Are Dogs Really Color Blind?

Posted by Christy Caplan
Dog's Color Blind

How is your dog's vision? Do they only see in black and white?

When it comes to dogs' senses, we know their nose is outstanding. Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans, making them highly sensitive to odors we cannot perceive at all.

Yet, how well can they see? Are they color blind? Dogs can't see the same colors humans do, but they can still see some colors. Check out these facts from the American Kennel Club:

  • The common belief that dogs only see in black and white is incorrect
  • Dogs can make out yellow and blue, and combinations of those colors
  • This means the best toys for your dog may be those in blue and yellow hues

Are dogs color blind?

The American Kennel Club tells us that dogs developed their senses as nocturnal hunters, tracking and catching their food at night. Their eyes adapted to see well in the dark and to catch movement.

Let's talk rods and types of cones for a minute. Dogs have more rods than cones in their retina.

"The retina is where scientists have also found the key to the difference in color perception between dogs and people. The retina is composed of millions of light-sensing cells."

These include:

  • Rods, which are extremely sensitive cells that catch movement and work in low light.
  • Cones that work in bright light and control color perception.

Dogs have more rods than cones in their retina, and people have more cones, and this apparently makes the difference in color perception. Dogs' eyes only have two kinds of cones -- This means that not only do they suffer from red-green color blindness, but they can't perceive shades containing either of those colors, such as pink, purple, and orange.

What colors can they see?

Have you ever noticed your dog prefers their yellow tennis ball over the pink frisbee?

According to experts at Hill's Pet, dogs can see shades of yellow, blue and brown, as well as various hues of gray, black and white. This means that if your dog has a red toy, it will appear brown to him, whereas an orange toy, which is a mix of red and yellow, will appear a brownish yellow. 

Red and orange toys are difficult for your dog to see!

Insightful tool for dog owners

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Daily Dog Fact No. 14! 🐾 Dogs are not colour blind! 🐾 People often think that dogs can only see black and white, but this is not true. Dogs see a narrower spectrum of colours and the most prominent colours for them are blue and yellow. 🐾 The hardest colours for a dog to distinguish between are red and green, so if you're playing with a red toy that lands on grass your dog will find it more difficult to locate, which isn't a bad thing if you are using toys for scentwork games! 🐾 Dogs also have quite poor close range central vision, especially for seeing stationary objects, but are good at tracking fast moving objects that are further away, which is of course better for hunting and chasing! 🐾 There are a number of app's available to download for your phone/tablet which will give you the ability to roughly see what a dog would see as you point your camera toward things in the world around you. 🐾 Tomorrow's fact shall be another about our beloved K9's sight abilities. #positivepawsdogtraining #dailydogfact #dailydogfacts #dogadvice #dogtraining #dogvision

A post shared by Positive Paws Dog Training (@positivepawscambridge) on

Do you want to see what your dog sees?

Check out Dog Vision,an online tool to help you see things as your dog sees them.

Dog Vision lets you upload a photo and then adjust the colors and focus to show you how it would look through canine eyes. This is an insightful tool for anyone who has ever wondered how they look to their dog, or simply how dogs see the world in general. I had no idea! 

Dogs do see different colors than human eyes do! Remember when you throw a red toy on the green grass, your dog may not be able to see it. Some items may look dark brown!

This limited 'color vision' is absolutely fascinating. They can much more than shades of gray. Your best friends also have an enhanced ability to see fast-moving objects and motion-detection.

I can appreciate their limited spectrum of colors and now I'll need to consider their color receptors and color spectrum when buying puzzle toys and bowls. I should always consider that even yellow will look like 'light yellow' to them.

Your dog's color vision and night vision may be different than what you think. Thank goodness for your pooch's incredible sense of smell.

Are you interested in learning about more studies involving our canines? Please leave us a comment below! 

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Are Dogs Really Color Blind?