Over the last few decades, researchers and scientists have worked hard to better understand how man’s best friend views the world. This research has helped humans learn a lot about how dogs see. From the color spectrum that dogs can see to the quality of their vision, we now know a significant amount about how our dogs see the world.
Unfortunately, common myths still exist surrounding a dog’s vision, but Wag! is here to help more people learn about their dog’s vision and how it affects their dog’s life. Let’s take an in-depth look at how dogs see in the world!
Signs that Dogs Can See Colors
Neon colors are known for being exceptionally bright. This has led many people to believe that dogs are better able to see neon colors. In reality, the brightness of the color has nothing to do with how dogs see it. There are numerous signs that your dog can see at least some colors, but you have to know what to watch for.
You may see that your dog takes a particular interest in certain toys. Look at those toys. We bet that they have something in common—they are all either yellow or blue. You may have also noticed that your dog appears to lose toys in the grass when you are playing. Do those toys happen to be green or orange? If so, they will blend into the grass more easily than blue or yellow toys. Yellow tennis balls are often a favorite of fetchers, because dogs can easily see the yellow tennis balls.
While the majority of vision research has been done to determine the colors that dogs can see, other research has discovered that dogs don’t see as sharply as humans, and that can also affect how your dog sees the world.
- Wag tail
- Sorting toys
- Prefering toys of a certain color
History of Dogs Being Able to See Neon Colors
Research into whether or not dogs can specifically see neon colors hasn’t been done. This is due to the fact that other research has been done that concluded that dogs can see a limited range of colors including blues and yellows. This means that your dog can see neon yellow and blue, but not other neons like green, pink, and orange.
Early thoughts on the vision of dogs have led to many people believing that dogs are completely colorblind. These thoughts weren’t based on fact, and research has since concluded that dogs have a very limited color spectrum, but that they can definitely see certain colors. Jay Neitz at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that dogs see a rainbow of color consisting of dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow (kind of a brown shade), and dark gray instead of the rainbow that humans see.
When dogs come across an object that is a shade that isn’t in their color spectrum, they see it as a color within their spectrum. For example, green, yellow, and orange will be a yellowish color in your dog’s eyes. In contrast, violet and blue will appear to be blue and blue-green will look gray.
Science Behind Dogs Seeing Colors
When it comes to your dog’s ability to see some colors, it all comes down to their retinas. In the retina, your dog has cells called cones. While humans have three different kinds of cones, dogs only have two. The two types of cones that dogs have allows them to see shades of blues and yellows. This type of vision also occurs in humans with red-green colorblindness. The missing type of cones prevents dogs from seeing reds, greens, pinks, oranges, and purples.
When it comes to whether or not dogs can see neon colors, it really depends on the color. Dogs can see neon yellow and blue, but not neon shades of any other color.
Training Using Colors Your Dog Sees
For some reason, humans have decided that dog toys should be bright colors like red or orange. In reality, your dog sees red and orange as brown or dull yellow, which isn’t very exciting. Instead, yellow and blue toys are going to be much more vibrant-looking for your dog.
While it is possible to train your dog to recognize the difference between colored objects and white objects, it is nearly impossible to teach your dog to differentiate between all the colors of the rainbow, because we don’t see the world in the same way as they do. First, we would have a hard time grouping together the colors that look the same for dogs, and they would have problems recognizing colors like red, green, and orange.
When it comes to agility training, the colors that your dog can see become extremely important. As a dog runs through the obstacle course, they have only milliseconds to make a decision on where to go next based on verbal and physical cues from their handlers. Bad communication signals can lead to dogs going the wrong direction or even miscalculating an obstacle and harming themselves.
It is important that agility handlers understand how dogs see the world so that they can dress appropriately. Handlers dressed in brown on a dirt area with brown walls will be very hard for the dog to see. Wearing a blue outfit will help the handler be more visible to the dog, and in turn, make it easier for the dog to understand the cues.
In these instances, it doesn’t matter if the colors are neon or not, because dogs don’t know what neon colors are. Instead of worrying about how bright the colors are, focus on the colors that are within the spectrum that your dog can see.
How to React to Your Dog Seeing Colors:
Buy your dog yellow and blue toys that they can see more easily.
Avoid playing with hard-to-see toys in the grass where they could easily be lost.
Dress in blue or yellow when training your pooch.