A common misconception about dogs is that they only see in black and white. Part of this is because as scientists have reported, color just isn't that important in the day to day life of a dog. But dogs can see colors about as well as a red-green color-blind human.
Dogs are dichromats. This means they have two sets of cones in their eyes that can see color. Humans (and some closely-related primates) are trichromats. This means that humans have three sets of cones in their eyes that we use to differentiate color and details.
While dogs might have a harder time distinguishing between colors than people, their night vision lets them see in light approximately five times dimmer than humans.
Humans See Like This, Dogs See Like That
This is because dogs' retinas have many more rods than cones. And many more rods than humans. Rods are much more light-sensitive than cones. Another reason why dog's night vision is so good is the tapetum.
The tapetum is like a mirror in the back of the dog's eye. It reflects light that comes in. This allows them a second chance to perceive the light that comes in. It's always why their eyes look like they're glowing at night.
So don't feel bad that your dog has a hard time telling the difference between puce and pink during the day. It can see much, much more than you at night.
- "Can Dogs See Color?" Animal Planet. Accessed November 2, 2016.
- Lang, Becky. "Dogs See The World In Living Color." Discover Magazine. July 17, 2013. Accessed November 2, 2016.
- University of Wisconsin - Madison. "How Well Do Dogs See At Night?." ScienceDaily. Accessed November 2, 2016.
- Stromberg, Joseph. "New Study Shows That Dogs Use Color Vision After All." Smithsonian.com. July 17, 2013. Accessed November 2, 2016.
- Wolchover, Natalie. "How Do Dogs See The World?" Live Science. June 26, 2012. Accessed November 2, 2016.