The history of the French Bulldog

The history of the French Bulldog

Three countries are critical to the French Bulldog's history: England, France, and the United States. France owes much of its present Frenchie to England's old bulldog. Bulldog breeders in France created a distinctively "French" variety from the smaller bulldogs, while bulldog breeders in the United States established the norm for the crucial "bat ears." In England, the birthplace of several of the AKC breeds, we start with the bulldog. A muscular, athletic dog, tall on the leg, & capable of being utilized in the barbaric pastime known as "bull-baiting" was the bulldog's ancestor 150 to 200 years ago.

The history of the French Bulldog

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As a result, the English bulldog has evolved into a larger, larger dog with exaggerated facial features. Bull and terrier breeds were created by crossing them with terriers, which were employed for dogfighting, ratting, and other purposes. Several breeders created a smaller, lighter miniature bulldog, between 12 and 25 pounds in weight, with either erect or drooping ears, round foreheads, and small underjaws—and maybe a touch of terrier-like activity. Of the English midlands, these were particularly popular amongst the lace-making artisans in Nottingham and the surrounding area.

During the Industrial Revolution, many little artisan firms were shut down, and these lace-makers and their bulldogs relocated to a north of France. It wasn't long until the English breeder had a thriving trade in Bouledogues Français, the French name for these little bulldogs that had migrated from Normandy to Paris. Butchers, café proprietors, and those in the rag trade were all big fans of the streetwalkers known as les belles de nuit, and they became infamous as the favorite of Parisian streetwalkers. Toulouse Lautrec, the famed French artist, featured Madame Palmyre's beloved Frenchie Bouboule in a number of his paintings.

As soon as society spotted these adorable little bulldogs, they were all the rage. Because the British public largely disapproved of French bulldogs, the French remained the breed's primary defenders until the latter half of the nineteenth century. They created a more standardized breed, one without the English Bulldog's pronounced underjaw but with a compact physique and straight legs. Bat ears were common, although "rose" ears were also seen on some. Affluent Americans visiting France fell head over heels in love with all these adorable pups and began taking them back to america. They favored erect ears to those with rose ears, which was acceptable with the French and British breeders, who liked those with rose ears.

A Frenchie being made the cover of 1897 Westminster although the breed had not yet been approved by the American Kennel Club.

Both bat-eared and rose-eared dogs were on display at the time, however the English judge only displayed rose-eared specimens for judging purposes. It was this that enraged the Bull Dog Association of America, who formed as swiftly as possible and established a breed standard that only allowed for the bat ear. Because of the new breed standard, only bat-eared or rose-eared dogs could compete just at 1898 Westminster dog show, and the American public was enraged. To avoid the American judge's participation in the exhibition, the club prepared a separate event for bat-eared pups only, which was held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

French Bulldog Clubs of America's first and only specialty was this, which was also the only breed club of its kind anywhere in the world. This brindle dog, Dimboolaa, was the first winner of the Specialty.

The East Coast Society's love affair with the Frenchie was a resounding success. There would be a fifty-year decrease in popularity of the breed following World War I. The huge popularity of the Boston Terrier, another petite brachycephalic breed, may have played a role. In addition, many Frenchies had difficulty whelping naturally, and it would be years until safe vet cesarean section were commonly performed in the United States.. During the hot summer months prior to air conditioning becoming commonplace, the dogs had a difficult time. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, people's fascination in purebred dogs waned. By 1940, just 100 French Bulldogs were certified with the American Kennel Club (AKC) because of a tiny number of breeders in the United States and Europe. There were difficult times for dog breeders during World War II, with many fine canines dying of starvation or being put down because of a scarcity of food in Europe.

Until recently, the majority of Frenchies were brindle, with a few exceptions being pied or white. There were few or no cream or fawn Frenchies until the 1950s, when Detroit breeder Amanda West began exhibiting them with great success. Over 500 group wins & 111 Best in Show trophies, as well as 21 straight breed wins at Westminster, were amassed by her primarily white pups. In the show ring, creams or fawns were increasingly popular. AKC Gazette article from 1960 stated, "There's many advantages to having a dog of this type but there are few bred and few shown." However, there were only 106 Frenchie registrations in 1960. If the current tendency continues, the type will be extinct in its current form. People don't want to see the type become too well-known, although it is true that the breed merits more public recognition and respect.

Due to a new generation of breeders, the French Bull Dog Club of Usa sparked a surge in Frenchie registrations in the 1980s, transforming annual specialty exhibitions into major events and launching a new Frenchie magazine, The French Bullytin. In 1980, there were 170 registered breeds; by 1990, that number had risen to 632. Despite their small stature, the demand of these canines has skyrocketed since 2006, when 5,500 of them were registered. These days, it's not unusual to find images of French bulldogs in commercials, films, or other media that focus on well-known people. For all of us who love the type and work tirelessly to keep it true to type and minimize the health issues it is susceptible to, this rise in popularity can be a little unnerving. The problem is exacerbated by unscrupulous breeders and importers. Let's hope that today's triumphs aren't just a trend, and many future dog owners will appreciate all that this most friendly breed has to offer.


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