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Animals See in Monochrome

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It's a common misconception that animals, especially dogs and cats, see in only black and white. This is based on very old and outdated research. Science Marches On, with more modern research indicating that different species see differently and some animals can even see colours that humans can't. Domestic dogs, for example, aren't completely colorblind but they see colours less clearly than humans. Dogs don't differentiate orange and yellow well, but they can tell various shades of blue and green.note 

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Despite it being inaccurate, fiction hasn't caught onto this. Many jokes and references revolve around dogs and other animals seeing in monochrome and suffering from Colorblind Confusion.

Sub-Trope to Artistic License – Biology. Contrast with Unexpectedly Human Perception.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • In this M&M's commerical, Yellow finds a bloodhound to hunt down the Grey Impostor. But since dogs only see black & white, the dog mistakes Red for the imposter and swallows him.
  • Commercials for the Sega Game Gear mocked the Game Boy's monochromatic screen by having a dog stare at the two handhelds, with the announcer saying "If you were colorblind and had an IQ of less than 12, then you wouldn't care which portable you had. Of course, you wouldn't care if you drank from the toilet, either." Views from the dog's eyes are shown in black and white.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. The Liese twins, being shapshifting cats, are not outright colorblind, but they are implied to have a much more narrow range of color vision than humans given that their Nanoha and Fate disguises get the colors of the Barrier Jackets wrong.
  • It's shown that at least Spearow see this way in Pokémon (whereas some other species see colors enough to fit Bull Seeing Red). If they're anything like their real life bird counterparts, they should see in full-color.
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    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One dog is shown asking God to let him and the rest of his family to see in color in his nightly prayer.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Inverted in "The Paris Tip", where Bolt, Mittens, and Berlioz are depicted as having a realistic amount of color vision for their species, more limited than humans but not fully color blind. Mittens and Berlioz, for example, are able to see the blue stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One joke in Cats & Dogs revolves around dogs being unable to stop a bomb because they can't differentiate between the wire colours.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs: According to Rachel who morphed a cat early on, cats aren't so much colorblind as they are indifferent: "Oh, that thing's red. Who cares?" Smell and motion are much more important.
  • Silverwing: Kenneth Oppel mentions in the author's note that bats see in black-and-white, and points out that he never mentions any other color in the book. It has since been discovered that at least some bats do see in color.
  • Due to Science Marches On, The Fox and the Hound depicts canines as completely colorblind.
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    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy has a few Furry Reminder jokes about Brian (a Funny Animal dog) seeing in black-and-white.
  • It's mentioned in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) that Zoe (a dog) can't see red. It's likely going for this trope, but it is actually Accidentally Correct Writing as dogs don't see red.
  • In Martha Speaks, Martha is a dog who can't tell the difference between red and green.
  • Mike the Ox from Sonic Boom is colorblind, as revealed in the episode, "Bro-Down Showdown". When he and Knuckles are paired up on the titular Show Within a Show, when asked what color Knuckles is, Mike incorrectly guesses that Knuckles is green, even though he's red. When a red light flashes afterwards, indicating an incorrect answer, Mike asks if the light was green.
  • In several episodes of The Simpsons we get to see the world through the eyes of the family dog Santa's Little Helper. These POV shots are shown in black and white.
  • Rugrats: The episode "A Dog's Life" features several POV shots of Tommy's dog Spike seeing the world in black-and-white (as well as humans speaking in gibberish).
  • One episode of The Cramp Twins has a few scenes where the viewer sees through the monkeys' eyes and they see in monochrome, though unusually for this trope, they see only in brown instead of gray. While color vision in new-world monkeys (like the ones shown here) isn't as great as that of humans and other old-world monkeys, they can still see shades of blue and green.

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