Are Dogs Really Color Blind? Do you ever wonder how does your dog see the world?

Are Dogs Really Color Blind?

Ever wondered what the world looks like from the eyes of your canine friend? Do dogs only see in black and white or are dogs really color blind? Find out here!

If you ask people around you, most will tell you that dogs are color blind and can only see in monochrome. Many people share this answer because it’s common for conventional film and tv to show everything from a dog’s perspective as black and white.

However, that’s not really the truth, and people tend to get confused about whether are dogs really color blind? Luckily, there’s extensive research on the subject matter, and we can provide conclusive answers.

What’s the truth about dogs and color blindness?

To comprehend all the facts about the truth regarding a dog’s vision, you’ll need to develop an understanding of how the eye works first. An eye features specialized cells and receptors. These are known as rods and cones.

Rods detect motion and help with adjusting the vision to different shades of light. On the other hand, some cones help distinguish between different colors.

Humans have trichromatic vision, which means that they have three types of cones. As a result, they can identify three color combinations. Dogs, on the other hand, have only two cones and can identify two main color combinations.

That’s why their vision is known as dichromatic.

What qualifies as color blindness?

Color blindness refers to the inability to distinguish between colors or to even see specific colors at all. The condition occurs due to an issue in the color-sensing receptors of the eye.

Humans suffer from two main types of color blindness. These are red-green color blindness and blue-yellow color blindness. The kind of color blindness a person will suffer from depends on which color-sensing receptors are impacted.

For example, an individual that suffers from green color blindness won’t be able to identify the color green. It’ll seem like a shade of gray to them!

What does this mean for a dog’s vision?

Dogs have a dichromatic vision which essentially means that they can only identify two main colors. In addition, they have yellow-blue dichromatic vision, which means that their vision is very similar to an individual with red-green color blindness.

In the most basic terms, that means dogs can effectively distinguish between different shades of blue and yellow. However, they can’t effectively observe red and green colors.

Previously, people were under the misconception that dogs could only see the world in shades of black and white. Will Judy is the individual responsible for developing the hypothesis that dogs can only see in different highlights of black and gray!

After his initial discovery, several other researchers declared that the only mammals who could distinguish between colors were primates.

Back then, there was very little research to back up this data, and the advent of modern research showcases that dogs are actually color blind.

Why are dogs color blind?

The most recent research on canine vision helps shed light on the fundamental difference between the design of a human eye and a canine eye. Dogs were always very keen nocturnal hunters that would rely on their sense of smell to track and catch food. However, through evolution, their eyes eventually adapted to seeing well in the dark and observing movement.

To help them hunt in the dark, canines have eyes that feature a larger lens and corneal surface. They also have a reflective membrane known as a tapetum, which improves night vision. In addition, they have more rods in their retina, which helps improve their vision in the dark.

The retina is the main area that contributes to the main reason why dogs are color blind. A retina is made of millions of light-sensing cells. There are two main types, however!


Super sensitive cells which work to catch movement and work well in low light


Work properly in bright light and are in charge of color perception

The structure of a canine eye is such that it features more rods than cones in its retina. Humans, on the other hand, have more cones. It’s this difference in the structure that contributes to the main difference in color perceptions.

There are also different types of cones in the retina. Each cone type recognizes light of a particular wavelength. Dogs only have yellow and blue cone types, so they can’t see colors like red and green.

So what can dogs see?

After extensive amounts of research, scientists believe that the vision of a canine is similar to an individual with red-green color blindness. Dogs can distinguish the colors yellow and blue, along with any combinations of the two colors.

Due to their dichromatic vision, a lot of the world around them is a shade of grayish-brown. Any lush green lawns in the area will look brown and dull. A bright red ball will probably look like a very unenticing shade of brown.

What can you do to help your dog with color blindness?

A dog’s color blindness can explain why they react better to toys of certain colors and completely ignore others. There are also plenty of applications that can help replicate a dog’s vision so pet owners can better understand what their furry pal sees!

You can use these apps to find toys and treats that are in the color that your dog can actually recognize. For example, if you end up throwing a red ball for your dog to choose in a field of grass, it can be very challenging for them. They won’t be able to distinguish between the colors properly and may end up losing the ball.

However, your dog will be able to easily identify toys that are yellow or blue in color. That’s why it’s a good idea to go with toys and treats that fit under this color range. It’ll help keep your dog happier and more engaged with whatever stimulant you provide!


While many people initially thought that dogs could only see shades of grey and black, the reality is significantly different. Dogs have a dichromatic yellow-blue vision, which means they have a similar vision to people with red-green color blindness!

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