Ask the Vet: Are Dogs Color Blind?

Feb 11, 2021 by

Dog Looking Up

We spend so much time and money trying to take good, proper care of our pets. We take them to the veterinarian; we make sure they’re getting the best food. As owners, we try to see the world through our pets’ eyes to help us understand them better. But have you ever stopped to think about whether dogs can see colors like us humans?

Are Dogs Color Blind?

True or False: Dogs Are Colorblind

This question is a little tricky because it’s partly both true and false. A good amount of research has been done on color blindness in dogs. The eye has special cells and receptors known as rods and cones. Rods handle motion and help vision in different shades of incoming light. The cone cells tell the brain what colors are being seen.

Human - Dog Vision Sample

Left: Human | Right: Dog
(more examples at AKC.org)

Seeing Double

Humans have three different cones. Dogs have two cones. Humans, for the most part, can see red, blue, and green color variants. From what we have understood from studies, dogs can see two colors, yellow and blue. Dogs are not colorblind in the sense that the world is only black and white. Dogs have two-colored, or dichromatic color vision.

Related Article: Does My Pet Have Cataracts?

Color Spectrum

This dichromatic lens does not prevent dogs from experiencing the world in a unique way. Yellow and blue are indeed the main, overarching color themes in dog vision. Violet will look more blue-toned to your furry friend and red or green will look less like Christmas and more like dead grass in July.

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“As long as otherwise healthy pets are on a quality, balanced food they don’t need any additional supplements for their vision.” –  Lucas White, DVM

Dogs Can See More Than You Would Think

Dogs evolved to hunt prey at night, in the cloak of darkness. Dogs have a bigger lens, greater corneal surface and sizable reflective membrane that assists them at night to see clearer. The increased number of rods in a canine’s retina enhances vision in low-light settings, like a forest at night. Our beloved dogs can see much more color than we realize. Just don’t be so quick to buy that red ball, Clifford might not be able to see it.

Quote

“Dog vision is similar to red-green colorblindness in people. So, they can see blues and yellows pretty normally. They may be more playful with toys in these colors, but color is not usually a deciding factor in toy preference.” –  Lucas White, DVM

Quote

“Limitations in color vision seem to have little consequence to dogs and cats. On the other hand, dogs have been reported to be able to differentiate perfectly among closely related shades of gray that are indistinguishable to the human eye. Regardless, if they can see a range of color or not, it doesn’t play a role in their happiness in life.” – Michelle Casey, DVM

Time to See the Vet?

Have questions about your pets or need a checkup? Contact the friendly and knowledgeable professionals at Sunset Veterinary Clinic at 405-844-2888 or check out our veterinarian services online anytime. We specialize in well-care services as well as boarding, bathing, dental work, and surgery. You can trust that your pet is always a priority with the team at Sunset Veterinary Clinic! 

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