The History of French Bulldogs
The History of French Bulldogs. The French Bulldog also known as the Frenchie is a small breed of domestic dog. Frenchies were the result in the 1800s of a cross between bulldog ancestors imported from England and local ratters in Paris (France).
In 2014, they were the fourth most popular registered dog in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. the ninth most popular AKC registered dog breed.They were rated the third most popular dog in Australia (for 2017)
The origin of the modern French Bulldog breed descends directly from the dogs of the Molossians, an ancient Greek tribe. The dogs were spread throughout the ancient world by Phoenician traders. British Molossian dogs were developed into the Mastiff. A sub-family of the Mastiff were the Bullenbeisser, a type of dog used for bull-baiting.
Blood sports such as bull-baiting were outlawed in England in 1835, leaving these “Bulldogs” unemployed. However, they had been bred for non-sporting reasons since at least 1800, and so their use changed from a sporting breed to a companion breed. To reduce their size, some Bulldogs were crossed with terriers, while others were crossed with pugs. By 1850 the Toy Bulldog had become common in England, and appeared in conformation shows when they began around 1860. These dogs weighed around 16–25 pounds (7.3–11.3 kg), although classes were also available at dog shows for those that weighed under 12 pounds (5.4 kg).
At the same time, lace workers from Nottingham, displaced by the Industrial Revolution, began to settle in Normandy, France. They brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. The dogs became popular in France and a trade in imported small Bulldogs was created, with breeders in England sending over Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as ears that stood up. By 1860, there were few miniature Bulldogs left in England, such was their popularity in France and due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters.
The small Bulldog type gradually became thought of as a breed, and received a name, the Bouledogue Francais. This Francization of the English name is also a contraction of the words “boule” (ball) and “dogue” (mastiff or molosser). The dogs were highly fashionable and were sought after by society ladies and Parisian prostitutes alike, as well as creatives such as artists, writers, and fashion designers. However, records were not kept of the breed’s development as it diverged further away from its original Bulldog roots. As it changed, terrier and Pug stock may have been brought in to develop traits such as the breed’s long straight ears, and the roundness of their eyes.
The history of the French Bulldog is an interesting and long-running story. The true beginnings of the French Bulldog reach all the way back to ancient Greece. An ancient Grecian tribe known as the Molossians bred massive dogs for labor and war, known as the Molossus breed. From the Molossus breed came a whole host of sub-family breeds. These sub-families resulted in countless breeds including St. Bernards, Great Pyrenees, Rottweilers, Pittbulls, Newfoundlanders, and a breed known as the Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser, now extinct, was used for bull-baiting, a vicious blood sport where dogs would attempt to immobilize a bull by latching it’s strong jaws onto the bull’s snout. These dogs would give way to the modern day breeds we know as “bulldogs”; there are the Olde English Bulldogges, English Bulldogs, American Bulldogs, and our beloved French Bulldogs.
In 1835, Britain outlawed the brutal blood sport of bull-baiting. Unemployed, bulldogs were resigned to a simpler life, including less stringent breeding laws. Breeders began crossing the massive Bullenbeisser to create the modern bulldogs we know, including the breeding of terriers and bulldogs to create smaller version of the bulldog. By 1850, London was littered with miniature Bulldogs. These bulldogs hardly resembled their Bullenbeisser ancestors, sharing only the famously short muzzle and broad facial structure. They had become companion dogs, rather than sporting dogs. Before arriving in France, the bulldog was crossed with terriers and pugs to achieve the compact French Bulldog size we’re familiar with today.
TO FRANCE IN LACE
By 1860, miniature bulldogs weighing around 16-27lbs could be found in conformation shows around England. During the same time, lace workers from Nottingham, forced out by the Industrial Revolution, began moving to France to search for work in Normandy. The lace workers brought along a variety of dogs, namely, the miniature bulldog. The miniatures became very popular amongst the French and new importing lines were created for the miniature bulldogs between England and the Normans. Bulldogs that the English deemed unfit for breeding were shipped straight to France. The English were happy to sell the dogs to the French since there was little market left for them in Britain. The French loved the characteristics of the bulldog that the English deplored, including being small and having ears that stood up. The French lace workers loved the bulldogs with erect ears and soon, the breed was named the Bouledogue Français. The dogs instantly became a fashion symbol of Parisian life, from prostitutes, madames, and the social elite. The companion Bouledogue Français became a required addition to any socialite’s lap.