Until recently, it was widely believed that dogs could only see in black and white.
However, thanks to animal behavior studies and a better understanding of canine eye anatomy, we now know dogs can see much more than black and white.
So, what colors can they see, and which do they like the most?
What Colors Do Dogs Like the Best?
Dogs probably like the colors blue and yellow the most.
Due to their unique eye anatomy, dogs can only clearly see colors of yellow or blue combinations.
Therefore, it is likely the case that blue and yellow are the colors that dogs like best.
To unpack all of this, we need to look at the anatomy of a dog’s eyes.
Once we do that, we can better discuss the overall clarity of a dog’s vision.
Finally, we’ll be able to fully grasp this unique yellow and blue perspective from which our canine friends see the world.
Why Dogs Like Blue and Yellow
From a human perspective, dogs are technically colorblind.
So, what is it exactly about a dog’s eye anatomy that contributes to this color blindness?
The answer is found in the retina.
Within the retina are photoreceptors called rods and cones.
Rods detect motion, while cones discern different colors.
A healthy human eye contains three types of cones, but a dog’s eye only includes two.
Because they only have two types of cones, dogs can only discern two colors: blue and yellow.
Because they can only distinguish two different colors, dogs are considered to have dichromatic vision.
Outside of the spectrum of blues and yellows, everything else to a dog appears to be a gray or brown color.
So the next time you find yourself searching for a new toy for your pet dog, consider buying a bright blue or yellow one.
The extra pop of vibrant color could give your dog an added incentive to fetch and play with the toy.
NOTE – You may enjoy reading this post about why dogs like looking out the window so much.
Anatomy of a Dog’s Eye
To understand a dog’s interpretation of colors, we must consider the anatomy of a dog’s eye.
Several components of a dog’s eye are similar to a human eye.
Here are some shared pieces of eye anatomy:
- Orbit: Bone socket that holds the eyeball in place.
- Sclera: Known as the white of the eye.
- Conjunctiva: Thin lining that covers the sclera.
- Iris: The colored part of the eye that contains smooth muscle. This muscle controls how much light enters the eye.
- Pupil: Located in the middle of the iris, this black part of the eye reacts to light by dilating and contracting.
- Cornea: Clear, dome-like structure that protects the iris and pupil. The cornea is also responsible for allowing light to focus on the back of the retina.
- Lens: Changes its shape as the retina focuses on light. The lens is behind the iris.
- Optic Nerve: All nerve fibers in the eye come together to form the optic nerve. This nerve carries messages to the brain about what the eye sees.
- Retina: By way of photoreceptors, the retina senses light, movement, and colors.
Dogs also have a few additional components of their eyes that humans do not have:
- Nictitating Membrane: Also known as the third eyelid, this part of a dog’s eye serves as an extra layer of protection. The nictitating membrane is located on the inside corner of a dog’s eye. This third eyelid sweeps across a dog’s eye when a dog blinks.
- Tapetum Lucidum: This part of a dog’s eye sits behind the retina and is why dogs can see more clearly at night than humans.
This fascinating video explains more about what colors dogs can see.
Just click the video, and it will start to play:
Note – If you are interested in how dogs’ eyes work, you might also be interested in this post answering the question of why do dogs’ pupils dilate?
How Clear Is a Dog’s Vision?
Perfect human vision is said to be 20/20. In other words, a person with perfect vision can see objects with clarity from 20 feet (6 meters) away.
Most dogs have a vision of around 20/75. Objects 20 feet (6 meters) away have the clarity of something 75 feet (23 meters) away.
A dog’s vision is a bit blurry compared to a human’s, which might seem surprising as their sense of smell and hearing is much better than ours.
Labrador Retrievers are the breed thought to have the best eyesight, closer to 20/20 vision.
This excellent vision is one of several reasons why Labs are often used as seeing-eye dogs.
Even though their vision is technically blurry and they can only see two different colors, dogs have advantages to their vision that humans do not have. Here are a few to note:
- Motion Sensitivity: Dogs have 10-20 times greater sensitivity to moving objects than humans. This is because dogs have more rods in their eyes than humans.
- Night Vision: Because of their Tapetum Lucidum, dogs can see in the dark quite well. Humans certainly can’t say the same.
- Extra Protection: Thanks to the nictitating membrane, dogs have an extra layer of protection for their eyes. This membrane is like a third eyelid and acts as a shield from physical harm. This membrane also helps keep the eyes moist by producing tears. Human eyes do not have a nictitating membrane.
NOTE – You find this post interesting. It asks the question: Do dogs like wearing their collars?
Final Dogs On What Colors Dogs Like the Most
The only colors that dogs can clearly see are blue and yellow.
So it is generally assumed that these are their favorite colors if, indeed, they do have colors they prefer.
If you are buying toys for your dogs, picking blue or yellow ones may be more fun for them to play with.
That’s the end of this post looking into the question: what colors do dogs like?
Thanks for stopping by to read The Factual Doggo!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!