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Are Dogs Colourblind? See Through Your Dog’s Eyes For Better Training

Are Dogs Colourblind? Poodle with colored balloons

If you could see the world through your dog’s eyes, what would you see? Are dogs really colourblind? You might be surprised to find that your dog’s vision is better than you expected. Even so, dogs cannot see as well as humans. Learn about your dog’s vision to improve the way you use visual cues to train and communicate. 

Are Dogs Really Colourblind?

What Your Dog Sees - Rainbow over field of red flowers, dog vision comparison

It’s true that dogs are colourblind, but there is a common misconception that they see the world in shades of grey. 

Dogs actually see very similarly to humans who have red-green colourblindness. They see their surroundings in shades of dull yellow, brown, and blue. 

 If you throw a red ball into the grass therefore, it’s going to be hard for your dog to locate it by sight. You may want to choose blue or yellow toys and training equipment so they stand out better for your dog. 

Some dog trainers also wear blue or yellow shirts to help focus their dog’s attention. While there is no need to change your whole wardrobe for your dog, you might want to wear blue when you are working on off-lead recall. 

How Clear Is Your Dog’s Vision?

Normal vision for humans is 20/20, meaning that you should be able to see clearly up to 20 feet. 

For dogs, normal vision is equivalent to a person with 20/70 vision, meaning that objects that are 20 feet away appear to be as blurry, as though they’re 70 feet away for a person with normal vision. 

How Dogs See Are Dogs Nearsighted Dogs Have 20 70 Vision

Simply put, your dog is nearsighted. They can see you clearly when you’re a few feet away, but they might have more trouble locating you by sight if you’re across the yard. 

Dogs also seem to respond more to objects in motion than at rest, especially if they have a heritage rich in hunting genes. 

So if you’re working on recall and want your dog to come when called when you’re across the yard, your best bet is to move around while you call them to get their attention. 

Can Dogs See At Night?

While they may not be able to see all colours or at a distance, dogs do have us beat in one area: seeing at night. 

Dogs have a reflective layer at the back of their retinas called a tapetum lucidum. This layer acts as a mirror that reflects light in low light settings to help them see better at night. Naturally, this means that dogs cannot see in the complete darkness, but they’re able to see better than we can at dusk. 

Even so, you should still opt for reflective and light-up harnesses and collars if you walk your dog at night or if there’s a chance they could get lost and find themselves running near roads at night. Reflective gear helps make your dog visible to drivers to lessen the chance that they’ll get hit by a car. 

Engaging Your Dog’s Other Senses

Your dog relies on all of their senses to keep their surroundings in check. 

You can help sharpen your dog’s senses by allowing them to sniff on walks, playing hide and seek, and doing nosework. 

You can also take advantage of your dog’s acute sense of hearing to help them locate you. Dogs are better at hearing high pitched sounds, so a whistle can be more effective than using your voice for recall. 

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