What Exactly Can Your Dog See?

Do you ever think about what life looks like from the point of view of your dog? Well,  a recent study has shown that dogs are red-green color-blind. This means that when you’re thinking of what coloured cuddly toy they’d prefer for their birthday or for Christmas, if it’s a choice between red or green then they probably won’t care - in fact, they won’t even notice. The fact that they were able to see the colors red or green means that the dogs tested in the study had a condition called deuteranopia - humans can have this condition too.

The researchers suggest that, if you were to teach your dog how to distinguish differences between toys or household items, you should make sure these objects are not green or red items because the chances are, the dog won’t be able to. The two objects will then appear very similar to it.

Many people think that dogs cannot see color and that they see the world in black and white, but they have been found to possess cone eye receptors which are needed to see in color. Dogs possess two types of cone cells that are sensitive to yellow and blue colors suggesting that they can see in these colors. However, they lack the cone receptor responsible for seeing the colors red and green.

You might have seen the types of tests where there is a circle made up of a series of coloured dots but a number or letter is placed at the centre of it. People who aren’t colorblind can make out this number or letter but those who are colorblind cannot. They used a variation of this test in the study where they put an animation of a running cat in the circle. Dogs who were colorblind subsequently did not notice the animated cat when it was red against a green background. 

However, it has to be mentioned that the study used a relatively small sample of dogs and a further, larger study to corroborate these findings would be useful.

It has been suggested that dogs, in their wild form, are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active in the early mornings and early evenings. At these times of day, color vision would not be necessary. By domesticating dogs as pets, we have trained them to be diurnal - which means they are active during the daytime. In this daytime environment, their vision is not entirely adapted, or fit for purpose. Dog owners are advised to keep this information and the result of the study in mind when using colors in training your dog!