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How do dogs see color?

Updated on June 24, 2009

Dogs are noted for their heightened senses. Our furry friends have excellent scenting and hearing abilities. The good nose and the sensitive ears are great assets that make the dog a valuable hunter, an excellent rescue worker and a dependable guard. With a dog in the house, a person will be assured that no intruder can access the property. The slightest sound and the unfamiliar scent of a trespasser will be easily detected by the dog. Dogs are also believed to have the ability to see in the dark. Allegedly, these animals can see things that we humans can not see. A dog that stares fixedly in the dark and howls would give you an eerie feeling.

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It was established that dogs have excellent scenting and hearing abilities. These animals are considered to have good vision as well. The Borzoi, Saluki and Whippet are noted for being good hunters that use their excellent vision. But what about color? Is the common belief that dogs can not see color true? Dog experts once believed that dogs can only see black, white and different shades of gray. This was before a study on canine vision verified the fact that dogs can after all see color although what they see is less detailed than what humans can see.  Humans can see the Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red colors of the rainbows. Dogs can see colors too but the green and the orange would be seen by the dog as yellow thus in a dog’s eye, the rainbow would be violet, indigo, blue yellow, yellow, yellow and red. A blue-green color would be white or grey to a dog. Violet and blue colors will be seen as blue. Thus in a dog’s eyes, the world is yellow, blue and grey. The retinas of human eyes have three cones. These color receptors catch the light and control color perception. Because dogs only have 2 types of cones, the capability to see color in detail is about 60% inferior as compared to humans. However, unlike humans, canines have the ability to see the subtle change in shade of violets and blues. This was attributed to the absence of the yellow pigmentation in the canine’s eyes. This pigmentation that is present in human eyes blocks the wavelengths thereby reducing the sensitivity of the human eye to blue and violet lights. Dogs also have Tapetum Lucidum, a structure with a reflective surface behind the retina that reflects light thereby enhancing night vision and allowing the dog to see better at night.


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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Very informative indeed.

      Now I know that picking that combination of green, yellow and orange tennis balls may look cool to me, but is meaningless for my Kuvasz boy hahaha.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is great, I'm using this for my Science Project BTW: U suck (above)

    • profile image

      Why do u care! 

      7 years ago

      This is crappy

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      coool im going to use thia info for my science project.


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