Illustration for article titled Should You Really Buy Blue Dog Toys?Photo: alexei_tm (Shutterstock)

Dog owners often take dog comfort to dizzying extremes, like feeding their dogs homemade meals or being registered Fancy going to camps to sleep. When it comes to buying dog toys, it has become popular to consider the color of that toy when trying to make the best purchase possible.

There are dogs red-green color blind and don’t navigate the world visually (or physically) like their two-legged human companions, some lay experts Insist that dog toys are blue – a color that should be very apparent to a dog frolicking in a grassy green meadow or among fall foliage.

But is the color of a dog toy really that important? You don’t need to be a veterinarian to know that dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to understand their surroundings and that other stimuli affect their understanding of the physical world more than sight. So you should take the advice of Reddit, or maybe you take your cues from the little body of Scientific literature that suggests a blue toy is important?

Color is not as important as other factors

A dog’s preference for toys doesn’t depend so much on color, but on a number of different stimuli. According to Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, director of the Thinking Dog Center at the City University of New York, the issue of brightness is just as important to visual perception as color in general. She explains that dogs are dichromatic, which means they only have two cone photoreceptor cells that can see blue and yellow, while humans have three that can see combinations of red, blue, and green.

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However, when it comes to allowing a dog to recognize similar colors, brightness is key to parsing the subtle differences. “Two shades of a similar color are still recognizable and recognizable if only they vary in brightness,” she told Lifehacker, before expanding the relationship between brightness and color for dogs.

The takeaway is that a green tennis ball isn’t necessarily that much harder for a dog to see rolling through a field of grass or artificial turf, as long as tiny differences in color reflect a particular stimulus, such as sunlight. She stated:

Color perception can change depending on the brightness of a particular stimulus. When light from these stimuli is reflected, like a red ball thrown onto green grass, the colors reflect the light differently. Dogs are sensitive to changes in brightnessWhile the colors of the ball and grass may not look like red and green to a dog, they probably still vary in how bright they are.

There is also the problem of texture. Similar to humans, dogs often rely on the differences in texture and shape of their environment to distinguish toys from plants or heaps of earth, for example. Byosiere describes another situation that indicates how dogs navigate their environment without relying on color:

If you can imagine seeing a brown ball on brown grass, you can probably still identify an object that is present because the structure / outline of the ball is different from the structure of the grass. One is thin and lanky while the other is round and has different edges. It may take a little longer, but you can probably find it using other clues (beyond color).

How do you choose the right toy?

The problem is not as complicated as you might think. Veterinarian Valerie Patton tells Lifehacker that a dog’s liking for a toy is quite similar to a child’s propensity to be interested in certain toys.

She wrote in an email:

I’ve found that the texture, size, and ability to destroy it, or whether or not it has a squeaker, makes the toy a keeper or not. Like children, dogs have reasons to like certain toys that sometimes we can understand and sometimes we can’t.

And while consideration of the color of a toy suggests that an owner is commendably considering their dog’s preference, it’s probably better to let your dog decide which toy they prefer. As Byosiere says, choosing a toy based largely on its color simplifies and underestimates the dog’s perceptual abilities. Instead, owners should buy their dogs a variety of toys and let their pets figure out which toy they like best.

Byosiere describes the best way to do this:

Give them a choice of the objects they play with, rotate the toys so they never get bored (don’t always leave them accessible around the house), and find creative ways to keep your puppy mental with novels and adjustments Enrich the toys they have.

With this in mind, your dog will be chewing his favorite toy or tennis ball into pieces in no time, regardless of its color.