You may have heard once or twice that dogs don’t see the world the same way we do. And we’re not just talking about having a lower point of view, we’re talking about colorblindness. But what does it really mean? Do our dogs see the world in black and white? The answer is a little more complex than a straight yes or no.
According to New York veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack, dogs really don’t see the same colors we see. She explains that modern science believes that a dog’s perception of color is a lot like that of a human with red-green color blindness. Let us give you some background to help you understand: both human and dog eyes have parts called rods and cones. The rods are there to help us see in low lighting, and the cones are there to help us see different colors. When one of the cones gets damaged, it hurt our ability to process certain colors. Now, dogs’ eyes have fewer cones but more rods in their eyes. This means they see better in poor lighting, but can’t see the full spectrum of color we can. To be exact, dogs have two cones in their retinas and humans have three.
So dogs’ colorblindness is technically known as dichromatic color vision. This means your lovely pooch sees the world in shades of brown, yellow, gray, and blue. So it might not be able to differentiate the red ball from the green one. But don’t feel sorry for the colors your dog might be missing. For anything it might be lacking in color, it makes up for in other features such as night vision. According to Dr. Barrack, the anatomy of a dog’s eye includes a layer of tissue that humans don’t have, which helps with said night vision. They are also much better than we are when it comes to motion visibility. This means that your dog will spot a quick-moving squirrel long before you do.
There is a lot we can deduce about dogs’ vision from their eyes’ anatomy, but until we can teach a dog how to speak a human language, we have no full-proof way to know for sure. We can know, however, that our pups have some other heightened senses. For example, their heightened senses of smell and hearing are so much better than ours. But hey, at least we can see more colors than thy can!