There’s a widespread belief that dogs can’t see or recognize any color while some believe that only certain breeds see in black and white. So what’s the real score?
Are German Shepherds color blind? Do the colors of the toys and accessories you buy matter to your German Shepherd?
Are German Shepherds Color Blind?
Yes, German Shepherds are technically color blind. However, this does not mean that they do not see any color. Like most dogs, GSDs mostly see the world in hues of brown and gray, and their vision might not be as sharp as humans’. But how they see their environment is adapted to their needs as dogs and they can actually perceive some colors.
What Colors Do German Shepherds See?
According to research led by the Neitz ColorVision Lab, the way dogs perceive color is similar to humans with deuteranopia.
This condition is also called red-green color blindness, which means they can’t see shades of green and red the same way most humans do.
Though they might have trouble telling the difference between red and green, dogs are likely are able to see shades of yellow and blue. They should also be able to perceive combinations of those two colors.
This is something important to note when choosing toys and objects you’d like them to engage with.
Do German Shepherds Have Good Eyesight?
The eyesight of German Shepherds is no different than most dogs. Although they may not see the world with the same depth of color and sharpness as humans do, they can see just as much as they need to for the purposes of being a dog.
When it comes to eye health, German Shepherds fare better than many other breeds. They are not predisposed to blindness and other eye conditions like some breeds are.
For example, brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs are prone to corneal problems while long-haired dogs like Malteses and Sheepdogs are prone to eye infections.
Likewise, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are predisposed to a genetic condition called progressive retinal atrophy while Siberian Huskies are predisposed to cataracts and corneal dystrophy.
German Shepherds do not have similar eye-related genetic predispositions, so they are generally regarded as dogs with good eyesight.
Can German Shepherds See In The Dark?
Yes, German Shepherds can see in the dark and have better vision than humans in low light conditions. So, you can expect your dog to perceive much more than you during nighttime walks. However, keep in mind that no dog can see in the complete absence of light.
Human Vision vs. German Shepherd Vision
To fully appreciate the difference between how you see the world around you versus the way your dog does, it’s important to note the physical differences in the structure of the eyes.
Eyes have cones that pick up color spectra. Humans typically have cones that enable the perception of green, red, and blue colors.
In contrast, dogs only have two cones. This is why they are able to see blue and yellow and can distinguish between the two. However, shades of green and red are the same to them.
According to a 2018 study led by researchers from Duke University, humans can see up to seven times more detail than dogs can.
This conclusion is based on the anatomy of the eyes, specifically the differences in the density of structures that sense light.
Dogs have up to five times more rods in their eyes than humans do. These rods are extremely sensitive and are responsible not just for catching light but also for catching movement.
This makes your German Shepherd better at seeing animals and objects in motion than you are.
Dogs have larger corneal surfaces and larger lenses. They also have more rods and the presence of a reflective membrane called the tapetum. All these physical differences make them better adapted to seeing in the dark than humans.
Apart from having a larger corneal surface, you’ll notice that your dog’s eye placement is much farther apart than yours. This allows them to see much more of their surroundings.
They can see a larger portion on each side of their head, so their peripheral vision is much greater than humans’.
Check out this dog vision tool to help you have an even better understanding of the difference between your GSD’s vision and your own.
The Value Of Understanding Your Dog’s Vision
Ultimately, knowing how your dog sees the world shouldn’t really change anything about how you handle and care for them. However, it might make a difference to keep this in mind for maximum engagement.
For example, understanding how your German Shepherd sees can help you shop for the best dog toys. Remember that your dog is more likely to find a yellow ball on a green lawn than a red one.
Differences in texture will also be useful knowing that your dog’s vision doesn’t accommodate for much detail.
Although dogs seeing in black and white is a myth, it’s important to recognize that they don’t see their environment the same way humans do. Understanding this will help you have better insights into the way they perceive their environment.
Equally important is the fact that knowing the colors they see will help you select the best toys and accessories that will keep them most engaged.