In A Nutshell
A long-held belief is that dogs are color-blind and are only able to see in shades of black, white, and gray. It was believed that dogs primarily used brightness, not color, to identify objects. However, a team of Russian researchers recently conducted experiments that show dogs can actually detect and differentiate between several colors.
The Whole Bushel
One of the first things anyone was likely ever taught about dogs, other than the fact that they are man’s best friend and enjoy nuzzling crotches, is that they are color-blind. For a long time, it was believed that dogs could only see in shades of white, black, and gray and that they identified things by the brightness of the object and not its actual color.
However, a group of Russian researchers determined that this is not actually the case, and that dogs can in fact see some colors. The belief that dogs were color-blind was based on the fact that while humans have three cones in their eyes, dogs only have two. The Russians put together a series of experiments that seem to prove that despite this difference, dogs in the study were more likely to identify an object based on its color as opposed to its brightness, contradicting the long-standing theory that they are color-blind.
The researchers trained the dogs to identify certain colors with different objects, such as food. After a short time, when the dogs spotted those specific colors, they began associating them with the treats, proving that it was the color, and not the brightness of the sheets of paper being used, that the dogs were identifying. The experimenters found that dogs can at least see some greens, blues, and yellows.