It’s widely accepted that dogs can’t see color, but in light of recent studies, it’s become apparent that the once-readily trusted information is actually less fact than fiction. In fact, while dogs don’t see the same colors that we do, they see far more than just grayscale.
What Colors Can Your Pup See?
Although your dog won’t be seeing Technicolor anytime soon, dogs do actually have 20% of the photoreceptor cells that humans have. Photoreceptor cells are the part of the eye that controls the perception of color. Since dogs don’t have as many of these cells as we do, they see fewer colors and variations in tone. Behavioral tests suggest that dogs lack the ability to see the range of colors from green to red, but they can identify shades of yellow and blue. Essentially, this means that your dog perceives the world in yellow, blue and gray.
Interestingly, many of the most popular dog toys are made in colors like red or safety-vest orange, shades that are incredibly difficult for dogs to see. To your pup, red probably looks more like a muddy brown or even black. So, if your dog can’t seem to find that red ball on your lawn, it might just be that they can’t tell it apart from the green grass.
How Do Dogs “See” The World?
Beyond their limited perception of color, some experts believe that dogs also have 60-80% of the visual acuity that we do. This means that while something may appear crisp and clear to us, our dogs are probably seeing a blurry blob. However, dogs have better sight in dim light than we do. This vision difference actually helps them hunt.
Are Dogs Hindered By Limited Color Vision?
Even though dogs see fewer colors than humans do, they compensate by having a highly developed sense of smell. They rely far less on their vision for identification than we do, so their limited color perception isn’t a hindrance at all.