Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dogs Color Vision: Can Dogs See Colors?

Can dogs see colors?

Dogs color vision
has been a debatable topic since a set of experiment ended up with the fact regarding the optical perception in dogs!Dogs Color Vision, Can Dogs See Colors? Optical Perception in Dogs

Many authorities have declared dogs to be color blind. I have come across a lot of sources that said “dogs are color blind”. They have directly implicated that dogs can only perceive white, black and all grey shades i.e. combinations of white and black. This conclusion is wrong. As a matter of fact the not much was known about the dog’s color vision until in the late 1980s, when a definitive series of experiments laid down the fact that dogs can see colors! The experiments were carried out at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and had been the world’s first research program based on the comparative study of color vision in dogs. Some of the researchers had volunteered their most loved dogs. 'Gipsy' and 'Flips' a couple of Italian Greyhound and 'Retina' a toy poodle were volunteered by the researchers.

The experiments ended up with the conclusion that dogs can see colors. The fact is that their chromatic acuity is much less than what human have, because of two distinctive factors:

1. Dogs’ retinas have fewer cone cells, which contain pigments that perceive specific color wavelengths and help animals to see and distinguish colors.
2. Dogs are dichromatic, which means they can see only two primary colors - blue and yellow and their combinations, while humans are trichromatic (we can see three primary colors - red, green and blue – RGB, and their combinations).

Most pet product manufacturers make dogs toys red in color. Fact is, it becomes really difficult for the dogs to see red. Well I cannot say exactly what color does a red rubber ball may appear to your dogs, but surely not as it appear to you and me. When I tossed red ball to my Rex he seemed to be a bit stupid about chasing it correctly, but later I discovered that it was actually a fault on my part selecting the right colored toy for him.

The study of dogs’ color vision by Jay Neitz of University of California, Santa Barbara had been made in a very unique way. Each dog was kept into a dog box facing a display of three round panels of light arranged in a horizontal row. The researchers had put a cup of yummy treats for the dogs beneath each panel of light, where two were always same and the third one was always different. The dogs were trained to find the odd one out… i.e. the one that was different. Each dog was made to make 4,000 trials, where for every correct finding the specific dog was rewarded with the tasty treat in the cup, while for wrong choices there were no rewards.

Researchers have concluded that we human beings have 100% cone cells in the center of the retina, while dogs have only around 20% cone cells. This means that when we see color we can see several times prominent than dogs. Dogs see the same colors in faded version, with less detail. In 1995 an on color vision in dogs was published in the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association. The articles described the optical differences between human and dog color visions.

This is not the end, by the way. Researchers have also said that dogs can clearly notice very subtle changes in color shades… more clearly than humans. This is due to the absence of the yellow pigmentation in the lens of dogs’ eyes. We have this yellow pigmentation in the lens of our eyes. The yellow pigment actually blocks the short wavelength, thereby mitigating the optical sensitivity to blues and violets. It is due to the absence of this yellow pigmentation that the dogs are more capable of seeing different combinations of violet and blue lights.

See below to know what the spectrum looks like to canines and humans…

can dog see color? color vision in dogs Dogs color vision
Dogs can be color blind

Well, now there’s no doubt about the fact that dogs can see colors. But dogs can be color blind as well! Yes, no jokes! Dogs can be color blind just like some humans are. Color blindness in dogs is just a condition and is not normal. If Rover is color blind that doesn’t mean that dogs in general are color blind. But to be very frank, it’s quite difficult to say if a dog is color blind. Color blindness in dogs is rare condition. So, if your dog is not responding to the colorful toys, just don’t pounce on to the conclusion that he/she is colorblind. May be it’s your fault in picking the right color for your pooch.

More interesting facts about dogs:

Evolution of dogs
Dog Intelligence
Tail Docking in Dogs

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Anonymous,  November 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM  

Strange that you've disabled right clicking in your blog. I went to right-click to open a "quick facts" hyperlink in a new tab so I could keep your page open, too.

Bad form, and not how the modern web should work. :(

(If you're afraid of someone 'stealing' a picture, there's still print screen and even going to the html code view. Your 'assets' are no more 'secure').

Aringsburg Kennel November 19, 2011 at 8:57 PM  

Hi, I understood the potential problem readers actually face with right click disabled. Actually I was testing the code. I apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for reminding me of that. I have enabled the right click. Thanks.

Marie,  January 22, 2013 at 10:42 AM  

Thanks for the article! I am training my dog to learn where the underground electric fence is located. Before purchasing flag markers, I wanted to make sure that Nicki (my dog) could see the flags in the first place. The flags come in so many colors! I was going to purchase red flags until I read your article. Thank you!

Anonymous,  January 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM  

i think this is really good for a science project info for junior high.

Anne,  July 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM  

Ha! No wonder my dog is using his nose so readily to find his lost orange ball in the grass...

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