What Colors Can Dogs See? Science Backed Insights on Your Dog’s Vision

What colors can dogs see? A blue toy is a good idea!

What colors can dogs see? The answer is dogs don’t just see in black and white. But dogs’ color spectrum is not as great as humans for reasons explained here in this post. The colors dogs can see are shades of blue, brown, gray and yellow.


Why can dogs see only these colors?

What is different about human vision and dog vision?

What Colors can dogs see with their daytime vision?

What colors can dogs see with their nighttime vision?

What color do dogs see best?

Breeds make a difference in sight quality

Why can dogs see only these colors?

Well, a dog has dichromatic vision, or two coloured vision. Humans have trichromatic vision and have three colored vision. Dogs are missing the red and green cones of trichromatic sight. A color blind person often can not differentiate between red and green. So, a dog’s vision is similar to a color blind person. [1]

What is different about human vision and dog vision?

It comes down to the retina which is made up of cones and rods.

Cones work in bright light and control color perception.

Rods are sensitive cells that can detect movement and work in low light.

Dogs have more rods than cones. They also have larger pupils and a larger lens in the eye. Humans have more cones and less rods than dogs.

What Colors can dogs see with their daytime vision?

A dog’s color spectrum is made up of shades of blue, brown, gray and yellow.

Dogs have less cones than humans and lack the red and green cone. In the daytime dogs have only 50% of the vision quality of humans.

Red appears a dark shade of brown, gray or black to a dog.

Green looks a shade of yellow.

Orange also seems yellow.

Blue is clear, but purple appears a shade of blue.

What colors can dogs see with their nighttime vision?

Dogs have a light reflecting membrane that causes their eyes to glow in dark conditions.

At night, many of the colors that humans see in daylight and dogs don’t, specifically red & green, are not discernable and become shades of gray. Dogs are more adept at identifying the different shades of gray.

They have more rods in their retina than humans and these rods detect movement and light much better than the human eye in low-light conditions.

Remember, dogs are descended from nocturnal hunters. Not only do they have larger pupils but they have a light reflecting membrane called the tapetum lucidum. This is located between their optic nerve and retina.

According to the American College of Veterinary Optomologists its function is to ‘reflect light back onto the retina a second time and to amplify light in low-light conditions’. This process seems to us as a dog’s eyes glowing in the dark. [2]

What color do dogs see best?

Blue and yellow are seen clearest by dogs. Consequently, dogs are attracted to these colors because they are so easily discerned. Blue is the best color for a ball or toy. This is because many backgrounds in parks and wooded areas blend into shades of yellow for your dog.

We recommend that you give blue toys to your dog to avoid problems like frustration barking and unwanted digging in your yard. For more details on these types of behavior visit our article on Dog Behavior.

An easily recognized toy is a great focus for excess energy!

Breeds make a difference in sight quality

Like humans, dogs have a binocular vision: they see their surroundings through both eyes. Humans have a binocular vision field of 140%.

The shape of the breed’s head can restrict or enhance a dog’s vision.

A long nose breed with a narrow face has a greater long-sighted vision. They have a wide peripheral vision that helps them spot objects/movement on the horizon or at a great distance. Their binocular vision field is restricted to 70%.

A pug or other brachycephalic breeds have a wider binocular vision field (80%) and near-sighted focus due to their flattened faces. But, they have a larger blind spot and don’t have the long sighted vision of long nose breeds. [3]

Sighthounds have the best vision overall. These breeds use their hereditary primary sense of sight to identify prey and then take down prey.

Sighthound breeds

  • Borzoi
  • Greyhound breed
  • Scottish deerhounds
  • Saluki
  • Whippets

According to research, sighthounds have more cones than other types of dogs and can see with greater clarity in daylight. They also have the best peripheral vision. [4]

What to do next

We hope this post has given you insight into your dog’s visual world. Please take into account the colors dogs can perceive best when playing games like fetch in order to avoid dog frustration. Check out our post on How To Mentally Stimulate Your Dog to burn off that mental and physical energy.


Do dogs have good eyesight?

Compared to humans, dogs have lower visual acuity. They do not judge distance as well as humans. However, their peripheral vision is much better than a humans. They also have better night vision than humans, thanks to a larger number of rods, the cells in their eyes that help them see in low light conditions. Overall, considering their lifestyle and needs, dogs have good eyesight.

What does a dog’s vision look like?

Dogs have a wider visual field than humans, but their visual acuity is lower. They have a different visual perception than humans, which is why some objects may appear differently to them. Their vision is also more sensitive to motion, so they can detect movements more quickly.

What color is grass to dogs?

To dogs, grass appears yellowish-brown. This is because they do not have the same number of color receptors in their eyes as humans do, and they cannot see the color green as vividly as humans can.

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