HEALTH & CARE

Are Dogs Color Blind: The Question Only A Dog Could Answer

Testing dog vision
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Have you been wondering how your dog perceives the color around him, of you and of memories? Have you been confused if your puppy cannot spot the blue ball on the blue chair? Have you heard the rumor that dogs can see just black and white and no other color? Do you think that your young dog is blind?

The answers to all of your above paranoia are in understanding the fact if dogs are color blind or not. In the telescopic sense, humans perceive many colors owing to the three varied color receptors in our eyes. For every other animal, the world looks and behaves different.

Perhaps, unlike us, the animals can see through the 5th, the 7th, or the 10th dimension. Maybe they do not see us, when they look at us. Instead, they see our soul, the spirit, or the vibrations we share with our atmosphere and environment. When you analyze such hypothesis, you come upon the question of how dogs actually see color.

Can dogs see color?

With understanding of how do dogs see color, the question of can dogs see color is raised?
For us humans, we have various cell receptors in our eyes that enable us to see the multitudes of colors around us.  Our brain works with these receptors to recreate the reflection of colors as perceived by the cells in our eyes. In our language of comprehension, when the eye cell receptors become, damaged, certain color becomes blind to the naked eye.

For animals, they perceive certain colors known, unknown and defective to the human eye. Hence, understanding the working of how dogs see light, color and shade requires a technical background of the eyes as we should understand first if dogs can see color.

Dogs and color blindess

Dogs are, known to perceive all objects in its periphery, in clarity and distinction the colors and varied shades of grey better than a healthy human is capable of. On the other hand, they are incapable of recognizing or distinguishing any bright color, as their eye receptors are sensitive to the brightness levels of light.

Since ancient times dogs were, taken alongside a human to protect, lead and guard the owner and his assets in day or at night. Scientists of the bygone era believed that dogs perceive color based on the presence, absence or rate of brightness. Dogs are, known to recognize and perceive the presence of everything using the silhouettes or outlines. Currently, our scientists of the modern age have proved that dogs are capable of seeing color on a limited color range that are similar and unique with us and to them, respectively.

How do dogs see color?

Now that you understand the meaning of color to dogs, we can start with the technicalities and complexities of understanding the world according to your dog. A dog can be completely adaptive and stunning to your sense of companionship, fetching and co-existence with varied objects of different color and nature. Then the question arises, if they do see what we try to show them? The answer lays in understanding that a dog has the ability to see many more color than black and white, although the shades will not be as differing as in our prism of understanding color and light.

However, it will be an enriched or deeper understanding of zillions of different grays, white and mellow color along with. A dog may not have vision as bright as humans have, though they sure are faster than reacting on see the object, than humans!

Dog color vision and human view

Unlike humans, who possess a three-chromatic of comprehending the color around them, dogs possess dichromatic vision that makes the colors yellow and blue clear to them while dimming the rest. This definition extends to explain that dogs can see the color red, orange, purple and violet, but they do not comprehend the distinguishing element of all of them being different, as they see all of it as yellow, blue or a shade of black.

In layman’s language, dogs suffer from a disorder that is found in humans, by the name, deuteranopia where the color of green, red and yellow gets registered as one shade. This explains the first hue of a dog’s reception of color while the second hue encompasses purple and blue. The neutral level of hue perceived by dogs includes magenta and cyan, which is, understood as a variation of grey when understanding what colors does dogs see.

  • Brightness: 
    Perceive the right or healthy sensitivity towards brightness levels of light in dogs depends on the capability to distinguish different shades. The same is, conducted by rating the measure of keeping the lowest difference of brightness (ΔR) in between the two stimuli as compared to the absolute of brightness (R) that of the stimulus that is brightest. ΔR/R =Weber Fraction.
    For human beings, the fraction calculated is 0.11 while dogs have a Weber fraction of 0.22. This defines the ability to discriminate shades of brightness in dogs is twice worse than humans. This also adds to the fact that dogs end up comprehending the different shades of colors as the same color. Every color that we perceive, for the dog, the perception is half as bright as the original. As for human eyes, we have rods and cones to identify color and send the image perceived to the brain to interpret however, dogs have just two cones in their eyes to perceive the colors blue and yellow. Orange and green are registered as yellow; red is black (brownish), aqua green is white and purple is blue.
  • Acuity of the vision: 
    Defined as the spatial resolution measure of the visual system, visual acuity relies on the ability of an eye to differentiate objects in terms of angles.  For humans, the visual acuity is oddly 50 CPD (cycles per degree) up to 60 CPD. For a dog, the visual acuity ranges from 7.5- 11.6 CPD. The figures state that a dog has quadruple to eight folds of worse visual acuity, in comparison to humans.
    The control in decreasing visual acuity is dependent on factors like, resolution, angle of view, dpi ratio of the screen and distance with the screen. For a good approximation, if the picture and screen resolutions are noted to be same, visual acuity can be reduced to five units to neutralize the vision correction and health.

Apart from the above, the scientists today have made it possible to analyze and determine the precise comprehension and perception skills of a dog’s eye through several experiments. With sensitive visions, dogs dissect and recognize motion 20 folds better than a human can. This helps the dog to hunt, chase and track during dusk, darkness or day!

This fact raises the question of evolution of dog’s vision skills and if dogs can see color. Although, dogs have become better hunters, in close contact, human eyes perceive an image sharper and more lucid than a dog. However, we must understand that the perception of color to humans evolved in the primary stage of evolution, but other animals and mammals have different objectives of evolution than the sight. Even if the vision skills of a dog is, known to be weak, dogs sniff and motion-sense various tracking that humans can only imagine.

They might be dumb with a blue ball on a blue chair, but definitely worthy of smelling than world’s best sniffers. The enhancement in color vision does not make humans better sighted than dogs, as dogs can perceive the sense of objects around, even in darkness!

Dogs can see colors

Newer researchers quote that dogs perceive varied shades of colors that humans cannot. A team of researchers have disproved the color blindness in dogs through experimenting on 8 dogs with contrasting color papers. The papers were, kept in front of the treats.

The experiment conducted ways to determine the dog’s rate of determining colors with the learning aid of keeping foods around. It proved that dogs were capable of utilizing the night vision that they were not known to have up till date. Currently, it is under study whether different breeds of dogs have different rate of perceiving and recognizing light and colors but, the best breed of dog for eyesight and vision values are,

Afghan hound: The best of hunters of dogs, afghan hounds have the best of eyesight and vision amongst dogs;

Whippet: miniature greyhound that is renowned for its peed skills, whippet have a highly good eyesight.

Saluki: apart from sound and smell, saluki has a highly good eyesight in comparison with other dogs;

Borzoi: an amazing dog with maximum stamina, Borzoi is well, sighted to aid in hunting and tracking at dusk or dawn!

Greyhound: the fastest in all the breed of dogs, greyhound can be trained to spot and track better during hunting with the help of its good eyesight;

Irish Wolfhound: the tallest breed of dogs, Irish wolfhound can sight fast the target using their peripheral vision;

The final conclusion is that dogs are not color-blind and they can see certain colors. Dogs have a distinct set of vision and sight parameters that help them spot, track and hunt with precision and clarity.

Dogs are, known to have a worse vision of sight, in comparison with humans; however, dogs are highly equipped with the skills of expert sniffing and listening that the evolution of sight is also significant. Stop wondering if your dog can see color because it can perceive (sight+ smell+ sound) like none a human can ever!

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Sarah Blayne

    My son was testing his dog if his pet is color blind. He got his laser pointer and pointed the green dot on the floor near the dog’s legs. There was no response that his pet was seeing it. Does this mean the dog can’t see the color green?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Dogs cannot chase colors that don’t trigger their predatory instinct. If the laser pointer is moving, dogs can see them better and the stimulus is more visible.

  • Tory Carpenter

    I was always interested in this question. Often noticed that my dog has bad eyes, or does not distinguish certain colors. Thanks for the article.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tory. These are the little things that fascinate us as pet parents, and it is nice to know some of them day by day.

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