NatureBig Animals

Is it true that dogs can't see color?


Lots of people talk about dogs being unable to see color and having strictly black-and-white vision like an old movie. Because we can't just put on a pair of glasses and see the way a dog sees, it's impossible for us to know for sure exactly which colors dogs do and do not see, but most tests and studies have shown that dogs do see some colors, just probably not as many as humans.

The reason that scientists and researchers believe that dogs' eyes work this way has to do with the way their eyes are built. In humans, our eyes have special "cones" that are part of the eye which help us to see color. Because dogs have fewer cones than we do, researchers believe this means dogs can see some colors, but just not as many! The same is true of many other animals, too! Cats, for example, most likely can see some colors even though a lot is just black and white. The real specialty of cats' eyes is their ability to collect lots of light, so they can see well even when it's quite dark!


Do you see what I see?

It can be hard for scientists to know exactly which animals see exactly which colors, but research has helped them to get some ideas! Can you think of any ways that a scientist would be able to give a dog a color-test? Think about some ways they could be encouraged to pick out colors and then rewarded with treats! It's probably not a good idea to try out your own color tests on your dog at home, but you can try observing whether or not you see your dog doing things that mean he or she can tell the difference between things that are different colors!