It is always stunning when humans explore our world and environment in different shades of awesome colors. However, some people might be curious if dogs can also view and identify colors just like we do. Keep reading for more insight into whether dogs are truly color blind.
Dogs are color blind; this means they have two receptors, also referred to as cones, in their eyes, whereas humans have three. Dogs only see in a combination of yellow and blue. You know your dog is color blind when it finds a yellow and blue ball easier than a green and red one.
Color blindness is a condition in which people cannot distinguish between colors or see specific colors. In the same way that dogs experience color blindness, humans can also be color blind. There are two types of color blindness that we will be looking into.
Are Dogs Color Blind?
There has been a long-time misconception about dogs being color blind due to a theory attributed to Will Judy in a manual he wrote, “Training The Dog” in 1937. Will was the first to state that dogs do not have very good vision and can only see some shades of gray and black colors.
Later on, his view was widely accepted and supported by various scientists. Sometimes around 1960, more researchers came up and stated that primates were the only mammals that had the capability of viewing colors. However, further research and experiments have been conducted over time and have proven that dogs have color vision.
In 1989, Jay Neitz, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington, co-authored research titled “Color Vision in the Dog.” In the findings, it was confirmed that dogs could see beyond gray and black colors. It was also mentioned that red-green color blindness in humans is closely related to dogs’ perception of colors.
Dogs do not have the capability of viewing specific colors like red and green. So, if we were to answer if dogs are color blind, the answer would be yes. However, it is only limited to red and green colors; other colors like yellow, brown, blue, gray, and white could be easily identified by dogs.
According to scientists, dogs cannot see all colors like we humans do due to the retina. There are millions of photoreceptor cells in the retina, including rods and cones. The rods are responsible for catching eye movement and work best in low light. Cones, on the other hand, are responsible for detecting colors and work best in bright light.
We, humans, are trichromatic, i.e., we have three cones in our retina. These cones are responsible for different light wavelengths, hence the reason we can identify colors like red, blue, and green. There is an overlap of the colors in the cons of these three colors, making it possible for us to see more colors beyond these three.
However, dogs are dichromatic, i.e., they have only two cones responsible for seeing just the colors blue and yellow. Hence, the reason they are red-green color blind. Due to this color blindness, the colors red and green are not visible to dogs. Both colors usually appear to be somewhat neutral to a dog’s face.
For instance, a dog can not properly identify a red rose. Instead, the rose would appear in the form of a dark brown in the dog’s spectrum. Also, the color orange often appears to dogs as brownish-yellow.
Dogs have more rods than cones in their eyes, which explains why they can see things in the dark much more clearly than we humans. Also, they are capable of detecting motion better than we humans do.
In addition, several other tests have been conducted by scientists, which have proven that dogs are not completely color blind. For instance, a test was done on some dogs, and the dog that could tell the difference between certain colors was rewarded with a treat. The test result proved to scientists that dogs can see some colors.
How Do We Know If Dogs Are Color Blind?
Knowing how your dog views things helps you figure out how best to train and interact with them. The best way to know if your dog is color blind is to test its ability to see a different color. If you can purchase toys in different color patterns and play catch with your dog, the colors your dog finds first will tell you if your dog is colorblind.
Most of the time, when you throw a red toy for your dog to find, if it comes up with nothing, it is not because it is being stubborn or disobedient. However, it is because it cannot see red colors, which might make it unable to locate the ball to bring it back to you.
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Why Are Dogs Color Blind?
Despite the long-held belief that dogs view things through a grayish lens, experts now understand that, while our pet dogs cannot see the full spectrum of hues that humans do, they also do not experience the world through the lens of a vintage film. Dogs can see some colors, but not all of them.
Dogs are colorblind in the human sense, albeit in a very specialized sense. You may have noticed that some people have trouble distinguishing red from green hues or recognizing different tones of blue. This is due to color blindness caused by a congenital problem in the eye or, later down the line, a sickness or an injury.
However, the way dogs perceive is not due to a defect in the eye itself. Rods and cones are the two kinds of color receptors found in dogs and humans. The rods deal with the capacity to see side to side and peripheral vision, while the cones are in charge of color perception and daytime vision.
Each cone detects light wavelengths in a dog’s eye; since humans have three cones, they can detect the entire light spectrum. On the other hand, dogs are dichromatic, which means they only have two cones in their eyes. The first cone sees blues, and the other sees tones of green and red similar to those seen by humans.
A dog’s eyes lack the green-red cones, producing green-red color blindness. Hence, colorblind people cannot see distinct hues because they do not possess green-red cones.
What Kind Of Color Blind Are Dogs?
A dog’s cones perceive yellow and blue light, but not green and red light. As a result, everything in a dog’s world is likely to be muted tones of gray, brown, yellow, and faint glimmers of blue. When you get a bright red toy for a dog, the dog does not see the vivid red color but instead views it as a single large brown chunk.
Dogs’ color vision is most similar to those with red-green vision deficits. Those with a red-green color deficit have trouble distinguishing between red and green. Dogs are red-green colorblind; this implies that they can easily distinguish between blue and yellow and have trouble distinguishing between green and red.
Color is perceived and experienced differently by dogs and humans. When a dog is dichromatic, it reduces color perception compared to humans. According to research, dogs experience the world via a distinct color spectrum; color vision in dogs is dominated by yellow and blue.
Knowing that dogs cannot see some colors, it is only natural to buy things that showcase colors that they can. This understanding may explain why certain dogs go berserk for yellow ping-pong balls but are uninterested in red or pink balls. Color is seen differently by dogs than it is by humans. Remember that your dog’s perception of their surroundings is unaffected by their excellent sense of taste and smell.
Also read: Trazodone for Dogs – Dosage and Side Effects
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.