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The notion of whether dogs are color blind has been a topic of debate among many people for a long time. The answer to the question is no. Dogs are definitely not color blind. They just see the world and its colors differently than we do. We may disagree with our furry little friends from time to time about the shape and the intent of different objects, but one thing that we absolutely have in common is the fact that we can both see colors pretty well.
So the answer to the age-old question is, in fact, no. Although early research has lead many of us to believe that dogs cannot perceive color, there have been numerous studies showing that that is not true. Our dogs have photoreceptor cells called cones inside their retinas that allow them to see in color. A signal is transmitted to the brain when these photoreceptor cells are simulated, which is then perceived by our dogs as a certain color. Although dogs are not color blind, they can only perceive limited colors as they only have two cones, whereas humans have three.
What Colors Can Dogs See?
While humans have red, green, and blue cones, dogs only have a blue cone with a visual pigment that somewhat falls in between a red and a green hue. Since dogs can’t perceive every single hue, he can still see things in vivid and bright colors just like us. A dog’s eyesight can be closely compared to the eyesight of a person who has red-green color blindness.
Dogs see a combination of blue, green, and yellow which can be perceived as dark yellow, grayish brown, light yellow, light blue, grayish yellow, and dark blue. That is probably the reason your dog loves to play fetch with a bright yellow ball in a park where the grass is green on a bright and sunny day with clear skies.
Sight is more than just being able to perceive color though. It is a much more complicated complex riddled with details and shapes. Dogs can see better when the light is dim. Their eyes have something called rod photoreceptors in the middle of their retinas that allow them to see better in the dark. They also have something called a tapetum lucidum which reflects light through your dog’s retina twice. This is the reason why we see their eyes glow in the dark. The rods can also sometimes act as a substitute for the cones that dogs lack and humans have. Photoreceptive rods are great at picking up movements.
Even though their ability to fully perceive the vibrant colors of the world is somewhat impaired, dogs still have a great sight and a vivid imagination that easily makes up for the lack of being able to see in all the colors.