Are Dogs Really Color Blind and Can They See Colors?
The question has wondered many dog owners and trainers for decades, just as people used to believe in the myth that a dog lives seven years of his age in a single human year.
The answer to both questions is NO! The dogs are color blind in a way that they cannot distinguish between some colors, but it is not the case that they cannot see colors at all. Dogs can see colors, but the colors they see are less vibrant and less in numbers than a human eye.
The misconception that dogs cannot see colors has been widely accepted for decades, and most dog trainers avoided using color objects while training a dog.
The myth was first busted by Russian Scientists from the Laboratory of Sensory Processing at the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2013 when they presented research that dogs can see colors, but their spectrum is limited than that of human’s.
The research proved to be a milestone in Dog Training Industry.
This was an expansion of work from American University Scientist Jay Neitz’s experiments on dogs to test whether they could see in color or not.
The research unfolded that the dogs are not completely color blind, but they have dichromatic color perception. To break it down for you, a human eye has three different color receptor cells or cones in the retina (red, blue, and green); the dogs’ have two.
Most common type of color blindness in humans, especially in men, is due to deficiency of any of these receptors or cones. In the absence of any of these cones, the person is still able to see colors but not all of them.
This deficiency hits the men more than the women because; cones are found X chromosomes. Since men have only one X chromosome, so if it is defective, they have no chance. Women have an extra X chromosome, each from one parent, so they have an extra color receptor. That is why; women can see a wider range of colors than an average man.
According to a study, approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women in the world are affected by color blindness or color vision deficiency (CVD).
Since dog’s retina only contains two cones (blue and yellow), you can say that dogs only see things on either yellow or blue scale.
It doesn’t mean that the dogs can’t see red or green color; it only says that dogs can’t differentiate a red or green object based on their color.
They only way possible for a dog to distinguish between a red or green object is possible by the difference in the brightness of these objects.
So, Which Colors are Visible to The Dog?
The color vision of dogs similar to a man who is suffering from deuteranopia, a deficiency to differentiate red and green color. Other differences between a human and canine vision include less sensitivity of dogs to variations of gray shades as compared to human, and half of that to changes in brightness.
But, don’t pity your dog just because they can’t see proper colors. Their life may be less colorful than that of yours; they can outperform you when it is a matter of motion-detection or night vision.
Unlike human retina, a canine retina has less number of Cones that detect colors, but they have a higher number of Rods. These receptors are for perceiving light and dark changes.
Rods can also detect shape and movement. That’s why dogs can see far better than human eye in the dark and can also detect motion from a distance.
What Does that Mean To You and Your Dog?
After knowing your dog’s world from close, you would be in a better position to make individual decisions as to choose dog products whose color might not soothe your eyes, but it would be more aesthetically pleasing to your dog.
If you still want to have an example, then take a yellow tennis ball and then a red or green ball, and play ‘FETCH IT’ with your pet with each ball randomly. You will experience that your dog is going gaga with the yellow ball but turns apathetic with red or green one.
Dogs also have a very sharp sense of smell. A dog’s nose according to a study is up to 100 million times more sensitive than that of humans’. So, you might have a better vision than your furry friend you can’t beat him in the sense of smell.