Not everything is black and white, especially if you’re a dog! Despite a very long-held myth that dogs see the world through a gray lens, researchers now know that although our canine companions don’t see the vast rainbow of colors we humans do, dogs don’t see the world as though it’s a vintage movie.
Dog colors vision has been extensively researched, and while we do not know everything, we can give you some answers to these questions. But just because you are lucky enough to see the beautiful changing leaves each fall doesn’t mean your site is superior. Dogs have excellent vision and have even evolved to see clearly in the dark.
How Dogs See
Dogs do not have dilated pupils like humans, but instead, they use a camera-style eye with two different types of cones. The retina contains rods and other light sensors which help dogs see in darkness as if it were daytime due to their low sensitivity for color vision compared with what we perceive through our outermost layer known as the cornea or lens at night time. As a result, dogs don’t distinguish as many colors as do people.
Dogs would see a rainbow as dark yellow (sort of brownish), light yellow, gray, light blue, and dark blue. Dogs don’t see red, purple (violet), or orange as we do. So, while it is established that dogs see shades of yellow, blue, and gray, if a dog were to look at a uniform that is red or green it would appear as faded brownish, gray, or indistinct. See the color chart below for an approximate idea of what colors dogs see best.
Before you feel sorry that dogs aren’t able to see all the colors of the rainbow, keep in mind that some of their other senses are much more developed than yours. They can hear higher-pitched sounds from farther away, and their noses are much more powerful.
Even though a dog might not be able to easily see that orange toy in the grass, he can certainly smell it and find it easily when he wants to.