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July 30, 2012 at 3:37 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Are Dogs Colorblind?

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author


When people hear the word "colorblind", many believe it means one can only see in shades of gray. If we go from that definition, dogs are not colorblind.

Dogs DO see color. They just have trouble seeing certain color variations.

Just as we do, dogs have special rods and cones in their eyes. The rods are sensitive in dim light. They help the eyes adjust to be able to see in low light condition. Cones help our eyes adjust to see in bright light conditions. That’s why when we go to a beach at noon on a sunny day, we are able to see everything and not be blinded by the powerful sunlight. (Although, sometimes it feels like we are anyway!)

An Experiment

Cones also help us see in color. Since dogs have cones, that means they do see in color. However, they do not see to the extent that humans do. Jay Neitz from the University of California, conducted research and figured out exactly what colors dogs can see,

“For many test trials, dogs were shown three light panels in a row--two of the panels were the same color, while the third was different. The dogs' task was to find the one that was different and to press that panel. If the dog was correct, he was rewarded with a treat that the computer delivered to the cup below that panel.”

Through this experiment, Neitz discovered that dogs see only certain colors of the rainbow. While a true rainbow is made of violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red, dogs see it differently.

Dog Toys

They see dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow, and very dark gray. It’s difficult for them to distinguish green and red colors.

Ironically, most popular chew toys for dogs are red, such as the Kong!


Want to buy a toy in colors your dog will appreciate? Check out this website I found. Romp Pet's "High Viz" toys are designed with a dog's vision in mind.

Remember: dogs are not truly colorblind, they just have poor color vision!


NBC: Dogs aren't color blind - and 10 other surprising myth about pets

Psychology Today: Can Dogs See Colors?

More from Bri Luginbill Others Are Reading


  • I am so glad I found your site! This rticle was good. I like that it was short, to the point, and not filled with technical terminology not some might not quite understand. Kudos on a great article.

  • For all this time I thought they only saw in grey scale.

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