View Full Version : The colours dog see, and how it can affect training

21st January 2013, 04:26 PM
This is fascinating, if you have wondered what dogs actually see -- and maybe thought it didn't matter when doing agility or training your dog!


21st January 2013, 05:16 PM
Guinness sees red. I realised this when I bought him a red toy, and then after getting it home promptly remembered my border collie who literally could not find a red tennis against a white, or green background. This was a source of frustration for him, as he owned a red tennis ball, but it was essentially worthless for fetch. The border collie (Pip) had exceptional ability to find green frisbees, balls, etc. in grass; far better than I could.

Guinness would bound across the room to grab this particular red toy, and never misjudged the location. It was against beige floors, which would certainly be more difficult than white, or green.

So, I'm not sure the color blindness applies equally to all dogs.

Kate H
21st January 2013, 07:01 PM
John Bradshaw's 'In Defence of the Dog' has some good stuff on what dogs can see - they aren't colour blind, they just have a more limited range of colour recognition because they only have two colour-sensitive cones, instead of the three that humans have. I remember reading somewhere that the best colour they see against grass is actually blue - so I'm going to paint the ends of Aled's dumbell blue before the obedience season starts!

Kate, Oliver and Aled (who came home from a run round the park in the snow looking like a snowdog!)

21st January 2013, 07:09 PM
I had always read that dogs were colorblind, but Rose has always preferred her hot pink wiffle ball over the white and yellow ones. Then I read about dogs being able to see red, and that made a lot more sense! :rolleyes: Now I'm just confused, lol.

I forgot to say that most of the time, she is chasing the ball on "copper" colored floors, or beige and green earthtone rugs...Maybe some dogs can see reds?

Kate H
22nd January 2013, 09:57 AM
According to John Bradshaw, dogs can see the yellow/orange/red spectrum but can't distinguish between them (that's the cone they're missing in their eyes) - so they will be able to recognise a ball on the general spectrum (ie a red ball as opposed to a blue ball), but not distinguish between a yellow ball and an orange ball by colour alone (there may be other things - size, smell - that influence their choice). And he also says that the lack of sensitivity to the red spectrum also affects how they see other colours that need an admix of red to be the colour that we see with our three cones - for example, green leaves on a tree may appear grey-green rather than what we see as a bright leaf green. Think how the colours on your printer change when the magenta ink is running low.

Kate, Oliver and Aled