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A new understanding of canine anatomy and behavior has debunked the myth the dogs are colorblind. While they cannot see all the colors that humans do, dogs do see more than just shades of black, gray and white.
The theory behind dogs being color blind was first drawn up by a man named Will Judy. Judy was a lifetime dog lover, writer and founder of National Dog Week. Judy claimed that he was the first to declare that dogs could only see two colors, those being black and white. He also said dogs could only see outlines and shapes and nothing else. This was in 1937.
In the 1960’s further research was conducted that led scientists to believe that primates were the only mammals, other than humans to be able to discern color. There was little research, however, to back up either claim but it soon became a common thought, that dogs were colorblind. There are basic differences between the sight of a dog and the sight of a human. Due to evolution, our eyes are of a different design.
Dogs developed their sense of sight as nocturnal hunters. They tracked and caught their food at night so their eyes had to adapt to the darkness. Their eyes have a larger lens because of this, a larger cornea and a reflective membrane. This membrane helps enhance night vision, allowing dogs to survive in the wild.
Scientists have learned in the past 50 years that the retina is where the difference lies in the eyes of dogs and humans. The retina is the part of the eye that is made up of millions of light detecting cells. These cells:
The cones in our eyes and their composition make the difference in how we perceive color. Human beings and some primates are trichormatic, which means we have three different kinds of cones within our eyes. Dogs only have two cones, making them dichromatic.
Each of our three cones, and our dogs’ two cones, register a different light wavelength. The cone for red and green allows humans to see a red rose or a green apple. Dogs are missing these red-green cones, as well as humans who are color-blind.
Dogs do see color but scientists now believe that their vision is similar to someone who is color-blind and cannot see the colors red or green. They are able to see the colors yellow and blue or combinations of the two. This means they see a lot of gray and brown. It also explains why dogs go crazy when you toss a yellow tennis ball but they could care less when that ball is red or pink.
According to AKC Family Dog columnist Stanley Coren, the most popular color for dog toys are red and orange. Red is the most difficult color for dogs to see, it appears as a dark brown, gray or maybe even black. According to Coren, your dog isn’t dumb if you’re playing with a toy and he runs right past it. He simply can’t tell the difference between a toy, and the lawn you might be playing on.
A special thank you to http://www.akc.org for their help in writing this post and putting to rest the myth that dogs are colorblind. For more helpful tips on keeping your dog healthy, be sure to visit their website.
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