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How Dogs See the World


how to get rid of a dogIt is a grand myth that dogs are completely color blind and view the world through a black, white and gray lens as if they were viewing an old movie. Dogs do in fact see color, but their color limitations are greater than that of humans. This is because of the structure of the dog’s eye. There are cones within the eye, both in humans and canines. These cones are what allows our brains to detect colors. Humans have three cones that let us see colors within the red, blue, green and yellow spectrum. Dogs only have two cones, and this is where their limitations begin.

What Colors Can Dogs See?

Dogs see fewer colors than we can, but they are not stuck in a world of blacks and whites. The two cones that dogs have in their eyes allows them to see blue and yellow, with no ability to see red and green. This was found during a study by Russian scientists who used four pieces of paper in all four colors to test the dog subjects. Both light and dark hues of the colors were used to allow different brightnesses to be tested. The paper sat in front of a locked box that contained a food bowl with a bite of raw meat. One box was unlocked to show the dog this color held an unlocked box to a bit of food. In only took a few tries for them to learn that the dark yellow colored paper is the one with the goods!

Next, the scientists used this color to test if the dogs were able to distinguish the color or only its brightness, so they used other hues of the yellow in the same way. They placed the yellow on one box and a dark blue on the other. If the dog went towards the blue, then the dog was basing his choice on the darkness of the color instead of the color itself. The dogs chose the light yellow, and proved that they could see the color yellow no matter it’s hue.

how dogs see

Color in Your Dog’s Daily Life

Once upon a time, trainers would avoid certain items and toys based on color. They would avoid anything that was not dark or light enough for the situation believing the dog could only see in light and dark, not in color. Now, we can use color to aid in both training and the daily life of our pets with the knowledge that they can see limited color.

This helps when it comes to training in agility, as the colorful tape to decorate the jump bars and weave poles can be in blues and yellows to help the dog see them better within his environment, bringing better results. Likewise, if you head outdoors for a game of fetch with your pooch, choosing a yellow or blue ball will help him more so than choosing a green one, as green is not registrable within the doggy brain.

Not the Clearest Picture

Aside from colors, your dog’s vision is extraordinarily different compared to a human’s eyesight. Ever wondered why dogs have a magnificent sense of smell and amazing hearing? It is to help make up for the lack of clear vision they have been given through evolution and structure. This is one reason why dogs who become blind either from genetic disposition, illness or injury are so easily able to adapt to their newest handicap. In general, dogs do not rely completely on their eye sight.

Lines are not as clear, and over all the images a dog sees are quite blurry. What they lack in clear picture they make up for in a large peripheral area to detect movement and changes in light around them. Of course, the dog’s 220 million olfactory sensors make up the largest portion of navigating their daily lives, along with their ability to hear 40,000 cps, making these senses far superior to his human companions.


Resources: drsophiayin.com

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