Can Dogs See Color?

Can Dogs See Color

Here’s a detailed description of how a dog’s vision works, plus key takeaways to remember:

Can Dogs See Color? The Answer

  • Dogs do see colors, but not the full rainbow that humans do. Think of them as ‘color-limited’ rather than color blind.
  • The difference lies in the eye’s structure – dogs have fewer types of color-detecting cones than we do.

How Dog Vision Works

  • Night Hunters: Dogs evolved needing better night vision for hunting, so their eyes have more rods (good for low light and motion detection) than humans.
  • Cones vs. Rods: Cones are what detect color. Humans have three types of cones, allowing us to see a wide range, including reds and greens. Dogs only have two types of cones.
  • A Dog’s Color Spectrum: They see predominantly in blues, yellows, and shades of gray. Reds, oranges, and greens appear more brownish or muted.

What This Means for Your Dog

  • Muted World: Colors aren’t as vibrant to your dog. Imagine a less saturated version of what you see.
  • But Still Useful: They can distinguish differences in blues and yellows, which is useful in the natural world.
  • Night Vision Advantage: Dogs see far better than us in low light and detect movement more easily. Think of it as a trade-off!
  • Depth Perception: Dogs don’t see depth as clearly as humans do.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs see the world differently than we do, and understanding this helps us be better pet parents.
  • Color isn’t as important for dogs as it is for us. They navigate their environment with other senses too.
  • When choosing toys, yellow or blue are more likely to stand out against a green lawn than a red ball.
  • Don’t stress if your dog doesn’t fetch perfectly – their depth perception might be the reason, not disobedience.

Can Dogs See Color?

Dogs are capable of seeing colour. Simply put, they don’t see them all. Although they are not totally colourblind, it would be accurate to describe them as such.

There’s a lot of overlap in what you and your dog observe when you’re watching a scene play out in front of you.

There are variations in the amount of colour and brightness of various objects. However, you may be confident that your dog does not only see grey, white, and black. That is not nearly as vivid, sophisticated, or fascinating as what they are witnessing.

Studies of the structure of the dog’s eyes over the past few decades have shown some essential variations between the human and canine designs.

The causes of these variations are both evolution and function. As nocturnal predators, dogs evolved their senses to track and capture their prey at night. As a result, their eyes evolved to detect movement and see effectively at night.

Canine eyes have a bigger lens and corneal surface, as well as a reflective membrane called a tapetum that improves night vision for hunting in the dark. Additionally, their retina has more rods, which enhances vision in dim light.

Scientists have also discovered that the retina holds the secret to understanding how canines and humans see colour differently. There are millions of light-sensing cells in the retina. Among them are:

  • Rods are incredibly sensitive cells that detect motion and function in dim light.
  • Cones that regulate how colour is perceived in bright light.

It appears that people perceive colour differently than dogs because humans have more cones in their retinas whereas dogs have more rods. Trichromatic means having three different types of cones, like humans and a few other ape species. Dogs come in two varieties and are dichromatic.

Different light wavelengths are registered by different types of cones. The one for green and red allows people to appreciate a Granny Smith apple or a red rose. Red-green cones are absent from dogs and certain individuals with colour blindness.

A wider variety of colours can be seen by certain fish and bird species than by humans, in the meantime. Tetrachromatic fish and birds include several species that have a fourth type of cone receptor that allows them to absorb UV light.

This side-by-side comparison of how humans and dogs perceive colour was provided by Dog Vision, a website dedicated to canine colour perception.

How Does A Dog’s Vision Differ From A Person’s?

Dogs have more rods than humans, which lets them detect moving items faster than you do or see things better in low light. Humans have more cones than dogs, which allows us to see every colour in the rainbow in its brightest form.

This explains why your dog might bark at a small animal in the dark that you are unable to see, or why it might become distracted by a bird that is flying 40 yards away and you didn’t even notice!

In terms of colour perception, dogs’ eyes contain fewer cones than human eyes, therefore they cannot differentiate the same range of hues or perceive them as vividly as humans. Being red-green colour blind simply implies that a person is unable to distinguish between those two colours. Your dog is in the same boat.

For instance, a dog may perceive red as black or as a dark brownish-grey colour. Furthermore, to your dog companion, hues like yellow, orange, and green all appear as a sort of yellowish shade.

Compared to humans, dogs have certain optical advantages. Dogs are able to see farther than humans because their eyes are positioned farther on the sides of their heads. Dogs do not perceive depth as humans do because they have a limited range of visual acuity.

Dogs are able to take in as much light as possible because of their maximum dilation of pupils. Under the retina, they also have reflecting cells that make up the tapetum. In addition to giving dogs the appearance of “shiny eyes,” the tapetum enhances their night vision.

In the retina, dogs have more rod cells than their human counterparts. Rods are used to detect motion and light, even minute movements across long distances. Dogs can therefore see better in low light (dusk and dawn) and detect motion more precisely than humans.

Which Colors Can Dogs See?

Humans and dogs perceive and react to colour differently. When compared to humans, a dog’s perception of colour will be restricted due to its dichromatic nature.

It appears from research that dogs have a distinct colour spectrum in which to perceive the world. Dogs’ colour vision is dominated by the colours yellow and blue. Violet, blue, and blue-green appear to be different tones of blue. To a dog, red and green hues most likely appear more like browns and grayscale.

Dogs’ eyesight is also less sensitive to light variations than human eyesight, which may contribute to their perception of the environment being somewhat muted and fuzzy.

However, dogs’ vision is better than ours in other respects. In low light, when shades of grey prevail and colour vision is less useful, they are far better at detecting motion and have sharper eyesight.


Dogs have restricted colour vision compared to humans, despite not being colour-blind. The world appears to them as a mixture of blue, yellow, and grey, despite their ability to perceive blue and yellow and use colour to navigate their surroundings.

Dogs do not normally see red balls, green grass, or different hues of the same thing. Dogs’ eyes have numerous other adaptations that help them see well in spite of this, including superior night vision. We can better understand dogs’ experiences and provide them with a rich and interesting environment if we are aware of how they see colour.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

Know More

Recommended For You