Can Dogs Only See Black and White?

Fascinating: The sensory organs of four-legged friends differ greatly from those of humans. They smell, taste, hear and see differently. The question that is particularly exciting for dog owners is: Can dogs only see black and white or also colors? The answer and many interesting facts about a dog’s visual organ can be found here!

Do Dogs See Black and White or Colors?

Lush green in the meadow, colorful flowers, or the deep blue of the sea – is this world of colors closed to man’s best friend? The answer is:

Dogs see the world in colors – but differently from humans. They look at their surroundings mainly in shades of yellow and blue.

Man’s best friend, on the other hand, cannot perceive red, orange, and green. These hues appear to them in yellow or colorless.

On the other hand, healthy four-legged friends without eye diseases such as cataracts or Horner’s syndrome are able to perceive gray tones in a more differentiated manner than humans. A dog’s color vision is called dichromatic color vision (two-tone). For comparison: humans are endowed with trichromatic color vision (three-colored).

Dogs are Not Color Blind

For a long time, humans assumed that a dog was color blind. The exciting question “Can dogs only see black and white or also colors?”, However, persisted some scientists. Several studies were able to refute the thesis about the color-blind dog.

One of the most famous of these is from the Jay Neitz, Timothy Geist, and Gerald H. Jacobs team at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1989, the scientists published an insightful study showing the dog’s two-tone vision. But how is it that four-legged friends cannot see red and green tones? For the answer, let’s take a quick look at the dog’s anatomy.

How is Red-green Poor Eyesight Explained in Dogs?

Like humans, the retina of a dog has cones and rods. These two photoreceptors enable individuals to see. The so-called cones in the retina are decisive for color vision. Among the vertebrates, there are species that are equipped with one, two, three, four, or even five types of cones.

The calculation is very simple: the more cone types, the higher the color spectrum. With a number of two cone types, the dog is happy with less color vision. One is responsible for the violet-blue color spectrum and the other for yellow tones. Man, on the other hand, has three. Interesting: The retina of many birds has four or five different types of cones.

A dog’s eye captures fewer colors than a human’s. The simple explanation: colors play a subordinate role for a hunter.

Nature endows every species with characteristics that ensure their survival. For a hunter, good eyesight in the dark and the ability to detect rapid movements are vital. If you think of a Bichon Frisé or a Chihuahua, you don’t associate either with a “hunter”. In fact, very few four-legged friends are still able to hunt prey on their own. And yet today’s dog still has many characteristics from its ancestor, the wolf. By the way, the color red is the most important for humans. This can be deduced from the fact that the cones for the red tones are in the center of the retina.

5 ingenious extras that compensate for red-green poor eyesight:

Dogs get along very well in a world without reds and greens. After all, in return, nature has equipped the four-legged friends with other amazing extras to help them find their way around.

  • Great smell: Depending on the breed of dog, four-legged friends have around 220 million olfactory cells and thus belong to the macrosmatic group. They perceive their environment mainly through their excellent sense of smell.
  • Fast movements: The wolf as an ancestor and the house dog see a moving object in the distance much better than a person. The rods in the retina are responsible for this.
  • Everything at a glance: the dog has a wider field of vision compared to humans. Depending on the breed of dog, a four-legged friend can reach an angle of up to 240 degrees. This allows him a better overview of the territory. However, the sharpness is less pronounced.
  • Super ears: today’s four-legged friend gets his good eavesdroppers from his ancestor, the wolf. They need an above-average sense of hearing to hunt prey and to communicate with one another – even if a conspecific is kilometers away.
  • Night vision camera: dogs see better than humans in the dark. Thanks to the Tapetum Lucidum, which intensifies the light, you can rely on a good view even at dusk. However, there are also dogs that do not have this reflective layer.
Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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