What Colors Can Dogs See?

Unlike humans, who can see all the colors of the electromagnetic spectrum, dogs'
eyes (as well as other many other animals) are limited to only certain portions of the
spectrum.

Long before domestication (and actually even after the first dog and first human
became best friends) dogs were nocturnal hunters, which meant that full-spectrum
color eyesight was not as important as say, a strong sense of smell.

Studies done throughout the world have shown that a dog's world is mainly made up of yellow, blue and gray hues. Red objects are generally seen as yellow, while green objects appear white or light gray and white appears blue. Confusing? The figure below will help illustrate what colors a dog can generally see, and how that compares to a typical human eyesight.

Colors seen by a dog:

Colors seen by a human:

As you can see, there is quite a difference in terms of what colors humans and dogs can perceive - this is mainly thought to be due to the different ways in which our corneas and irises are constructed relative a dog'. Dog eyes tend to refract less light, which (minus a detailed physics lesson) results in being able to perceive a smaller portion of the color spectrum.

Research also suggests that dogs have a somewhat limited ability to recognize details. In practice, this means that objects that are made up by a large number of small particles may appear blurry to your dog.

Just because most humans live in a more colorful and detailed world, it doesn't mean that dogs are at a particular disadvantage. On the contract, they have highly developed instincts and other senses that we can only dream about.

For example, dogs can perceive movement without actually seeing it; they have very a very acute sense of hearing and smell, which help them in countless numbers of ways (and also help us in countless tasks and professions). From the military to medical professionals, to teachers, therapists and the blind, the superhero-level senses that dogs posses have been a boon to human civilization for ages.

It's ironic isn't it - although dogs can't see everything humans can see, throughout history we humans have often relied on dogs to be our extra set of eyes in this world. Ironic indeed.