The old belief about dogs was that they were completely colorblind – they could only see in black and white. Who knows why this myth developed, but it was myth that survived for decades.
However, scientists have since learned this is not true! The ability to see color and light is made possible through the cones, rods and ganglion cells.
The below image compares human cone and rod numbers (respectively) to dog cone and rod numbers:
As you can see, humans have about 20% more cones than dogs, but dogs have many more rods than we do. While they don’t know the exact number, they are 5 times more sensitive to light than we are.
In addition, humans have a Fovea – part of the retina that is responsible for good resolution (clear images) in what you see. (biolgoymad.com)
Humans are “trichromatic,” meaning we have cones that allow us to see three colors – blue, green and red. Using those, we are able to see 1,00,000 different shades/colors!
Dogs, on the other hand, are “dichromatic,” they can only see blue and yellow with their cones, giving them the ability to see 10,000 shades/colors.
Fun fact: this is why agility equipment uses the blue/yellow color scheme, so the dog’s can clearly see the equipment and the all-important “contact” (the yellow part) they must touch in order to not be disqualified.
Dog’s cannot see the color red at all, so it’s something to think about when you are selecting your dog’s next toys…maybe opt for something blue or yellow instead? Especially if you plan to throw it in the grass…the color green looks exactly the same as red to the dog.
Field of Vision
Dogs have a much larger field of vision, about 250 degrees (some dog breeds have less), whereas humans only have 190 degrees.
And of course, dogs have better night vision due to more rods, bigger pupils and the tapetum lucidum, which acts as a mirror to reflect light and give the eye more chance to absorb the photons and in turn see more in the dark.
Dogs have better motion detection than us as well.
Interestingly, humans can see clearer (thanks to our fovea perhaps?) farther away than dogs can. Dogs have to be twenty feet away from something that the average human can see clearly at eighty feet:
Watch the entire video on what dog’s see:
I don’t know about you, but it’s fun to know what colors my dog can see and not see. It also shows why he has a harder time finding his red tug in our tall grass! Will this change the colors you choose for your dog’s toys or beds? How about food bowl? Tell us in the comments!