When you look around, you see bold, bright colors everywhere you turn to look in shades of reds, blues, purples, yellows, oranges, and greens. This is because humans have three color cones in their vision, which allow you to see different shades of red, yellow, and blue, and even mixtures of those! Have you ever wondered what colors dogs can see?
Everyone has heard dogs are color blind and only see in black, white, and shades of grey, but is that actually true? As it turns out, it is not! Dogs only have two color cones instead of the three humans have, allowing them to see certain colors we can, but not all of them.
What are Color Cones?
Color cones are special receptors far behind the pupil that separate the wavelengths of light into different colors which allow your brain to process and interpret them individually or as a specific blend of colors. Humans have three color cones: red, yellow, and blue. This allows you to see and process all those colors and all the color combinations they make. Sometimes, a color cone may not function correctly, and that is how someone becomes color blind. Being color blind is when any number of the color cones isn’t functioning. It is most common for someone who’s color blind to have two functioning color cones, but it is possible to have only one, or even none at all working, though it is very rare.
When one color cone isn’t functioning, those wavelengths don’t end up being processed into colors by your brain, but instead are interpreted as a set shade of grey tones. This is why people with color blindness have such a difficult time discerning one color from another depending on what color cone they’re missing.
How Many Color Cones do Dogs Have?
Scientists have asked themselves what colors can dogs see and found the answer. For so long, it was thought dogs were completely color blind, seeing only in shades of black, white, and grey. We now know what colors dogs can see and it’s a lot more than just black and white.
As it turns out, dogs actually have two color cones, where humans have three. We share these two color cones with our canine companions. The color cones dogs can see are actually yellow and blue, meaning they lack the red color cone we humans have, making them unable to see a wide range of colors we take for granted.
What Colors Can’t Dogs See?
Dogs only have the yellow and blue color cones, so they are unable to see the color red and all the shades that come with it. Since they can’t see red, they cannot see colors like pink, purple, orange, and even some shades of green!
What Colors Can Dogs See?
Because dogs have blue and yellow color cones, they obviously can see yellows and blues quite clearly. If you’re looking to get your furry friend a colorful toy or bed, those are the colors to look for.
Since they can’t see colors such as red, purple, and orange, colors we see very prominently everywhere, just what colors can dogs see in their place? Colors like reds, and even some greens, are colors your dog isn’t going to be able to identify like you can. To your dog, they’re going to be muddy brown colors or even different shades of grey.
If you want to see for yourself just what your dog may be seeing, you can actually do that with just a few clicks. In 2019, András Péter developed a website to show you just what your dog is actually seeing. Its software takes a photo you use and goes through and picks it apart, picking out colors and adjusting it to the color cones and greys your dog would see and presents you with a whole new image. The image may seem weird to you because dogs also have a different depth perception and eye distance than humans, so the photo may seem out of focus, but it’s just how your dog sees the world! You can go to Dog Vision to play around with different photos and see the world through your dog’s eyes!