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Can Labradors See Colors?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could see the world through the same eyes as your Labrador sees the world?  Today, we are going to talk about your dogs’ vision and whether your dog can see colors just like we see.

Can Labradors see colors?  Even though dogs do not see the same way that we see, Labradors can see some colors, even though not as sophisticatedly as humans can.

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How Do Labradors See Colors?

In a dog’s eyes, there are cones that are found inside of their retina, just like in a human eyeball.  These cones help to see light and are sensitive to the different lights that the dog sees.  Each of these cones act as a receiver for the light wavelengths that pass through the retina.

Even though people have three different cones, a Labrador only has two kinds of cones.  Their vision is called dichromatic vision.  Having dichromatic vision limits how a dog sees certain colors.

Red-Green Color Blind

Labradors, like other mammals are considered to be red-green color blind.  This means that dogs are not able to see red and green colors as well as they are other colors such as white and yellow. 

It is hard for a dog to be able to distinguish between orange and green so this is why if you buy an orange ball and throw it in the grass, your Labrador might have a hard time finding the ball. 

People that are training their Labradors to use their scent over their eyesight will most likely use orange toys or training devices because it is hard for Labs to see these and they then have to turn to their sense of smell.

Why is Dog Vision Important?

Even though Labradors might not be able to see colors like people can, their vision is super important.  Since a Labrador has less cones in their retina than a person does, their eyes have more rods.

The rods help a Labrador Retriever to have better vision at night, or night vision.  When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the cones that give color vision do not work as hard and the rods begin to work harder making it so your Labrador can see much better in the night than people can.

Your Labrador will not be able to see in pitch black, with no light at all, but your Lab will be able to see really good when it gets dusk out.

Do Labrador Retrievers Have Better Vision Than Other Dogs?

It is said that Labrador Retrievers are one of the tops seeing breeds of dogs that exist.  This happens because they are bred to have better vision, and this helps them when they hunt. 

If your Labrador has been bred to be a working dog, it is more likely that he or she will have better vision than a Labrador that has been bred to be a show dog. 

What Should Your Labs Eyes Look Like?

If you are an owner of any dog, you want to make sure that your dogs’ eyes are healthy and strong.  It is important, especially for Labrador Retriever dogs that you know what their eyes should look like and that you check them often to make sure they are healthy.

If you look at your Labrador’s eyes and you see that they are cloudy looking, you need to take them to the vet immediately for a checkup.  Having an eye infection that goes untreated can lead to blindness in your dog and can also impair their vision.

What Color Are My Labrador Retriever’s Eyes?

There are different types of Labrador breeds and this is one thing that depends on what color your Lab’s eyes will be.  It is a rule of thumb that yellow Labradors and black Labradors will have hazel or green colored eyes and that Chocolate Labradors will have brown eyes. 

Some Labradors have green, yellow and even gray eyes, so it just depends on what type of Labrador that you have to know what color eyes they will have.

Do Labrador Retrievers Have Eye Problems?

One thing that Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to is eye disease.  It is important that you get your dogs vision tested each year to make sure that your Labrador is not getting any type of eye diseases.

One of the most common eye diseases that Labrador Retrievers can face is retinal atrophy.  This is also known as rod-cone degeneration and this eye disease can cause your Labrador Retriever to go blind before they are even in their teen years. 

If you get your dog tested for retinal atrophy, chances are that they can catch the disease before it shows any physical signs.  Some physical signs of retinal atrophy include:

  • Glowing eyes
  • Wide pupils

Retinal Dysplasia

Another eye disease that Labrador’s can face is called retinal dysplasia, and this happens when the retina layer folds over the eye and causes the Labrador to not be able to focus their vision very well.  Most of the time, this disease happens to puppies and gets better as they get older. 

There are three different types of retinal dysplasia:  multifocal, focal and geographical.  With the multifocal and focal dysplasia, the disease manifests as dots in the center of the eye.  In geographical dysplasia, the disease is in different areas including the central area.

When retinal dysplasia happens, it means that one of the six layers of membranes can detach from one another and it can cause the brain not to be able to get signals from the eyes.  One thing about Labrador Retrievers specifically is that they often times have their retina membrane separate from their eyeball more than other dogs do.

Retinal dysplasia can lead to your dog being blind and there is not a lot that can be done when this happens.

Canine Cataracts

Labrador Retrievers are also susceptible to cataracts called canine cataracts.  This happens when their lens becomes cloudy.  When a canine gets a cataract, it causes them to not be able to see well and it causes the Labrador to have poor vision.  Physical signs of canine cataracts include:

  • Milky Eyes
  • White Streaks
  • A Cracked Ice Look
  • Small White Spots

Cataracts happen most of the time through heredity, but they can also be caused by diseases or injuries or even old age of your Labrador Retriever.

Cataracts can be treated by surgery and this can help your Labrador to be able to see clearly.


Just like people, Labrador Retrievers are known to wake up with sleepy in and around their eyes.  This eye discharge is something that is natural because it is natures way to help clean out dust and other allergens out of your dogs’ eyes. 

If you see that anything comes out that is weird looking like bloody or some strange looking color, then chances are that your dog might have an eye disease.

Strange discharge can likely mean that there is something that is blocking the tear duct and not allowing the tear glands to discharge correctly.  Other diseases that can be correlated with ugly discharge include:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Glaucoma
  • Uveitis
  • Blepharitis
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

If you see a strange discharge, clean your Labrador’s eyes with a warm, wet cloth and then contact your vet immediately to make sure that your dog’s eyes are taken care of. 


Distichiasis is another eye disease the Labrador Retrievers can have, and this is a disease where your dog has an extra set of eyelashes on the lower eyelid or even the upper eyelid.  When this happens, it can cause irritation because the extra set of eyelids rub on the cornea and cause the eye to become watery and can cause there to be swelling or ulcers.

Some physical signs of Distichiasis include:

  • Tears
  • Squinting
  • Scarring
  • Dark Coloring
  • Dark Blood Vessels


Entropion is a disorder of the eyelid where the lower or upper eyelid goes inward, and this can cause there to be eye irritation.  This often times happens because of extra folds of skin that are present around the eyes. 

Entropion can be seen from birth of your Labrador Retriever or can develop as they get older.  Some physical signs of Entropion include:

  • Blinking
  • A Lot of Tear Production
  • Blinking Spasms

Surgery can be done to remove the folds of skin that are causing the eye to have irritation.  Some dogs do not need the surgery and are not affected by the excessive skin.


Ectropion is another disorder of the eyelid where the eyelid goes outward from the eye.  This can allow dirt and other allergens to get into the eye.

Some physical symptoms of Ectropion include:

  • A Lot of Tear Production
  • Swelling
  • Redness

Labrador Retrievers that have Ectropion can get an ointment that can be applied to the eye and will help to reduce the swelling.  In worse cases of Ectropion, surgery might be required to correct the eyelid.

What Does Genetic Screening Have to do with Labrador Blindness?

One thing that is certain is that we all want our animals to be healthy and strong.  One thing with breeding animals is that there are times when a disease can be passed down from one generation to the next. 

One important thing to ask for when you are purchasing a Labrador Retriever from a breeder is to have an ophthalmological screening done before making your purchase.  Labrador dogs can be screened before they are even six weeks old and this can tell you if they are prone to certain eye diseases or not. 

If your dog is 12 months old and passes their screening, chances are that they do not have any genetically created eye diseases and they will most likely have healthy vision.

How Can You Prevent Eye Diseases from Harming Your Labrador?

Even though some eye diseases that are hereditary cannot be prevented, other eye diseases can be prevented or controlled by having your pet screened on a regular basis and by going in to the vet if there are any eye complications or if your Labs eyes look weird or different.

What Causes Labrador Retriever’s Eyes to be Red?

If your have a dog that has red eyes, this probably means that your dog’s eyes are irritated.  This means that your dog could have some type of underlying sickness, or it could mean that your dog is experiencing allergies. 

A dog’s eyes are sensitive because they more rods than humans do and therefore, they can become sensitive and irritated easily.

If your dogs’ eyes are red or swollen, it can be different types of problems from allergies to a life changing disease.  Some of the more common reasons for red eyes in your Labrador include:

  • Allergies-Your dog can have allergies to the weather and to foods.
  • Injury-If your dog has been out in the woods or running around the yard and they come in with a red eye, chances are that they have scratched their eye or they might have an object in their eye that is hard for you to see.
  • Conjunctivitis-Even though most people have only heard of people getting Pinkeye, this is a disease that Labrador’s can get as well.  This is a disease that causes the eye to be itchy and red and can cause the eye and eyelid to swell.
  • Dry Eye Syndrome-Another disease that we know about because people experience it is Dry Eye Syndrome.  This is where the eye can be unusually dry and can cause it to be red or swollen.  Dry Eye Syndrome is very prominent in humans but can also be found in Labrador Retriever’s as well.
  • Glaucoma-Glaucoma is an eye disease that is prominent in Labrador Retriever dogs.  This is where there is pressure that builds up behind the eye.  If your dog’s eye is red or swollen, it could be a cause of glaucoma.
  • Uveitis-Uveitis is another disease that can cause redness and swelling.  This can be painful for your Lab and can be treated with medication.

When Should Your Labrador Visit the Vet for Eyecare?

Your Labrador should visit the vet annually for eyecare but if there are certain physical signs, it is important to take them to the vet right away for a checkup.  Some of the signs that should not be ignored include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Your Dog Rubbing Their Face
  • Discharge
  • Squinting

What Will Your Vet Do at the Vision Appointment?

When you take your Labrador Retriever into the vet for a vision appointment, your vet will do an eye exam so that they can check all the different parts of your Lab’s eyes.  Your vet might even do some tests that look familiar to human vision exams such as waving an object in front of your dogs’ eyes and moving it around.  Your vet will also take pictures of your dogs’ eyes so that they can see all parts of their eyes.

If your dog is having trouble with discharge, your vet might do a Schirmer Tear Test.  This test is done to see if your dog is producing enough tears and keeping the eyes moist.  With this test, your vet will hold a piece of paper on the lower eyelid.  Your Labrador will most likely not like this test, but it is not painful at all.

Much like visiting the eye doctor, your vet might test the pressure of your dogs’ eyes using what is called a tonometer.  This tool can test the pressure behind your Lab’s eyes to make sure that your dog does not have glaucoma. 

If you go to your vet believing that your Labrador has scratched their eye, your vet might perform a test called the Fluorescein Stain Test.  With this test, your vet will put in eye drops that have dye in them.  These eye drops will help your vet to be able to see if there are scratches or any type of eye injury that cannot be seen just by looking.

If all of the other tests come back normal, your vet might suggest a blood test.  Blood tests can help to make sure that your Labrador does not have any type of health issue that might be causing their eye to be red or swollen.

How Can You Keep Your Lab’s Eye’s Healthy?

It is important to do the best you can to keep your Lab’s eyes healthy.  Some ways to do this include:

  • Watching for Signs of Eye Problems.
  • Keeping the Hair Trimmed Around the Eyes.
  • Cleaning Eyes or Applying Warm Rags as Needed.
  • Regular Vet Exams.


If you have a Labrador Retriever, you want to make sure that their eyes are strong and healthy.  Even though Lab’s cannot see colors as well as humans, being able to see is very important. 

Seeing can help to improve your Lab’s everyday life, especially if your Lab is a hunting dog.  It is important to know the signs of any eye disease and to make sure that you do a regular vet check to keep your dog healthy and strong.