The idea that dogs can see only in black and white went out with the myth that people dream only in black and white. But can canines see the spectrum of colors humans do? If you go to the pet store and look at the variety of colors dog toys come in, you’d guess yes. But research shows that dogs’ eyes lack certain cone cells needed to see the rainbow of colors we’re used to. Particularly difficult to distinguish are red and green, which may become rather beigey-brown.
So when your dog accompanies you to the pet store, instead of seeing the riot of color in the toys above, he may see something like this:
It’s food for thought next time you’re trying to decide if Maggie would rather have the green toy or the red toy. She probably sees both as members of the taupe family, so don’t spend too much time fretting over it. (Christmas, with its ubiquitous red and green, must be a visually depressing time of year for dogs.)
I took the photos in this post on my iPhone, using a cool new app called Pet Vision, by the fledgling Unwired Innovations. Its goal is to let you see the world as your dog sees it. Oh, and if you have a cat, you can push the cat icon and see the world through a cat’s eyes. Here’s what the above scene would apparently look like to a cat, if the app is accurate:
Pity the kitties. Pity them…
Here’s a look at Kongs as most non-colorblind humans see them:
The most popular Kong color is red, as most dogs know. When faced with the choice of Kong colors recently, I opted to buy Jake a red one. I like the color, and without thinking, I probably figured he’d prefer it, too. I wish I’d had my Pet Vision app handy at the time! Check out how dogs see the Kongs:
Hard to believe that red becomes this sickly mustard yellow color. At least pink is still somewhat reminiscent of itself, and black is still black.
But don’t feel sorry for dogs. They’re used to seeing things this way. And dogs’ night vision is way better than yours, if that makes the playing field more equal.
If you’re going to feel bad for someone, pity the kitty:
If you’ve read this far, you’re a fan of vision, and maybe even a future fan of Pet Vision. Check it out at the app store. Want to win a free download of Pet Vision? Be the first to re-tweet this story, and we’ll provide you with a code for a free download. Just use @Dogster so we can track it.