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Is Fido Color Blind? Understanding Your Dog's Eyesight

August 15, 2020

One of the best 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 wondered exactly how they see you? Your dog’s eyesight is different than yours—better in some ways and worse in others. But do dogs see entirely in black and white, or do they perceive color in some way? Read on as a Jefferson, IA area vet spills the beans.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

One of the biggest myths about our canine companions is that they’re entirely color blind, seeing only in black, white, and shades of gray. It turns out that this is false.

In reality, dogs perceive the world much like color blind humans. They see some colors better than others, while different hues of the same color can be difficult to differentiate.

How Are Dog Eyes and Human Eyes Different?

Your dog’s eyes feature many of the same components that your human eyes have, including the optic nerve, the retina, and rods and cones that help to process light in order to see colors. So why is there a difference in the way that humans and dogs perceive color?

The answer lies in the cones, which are basically light-sensing cells in the eye. Human eyes are trichromatic, which means that there are three types of cones in each eye. Each of these three cones processes different colors on the spectrum: red, blue, and green.

Dog eyes, however, are dichromatic. This means that they only feature two types of cones – one to see blues and the other to see a shade that falls somewhere between what a human would perceive as red and green. So, dogs have what could be called a type of red-green color blindness.

How Does My Dog Perceive Color?

What does all of 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, they see the world mostly in dark and light yellows, grayish yellow shades, and grayish browns, in addition to dark and light blue shades. This might explain why your pup 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 canine companion’s health and behavior, call our Jefferson, IA area vet office today!