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Are Dogs Colorblind?

(April 30, 2010)

Dog Colorblindness

Most dog owners who are asked whether their dogs are colorblind are not entirely sure. Earlier it was widely accepted that dogs are colorblind. Is this true? This article will help clear some of the myths that surround dog blindness.  

So, are Dogs colorblind?  Dogs do see color, but as compared to humans their chromatic acuity is much lower. This is mainly because of two reasons. The first is that the cone cells in a dog’s retina are fewer as compared to humans. It is these cone cells that are responsible for the ability to see color. The second reason is that dogs are able to see two main primary colors blue and yellow. They are basically dichromatic. This is probably why the question “are dogs colorblind” is frequently asked.  Humans, on the other hand, see three primary colors—blue, yellow and red.

Humans, when compared to dogs, have cone cells that are about seven times higher in proportion. This means that although dogs do see colors, they are faded or pale. Dogs have a very high concentration of rod cells which are responsible for them being able to see black-and-white and are also sensitive in low light conditions. This is why dogs are able to see better in the night as compared to people.  

Thus colorblindness does not really mean that they cannot see any colors, but means that they cannot see the same colors as a human being with normal vision does. So strictly speaking dogs are not color blind. However, if a dog was subjected to a human test for colorblindness, it would fail the test.

These are few colors that a dog has problems distinguishing. They include red, orange, green, various shades of purple, and greenish blue-gray. This happens because they are dichromatic. This is not a comprehensive list and there are a number of shades which cannot be differentiated by dogs.

Dogs are not able to see finer details as well as human beings do. Humans usually see 20/20 or slightly better. But dogs are able to see only about 20/80. This means that their vision is more blurry. However, dogs are able to see things that are moving much better than humans do. This is probably why they are able to see a moving ball and catch it much faster than any human can. So, although dogs may not be able to see as many colors as we can, they make up for it in other ways.

Submitted by N M on April 30, 2010 at 03:24


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