You’d be surprised at how common this question is. Most of the time, in both movies and TV series, when the perspective of a dog is on display, it is usually overlayed with a black and white filter.
Anything that would be called a vibrant landscape turns dull, gray and completely artificial. However, how true to life is this portrayal of a dog’s vision? Are dogs really colorblind and truly see the world in black and white?
Are dogs really color blind ?
While they don’t see in black and white, dogs are colorblind – they have only two color receptors, also known as cones, in their eyes, which is one less than what we humans have. To be considered colorblind, a person must have a deficiency in their colored vision, which is usually the result of a defect in the production of the cones within the eye.
In humans specifically, colorblindness means that at least one of the three human color receptors do not function properly, leaving them with only two working cones.
This particular type of colorblindness is called dichromacy which is an alternative to the common trichromacy, also similar to the color perception of a dog. This means that, technically, dogs are colorblind!
How do dogs see the world ?
However, if dogs are truly colorblind, which colors can they actually see, and which ones can they not see? The color receptors found in the eye work only by perceiving certain wavelengths of light, and in humans each one roughly perceives the wavelengths that correspond to green, red and blue-violet.
So, by overlapping and mixing this spectrum of colors that the three human cones perceive, we get the ability of seeing a wide selection of colors.
But in dogs, the two color receptors in the eyes only perceive the wavelengths of light that match up with blue and yellow, which means that dogs only see the world through combinations of those two specific colors. Instead of bright red flowers, dogs will most likely see brownish – yellowish petals, and green grass mostly looks dehydrated and dull.
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