les, color blindness in dogs is a fact. All dogs are color-blind. Recent research observed that dogs may still see some colors but not all.

colour blindness in dogs
long haired chihuahua – image by Herbert Goetsch from Unsplash


Though technicolor may be beyond their comprehension, the study found that dogs’ eyes are significantly more capable of seeing than just different tones of grey.

What Is Color Blindness In Dogs?

The English scientist John Dalton did some of the earliest investigations into congenital color blindness in the late 18th century. Dalton and his siblings were unable to distinguish specific colors. Therefore they became aware of this issue. Pink and red were mistaken for blue and scarlet, respectively.

The most common type of color blindness is Red-green color blindness. Red-green color blindness affects 8% of males and 0.5 % of females with northern European heritage. It is caused by a defect in the cones and color-detecting molecules in the retina.

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Are Dogs Considered Colorblind?

In the sense that they can’t see colors other than black, white, and grey, dogs are color blind.

In contrast to the spectrum people observe, they have a limited range of colors they can detect.

In a dog’s eyes, the color spectrum consists of yellows, blues, and violets. The “humans'” reds, greens, and oranges are identical to those of dogs and appear in the yellow and blue color spectrum.

Rods and cones are two of the different types of photoreceptors found in the retinas of both species. However, the canine eye has more rods and no central fossa. In contrast, the human eye has a greater variety of cones.

This is the reason why humans have such intense visual detail. Dogs, who detect fewer colors and forms, are far less detailed in objects than humans, have excellent night vision, and are superior at tracking movement.

While a dog may perceive an orange ball thrown onto green grass as yellow, his excellent motion-detecting abilities will still enable him to retrieve the ball.

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Evolution Of Dog Vision?

The answer to that query is a little more nuanced than a straightforward affirmative or negative. Full-color vision appears to have evolved relatively early in the evolution of the eye.

There are two color sensors in a dog’s eyes, and four or more separate color sensors in various fish, reptiles, birds, and insects. Butterflies have five, but the mantis shrimp, which has astonishingly sixteen different color receptors in its eyes, is arguably the victor in the field of color vision.

The mammals gradually lost all the additional receptors until only two were left. It had little effect because this did not specifically disadvantage dogs or other predators regarding hunting.

Only later did some primates, like humans, go through another round of evolution and add the additional receptor that gives us full-color vision.

What Colors Can Your Dog See?

Dogs can distinguish between numerous grey, black, and white tones and yellow, blue, and brown colors. Together, a dog will perceive a red toy as brown while perceiving an orange toy with red and yellow mixed in as brownish-yellow.

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Additionally, you should provide blue or yellow toys for your pet. The color will pop out in your dog’s eyes against its regular, dull brown or grey vision and fully engage all of its senses when playing. It may clarify why canines adore those yellow tennis balls so much.

Color Blindness In Dogs Myths

Will Judy, a lifelong dog lover, is credited with believing that dogs only see in black and white. He claimed to be the first to state that dogs had weak eyesight and thought they could only make out broad forms and outlines and a single shade and color.

They could perceive the entire outside environment as different black and grey highlights, Judy wrote in her booklet Training the Dog in 1937.

Other researchers proposed that primates were the only creatures able to discriminate between colors in the 1960s. There is little to no evidence that backs up these assertions, particularly those involving dogs. However, it quickly became apparent that our canine friends were color-blind.

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Color Spectrum In Dog’s Vision

Over the past few decades, the canine eye structure has shown notable distinctions between humans’ and dogs’ basic designs. The causes of these variations include function and evolution.

Because dogs hunt at night, they hone their senses by locating and catching prey. Their eyes have evolved to detect movement and see in the dark better.

The dog’s eyes feature larger lenses, corneal surfaces for nighttime vision, and a reflective coating called a phagophore, according to Dr. Jerry Klein, the chief veterinary officer of the AKC. Additionally, they have more rods in the retina, which enhances vision in dim light.

Researchers have also discovered that the retina solves the disparities between canine and human color vision. There are millions of light-sensing cells in the retina, and they consist of the following.

  1. Rods are susceptible cells that can detect motion and work in low light.
  2. Cones work in bright light and regulate color perception.
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Why Do Dogs And Humans See Colors Differently

Dogs and humans see color differently because dogs have more rods than cones in their retinas, whereas humans have more cones.

Trichromatic species include some primate species, including humans. They, therefore, have three different sorts of cones, and dogs only have two types because they are dichromatic.

In the dog’s eyes, various types of cones record different wavelengths of light. Humans learn to appreciate red roses and Granny Smith apples from the red and green ones. The red-green cone is absent in some canines and humans who are color-blind.

At the same time, some fish and birds have color vision much broader than humans. Numerous tetrachromatic fish and avian species exist, and the fourth variety of cone receptors can take in ultraviolet light.

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