What Do Dogs See: Do Dogs See Color?

What Do Dogs See: Do Dogs See Color?

Ever wondered if your dog can see color? Dog eyes are very different from human eyes in how they process color and detail. But while their eyes may be different, dogs can still see and enjoy color. It’s just very different from you and me. Want more details into what dogs see? Read on for some interesting facts that can make you a better pet parent.

Are Dogs Color Blind?

Sort of. Dogs have dichromatic color vision. Dichromatic vision means their eyes only have two classes of cone pigments vs. the human eye’s three cones. Dogs can process the colors blue, yellow, and gray, similar to a color-blind human who can’t process red-green color.

So a dog does see some color, but it is limited in its spectrum of visible color. And they don’t necessarily see it as a “true” color. Depending on how deep the red appears, a dog may perceive something red as a dark brown-gray or even as black. Orange and green will look really similar to yellow to a dog. And blue and purple will appear as the same to a dog.

Related Link: Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? 

What Color Do Dogs See Best?

Dogs can see yellow and blue the best as their true colors. All other colors appear as a version of yellow, blue, or gray. Of these colors, dogs can see blue the best because different shades of yellow can be more challenging to distinguish between other colors.

You would think that because dogs can see blue and yellow, they would be able to see the secondary color of green. After all, it is a mix of blue and yellow, but they can’t. Seeing green requires unique retinal cells that dogs don’t have in their eyes. More likely, green appears as gray.

dog’s color spectrum most likely consists of dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, dark yellow (brownish), and dark gray. Red is the most complex color for dogs to distinguish.

Are Dogs Attracted to Specific Colors?

Dogs do not see colors as vividly, and so they don’t necessarily feel more attracted to a specific color based on color preference. Color doesn’t drive their choices more than smell. However, some studies have found that dogs prefer blue because it is easier to see. The studies also show that dogs prefer color over brightness.

So when purchasing toys for your dog, you may want to buy blue toys because they will be easier for your dog to see and recognize in the grass.

Want a great dog toy that can play multiple games with your dog? Shop the Runball Exercise Toy designed to wear your dog out through interactive play.

Related Link: 30 Dog Toys that Will Keep Your Dog Entertained       

Dog with yellow chew toy

What Colors Do Dogs Hate?

Dogs are not repelled by color. So using a color such as red will not keep a dog away. While they process color, dogs don’t use color for communication, so they wouldn’t know to be afraid or repulsed by a colorSound and smell are better deterrents for keeping your dog away from something like your garden.  

Dogs Have Other Visual Differences to Humans

Dogs have other visual differences other than color. Dogs are unable to perceive an object’s details as well as a human. A dog’s ability to register detail is four to eight times worse than people. This means your sweet dog isn’t registering most of the detail on an object.

This means if your dog’s ball is similar to another dog’s ball at a park, it won’t be able to distinguish its ball based on visual identification. So how does your dog recognize objects? Dogs rely on their best sense, which is their nose. Your dog might not see its ball, but it will recognize its ball from another ball based on smell.

Another way that a dog’s vision differs from humans is by brightness. Because the neural structure of a dog’s eye has smaller optic nerve fibers and fewer connections of rods to ganglion cells, dogs struggle to see different levels of brightness. Dogs decipher brightness two times worse than people.

But on the flip side, because they can’t see brightness, dogs can see better than humans in the dark or at dusk. And they can detect motion at far distances better than humans, making them ideal hunting companions. Their natural hunter instincts can catch the scent and sense the movement of their prey or a squirrel at the park.

Why Color Isn’t as Important to Dogs

Because a dog’s vision is not as good as a human, a dog relies on other senses to perceive the world around him:


A dog’s sense of smell is over 10,000 stronger than a human’s, and yet they love seem to love all things nasty smelling. Dogs can use their nose to sniff out, track and identify objects that aren’t even visible, making it their greatest sense.


Next to smell, dogs rely heavily on their hearing. A dog’s ability to position its ears in the direction of a sound makes them better able to detect sound and find prey. Dogs also hear quieter and higher frequencies than humans.


A dog’s skin and fur can sense small vibrations and changes in the air that are not as perceptible as a human’s. Dogs can utilize this sense of touch to find things in shrubs and high grass that their eyes may not see.

Dog with yellow ball

Dogs See Color But Not Like We Do

Dogs have to rely on their other senses because they see color differently than people. Their inability to see the full spectrum of color and brightness does help them see better at night, which heightens their hunting abilities.

As a pet parent, it’s essential to understand how your dog sees the world because you can play games and purchase toys that improve their play. When you buy dog toyslook for toys with lots of blue or yellow because they will be the easiest for your pet to identify.

Runball makes the best toys and treats for high-energy, medium to large dogs. We specialize in toys that will expend a lot of your dog’s energy through play. Our multipurpose toys can entertain your dog playing catch, chase, fetch, tug-o-war, and more.

Headed to the park with your dog? Bring along a multipurpose Runball Exercise Toy for endless fun with your dog.

Related Link: Why is My Dog Barking at Nothing?