True or False: Dogs can only see certain colors
True! Dogs have the ability to see different colors, dispelling the old myth that dogs could only see black, white, and gray. In the last few decades, scientists have found that the retina holds the answer to the difference in color perception between canines and humans. The retina is the innermost layer of the eye and contains millions of light sensing cells (photoreceptors). The two main receptors are rods and cones.
Rods function in less intense light, extremely sensitive, and detect motion. They are typically located at the outer edge of the retina. Dogs have a higher number of rods which contributes to their superb night vision.
Cones control color perception. Each of these cones are sensitive to a different wavelength of light. Since humans have more cones they are able to see a wider range of colors.
Dogs are dichromatic meaning they have two classes of color sensitive cone cells, yellow and blue. While humans are trichromatic and have 3 types of cones red, green, blue. Even though dogs don’t perceive colors the way we do, they don’t appear to be negatively impacted.
The belief is that our canine friends’ vision is quite similar to a person with red-green color blindness. The color red will appear dark brownish gray or black to a dog whereas yellows, greens, and orange all look yellowish to a dog. The photo below shows the color perception between humans and dogs.
Studies have been performed where researchers placed pieces of colored paper on top of locked boxes, but only one box with a specific color was unlocked and had a tasty treat awaiting inside. Once dogs learned to associate the specific color with that fabulous prize inside, the group changed the shade of that color and dogs seemed to continue to go to that box. After 10 tests, the eight test dogs went for the color-based choice 70 percent of the time, and six of the dogs went for it 90 to 100 percent of the time, according to the study published in the British journal.
Now knowing that our four-legged furry friends can see shades of yellow and blue it probably makes more sense why dogs love chasing a bright yellow tennis ball. And for you cat lovers, cats are very similar to dogs and see mostly yellow and blue but they do have some sensitivity to red however it is weaker than humans.
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by Amanda Haebig
Amanda was born in Indiana but has lived in Stevens Point most of her life. She joined the Oakview team in March of 2016 and has quickly become part of the family. She enjoys Motorcycle riding and Horseback riding when not working. She shares her life with her significant other, Kevin and their Siberian Huskies Storm, Hale, and Zepplin.