Can Dogs See Color? A Veterinarian Shares the Answer
Veterinarian Dr. Lori Teller, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, shares how a dog's vision is connected to their love of tennis balls
Rainbows look a bit different to your dog.
TikTok users are curious about how canines see the world thanks to a popular filter on the social media app. The Dog Vision filter available on TikTok claims to show users what colors dogs can see.
A TikTok video with the Dog Vision filter shows footage drained of color except for yellows, blues, beiges, and grays. The results have left some TikTok-using dog owners rushing to the pet store to buy products that appear the brightest through the Dog Vision filter.
To get answers on how dogs see, including what colors canines can register, PEOPLE reach out to veterinarian Dr. Lori Teller, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVWA).
"Dogs see a smaller range of colors than people do. We have three types of color-detecting cells (cones) in our eyes that respond to red, blue, and green light, while dogs only have two types of cones that respond to blue and yellow light. This means dogs can't perceive red and green; instead, those colors may appear to them as shades of gray or brown," Teller told PEOPLE.
Human vision and canine vision differ in other ways than the colors each species perceives.
"Dogs have a wider field of view—up to 270 degrees depending on the breed, compared to the 180-degree view of most people. This is due to the differences in the position of the eyes on the head. Although a wider field of view helps dogs scan the horizon, it also compromises their depth perception, which is less precise than ours," Dr. Teller shared.
"Dogs generally are unable to see things at a distance as clearly as we can," she added.
Additionally, dog eyes are more sensitive to motion and are better at seeing in dim light.
"This is due to their eyes having more light-sensitive cells and a special tissue layer called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects incoming light. These features, coupled with the dog's excellent sense of smell and hearing, make their perception of the world uniquely suited to their needs and natural behaviors," Dr. Teller said.
"Because dogs have color receptors for blue and yellow but not red, toys and objects that are blue and yellow tend to stand out more to them than those that are red or green. This is part of why many dogs love chasing yellow tennis balls," the veterinarian shared.
But it's not just color that counts. Dr. Teller shared that motion is also important when choosing dog toys.
"Dogs are likely to be attracted to toys or objects that move, as their eyes are better at detecting and following movement than human eyes. Toys that bounce, roll, or can be thrown for them to chase may be extra appealing. Applying these ideas with games like fetch also helps meet their social needs since they get to play with you, too!" she said.
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The AVMA president also recommends looking into playthings that trigger your dog's other senses.
"The texture, smell, and sound of a toy can be just as, if not more, important in attracting a dog's interest. For instance, toys that have a certain scent or make a noise when squeezed can be particularly engaging for dogs. Novelty is also important to dogs, so rotating different types of toys is an easy way to keep playtime fun," Dr. Teller said.
The vet also stressed "that each dog is an individual with their own preferences. What one dog loves, another might ignore. So it's also about finding what your particular dog enjoys."Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.