Are Dogs Really Colorblind? A Look at the World Through Your Pup’s Eyes

Are dogs colorblind? It’s something most of us were told in childhood and we’ve never questioned it. It’s sort of like my mother telling me that eating the bread crusts makes your hair grow long. In reality, dogs aren’t colorblind. And, for the record, a steady diet of bread crusts never turned me into Jan Brady.

So, where did the myth begin? (I’m talking about the colorblindness in dogs. I’m pretty sure the bread crust thing originated in my mother’s desire to not waste food.) Dogs do have limited color vision and that has been stretched into the “dogs are colorblind” tale.

I have noticed that my own dog has preferences when it comes to toy color. A pale blue toy is destined to spend its days under the couch with only dust bunnies for companions. My dog isn’t interested. Oh, he has several such toys because I can be a little dense and it took me a while to realize that he’s only snubbing a certain color. I can pick up pale blue toy, wave it around and throw it for my dog. He will excitedly run to it, sniff it and walk off with a look that appears to be a mixture of disappointment and disgust on his face.  That led me to question what my dog is seeing.

Dogs do not see everything in black and white. Nope. The world doesn’t look like a giant rerun of “I Love Lucy” to them. Dogs have fewer cone cells in their retinas than humans. They see fewer colors than we do, and the colors they do see are not as vibrant. Essentially, dogs see the world in shades of yellow, blue and gray. That’s a rainbow that wouldn’t even make a package of Skittles look appealing! Reportedly, dogs see shades of red and orange as shades of brown and gray. Greens appear to be seen as shades of yellow.

Have you noticed that your dog is more attracted to certain color toys? In case you’re interested, my dog is wild about bright yellow. What colors does your dog seem to prefer?


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