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What colors dogs cant see?

How Can We Know if an Animal Is Color Blind?


Have you ever noticed that you don’t see many dogs and cats wearing glasses ? Of course, most of them don’t have the types of ears that would make wearing glasses very easy!

Many people believe that dogs and cats are completely color blind and can only see in shades of black and white. In fact, scientists believed this, too, for many years. But how could they know? It’s not like you can give a dog or a cat a vision test and ask them to tell you what colors they see, right?

Scientists actually use sophisticated tests involving food and colored panels to test whether animals can sense different colors. For example, if a dog could tell the difference between colors enough to choose a light-colored panel , it would receive a treat.

These tests showed scientists that dogs and cats can indeed see colors — just not all the same colors that humans can see. Scientists now believe that dogs and cats can see blue and green.

This means that a dog, for example, could tell the difference between blue and yellow but not red and green. So, if you see a dog run a red light, it’s not his fault! He might have thought it was green!

Like dogs and cats, humans can also have color blindness — also called color vision deficiency . This doesn’t necessarily mean that color blind people only see things in black and white. It usually means that they can’t see certain colors and therefore have a hard time telling the difference between those colors.

Being color blind can make it difficult to match your clothes, but it’s rarely a serious problem. Most color blind people can do everything they want to do. Sometimes they just have to come up with special adaptations. For example, people who can’t tell the difference between red and green can still drive, because they know that the red light is usually on the top and the green light is usually on the bottom.

Color blindness is caused by problems with the cones in your eyes. Cones are special cells on your retina that sense color . People with normal color vision have three types of cones: red, blue and green. Cones send information to your brain, which decodes it so you “see» those colors and combinations of them for full- color sight.

When these cones don’t work right, your brain doesn’t get the proper messages from your eyes. The result is that you can’t see certain colors and can’t tell certain colors apart. For example, a blade of green grass might look gray. This is what doctors call color blindness .

Color blindness is nearly always an inherited trait that’s passed down through genes from your parents. Boys tend to be more likely to be color blind than girls. In fact, one in 12 boys is likely to have some form of color blindness . If the cones in the eyes are damaged through physical contact or chemical exposure , color blindness can also occur.

Are Dogs Color Blind? Or Can They See Some Colors?

If you’ve ever caught a rainbow or watched a sunset with your pup, you might have wondered if she can see all the amazing colors that you can.

Or you may have wondered to yourself: Are dogs color blind?

While dogs definitely can’t see a rainbow in the same way most humans can, they aren’t living in a black and white movie either.

We reached out to Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, and Dr. Jonathan Roberts, a veterinarian at Pet Keen, to find out more about how dogs see color.

Are dogs color blind or do they see some colors?

While it’s been commonly said that dogs can only see in black and white, that actually isn’t the case.

In fact, dogs perceive colors in the same way that people with red-green color blindness do.

Dog vision vs. human vision

There are some similarities and differences between how dog eyes and human eyes function.

“All mammal eyes [including dogs’ and humans’] have photoreceptors in their retinas called rods and cones,” Dr. Roberts told The Dodo. “Rods are responsible for low light vision and do not process color, while cones are active during higher light levels and are capable of color vision.” However, when it comes to how dogs see color, dogs have dichromatic vision, while humans have trichromatic vision. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between the two:

Trichromatic vision

Trichromatic vision is the ability for humans and other animals to distinguish between the three primary colors and all the various combinations of them. Those with trichromatic vision have three working photoreceptors in their eyes.

Dichromatic vision

Dichromatic vision is a defect in these photoreceptors in which one of the three cones in humans is malfunctioning or, for some animals, one is missing entirely.

Those with dichromatic vision can only tell the difference between blues and greens but not reds.So when it comes to your dog, she falls into the second category, while most humans fall into the first.

“Healthy humans have trichromatic vision,” Dr. Roberts said. “This means they can see three primary colors and all mixtures of these colors. Dogs, however, have dichromatic vision, which means they are only able to see mixtures of two primary colors.”

So how dogs see color is most comparable to red-green color blindness in humans.

What colors do dogs see?

“The two hues dogs can see are blue-violet and green-yellow,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “Dogs perceive the orange-red range as yellow.”

Can dogs see blue and yellow?

Yes, dogs can distinguish between blue and yellow.

“Dogs are missing one of the three wavelength-sensitive cones and therefore can only see the colors blue and yellow and mixtures of these colors,” Dr. Roberts said.

So if you’re asking your pup to choose between that blue ball or the yellow one, she totally understands what you’re talking about.

Can dogs see red and green?

No, dogs can’t see red or green.

“Since dogs are missing the specific cones needed to differentiate between the colors red and green, dogs perceive these colors and mixtures of these colors as brown,” Dr. Roberts said.

This means that if you’re tossing a bright red ball to your pup when playing fetch, she’ll likely be running after a dull brown ball from her perspective.

So while dogs can see more color than most people are told, dogs still have a hard time seeing the full range of colors. But even a little bit of color is better than everything being black and white, right?

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Are Dogs Colorblind?

We’ve heard that many animals are colorblind. We generally understand colorblind to mean that you cannot see any colors. Can dogs only see in black and white, or can they see other colors too? Let’s test what colors dogs can see in this experiment.


Develop an experiment that will help you decide whether your dog can see in color.


  • Camera
  • Different colors of construction paper
  • Black and white film
  • 3 identical glass jars
  • 1 dog in good health
  • Any treats the dog likes


  1. First, set up your jars. Place different colors of construction paper under the same lighting and take a photo in black and white.
  2. Compare the shades of the different colors in black and white – they’ll all look like shades of gray. Look for two colors that look nearly the same when they’re viewed in black and white. Cut pieces of these two colors long enough that they’ll wrap around the jars. We’ll call these shade 1 and shade 2.
  3. Wrap two jars with shade 1 and shade 2.
  4. Choose a different piece of paper that appears as a much lighter or darker shade of gray than shades 1 and 2, and wrap the third jar in this piece of paper. We’ll call this one shade 3.
  5. Set the jars with shade 1 and shade 3 in front of you.
  6. Ask your dog to come. When your dog comes to shade 1, give him a treat. If your dog goes to shade 3, do not give him a treat. Continue giving him treats for going to shade 1, but make sure to switch the jars’ positions so that you’re not just training your dog to choose one side over the other.
  7. Once you’ve trained your dog to always choose shade 1 over shade 3, you’re ready to test if your dog is colorblind. Take away shade 3 and replace it with the jar containing shade 2 (which looks very similar to shade 1 in black and white).
  8. Ask your dog to come again. Which jar did he go to? Switch the jar positions several times. Continue to give him treats for going to shade 1. How many times does he choose the correct jar (shade 1) over shade 2? Tally the number of times that he goes to each jar.


Dogs are able to distinguish between blue, purple, and yellow colors and different shades of grey. They can’t see the difference between green, yellow, orange, and red.


Animals see colors differently. In fact, they use all of their senses in ways that work with their environment. While humans are focused on using their eyes, dogs have amazing noses.

Dogs aren’t completely colorblind, but they do see colors in a way that’s different from the way we see colors. Humans see three main colors: red, blue, and yellow, while dogs see mostly blue and yellow. They can see blue-violet and yellow, and they can distinguish between shades of gray. Dogs can’t see green, yellow, orange, and red. So, when we see a rainbow as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple; when dogs see a rainbow, they see dark gray, dark yellow, light yellow, gray, light blue, and dark blue.

Why are dogs’ eyes different from peoples’ eyes? In animals’ eyes, there are two main types of light-sensitive cells: rods and cones. The cone cells help you see color. Rods are responsible for black and white vision, and they’re better at picking up shades in low light.

Dogs have fewer cone cells than humans do. Humans have fewer rod cells than dogs.

Humans are diurnal, which means that most of us are awake in the daytime. It’s useful for us to have good color vision because daytime is sunny and colorful at least some of the time. Dogs are better at seeing at night.

So are dogs colorblind? It depends what you mean by colorblind. Humans have different degrees of colorblindness. Some can see color, but they can’t see all colors. People who have red/green color blindness can see two color variations, just like dogs can. In that case, you might say that dogs are just somewhat colorblind.

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