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Is Fido Color Blind?

August 15 2020

One of the best things about dog ownership 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 your pup sees 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 are they able to perceive color in some way? Below, an Upper Peninsula vet provides answers to these questions.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

One of the most common 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 isn’t exactly true.

Dogs actually perceive the world much the same way as color blind humans. That is, they see some colors better than others, and different hues of the same color can be difficult to differentiate.

How Do Dog Eyes and Human Eyes Differ?

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

The answer lies in the light-sensing cells in the eye known as cones. Human eyes are trichromatic, which means that they contain three types of cones. Each of those three types serves to process 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 to see blues and the other to see a shade that falls somewhere between what a human would see as red and green. In other words, dogs have what we would call a type of red-green color blindness.

How Does My Dog Perceive Color?

What does all of this mean for how your dog actually views the world? Fido’s eyes are best at picking up blues and yellows. 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 light and dark blue shades. This might explain why your pup prefers yellow tennis balls—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 Upper Peninsula vet today!

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