It’s a common belief that dogs are color blind. But that’s not entirely true. Dogs do have some perception of color – like yellow, blue and grey – but when it comes to red and green, they cannot tell the difference.
Recent studies (published in the Royal Society journal Open Science) into canine color spectrum perception have proved beyond doubt that dogs have a condition called deuteranopia. In other words, they are red-green color blind.
The evolutionary history of dogs, when they were creatures in the wild, holds clues about why this is so. As a crepuscular species that was most active during dawn and twilight hours, dogs did not need to be able to see in a full spectrum of colors in order to find prey in those low-light conditions. And even though canines are domesticated now and active during daylight hours, same as their human families, their vision has not evolved fast enough to keep pace with their changed circumstances.
Now that you know that dogs cannot perceive red and green, can you imagine how difficult it must be for them to play with a red ball in a green park? They can only depend on the perceived brightness of the ball to differentiate it from the surrounding green grass.
“The [discovery] that dogs are red-green color blind is not only important for people directly involved in dog training but also for owners who want to improve their dog’s attentive skills during some activities,” Dr Marcello Siniscalchi, from the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Bari in Italy, told The Telegraph. “If at the park you want to get your dog to catch a flying Frisbee or to bring back a ball falling on the green grass it would be better if you thought of using blue instead of red toys.”
Interesting, isn’t it?
For the longest time, dog-owners have chosen red toys for their pet because the color is so bright, bold and easy to find when, say, a ball rolls into the bushes. Now, we have scientific proof that our pets would play better and enjoy their games more if only their toys were blue!