One of the greatest things about owning a dog is seeing your canine friend stare up at you lovingly, waiting patiently for a belly rub or a treat. Have you ever been curious about how you look to them? Your dog’s eyesight is different than your own—better in some ways and worse in others. But do dogs see exclusively in black and white, or can they perceive color in some way? Let’s check in with an experienced Ceres to find out.
One of the biggest misconceptions about dogs is that they’re totally color blind, seeing only in black, white, and shades of gray. It turns out that this isn’t the case.
Dogs actually perceive the world in much the same way as a color blind human would. They see some colors better than others, and various hues of the same color can be difficult to differentiate.
Your pup’s eyes share many of the same components that yours, including the optic nerve, a retina, and rods and cones that help to process light in order to perceive colors. So why is there a difference in the way that humans and dogs see?
The answer lies in the cones, which are the eye’s light-sensing cells. Human eyes are trichromatic, which means they contain three types of cones. Each of those three types processes different colors on the spectrum: red, blue, and green.
Dog eyes, however, are dichromatic. This means that they only have two types of cones, one that sees blues and the other that sees a shade that falls somewhere between what a human would perceive as red and green. In other words, dogs have what we would call a type of red-green color blindness.
What does this mean in terms of how your dog actually sees the world? Fido’s eyes are best at detecting yellows and blues. Since your dog’s eyes take these colors in together, however, they view the world mostly in dark and light yellows, grayish yellow shades, and grayish browns, in addition to dark and light blue shades. This explains why your canine companion likes yellow tennis balls so much—the ball probably shows up quite vibrantly against what your dog perceives as a dull background of green grass.
For more insights into your dog’s health and behavior, call your Ceres vet today!