Have you ever been told that dogs are able to see the world around them only in black and white, or that they’re able to see only in shades of gray? This is far from the truth! Do dogs see in color? Yes! Dogs are able to see a variety of colors, though not as many colors or shades as humans can see.
Both humans and dogs have cones: special light-catching cells that respond to color. There are different types of cones, which, when working together, allow us to see all waves of the color spectrum. While humans are believed to have three types of cones, dogs are believed to have only two.
When humans are classified as colorblind, it’s usually because they’re missing one of the three cones for viewing color. This still allows them to see some colors, but not all. It also makes it difficult to to discern between some colors, such as red, green, and yellow. This situation is very similar to what a dog experiences, though not exactly the same.
In a study done with domesticated dogs at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Jay Neitz and other researchers found that dogs are able to differentiate between some colors. They tested the dogs by showing them three separate panels of color. Two panels were the same color in each test, and one panel was a different color. It was then the dogs’ responsibility to identify the different color. When they did so, they were rewarded with treats.
It’s said that dogs may not be able to distinguish from among yellow, red, orange, and green. What’s ironic is that the most frequently purchased dog toy color is actually red! If you throw a red ball, and it eventually lands on the grass, there’s a good chance it will all look very similar to your dog. But do you notice that your four-legged friend often uses his or her nose when searching for toys? This is because your dog has a very strong sense of smell, which can help them discern objects that their eyes cannot.
So never wonder, “Do dogs see in color?” again, because yes, they can!
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