Are Dogs Colour Blind?

Are Dogs Colour Blind?

Imagine, you’re out in the park with your canine companion and throw them a tennis ball, but are they seeing the fluorescent green colour or just a ball of grey? It’s a commonly held misconception that dogs can only see in black and white, but this isn’t actually the case. In fact, their colour vision is a little more complex than that.

It has been discovered that dogs are dichromats. Essentially, they have 2 types of colour sensitive cone cells; blue and yellow. In comparison to humans (who are trichromats, having 3 types of colour sensitive cone cells), the colour vision of a dog is very much limited.

Over the last decade, examinations of the canine eye structure revealed differences in the basic structure of both humans and canines, these differences are said to have been driven by function and evolution.


Can dogs see in the dark?

Dogs developed their senses through the process of evolution. Instinctively, they’re nocturnal hunters and so their eyes are specially adapted for the purposes of being able to see in the dark. This is because dogs have a larger lens and corneal surface, as well as a reflective membrane, otherwise known as a tapetum. Think of the tapetum as being a mirror at the back of a dog’s eye, it reflects the light in order to register the image the dog is seeing. Hence why their eyes appear to glow in the night.

The key difference between the colour perception of humans and dogs has been found in the retina. It’s composed of millions of light-sensing cells, some of which can catch movement in low light and others that can control colour perception and work well in bright lights.

Where our colour vision is considerably better than that of a dog’s, their night vision is significantly better than ours. Although scientists aren’t precisely sure as to how well dogs can see in the dark, it is estimated that they can see 5 times better in the dark than us humans.

What colours can dogs see?

It is believed that dogs can see an array of yellow, blue and purple shades. Often, these colours combine, rendering a lot of the world an unexciting shade of brown. This is due to the composition of the cones. Despite the absence of the cone which registers red and green colours, dogs can still distinguish between a ball that is red and another that’s green. But this is dependent upon the perceived brightness between the two balls, rendering the colour of them irrelevant.

This is due to brightness discrimination, this is how both humans and dogs differentiate between different shades. The brightness discrimination of a dog is 2 times worse than that of a human’s. Certain shades of grey that humans can perceive as being different are seen to be the same shade by dogs.

If you’ve been wondering whether dogs can see in colour or if they have night vision, the simple answer to that question is yes. Although their sight isn’t as sophisticated as ours, dogs will generally experience the world in much the same way we do.

Here at Jaycliffe Pets, we believe that it’s imperative to care for each dog individually, catering for their needs around the clock. We work to ensure that the dogs we board are comfortable and relaxed when staying with us. To find out more about the services we provide, don’t hesitate to call our knowledgeable, friendly team today.