I’ve always known that dog eyesight is different from human eyesight.
Specifically, dogs see color differently than we humans do.
In the past, I’ve wondered why some of the toys that I bought for my dogs didn’t seem to be enjoyed by them.
This is kind of important… because most of us buy a lot of dog toys for our four-legged friends. We want to find the best dog toys that they will spend the most time playing with — right?
Well, it turns out that our dogs’ favorite toys may have something to do with their color!
Dog Color Vision Explained
Basically, dogs are not not actually colorblind — dogs see color.
However, dogs see all colors of the rainbow as shades of blue or yellow — as seen in the 2 photos below.
(LEFT: the human visual color spectrum RIGHT: canine visual color spectrum)
This the best way I’ve seen dog eyesight explained with regard to colors:
The retina of the eye has 2 main types of cell — rods (which detect light levels and motion) and cones (which differentiate colors). Human eyes have 3 types of cones that can identify combinations of red, blue, and green. Dogs possess only 2 types of cones and can only discern blue and yellow — this limited color perception is called dichromatic vision. Humans may have more cones (allowing us to see more colors and see them brighter than dogs do), but dogs have more rods (giving them the edge when it comes to seeing in low light or identifying moving objects). Source
So… when it comes to buying dog toys, there are certain colors of dog toys that your dog will see (and probably like) better, and certain colors of dog toys that your dog will have a harder time seeing (and probably play with less).
Here are the dog toy colors to buy and the colors to avoid…
Best Color For Dog Toys
Since dogs see some colors better than others, with our new 3-month-old puppies, I’ve (mostly) made a point of buying toys in colors that dogs can see best.
Therefore, I try to buy dog toys in these colors:
Worst Color For Dog Toys
On the other hand, I try not to buy dog toys in these colors:
One amusing or odd fact is that the most popular colors for dog toys today are red or safety orange (the bright orange red on traffic cones or safety vests). However, red is difficult for dogs to see. It may appear as a very dark brownish gray or perhaps even a black. This means that that bright red dog toy that is so visible to you may often be difficult for your dog to see. That means that when your own pet version of Lassie runs right past the toy that you tossed she may not be stubborn or stupid. It may be your fault for choosing a toy with a color that is hard to discriminate from the green grass of your lawn. Source
The Bottom Line…
This is how dogs see color (toys, fabrics, backgrounds, etc):
- Red looks brownish
- Pink looks brownish gray
- Purple looks blue
- Green looks yellowish brown
- Orange looks yellowish
TIP: The easiest way that I remember the best color for dog toys and which colors to avoid is by singing (to myself) the Rainbow Song each time before I buy a new dog toy. The first 3 colors mentioned are NOT dog-friendly colors, while the last 3 colors in the song ARE dog-friendly colors!
Here are the best selling dog toys on Amazon. I’ve purchased many of them — choosing the blue or yellow version whenever possible, since those are the best color for dog toys.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!