Ask a Vet

Can Dogs See Colors or Just Black and White?

By Kerry
Updated on

Can dogs see colors or just black and white

We’ve all heard the jokes and the rumors that dogs can only see in black and white. Even in movies when we see things from a dog’s perspective, filmmakers often play that part in black and white, but this is not strictly true.

For years researchers and veterinarians believed that dogs could only see in black and white, but this may not be the case anymore. We cannot exactly ask a dog what their vision is actually like, and so scientists and researchers have studied the eyesight of dogs for decades.

A recent study suggests that we were wrong about their black and white vision, and dogs can see colors!

Can dogs see colors or just black and white?

Whilst new research suggests that dogs can actually see some colors, and not just black and white, it is not as broad a color spectrum as our vision.

This is because dogs only have about 20% of the core photoreceptor cells that humans have. The core photoreceptor cells are the parts of the eye that can help us perceive colors, and so dogs cannot see all of the colors that we are used to.

Dogs cannot just tell us what they see, and so extensive studies have been conducted where behavioral tests are done to see what the dogs respond best to. In these studies, evidence suggests that dogs do not see in just black and white, but they also see grays, blues and yellows.

This is why dogs may struggle to see toys buried in the grass, or we may laugh when they walk straight past what they are looking for. Some colors blur into one, and a lot of the world will be seen in grays, blacks, blues and yellows. Dogs cannot distinguish between the colors of green, browns and red, and so some items in these colors can simply blend into one.

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What color is a dog most attracted to?

With this information in mind, you may be wondering which colors your dog is most attracted to. As dogs have a very short range of color perception, the colors that they can see best are yellow and blue. Therefore, your dog will be more attracted to yellow and blue items because they will stand out to them more.

This is why it can be far more beneficial for you to purchase dog toys and chews that are made in these colors. These are easiest for a dog to notice, comprehend and see, and they may be more interested and attracted to playing with them.

We recommend purchasing dog toys in these colors such as BarkBox Squeaky Dog Toys. This is even more beneficial if you are training a dog, as these colors will help your dog focus.

What is a dog’s eyesight like?

As previously mentioned, a dog struggles to see as many colors as we do, and can find it hard to distinguish between different objects and textures. In addition to this, dogs may only have about 20% to 40% of our visual acuity, which means that things at a distance can seem much blurrier to dogs than they do to us.

However, dogs have excellent eyesight in the dark and extremely low light situations. This is an evolutionary trait that they have kept from being wild animals, where they are able to detect motion, see and sense more things in the dark than we can.

How can you tell if your dog has bad eyesight?

If you are worried about your dog’s eyesight, there are a few telltale signs that you can look out for. For instance, if the eyes seem cloudy, or the color of the eyes have changed in any way, then there may be an issue.

In addition, you may start to notice that your dog bumps into things such as furniture, walls or other objects, and their behavior can change. Dogs with poor eyesight can start to become more nervous or apprehensive, and may begin displaying other habits such as pawing at the eyes or the face often.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s eyesight or welfare, then please do contact a medical professional or a veterinarian for advice and treatment.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.