I'm writing a werewolf story. I've been playing around with the idea of color blindness. After all, it's been commonly thought that dogs are color blind, wolves are related to dogs, you get the idea. But before deciding whether or not to even begin plotting that idea, I wanted to find out whether it was true. After all, I don't want to fall into a Did Not Do The Research trap like smelling fear.
My Googling was...less than optimal, results-wise. I started with 'wolves color blind'. I skimmed Wiki and Yahoo Answers, but unsurprisingly nothing good came up. I found one site that seemed fairly on the up-and-up that said, "Although little research has been done into a Wolf's ability to see color, it is believed that they may be partially color blind. Wolves have only red and blue photo receptors in their eyes, unlike humans, who have red, green, and blue photo receptors. Tests on domestic canines show that they may not be able to distinguish yellow from green or orange from red. Tests on Wolves, where red, blue, yellow, and green dyes were put onto clean snow, show that they often detect the red and yellow stains. This could be because they associate these colors with blood and urine and have little interest in the other colors. There is no conclusive evidence regarding the color vision abilities of Wolves, however. It is my personal belief that Wolves can see all of the colors, but only take an interest in those that might benefit them in some way."
This was the most helpful result, and I still felt dissatisfied. The thing I most took away was "no conclusive evidence," given that while it offers a test result (yellow and red yes, everything else who the hell knows) it offers no citation of this study, and seeing 'wolves' capitalized for no apparent reason, the fuzziness of the word "often," and the addendum about "my personal belief" makes me hesitant to trust this source and leave it at that.
So I shifted tactics and tried 'canines color blind'. Dog Time tells me, "To put it in very basic terms, the canine color field consists mostly of yellows, blues, and violets." The Straight Dope mostly agrees ("The dogs had no difficulty distinguishing colors at the opposite ends of the visible spectrum, such as red and blue, and they proved to be demons with blues in general, quickly learning to differentiate blue from violet. But they bombed at other colors, confusing greenish-yellow, orange, and red"). While I suppose this may be a relief in terms of reassuring me of the power of Google (or perhaps that's the meds I just took kicking in), it doesn't really help with wolves, which is what I'm interested in.
So, can anyone offer me a reliable-looking source (a straight citation would be nice, but even just something a little more...helpfulish), or something? Hell, even personal experience might be worth something, I dunno ("I once saw a wolf wearing purple and orange, with green eye shadow - trust me, they're color blind as all hell"). Or should I just go ahead and handwave that if werewolves are frequently portrayed as having wolf senses as a human, they can have human senses as a wolf?