Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through your dog’s eyes? For example, when you throw a red ball into a patch of green grass, what does your pup see?
A popular notion suggests the world appears to dogs as outlines and shapes in shades of gray, or even that they’re color-blind, but in reality, what they see is far from monochrome.
The term color-blind when applied to dogs is not entirely incorrect, but rather a misrepresentation of what dogs can intuit about their surroundings. Dogs can certainly see color, just like their owners, and the way they perceive their surroundings suits them perfectly.
Similar to humans who have red-green color blindness, defined as a difficulty distinguishing between red and green and the most common form of color vision deficiency found in humans, dogs are unable to differentiate between certain tones, explains veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Laura Proietto, which is most likely where the misguided myth that dogs can’t see colors started.
“Dogs definitely have a different view of the world, but they aren’t ‘color-blind,’” Proietto tells The Dodo.
“I think we were all told growing up that dogs only saw in black and white, but really all that they can’t see is the color green. They can appreciate blues and reds and how they overlap to make different colors just fine,” Proietto adds.
So what about all that green grass they love to frolic through? Are our pets missing an important piece of sensory information concerning their environment?
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When it comes to visual information, dogs are far from deprived. The colors that dogs are able to see are a direct result of their evolution and lifestyle — so it actually helps that the green of the grass or the leaves of the forest is muted, notes Proietto.
Humans and other primates are trichromatic, meaning we have three kinds of photoreceptor cells that perceive color, known as “cones,” in our retina, according to Colour Blind Awareness. Dogs, on the other hand, are dichromatic, meaning their eyes have only two types of cones — but for a very good reason.
More detailed dog color vision chart. pic.twitter.com/zxbfdNbyUr
— Steve Clark (@ProfFishman) October 16, 2013