Can Dogs See in Colour?

A dogs eye close up, showing pupil
A dog’s eye is special.

Have you ever wondered how your dog sees the world? Have you ever thought if your dog can see the beautiful colours of the rainbow or the lush green tinge of the freshly mowed lawn? Can your four-legged pal identify and distinguish all the different colours like you? Do dogs only have a black and white vision? Let’s learn about the colours that dogs see!

Yes, dogs can see colours. Even though the spectrum of colour that the dogs see is not as extensive as their human companions, their world is not entirely black and white. Contrary to popular belief, dogs may have a pretty colourful world similar to us humans. 

How The Eyes Work

The eyes of the dogs work much like a camera. Just like human eyes, the iris contracts and expands to control the amount of light that it gets inside their eyes. The light enters into the eyes of the pupil. Once the light is inside their eyes, it passes through the lens and corona and collides with the retina, the light-sensitive layer.

The retina of dogs’ eyes contains two types of cells. One is rods that detect motion and light levels, and the other is cones that help to see different colours. The retina’s colour and motion-sensitive cone and rod cells get stimulated, converting the light into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain through the optic nerves. The brain then creates an image for the dogs in their brain. 

The only difference is that the dogs’ eyes contain two types of cone cells, whereas the human eyes have three types. That is why humans can differentiate various combinations of red, green, and blue. As the dogs have only two types of cones, they can only identify yellow and blue. This limited colour perception makes their vision a dichromatic one. 

That means the dogs can see as much colour as the humans suffering from colour blindness. Dogs have more rod cells compared to humans. That gives them an edge when it comes to identifying moving objects or seeing them in lowlights.

Can dogs see in the dark?

With the help of the extra light-sensitive cells, called rods located in a dogs retina, dogs can see very well in dim light. However, dog’s can not see in complete darkness.

What does colour blindness mean?

Colour blindness is a problem that makes it difficult for a person to differentiate between various colours. People suffering from colour blindness can find it difficult to see specific colours at all. This problem develops from an abnormality in the colour sensory receptors of the eyes.

The problem that a person may face depending on the type of colour blindness they have. People generally suffer from two kinds of colour blindness. One is blue-yellow colour blindness, and the other one is red-green colour blindness. For example, a person with red-green colour blindness cannot differentiate between these two colours.

Are dogs colour blind?

Dogs can see as much colour as people suffering from colour blindness. So does that mean dogs are colour blind? No, dogs are not colour blind. They have dichromatic vision. Even though the dogs cannot see all the colours, they can distinguish various shades of yellow and blue exceptionally well. The only problem is that dogs cannot see green and red very well.

What colours can a dog see?

As the dogs have a dichromatic vision, they have a minimal perception of colours compared to humans. Researchers have shown that dogs see the world using a unique colour spectrum. In the colour vision of a dog, blue and yellow mostly dominate. To dogs, colours like blue-green, blue and violet, tend to look like various shades of blue. The colours red and green probably look like multiple shades of dark brown and grayscale to a dog.

Other Visual Differences Between Dogs and People

As we have mentioned earlier, canines do have some visual advantages over us. The dogs’ eyes are set on the sides of their head, which enables them a broader range of peripheral vision compared to humans. However, the visual activity of the dogs is not that great. Humans have more precise depth perception than dogs do.

The pupils of a dog can dialect to a large size, allowing a dog eyes to capture a lot of light. The dogs also have reflective cells under their retina, which creates the tapetum. It offers the shiny eyes look in dogs and boost their ability to see in dim lights.

As the number of rod cells in their eyes is more than that of humans, dogs can see moving elements far better than we do. They can spot even the slightest movements at great distances. Compared to humans, dogs can see better in low light sensors and detect motion accurately.

Recommended Read: Why Do Most Dogs Have Brown Eyes?

Why are dogs eyes so special?

Nature has created each animal with all the necessary physical traits that help them to survive in the world. The visual accommodation of the dogs has enabled them to thrive in the wild. Seeing things in low light and even the slightest movements have significantly helped dogs improve their hunting ability. Their visual ability also helps them understand when they are being hunted and whether they need to escape from the situation.

Recommended Read: Why Do Huskies Have Blue Eyes?

Choosing Toy Colours

The funny thing is most of the dog toys that you can find in the market are either in safety orange or red. The problem is dogs cannot identify the colour red. To them, it may appear something that is dark brown or black. That is what makes it difficult for the dogs to spot their toys. That may explain why your dog tends to ignore the bright red toys that you have bought for it. In this situation, your dog is not stubborn about it. Instead, they are just not being able to spot it correctly.

  • The best-coloured toys for a dog would be yellow or blue.

Now that you know that your dog can not see a couple of colours, you should choose the toys accordingly. Consider which of the toys can your dog see easily. This simple theory can explain why your dog goes crazy over the yellow-coloured balls but does not get as excited about the red or pink-coloured balls. So, if you are interested in playing fetch or similar games with your dog, do not choose something red.

  • Avoid toys that are red or pink.

Can my dog see the TV?

The sounds of the TV are probably the most stimulating factor for a dog. However, images often play a significant role as well. The researchers have pointed out that the dogs’ flicker rates are higher than their human companions. That means humans can see 60 frames per second while dogs can see about 70 frames per second. That means, if the television has a higher resolution screen, it can offer better entertainment to your dog.

Chihuahua watching TV

Sighthound Vision

Do you know that dogs breeds were specially bred to enhance their sight and give them a better hunting ability? These dogs have a whopping 240 degrees wide field of vision, which allows them to scan the horizon, searching for possible prey. Their retina comes with a visual streak, a horizontal area with many cone cells. That is what offers these dogs panoramic viewing abilities. Interestingly, this feature is noted only among dogs with long noses. Short snouted dogs, like chihuahuas or Boston terriers, have a shorter streak compared to them.

Sighthound Dog Breeds

Basenji

Basenji, however, has some discrepancies, that this type of dog should be classed as a sighthound and a scenthound, and some even say neither. Basenji dogs have the traits of both a sight and a scent hound. 

Are sighthounds good dogs?

Yes, sighthounds are easygoing with a gentle and mellow demeanour. They love to have bursts of playful times. However, sighthounds can run off on a chasing spree if not appropriately trained or kept on a leash.

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