4 min read


Can Dogs See Dark Gray?



4 min read


Can Dogs See Dark Gray?


For a long time, we have been a little obsessed with our dogs. We want to know everything we can about them and why they are the way that they are. There has been a lot of research done to help humans understand how dogs see the world, but over the last 100 years, a lot of misinformation has surfaced about the vision of dogs. 

During recent research, we learned that what we previously believed about dogs’ vision was completely false, and now we know that dogs have better vision than we thought. While many believed that dogs are colorblind, we now know that isn’t true.


Signs Dogs Can See Colors

Your dog displays all kinds of signs that they can see some colors, but it can be hard to recognize these signs, so you will have to learn to see them for yourself. For example, watch how your dog interacts with its toys. You may notice that your dog favors some of its toys more than others. Does your dog seem to avoid that bright red toy that you thought it would love? Does it always pick up the blue or yellow toy that you bought five years ago? There is a reason for that!

Dogs can see a very limited range of colors, and that means that you are probably buying toys and other products for your dog all wrong. You should be looking for toys that are blue and yellow, because dogs can see in shades of these two colors, but not green or red, much like a person with red-green colorblindness.

While dark gray isn’t really a color that your pet can see, they see shades of red as shades of gray. So, all those red toys you have purchased will actually appear to be gray for your pooch, which isn’t all that exciting for your pet, so they probably aren’t that interested.

Body Language

Some body language signs that show that your dog can see colors include:

  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Wag Tail
  • Raise Ears
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

Other signs that your dog can see colors include:

  • Favoring One Color Of The Same Toy Over Another
  • Wagging Their Tail At The Sight Of The Toy In A Color It Can See
  • Losing Toys Of Certain Colors In Grass

History of Dogs Being able to See Colors


Historically, people were told all the wrong things about how dogs can see. For decades, we all believed that dogs couldn’t see any color at all. This myth was started in the 1930s when the founder of National Dog Week, Will Judy, stated that dogs have very poor vision and can only see in shades of gray - and can only see in shapes and general outlines. He said that dogs can’t make out actual figures as well.

In the 1960s, this research was further confirmed by a team that said that only primates, such as gorillas, could see in color the same way that humans do. However, there was absolutely no research to back this claim, and the public was misinformed for decades. During all these years, there was very little research done on this topic.

By 2013, a team of Russian researchers was back it. In their research, they found that dogs can, in fact, see some colors, but they were very limited. Instead of seeing in a full range of colors, dogs can only see various shades of yellow and blue. Dogs aren’t able to see shades of red or green or any of the colors that red and green are used to make. Additionally, they found that dogs can also see objects and even distinguish between objects in a lineup.

Science Behind Dogs Being able to See Dark Gray


The reason that dogs and humans see so differently can be found in the eyes. Biologically, dogs and humans have very different eyes. These differences account for the vision differences that dogs and humans have. While both species have both rods and cones found in their retinas, dogs have more rods than humans but fewer cones.

The rods in the eye help with low-light vision. Dogs have more rods than humans, which allows them to see better in the dark than humans. Dogs also have larger lenses and corneal surfaces than humans, so more light can enter their eyes than the eyes of a human. They even have a reflective membrane on their eyes that can help them see better at night or in the dark.

Cones permit the eyes to see colors, and humans have three types of cones, while dogs only have two. Dogs are missing the cones that allow them to see green and red or any colors containing green or red—much like people who are red-green colorblind. Dogs can see a variety of shades in yellow and blue, however.

Dealing with Dogs Seeing Colors


Now that you know just how dogs see the world, you can better understand why they react the way they do to certain objects of certain colors. You can learn how to cater to your pet’s vision and make their lives a little easier. Next time you go to buy your pet a toy or bed or another item, consider the way that they see colors and pick out something that will appear vivid to them. Pick out things in blue and yellow to give your dog a toy it will truly love.

During games of fetch in the yard, you may notice that your dog has a hard time finding some of its toys in the grass. This could be due to the fact that the color of the toy is too similar to the color of the grass. You should look for toys that are bright and vibrant. Don’t select toys that are red or green. Green toys will match the grass while red toys appear gray.

Fortunately, your dog doesn’t know that they don’t see the world the way that you do. They are happy with the way they see the world, and they don’t even know that there are a bunch of colors that they aren’t able to see. However, it is important that you don’t try to force your dog to do things that it can’t really do. 

For example, asking your dog to put its toys in piles based on color will only lead to frustration for both of you. You can, however, teach your pooch to sort toys based on whether or not they have color. Teach your dog to sort by white and color instead.

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By a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies

Published: 05/11/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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