I’ve blogged in the past before about how Claude Frenchie sleeps down in the kitchen with our cat at night, usually with a small lamp switched on in the corner. However, last week I forgot to turn the light on when I went up to bed, and our French Bulldog was left alone in the dark kitchen with just the cat for company.
I came down in the middle of the night to get a drink, and soon realized my mistake. I felt guilty, particular as I wasn’t sure if Frenchies are able to see in the dark. After all, Claude needs to go through the dog flap to do his business, so I wasn’t sure if he could without being able to see where he was going.
This made me want to do a bit of research into whether Frenchies can see in the dark, and if they can, how well can they see in darkness? We all know how good cats are at seeing with their night vision, but does the same apply to Frenchies? Here’s what I discovered.
Can French Bulldogs see in the dark? French Bulldogs can see in the dark five times better than humans can due to the genetic and physical construction of their eye. However, like all dogs, Frenchies cannot see in complete darkness and do not have night vision without some small light source being present.
That’s the short answer, if you want a little more detail, here’s what the experts say according to my research into Frenchies seeing in the dark.
How Frenchies see in the dark
French Bulldogs have large and sometimes bulging eyes. This can actually help Frenchies see in the dark better because larger pupils let more light get into the eye.
The mechanics of a dog’s eye includes a cornea, pupil, lens, and retina. In the retina there are cones that absorb color, and rods that absorb light. Dogs have more of these rods than humans, meaning they can see better than us in low light situations, for example in a darkened room.
For example, below is as accurate a representation as I can make of what your French Bulldog sees in the dark compared to a human’s vision.
This is how those larger pupils help, as they let more light absorb into the rods, meaning improved night-time vision in the dark.
Your Frenchie eye lens are also positioned closer to their retina than a human, meaning the image projected onto the retina will appear brighter. This helps them see better than us in low light situations, like a kitchen at night with no lights on.
But they will still need some small light source to be able to see in the dark, as they need some light to enter their eye on order to see.
How does a Frenchie’s eyesight compare to a human’s?
The Science Daily website say that:
“Dogs see a lot better than humans do at night. Dogs have many adaptations for low-light vision. A larger pupil lets in more light. The center of the retina has more of the light-sensitive cells (rods), which work better in dim light than the color-detecting cones.” (view source)
In terms of actual numbers and something you can put a figure on, a professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison said:
“Dogs have evolved to see well in both bright and dim light, whereas humans do best in bright light. No one is quite sure how much better a dog sees in dim light, but I would suspect that dogs are not quite as good as cats. Dogs can probably see in light five times dimmer than a human can see in.”
Therefore, you can assume that if you do leave your Frenchie in a dark room like I did, that he should be ok providing there is a small light source like moonlight or streetlights outside – because the can see 5 times better than we can in the dark!
However, if the room is completely pitch black with no dim light source, your Frenchie’s night vision won’t be any better than ours, as they need some degree of light to be able to see in the dark.
French Bulldogs cannot see in total darkness, no dog can.
According to multiple online sources I’ve read, French Bulldogs eyesight in the dark is not quite as good as a cat, but not too far off.
That means I probably should not worry about leaving my Frenchie and cat in the dark at night. Providing there is some moon light, street lighting, or light source emanating from an electrical appliance, they should be able to see their way around in the dark ok.
Dogs including Frenchies see things very differently to how humans do. I wrote another guide recently which shows how French Bulldogs see color – it might surprise you!