs have a red-green level of colorblindness and can’t discern between these colors. Aside from that, your dog doesn’t have any other form of colorblindness and this has been supported by numerous researches.

Comparing Human and Dog Vision

Dogs may be unable to see the whole spectrum of colors that humans can but that doesn’t mean that they can’t comprehend numerous colors. How they see a particular color differs from how humans perceive it. This means that while your dog won’t be able to appreciate the full colors in a rainbow-like you do, it will still be able to see something in its way.

For instance, a dog sees the color red as a hue of dark brownish-gray or even black. Yellow, green, and orange colors appear as a tint of yellow to dogs. Blue can be seen very well by a dog but they will see purple the same as blue. Dogs also can’t tell apart a red ball from a yellow ball. And they mainly depend upon their sense of smell to recognize their balls while playing fetch.

Dogs are also more nearsighted and have less acute vision in contrast to humans. This means that while we will be able to perceive a crisp and clear picture of something from a distance. A dog on the other hand will see it as blurry from the same distance. Dogs also can’t tell the difference in light brightness as well as humans either.

There are some advantages that dogs have in terms of vision and they can be listed as follows:

  • Dogs have a greater range of peripheral vision as their eyes are set on the sides of their heads. (This does result in a lessened level of depth perception though)
  • A dog’s eye can capture the maximum amount of light possible as its pupils can dilate to the max as well. This is complemented by the presence of tapetum, reflective cells, under its retina which gives a dig shining eyes and an increased affinity for seeing in dim light as well.
  • Dogs have a larger number of rod cells in their retinas. These cells have a great perspicacity for detecting motion. That is why dogs can better perceive motion, small movements, and vacillations from a distance.

Significance of Dog Vision

There is a reason why dogs see the way that they do and you must know about it as well. Dogs have been equipped by nature with different visual powers and this ocular subtlety allows a dog to survive and persist. This is especially true for dogs that live in open or wild settings. A dog’s hunting ability is largely dependent upon its ability to detect motion more readily from a distance. This sharpens its instincts and allows it to better gauge whether if a confrontation demands a retreat or making a stand. Even though we consider dogs pets and are keep them safe and healthy in our homes, nature has gifted them some assets that continue to serve them well.

So, now that you know about your dog’s visual uniqueness and how it sees things, perhaps it will allow you to make better decisions regarding its wellbeing. You will be able to make better toy purchases for instance when it comes to your dogs. Hence, you will know that your dog will enjoy blue toys more than red ones so that is pretty good. You will also be more understanding if a plane or bird in the distance is distracting your dog while playing fetch or performing tricks with it. And it will help learn how to get the maximum attention of your dog which is by standing right in front of it. All in all, this is an important part of your dog’s life and you should invest adequate time in learning about it.