Ask Seth: Dog Vision

Do dogs really see in black and white? What color can dogs see? Derek in WV


This is a great question that is not easily explained, but I will try.  Dogs do see color but not with the acuity that humans have.  Dogs are dichromatic, which means they only see two primary colors (yellow and blue). Humans are trichromatic, so they can see greens, reds, and blues.  Dogs also have far less of a specific cell, called cones, in their retinas.  Cones are responsible for seeing a range of colors.  As humans, we have close to ten times the amount of cones than dogs. As a result, dogs see colors as more faded or pale than we do.  Dogs do have a much larger concentration of rod cells, which are responsible for seeing black and white.  So while dogs see less color than we do, rods are much more sensitive in low light conditions, which gives dogs much better night vision than humans!

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Seth Mayersohn

About Seth Mayersohn

Have a question about your pet’s health or behavior? Readers can submit questions to Seth Mayersohn has a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences and a M.S. in Agriculture from West Virginia University. He has 12 years of experience as a veterinary technician and draws upon that experience to help our readers!

One comment on “Ask Seth: Dog Vision

  1. Hi Seth,

    Does the idea that dogs see better in low light, than we do, mean that watch dogs are far better observing issues at night than we are?

    My Corgi seem to be more active at night than daylight.

    My Corgi corrals and then subdues possums, rats, and most anything that moves around in her space.

    I did not teach her this behavior. She just kind of does it on her own.

    Our Cairn Terrier is more active in daylight, and coukd care less about the usual stuff that our Corgi is concerned about in the night.

    They both alert when a human invades thier space.

    And they both get along just fine..The Corgi is a very potent male.(both rescued).

    Thought your remark about wether dogs see in color was right on target.

    I look forward to your 'Ask Seth' feature in the 'Love Thy Pet' newsletter.

    Thanks for all the information you provide.

    Warm regards,

    C.David Cowan