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HomeDogs Health10 Facts About Dog Colour Blindness: how dogs see the world (Study)

10 Facts About Dog Colour Blindness: how dogs see the world (Study)

Last Updated on April 15, 2021 by Dogs Vets

Dog Colour Blindness – How dogs see the world


Do dogs have colour blindness? do dogs see everything in the world in black and white? The idea has been widely accepted for decades, but new research and conclusions about canine anatomy and behavior show that while dogs cannot see the same colors as humans, they can still see some colors.

Technicolor may be beyond their comprehension, but according to the study, dogs’ eyes can see much more than shades of gray.

blind dog

What is color blindness?

The English scientist John Dalton (1766-1844) conducted some of the first studies on congenital color blindness in the late 18th century. Dalton noticed this phenomenon because he and his siblings could not recognize some colors. They confused scarlet with green and pink with blue.

In humans, deficiencies in the perception of red-green are the most common form of color blindness. Eight percent of males and 0.5 percent of females with northern European ancestry have red-green color blindness. This is caused by an abnormality in the color-detecting molecules in the retina called cones.

The retina is the lining behind the eye that converts light into electrical impulses. These signals are then transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain, where an image is formed.

People who are missing some of these color-detecting molecules (also called photoreceptors) do not recognize certain wavelengths of light. They can actually understand some hues, but this is what makes them colorblind. A person with red-green color blindness can still identify yellow and blue, but red items appear gray or brown.


Are Dogs Consider as Color blind?

Answer: No, dogs are not color blind in the sense that they see more than black, white and gray. However, the range of colors they perceive is limited compared to the spectrum we humans see.

In very basic terms, a dog’s color field consists primarily of yellows, blues, and violets. The reds, greens, and oranges of “humans” are indistinguishable from dogs, and instead appear somewhere in the yellow to blue spectrum.

The reason? The retinas of both species contain 2 types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. However, the human eye contains more types of cones, while the dog eye has more rods and no central fossa. This is the cause of the vivid visual detail in humans. As a result, dogs have excellent night vision and are better at tracking movement than we humans, but they see fewer colors and shapes and far less detail in objects.

10 facts about Dog Colour Blindness - dog playing ball

Bottom line on dog colour blindness, throwing an orange ball into green grass may look yellow to a dog, but his keen motion detection ability will help him fetch it anyway.


How did dog vision evolve?

The answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. It turns out that full-colour vision arose fairly early in the evolutionary development of the eye.

Among some fish, reptiles, birds, and insects, four or more different colour receptors are not uncommon. Butterflies have five, but the undisputed winner in the colour vision category is probably the mantis shrimp, which has an incredible sixteen different colour receptors in its eyes.

Along the way, the mammals began to lose all the extra receptors until only two remained. Since this did not put dogs or other predators at a particular disadvantage for hunting, it made little difference.

It was only later that some primates, including humans, evolved again and added the extra receptor that gives us full-colour vision.

Dog Colour Blindness: What Colors Can Dogs See?

Dogs can see shades of yellow, blue, and brown, as well as various shades of gray, black, and white. In other words, if a dog has a red toy, it will look brown to the dog, but an orange toy with red and yellow mixed in will look brownish yellow. Also, if you want to fully engage all of your dog’s senses during play, you should look for blue or yellow toys so that they stand out from the dull brown and gray shades in your dog’s vision. . This may help to explain why dogs love those bright yellow tennis balls so much.


The Dog Black and White Vision Theory

If dogs can see certain colors, where did the idea come from that they can only see in black and white? That belief may be attributed to National Dog Week founder Will Judy, who wrote in a 1937 training manual that dogs are likely to be able to see only in shades of black and gray, says the AKC.

In the 1960s, researchers perpetuated the myth by incorrectly assuming that primates were the only animals capable of perceiving color. This belief held true until very recently, when in 2013, Russian researchers challenged the question,

n 2013, Russian researchers challenged the question, “Are dogs colorblind? They proved that dogs can see and distinguish between yellow and blue, reports the Smithsonian.


The researchers conducted an experiment to see if dogs could distinguish between the two colors, or between contrasting degrees of brightness. They placed four sheets of paper (one light yellow, one dark yellow, one light blue, and one dark blue) in a feed box so that only the box with the dark yellow paper contained meat.

Once the dogs learned to associate the dark yellow paper with treats, the scientists placed only dark blue and pale yellow paper in the box, and if the dogs tried to open the box with the blue paper, it was a darker shade with food instead of the color they were.

dogs vision color


However, the majority of dogs went straight to the yellow paper in most cases, indicating that it was the color, not the brightness, that they learned to associate with food.

It’s not just the lack of color receptors that distinguishes dog vision from human vision. According to Business Insider, dogs are very nearsighted, with visual acuity estimated at about 20/75. This means that when a dog looks 20 feet away, it appears to be 75 feet away.

While this may make it seem like your poor dog has terrible eyesight, the AKC points out that thanks to their wide field of vision, dogs not only have a wider field of vision than humans, but are also better at seeing fast movement. They become better at spotting fast-moving prey.


Color Blindness in Dogs Myths

The idea that dogs can only see in shades of black and white is attributed to WillJudy, a lifelong dog lover, author and past publisher of DogWeek magazine. He claimed to be the first to declare that dogs had poor eyesight, and believed that dogs could only see a single shade and coloration, and general outlines and shapes.

All the outside world could be seen by them as various highlights of black and gray,” Judy wrote in her 1937 manual, TrainingtheDog.

In the 1960s, other researchers postulated that primates were the only mammals capable of distinguishing colors. There has been little research to support these claims, especially those about dogs. Nonetheless, it soon became apparent that our canine companions were color blind.

Color Spectrum in Dogs Vision

Are you challenged by color blindness or spectrum in dogs?

Over the past few decades, examination of the structure of the canine eye has revealed some differences in the basic design between humans and dogs. Evolution and function are driving these differences. Dogs developed their senses as nocturnal hunters, tracking and catching food at night. Thus, their eyes have adapted to see better in the dark and catch movement.

For the purpose of hunting in the dark, the dog’s eyes have larger lenses and corneal surfaces, as well as a reflective coating called a pygophore that enhances night vision,” explains Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the AKC. “They also have more rods in the retina, which improves low-light vision.

dog vision and colour

The retina is also where scientists have found the key to the differences in color vision between dogs and humans. The retina is made up of millions of light-sensing cells. These include the following

  • Rods are very sensitive cells that capture motion and function in the dark.
  • Cones, which function in bright light and control color vision.


Dogs have more rods than cones in their retinas, while humans have more cones, which is why there is a difference in color vision. Humans and some other primate species are trichromatic. This means that they have three types of cones. Dogs are dichromatic, meaning they have only two types.

Each type of cone records a different wavelength of light. The red and green ones give humans an appreciation for red roses and Granny Smith apples. Some dogs and people with color blindness lack the red-green cone.


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A post shared by James Fillmore (@jfillmore4)

On the other hand, some fish and birds can see an even wider range of the color spectrum than people. There are many species of tetrachromatic birds and fish – there is a fourth type of cone receptor for absorbing ultraviolet light.

DogVision, a website specializing in canine color vision, has printed this side-by-side comparison of how people and dogs register the color spectrum.


So what colors can dogs see by JayNeitz

According to a study conducted by JayNeitz, who runs the NeitzColor VisionLab at the University of Washington’s Department of Ophthalmology, scientists now believe that dogs’ color vision is similar to that of people with red-green color blindness.

Dogs can make out yellow and blue, and combinations of those colors. This makes much of the world a grayish brown. That lush green grass? It probably looks like a field of dead hay. That bright red velvet cushion? Still comfortable, but will probably come across to the dog as a dark brown mass.

Note! Dog Vision provides an online tool to help you see what your dog sees. There is even an app you can use to see what your dog is seeing at any given time.


What does this mean for you and your dog?

Since we now know that dogs cannot see certain colors, it makes sense to choose products that feature colors that dogs can see. This knowledge may help explain why some dogs are enamored with a yellow tennis ball, but are indifferent to the same ball in pink or red.

When your dog throws a ball or bumper for you to retrieve on the lawn or lake, do not choose the red one. Otherwise, the dog may lose it. Also, if you are teaching him to distinguish between two toys or obedience training dumbbells, it is wise to pick one blue and one yellow.

Stanley Koren, columnist for AKC Family Dog, states. The most popular colors in dog toys today are red or orange. However, red and orange are hard for dogs to see. So when your own pet version of Lassie is running right by the toy you threw, she may not be stubborn or stupid. Maybe it’s your fault for choosing a toy whose color is indistinguishable from the green grass on your lawn.


New Blindness Gene Uncovered in Dogs (Study)

A study has revealed a mutation in the IFT122 gene in blind dogs. The gene defect, as currently discovered, leads to progressive destruction of photoreceptor cells and retinal dystrophy. IFT122 is also a new candidate for retinal dystrophy in humans. Based on this discovery, a genetic test has been developed to aid in breeding and diagnosis.

Hereditary retinal dystrophy is a common cause of blindness, with as many as two million people worldwide suffering from the disorder. There is no effective treatment for retinal dystrophy.

Gene therapy is expected to provide a solution, but the development of such a treatment is only possible if the genetic cause of the disease is known. Relevant mutations have been identified in more than 70 genes so far, but the genetic background of the disease remains unknown in half of all patients.

Retinal dystrophy has been reported in more than 100 dog breeds, and related investigations can identify new genes and pathogenic mechanisms associated with blindness in different breeds. Lohi said.

This is a recessive genetic disease. This means that dogs that go blind inherit the mutant from both parents, who are both carriers of the mutant. Genetic testing can help avoid carrier-carrier combinations and can easily prevent the birth of sick dogs. For the benefit of breeders, a new concrete tool has been developed based on this research,” says Lohi.

The new study is part of a broader research project by Professor Lohi’s group on the genetic background of hereditary diseases. Kaukonen recently moved to a research group working at the University of Oxford, which focused on developing gene therapy for retinal dystrophy. At the same time, Kaukonen and Rohee continue to work closely with Helsinki University Hospital and other operators to investigate a variety of eye diseases.

We are in the process of studying dogs and discovering many more genes associated with eye diseases. We’re just getting started. In particular, we are currently investigating the genetic background of glaucoma, corneal and retinal dystrophy in about 30 breeds. The preliminary results are promising,” says Lohi.

Source: Materials was provided by University of Helsinki.



See also: Can Dogs Eat Cake? 5 reasons you should not feed your dog with cake



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