Are Dogs Color Blind?

The short answer is NO! The myth that dogs are color blind is flat out wrong. Dogs can definitely see color, though they cannot see the range of colors that people can see. Humans have three color detecting cells in the retina, while dogs have only two types. These cells are called cones.

What colors can a dog see?

In experiments, researchers have determined that dogs see a vary similar set of colors to a person who is red-green color blind. For a dog, what a normal vision human would see as red a dog probably sees as dark brown. A normal vision human would see green and a dog would see yellow. Purple looks like blue to a dog and blue objects look grey. It’s like a bizarro world!

So do people see better than dogs?

Not really. Even though a dog doesn’t see the array of colors that people do, a dog has more rods in their eyes so they can see in lower light than humans can. Rods do not perceive color. They only perceive light. So because a dog’s eye is packed with more rods, a dog is better able to see in low light than humans. In addition to more rods, behind a dog’s retina they have a reflective surface called the tapetum. This membrane reflects light back onto the retina further stimulating the rods. Even the faintest whip of light can be caught by a dog’s eye. This has allowed dogs, and wolves, to hunt quiet effectively at night when a human would be more helpless. Back when humans and dogs were still co-evolving together, one can imagine hunters venturing out at night with some wild wolf-dog types, learning to work with the wolf-dogs to hunt even when the hunters couldn’t see very well.