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Are Dogs Coloured Blind?

Can dogs see colours?

Are Dogs coloured blind?

Some people have being told that this is true, while others don’t believe that dogs are colour blind. Before the internet you could only go on the word of the person who told you and they probably heard it from the guy down the road. The truth of the matter is that dogs do see colour, however it is not the same colour depth that humans have.

Both the eyes of humans and dogs contain special light catching cells called cones which respond to colour. Dogs contain fewer cones than humans which would lead you to conclude they must not gather the same colour depth as humans. However colour is more than just the number of cones, it also is the type of cone which each tunes to different wavelengths. A human with full colour range has three different cones while a human who is blind to certain colours might only have two different cones. For dogs, they have only two different types of cones which would mean they don’t have the same colour spectrum as humans.

A study at the University of California, tested the colour vision of dogs. For many test trials, dogs were shown three light panels in a row–two of the panels were the same colour, while the third was different. The dogs’ task was to find the one that was different and to press that panel. If the dog was correct, he was rewarded with a treat that the computer delivered to the cup below that panel.
It was confirmed that dogs actually do see colour, but many fewer colours than normal humans do. Instead of seeing the rainbow as violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red, dogs would see it as dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow (sort of brown), and very dark gray. In other words, dogs see the colours of the world as basically yellow, blue and gray. They see the colours green, yellow and orange as yellowish, and they see violet and blue as blue. Blue-green is seen as a gray. You can see what the spectrum looks like to people and dogs below.

Are dogs coloured blind?

So next time you buy your dog a treat or toy you should think about the colour!

So what is the conclusion to the question – are dogs colour blind? The answer is when compared to humans then yes they are colour blind however they do see colour which dispels that myth that dogs only see in gray scale. Dogs lack the colour spectrum that humans do, missing colours like reds, greens and purple. But since dogs can’t see all the colours humans can then would they even notice it? Of course they wouldn’t, to them their colour spectrum is normal and they don’t know they are missing out on extra colour. I guess the next question would be why do dogs lack the colour spectrum and I guess you could come up with many answers, whether its improves their grayscale contrast when hunting, or maybe something to do with night vision. Well that sounds like another article to be written: Can dogs see in the dark?

Though also keep in mind that not all dogs eyes are the same shape. Some breeds have different shaped eyes, which makes sense depending where in the world they came from (habitat would vary how a dog has evolved to its surroundings).

If you are interested in how a dog may see you then here is a quick photoshop image using the colours from the above chart:

How a Dog sees you

How a Dog Views you

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