French bulldog Lentil with cleft lip helps kids be okay with facial defects

An In-Depth Look Into the French Bulldog History

If you are looking into purchasing a French bulldog it is important to learn about their breeding history.

The French Bulldog is currently the 4th most popular dog breed according to the American Kennel Club and has held that spot for 2 years in a row.

French Bulldogs, also called Frenchies, are becomingly an increasingly popular choice for dog owners. There’s no denying these dogs are cute but have you ever wanted to know more about where they came from?

Keep reading to learn more about French Bulldog history and what makes these dogs so special.

French Bulldog History: The Beginning

You are probably thinking that the French Bulldog originated in France, right? Well, just like the Standard Poodle, who is associated with the French but actually from Germany, the French Bulldog originated in England.

The story of the French Bulldog starts in the mid-1800s. It was the height of the Industrial Revolution in England. Traditional industries, called “cottage industries” were fighting for survival. These were industries such as lace-making, where businesses were run out of people’s homes.

In England, Nottingham was a hub for the lace-making industry. During this time, a toy-sized Bulldog became popular in the area and even became an unofficial mascot for the lace-makers. While toy Bulldogs had been bred around England, they had not become widely popular.

Because of the Industrial Revolution, many of the lace-makers and those involved in the lace trade had to relocate. They moved to Northern France, specifically the Calais area, and brought their small Bulldogs along. 

The Bouledogue Français

The lace-makers settled in the French countryside and their little Bulldogs become increasingly popular. Over the next few decades, these little Bulldogs were bred with other breeds, likely including pugs and terriers. It’s important to note that there are no records documenting the early history of the breed so we have to speculate.

It was during this period that Frenchies developed their bat ears. The breed was officially named “Bouledogue Français,” or in English, “French Bulldog.”

Interestingly, the English did not like the idea of calling what they considered an English dog by a French name. The breed was originally popular among the working class who called the dogs “petite Boules.” 

Moving on Up

The French Bulldog was then discovered by a different class of Parisians who quickly adapted the breed to city life. It was at this time that the breed gained a reputation for being a French city dog. Frenchies became associated with Paris cafes and the finer things in life.

The breed was popular among Parisian socialities and fancy ladies who lived a luxurious lifestyle. Frenchies were even associated with Parisian dancehalls and the “Belles de Nuit” or ladies of the evening. This is how the upper class became familiar with the breed.

In the 19th century France, there was a class of women thought to be on the fringe of society called the demimonde. These women were hedonistic and flamboyant and often supported by their wealthy lovers.

French Bulldogs were associated with this lifestyle and were even depicted in paintings of the demimonde by Edgar Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. 

Love for the Frenchie Spreads

As the 19th century drew to a close, the Frenchie had become popular across Europe and even in America thanks to tourists.

The breed did face some resistance in England. The traditional Bulldog was a national symbol in England. England and France were age-old rivals and many Englishman were not keen to accept the new French variation of their beloved Bulldog. 

The Modern French Bulldog

In the early 1900s, Americans made a contribution to the breed by asserting that the bat ear we know today is the correct standard for the Frenchie as opposed to the “rose ear.” At the time, both versions of the ear were accepted.

If the American fanciers had not objected, the bat ear actually would have been bred out of the breed. The rose ear would have become the breed standard. The bat ear is the most distinctive feature of the breed that makes it recognizable all over the world.

If the rose ear had become the breed standard, the Frenchie would have simply been a miniature version of the English Bulldog. The Frenchie is also known for it’s half-flat, half-domed skull.

French Bulldogs today are usually bred as pets or companion animals. They are quite intelligent and can serve as watchdogs.  

Dates to Know

Here are some important dates in the history of the French Bulldog:

1887: First time exhibited in France

1896: First time exhibited at Westminster Dog Show

1897: The French Bull Dog Club of America was formed

The French Bull Dog Club of America was the first club exclusively dedicated to the breed. They also wrote the first breed standard, which listed the bat ear as the only acceptable type of ear. 

Purchasing a French Bulldog Puppy

If you are interested in adding a French Bulldog to your family, we think you’re making the right choice. It’s important to know about French Bulldog history to understand the breed.

Fanciers and supporters of the breed have spent centuries perfecting the dogs and it’s imperative that you only purchase Frenchie puppies from a responsible breeder. If you are planning to add a French Bulldog to your home, be sure to avoid puppy mills, pet stores, and backyard breeders.

We strive to be a resource to anyone interested in learning more about this wonderful breed and we also have puppies for saleContact us today to learn more about our contributions to the breed and with any questions you may have.