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Can canines see colors, or are they stuck in a black-and-white world? The answer is, well, not black and white. Our pets can see some colors, but it’s not exactly a rainbow-colored world for them. Let’s go back to middle-school biology class for a moment and take a look at the eye. Just like us, our dogs’ eyes work like cameras — light passes through the lens and an image is “recorded” on the back of the eye (the retina). The retina contains two types of receptor cells: rods, which can “see” black and white, and cones, which are responsible for perceiving colors. Together, they tell the brain what it is seeing, and how the world should be colored in.

In dogs’ eyes, just 10% of the photoreceptors are cones. There are two distinct cones in a canine eye; one that is maximally sensitive to violet light, and one that is maximally sensitive to yellow-green light. Because of this, dogs are not able to distinguish between green, red, yellow or orange objects.

Just like in color blind people, to dogs, all these colors appear in the same shade. So the next time you’re at the pet store deciding between the red toy or the green one, pick the one you prefer — because it really is all the same to your dog!

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