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Is my dog color blind?

One of the most frequently asked questions about dog’s heath and vision is, if dogs can see colors. The simple answer of no has been misinterpreted a lot, as it’s a bit more complex. You must have wondered, is my dog color blind? Read on to find out.

The eyes of both people and dogs contain special light catching cells called cones. They respond to color. Dogs have fewer cones than humans which suggests that their color vision won’t be as rich or intense as ours. However, the trick to seeing color is not just having cones. It is having several different types of cones, each tuned to different wavelengths of light. Human beings have three different kinds of cones and the combined activity of these gives humans their full range of color vision.

We often hear about color blindness in humans. It comes about because people are missing one of the three kinds of cones (color receptor cells). It means that they still see colors, but a lot fewer than those with a healthy vision. This is the situation with dogs too. In fact they have two types of cones, a yellow and a blue. Every other color kind of becomes a distortion around these. According to a research conducted at the University of California, dogs in fact see colors, but their range is much less than ours. To give you a better idea here is a chart of colors seen by us, and the same chart through a dog’s eyes.

Are dog’s eyes better than human eyes?

Dogs actually do have a wider peripheral vision than us humans. This is due to solely the eyeball placement! It’s simply because dogs’ eyes live on either side of their heads, they can see an impressive 250 degrees. This is 60 degrees wider than us, who max out at 190 degrees. Of course, there’s a range somewhere in the middle — a Labrador, for instance, has a much different facial structure than a pug. The pro to having close-set, front-facing eyes? The central field of vision where both eyes intersect, which helps with details and depth perception.

Interesting facts

  • Dogs don’t see reds and greens, and a lot of toys are made using these colors
  • If your pet walked into an eye clinic, he would probably be prescribed glasses
  • They are able to distinguish between grey, blue and yellow shades
  • Dogs are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to movement and distance than us
  • Each breed is nearsighted to a certain degree
  • They see quite well in dim light too

Dog vs human vision of the same picture

Why should pet owners be aware of their dog’s visual capabilities?

As you see a dog being color blind is not quite the full truth. In fact in some ways their vision outperforms human vision. Yet, knowing how and what your dog can see will help you make good choices for her. For example, you should consider your dog’s color range when shopping for toys. She will enjoy yellow and blue toys more than red ones. And you’ll understand why she gets distracted during a game of fetch, when she can’t quite distinguish between the color of grass and the color of her toy. You’ll also know that to get his complete attention, you should stand directly in front of her where her range of visual acuity is greatest.

Why you should look out for any changes in your pet’s vision?

Monitoring your pet’s vision is important, especially as they won’t let us know that their sight is failing. Their smell and hearing are quite distracting us from noticing anything for a while. The tricky thing is that dogs with a 20% vision can still fool us into thinking they can see. When that last 20 percent begins to go in both eyes that’s when we typically realize the problem. So what are the signs to look out for? Cloudiness in dog’s eyes are an important tell all sign. It can the beginning of a cataract or glaucoma. If your dog keeps bumping into out of place object, that’s another sign something might be off. Read on to learn the 4 signs your dog’s vision is failing, so you can be prepared to notice any changes.