Is your dog colorblind? That’s a fair question. I mean why would he be attracted to the most oddly colored or decorated toys? Maybe it’s the shape, smell, or noise. I have to admit, I have wondered this myself on occasion. Today, let’s dig in and discover if your dog really is colorblind. I used a fun color test, on my dog, Henry to learn a lot, which I included in this article.
*Update: July 12, 2023
Budget Tip: It can be fun to know what color your dog likes and then get accessories in that color. However, don't feel like you have to get all the accessories in that color. If you find something on sale in a different color, you like then go for it. After all you are a team. Just try to get a few things in a color your dog will like. You will be surprised at what ends up in clearance that fits your dog's color scheme. Colors can be fun to play with and if you find a clearance sale or get creative with DIY, it can be very cost-effective as well. And that's a win-win for you and your dog!
While you may know that eyes are made up of cones and rods. You may not know the purpose of each. The retina contains both cones and rods. Cones enable you to see color. And rods detect motion.
Dogs are considered to have rod-dominated retinas. What does this mean? It simply means dogs can see motion better than humans at night or in dim light.
What about dogs’ cones and color vision? They have about 1/10 the number of cones as humans and are not able to see color in the same way as us. However, a dog’s color vision is more comparable to a colorblind human. Surprised?
Specifically, a dog’s color vision is comparable to a dichromatic (two-color) colorblind person. Dogs are said to be able to distinguish two colors and shades of gray. They can see blue-violet and yellow. Dogs cannot recognize the colors of red, orange, yellow, and green. Or at least they can’t see these colors in the same way as humans.
DOGS USE COLOR CUES
I know you’re saying to yourself “Wait! What about seeing-eye dogs?”
This is a great question. Dogs have learned to adjust and use color cues. They look for brightness. In the case of a stoplight, they look for the position of the light.
But, seriously I’m certain my dog sees color!
I totally understand. My dog, Henry, took me for a loop on this one as well. But he can’t see red. Or can he? I had to test him. Well, at least discover his favorite color.
5-MINUTE DOG COLORBLIND TEST
When I adopted Henry, I thought I would get him all decked out in pretty purple (my color) or maybe blue. Of course, he thought better of that idea. I took him to the store to see if he responded positively to any colors. It was and has been very interesting for me.
This is the color test I used for Henry
1. I took Henry to the store and straight to the leash and collar aisle
2. Then I pulled down every color I could find of the basic dog collar and placed them on the floor and then asked Henry wish he liked.
3. He went to the red one.
4. Next, I mixed them up and tried again, hoping he’d pick the purple or blue one.
5. Again, he sniffed the red one.
6. I tried three more times with the same results and decided he’s a red-collar dog.
Next, I went to the dog leashes and did the same thing and got the same result.
Hmmm….Henry, you can’t see red. Apparently, he likes the brightness of red. This was new to me. But it didn’t end there.
When winter rolled around, again, I took him to the store and let him pick out a sweater. I did the same thing with all the same sweaters in different colors. He picked a red sweater.
Whenever I have asked him to select a color, whether it’s a water bowl, bed, or blanket, he always picks red.
One of his trainers even asked what color she should sign his certificate when he completed his class. I told her to let him choose from the bucket of markers. Yep, he picked red.
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Summary of how to know if your dog is colorblind
While science tells us that dogs are colorblind to most colors, they have adapted to cues. For example, Henry most likely picks up on the brightness of the color red. Seeing-eye dogs have adjusted as well. Although I’d like to think that Henry and all dogs can see colors perfectly, science tells us otherwise. I know my Henry is a happy colorblind dog who likes red.
While your pup, may not be as intent on one color, the color choice test is fun to try on your dog to see what color or colors he may prefer. Give it a try and let me know what color your dog likes best.