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dog parent basics

The essentials

  • Can dogs see color? — Yes, they’re not actually colorblind, but are limited in what colors they can see.
  • They can definitely see yellows and blues — But reds and greens are practically indistinguishable.
  • Their vision is better in low light — They have better senses than humans do, which includes their depth perception.

It’s a myth that dogs can’t see color

Contrary to popular belief, dogs can see certain colors, at least according to science. While, yes, they may have partial color blindness, your pup actually has certain aspects of their vision that are superior to yours. So why does your dog have the ability to see that squirrel on your evening walk but have a hard time finding their favorite toy? It’s all because of their ocular anatomy.

The difference between your dog’s eyes and yours

Humans and animals both have specialized retina color receptor cells called cones, and any animal with cones can see some colors. When these cone cells are triggered by incoming light and stimuli, they send signals to the brain that allow for the perception of color. While human eyes have three types of cones (red, blue, and yellow), dogs’ eyes only have blue and yellow.

So, what colors can dogs see?

Two colors, mostly: yellow and blue. Dogs have dichromatic vision, which means colors like red and orange appear in different shades of yellow to them, and colors like blue-green and violet appear in saturations of blue. On top of that, they have red-green colorblindness that makes the two colors indistinguishable.

According to Tufts, a dog’s view of the world is more muted than ours. Some studies indicate their vision might be similar to someone who’s colorblind. Dogs also have better night vision than we do — they tend to see better in dim lighting and have better motion detection capabilities. By and large, dogs see with much better acuity than humans (and even cats)!

What colors you see versus what colors your dog sees

Keeping your pup’s eyes healthy  

Eye health is very important for a happy dog, and we have a great article on how to keep your pup’s eyes as healthy as possible. You can also try vision supplements (we love this one), but remember to always consult your vet before incorporating a new product into your pup’s health regimen.

A note on red toys

A fair amount of dog toys and kongs come in a bright red color, which your dog likely has trouble seeing. To a dog, anything red blends in with the grass. If you want to ensure they can see their new ball, go with something blue or yellow instead.

Frequently asked questions

What colors do dogs like best?

Bright yellows and blues! Those are the colors they see best. Reds and greens, however, look the same to them.

Do dogs see in black and white?

Nope! Dogs have blue and yellow photoreceptor cones, which allow them to see lots of different shades of those colors.

What is a dog’s vision like?

A dog’s vision is much more muted than a human’s, but they also have much better vision in dim lighting. Pups also have superior motion detection capabilities, and their senses are generally far more acute than ours.

Are cats and dogs colorblind?

No, at least not fully colorblind. They’re still capable of seeing some colors but have difficulty distinguishing others, like red and green.