Are Dogs color-blind?Featured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
8
Project cost ($):
80
Time required:
14 days to prepare, 1 day for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Participation of 5 different breed of dogs required.
Safety concerns:

Be careful when handling unfamiliar dogs. Have a dog trainer or dog owner handle the dogs.

Abstract

This science fair project was conducted to find out if dogs can differentiate between different colors. The science project experiment involved using 4 types of colors and 5 breeds of dogs.

Hypothesis

Dogs are able to differentiate between blue and yellow colors.

Background

Dogs and colors

Dogs are believed to be generally color blind, although they are able to see some color.. The reason for this is that humans have three types of color receptors in the eye that can detect the colors blue, red and greenish yellow, whereas dogs only have color receptors for greenish blue and yellow.

This means that dogs are not completely color blind but they are unable to see the complete spectrum of colors that humans do. It is believed that dogs are unable to differentiate between red, orange, yellow and green, and that they have the same problem with blue and grey. Studies however claim that dogs can tell the difference between blue and yellow.

Scientific Terms

Color blind, receptors, color spectrum

Materials

The materials required for this science project:
- 5 plastic balls
- 5 plastic dog bones
- 5 breed of dogs together with owner or trainer
1. A Golden retriever
2. A Rough Collie
3. A Poodle
4. An Alsatian
5. A Jack Russell Terrier
- 4 boxes of same size each wrapped in blue, yellow, red and green color papers
- 1 box of dog snacks
- 1 spray can of air refresher

Procedure

1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the dog breed and the color of the boxes. The dependent variable is the box chosen by the dog. This is determined by observation. The constants (control variables) are the amount of training given to the dogs, the toys used and the type of treat given to the dogs.

2. The dogs are trained for 2 weeks with the help of the owners and dog trainers. When the word “ball” is said out loud, the dogs are trained to take ball out of the blue box. When the word “bone” is said out loud, the dogs are to retrieve the bone out of the red box. When the dogs perform the tasks correctly, they were rewarded with a dog snack. During the training sessions only one box was placed in front of the dogs, either the blue box or the red box.

3. After the 2 weeks of training.  the dogs are ready for the science experiment. The 4 colored boxes are prepared and air refresher sprayed over the boxes so that the dogs do not depend on  smell to select the boxes. The balls and plastic bones are also washed with scented soap.

4. For the first trial, the blue and yellow boxes are placed 2 meters apart in front of the dog.  The ball is in the blue box. The word “ ball” is said out loud and the dog is released. The first box the dog runs to is recorded. The position of the box is randomly changed and each dog is given 10 attempts to find the correct box and all observations are recorded.

5. For the second trial, the red and green boxes are placed 2 meters apart in front of the dog.  The bone is in the red box. At the command “bone”  the dog is released. The first box the dog runs to is recorded. The position of the box is randomly changed and each dog is again given 10 attempts to find the correct box and all observations are recorded.

Observation

It is observed that the dogs were able to differentiate between the blue box and yellow box but were not able to differentiate between the red  and green boxes.

Dog breed

Number of correct choices out of 10 attempts

Blue and yellow box

Red and green box

Golden retriever

9

4

Rough Collie

8

5

Poodle

9

4

Alsatian

7

6

Jack Russell Terrier

8

4

Average Percent

82%

46%

The graph below represents the results of our science project.

Dogs and color recognition experiment

Conclusion

Our hypothesis that  dogs are able to differentiate between blue and yellow, is proven to be true.

The inability of dogs to differentiate between most colors, is compensated by its keen vision, particularly, night vision. This makes them very useful as guard dogs.

Also consider

What would happen if the science fair project were to be repeated using combinations of colored boxes?

The science project experiment can be repeated using different breeds of dogs.

References

Can dogs see color? - http://www.certificate.net/wwio/pet0210010.shtml

Can dogs see colors? - http://www.colblindor.com/2007/02/27/can-dogs-see-colors/

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