what colors can dogs see
Saluki Sighthound

Can Dogs See Color Or Is Dog Vision A Grey Area?

What colors can dogs see? You could be forgiven for thinking that dogs only see in black and white. After all this is what many people have believed for years. Thanks to modern science we can now reveal the truth!

As human beings we are used to seeing everything around us in color but what about our canine companions? Is it true they can only see in black and white? If true maybe this explains why dogs get so excited about what they can smell and don’t seem to show any interest in looking at beautiful views or colorful flowers!

Dog Vision V Human Vision

Research suggests that whereas dogs are better able to see in dim light than humans, human sight is much better at distinguishing colors.

We used a new Image Processing Tool with the same image to show the difference between what a human sees and what a dog sees. It’s fun to use – all you have to do is to upload any color image to see what your dog sees. Try it for free here

How Your Dog Sees Roses

Human View

Dog View

How Your Dog Sees You And Other Dogs

Human View

Dog View

Recent research proves that dogs are color blind in the same way that some humans are – in that they cannot see red or green, only blue and yellow.

This means that contrary to a long held belief that dogs could only see in black and white they can see in color, albeit dichromatically.

Can Dogs See In Colors?

So it’s true dogs can’t see as many colors as humans. This is because dogs’ retina’s only contain two types of cones (cells that detect color) whereas humans have three. Thus humans can detect more colors unless of course a human is color blind in which case, like dogs, they can only see two colors. Dogs are able to distinguish between blue and yellow and varying shades of these two colors. Reds will appear as varying shades of brownish gray and green grass and green trees will appear as a pale yellow – almost like a field of stubble.

Can Dogs See In The Dark?

All dogs see better than humans in the dark or dim light and this is especially true of the breed known as sighthounds such as the Saluki. But why is this? Both the human and canine retinas have things called rods which receive light and although they don’t “see” color are able to distinguish between changes in light and also changes in movement and shape. Dogs have more of these rods than humans which enables them to see better in dim light and are also better able to detect movement.

Dogs also have something else that we humans don’t have – a tapetum! The tapetum is a reflective membrane that reflects light into the retina thereby amplifying the available light, no matter how dim. This enables dogs to hunt at night.

Dog Vision Takeaways

You may have noticed when you take your best friend for a walk that they are completely unmoved by beautiful landscapes or flowers. Now you can see by the research that this might be because they don’t see these things in the vivid colors that we do. By the same token you may also have noticed that the thing they get most excited about on walks is scents. And if you happen to be the proud owner of a scent hound such as a Beagle then they will spend all their time with their noses to the ground sniffing. This is hardly surprising when you consider that dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, whereas humans have a mere 6 million.

Since all dogs love to sniff scents, the kindest most considerate thing we can do is to allow them to sniff to their hearts’ content. You see as far as our best friend is concerned a kaleidoscope of scents rather than colors is what makes their world so interesting!