One of the best parts of dog ownership is seeing Fido stare up at you lovingly, waiting patiently for a belly rub, ear scritches, or a treat. Have you ever wondered exactly how your pet sees you? Dogs’ eyesight is different than ours—better in some ways and worse in others. But does Man’s Best Friend see entirely in black and white, or does he perceive color in some way?
There’s a popular myth about our canine companions, which claims that they’re entirely color blind, and see only in black, white, and shades of gray. However, this isn’t true.
Dogs actually perceive the world much like color blind humans do. They can see some colors better than others, and sometimes can’t distinguish between different hues of the same color.
Dogs’ eyes have many of the same components that your human eyes have, such as the optic nerve, a retina, and rods and cones that help to process light in order to see colors. So why do humans and dogs perceive color differently?
The answer lies in the cones. These are light-sensing cells. Human eyes are trichromatic, which means that we have three types of cones. They each process different colors on the spectrum: red, blue, and green.
Dog eyes are dichromatic. Fido only has two types of cones, one to see blues and the other to see a shade that falls somewhere between what a human would perceive as red and green. So, our furry pals have what we would call a type of red-green color blindness.
So how does your dog actually see the world? Fido’s eyes are best at picking up yellows and blues. Your four-legged friend can see the world mostly in dark and light yellows, grayish yellow shades, and grayish browns, in addition to dark and light blue shades. This might explain why your pooch likes yellow tennis balls so much—the ball probably shows up quite vibrantly against what he perceives as a dull background of green grass.
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