We’ve long held the belief that dogs are color blind and only see in black and white. Science has caught up and proven this myth to be false. However, it has shown that while dogs may see in color, they do have a limited range. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs see in a color spectrum that is close to that of humans but they experience red and green colorblindness. This means that dogs can’t see red or green, but they also can’t see similar shades such as pink, purple, and orange.
But they can see shades of yellow, blue, brown, gray, black, and white. So, what happens to the shades they can’t see? It’ll simply appear as a tone that is within their color range. For example, if your dog has a red squeak toy, they will appear as a brown toy. Similarly, if your dog has a toy that is a mix of colors, like orange which is a cross of red and yellow, they will see only the yellow range. That is why you should try to select toys that are bright and within their field of vision so that they’re able to distinguish them from their surroundings. It’ll help them be more engaged during playtime as well if they’re able to actually find their toys.
The history of the myth that dogs only see in black and white dates back to 1937 when the National Dog Week founder, Will Judy, wrote a training manual in which he noted that dogs could only see shades of black and gray. This incorrect myth was further bolstered by the scientists of the 1960s who came up with the incorrect theory that primates were the only animals who were capable of perceiving color. As the Smithsonian reported, it wasn’t until Russian researchers in 2013 were finally about to challenge the misconception with their research. They were able to prove that dogs can indeed distinguish between colors like yellow and blue. The researchers conducted several experiments using colored food boxes in which meat was placed into certain colored boxes. The dogs soon learned to associate the yellow-colored boxes as opposed to the blue that had no food in it. The experiment was then switched around and the dogs still went straight for the yellow boxes, proving that it was that color that had been associated with food.
While our dogs may lack the full range of color and vision that we do, they certainly have their other senses much more heightened than we do. As DogHealth.com pointed out, their hearing is much more impeccable, with dogs being able to detect high-pitched sounds that our own human ears can’t. And NOVA PBS revealed that a dog’s sense of smell is much more powerful than humans – 10,000 times more powerful to be exact! Their noses have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to the 6 million that humans do. And the portion of a dog’s brain that is responsible for analyzing smell is forty times greater than that of humans.
What do you think of a dog’s senses? Let us know!