Blog
September 1, 2014

Through A Dogs Eyes


Author: Gail Brasie

Close up on blue eyes of a dog

How Would You See Through A Dogs Eyes?

People have been asking for decades: Are dogs colorblind? Growing up, I was always always told, yes, they are.  What’s more, whenever someone said this, they sounded so sad for dogs; “poor dogs, they can’t see like we do”. It turns out that while dogs do not see color the way we do, their eyes do register some colors, and the way they see is entirely to their advantage as dogs. In other words, their “colorblindness” isn’t something to be upset about—it works for them just fine!

People used to assume dogs saw in monochromatic vision—gray, black and white, like the “greyscale” setting in computer illustration software or black and white photography. This isn’t actually how they see at all—and new studies are coming out examining not only what colors dogs do see, but also that they are capable of distinguishing colors. It’s currently thought that dogs don’t process the color red, and instead see the world along yellows, blue/purples and grays, speaking generally. Some people have likened this to the red/green colorblindness that can occur in humans.  There is evidence to suggest dogs can distinguish between several shades of gray, and a review of the topic by Miller and Murphy point out that this would be beneficial for dogs working in low-light conditions.

What’s more, there are more rods in dogs eyes than human eyes—rods are for processing black and white—this allows them to detect movement much better than us, which is useful when hunting, say, squirrels, rabbits, and virtually everything else.

So, no, dogs don’t see color the way we do, but they don’t only see in black and white, and the way their eyes interpret color seems to work out relatively well for them.

If you want to learn more, there’s an interesting HuffPost article on the subject that summarizes and links to an academic work on dogs and distinguishing between colors, rather than just brightness.

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