It has always been hotly debated whether dogs could see colors or only black and white. The general consensus has been that dogs can differentiate brightness, but not colors. Russian scientists now think they have proof that dogs indeed have a more colorful world.
The eyes of both people and dogs contain special light catching cells called cones that respond to color. People have three types of cones in our eyes, allowing us to see all the primary colors. Scientists at the Institute for Information Transmission Problems of the Russia Academy of Sciences now believe dogs have two types of cones. Initially researchers thought this would enable dogs to see blues, greens and yellows, but not reds or oranges, so they set up an experiment to test that.
First they trained several dogs to respond to one of four different colored pieces of paper, light or dark yellow and light or dark blue, by putting paper pairs in front of feed boxes that contained meat. Certain colors led the dog to get a treat.
Next, the researchers placed pieces of paper with the color the dogs had been taught to respond to in front of a feed box, along with another piece of paper that was brighter, but of a different color, to see if a dog trained to respond to light blue would respond to dark blue instead of light yellow.
A majority of the dogs went for the color identifier rather than brightness identifier most of the time, the scientists said, proving they were able to distinguish color and were not relying on brightness difference to find their food treat.
In case you think we have a leg up on dogs because we see more colors, dog's eyes are actually much better than ours when it comes to movement or darkness. Ever wonder how your dog can see a mouse even before you can? Dogs can see movement better than their dog owners because they have a special type of cell in their eyes called a rod, which reacts only to movement. And at night? Their pupils dilate, their eyes shine (theshiny part is called the tapetum and acts like a mirror, reflecting any light that enters the eye) and their rod cells help them see better in even low light, but not distinguish details as well.
At Bark Busters Home Dog Training, we are always eager to learn new things about our dog's senses, which can help us to understand their behavior even better. And understanding dogs and their pack mentality is what Bark Buster's is all about!