What Colors Can Dogs See?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 23 June 2023

Have you ever wondered what colors your dog can see?

There’s a common misconception that dogs are color blind and their world isn’t as vibrant as ours.

However, this isn’t strictly true as our canine companions are capable of seeing some colors.

In this article, we’ll hear from four experts who will shed more light on doggie vision.

We’ll start by finding out what colors dogs can see before getting some more detailed insight into their vision.

Shepsky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Shepsky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Ability To Discern Blue And Yellow

Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM And Veterinarian Advisor At Betterpet

Compared to humans, dogs have a limited color perception since their eyes only have the ability to discern yellow and blue. So they only can really see colors in that spectrum. So in a sense dogs are considered color blind specifically in the red-green spectrum.

Vision Not As Vibrant

Ellen Russell, DVM And Founder Of The Malamute Mom

Dogs can see in color, but their color vision is not as vibrant as humans. Dogs have dichromatic vision, which means they can see some colors but not all. They can see shades of grey, brown, yellow, and blue, but they cannot detect the full range of colors that humans can, such as greens, reds, and oranges. In general, dogs can see colors that appear muted and less distinct compared to what humans see. On the other hand, dogs have better night vision than humans because they possess a special light-reflecting layer called the tapetum lucidum behind the retina in their eyes. This allows them to better process light in low-light conditions.

American Water Spaniel (Photo: Adobe Stock)

American Water Spaniel (Photo: Adobe Stock)

They don’t see as many colors

Dr Corinne Wigfall, Registered Veterinarian And Veterinary Spokesperson For Spirit Dog Training

Dogs can see in colour, but not as many colours as humans. It’s thought they can see shades of yellow, blue, and grey. This is similar to people who have red-green colour blindness. The difference between dogs and humans is related to the number of cones they have in their eyes. Humans have three, and dogs have two. Having two cones means dogs have dichromatic vision. However, having a limited colour range doesn’t affect their quality of life, and they can still happily play with toys of all colours!

It’s Not True Dogs Are Color Blind

Dr Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM And Writer At Not A Bully

There are two types of photoreceptor cells in the eye: rods and cones. These two types of cells can tell us a lot about what the world looks like through our dog’s eyes.

Rod receptors help animals (including us) with night vision, shades of gray and tracking movements while cones are more important for day vision, color, and seeing things clearly and sharply (often called visual acuity). By analyzing the number of rods and cones in our dog’s eyes, and comparing them to our own, we can get a great idea of what they see- and what they don’t see! Dogs not only have more rods than humans but they also have a greater concentration of them in key parts of the eye.

What Colors Do Dogs See And What Colors Can Dogs Not See? While many of us have heard the story that dogs are color blind that’s not actually true! Remember that cones (a special type of photoreceptor cell) are what control color vision and we know that dogs do have enough cones to see at least some colors. While humans have three types of cone cells that allow us to see a literal rainbow of colors, dogs only have two types of cones.

Based on these different types of cones we know that dogs are red-green colorblind and aren’t able to see the difference between red, green, yellow, or orange. Additionally, they aren’t able to see the difference between different shades of blue and gray. That means dogs are left with only two colors: blue and yellow of varying shades.

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