Humans are fascinated with their dogs. While we don’t know everything there is to know about dogs, a lot of research has been done in an attempt to better understand everything there is know about our favorite four-legged pets.
During all this research, we have discovered that the previously-believed myth about dogs being colorblind is far from true. Instead, we found out that dogs have the ability to see in a limited color range, but they can’t see all of the same colors that humans can, because their eyes are biologically different than those of humans.
Signs Dogs Can See Colors
When it comes to determining whether or not dogs can see colors, you can learn to recognize a few different behaviors. Watch to see how your dog reacts to its toys. Do you see your dog favoring toys that are yellow? What about red? You have probably noticed that your dog tends to gravitate toward toys that are blue or yellow. Why do you think that is?
Well, in fact, dogs can only see shades of blues and yellows. This means that your dog doesn’t see orange as orange. In fact, to dogs, orange actually looks like a dull gold color. For that reason, the orange toys in your dog’s collection probably aren’t that exciting for them.
Your dog may also have a very hard time finding toys in the grass if they aren’t yellow or blue, because dogs won’t see the colors properly. Instead, get blue and yellow toys and watch your dog find them every time in the green grass!
- Head tilting
- Wag tail
- Raise ears
- Ears up
- Favoring one color of the same toy over another
- Wagging at the sight of a toy in a color it can see
- Loosing certain colored things in the grass
History of Dogs Being Able to See Colors
Historically, humans believed that dogs couldn’t see any color at all. In fact, research from the 1930s informed people that dogs saw only in black and white tones when the founder of National Dog Week, Will Judy, made a statement about the poor vision that dogs have. He also said that dogs only saw general outlines and shapes but couldn’t make out actual figures.
In the 1960s, other researchers came up with a theory that explained that only primates, such as gorillas, were able to see in color like humans do. There was no research to back this claim, but that didn’t stop the public from believing it for over 50 years! Since there was very little research done on the subject for decades, this myth continued for a long time.
By 2013, new research was being conducted by people in Russia. These scientists disproved the previous theories when they determined that dogs can actually see some of the colors than humans do, just not all of them. In fact, these researchers also discovered that dogs have better vision than previously believed as well. Even with their limited color range, dogs can also see and distinguish between objects, and they can even pick an object out of a lineup.
Science Behind Dogs Being Unable to See Orange
Biology is to thank for why humans and dogs see the world differently. The differences in the eyes of these two species account for the differences in vision. For example, the retinas of both species contain rods and cones, however, these are found in different amounts in each species. Dogs have more rods than humans, but fewer cones.
Rods help dogs see in the dark. Additionally, dogs have a larger lens and corneal surface than humans, which allows more light to enter their eyes when there is very little light in the room. Dogs even have a reflective membrane on their eyes that help them to see better at night or in the dark.
Cones allow the eyes to see color. While humans have three different kinds of cones, dogs only have two. Scientists have determined that the cones that dogs are missing are those that allow them to see red and green, which is very similar to people with red-green colorblindness. This means that dogs see in shades of yellow and blue, but not colors that contain red or green, such as orange or purple.
Dealing With Dogs Seeing Color
Since dogs can’t see all the same colors as humans, it can be hard for us to understand what they see when we are looking at the same objects. It can be hard for humans to learn how to better cater to their pet’s vision, but the best thing you can do is try. When it comes to buying things for your dog, try to see the world the same way your dog does. Look for toys and beds in the colors that your pet can see vividly.
Remember that playing fetch in the yard is only fun if your dog can see the toy. Avoid getting green and orange toys for fetch in the grass, as they look very similar to the grass and appear a dull gold color to your dog. Instead, get blue or bright yellow toys. Even purple toys tend to stick out more against the grass than orange, even though orange seems very bright to humans.
Fortunately, your dog doesn’t know that they can’t see things the way that you do, so they are completely happy with their lives regardless of the colors that they can’t see. It is important that you don’t try to force your dog to do things like sort toys by colors that they can’t see. All it will do is lead to unnecessary stress for both you and your pooch.
How to React to Your Dog Seeing Color:
Teach dogs to sort things by color vs white.
Buy toys and other products in colors that your dog can see.