French Bulldog: Breed History & Origin

If one day an adorable French Bulldog puppy settles in your house, you are unlikely to ever regret it. Having got acquainted with this amazing breed, you will become a fan of the French Bulldog forever. It should be noted that from year to year the number of French Bulldog lovers in the world is growing, and over the past years, the French Bulldog has consistently been among the five most widespread breeds in the world.

French Bulldogs won the hearts of many greats of this world-famous kings, princes, tsars, actors, writers, singers …

The secret of the French Bulldog lies in his extraordinary intelligence, charm, and temperament. Like most dog breeds, the origins of the French Bulldog are shrouded in mystery. Although this breed is relatively young, there is no reliable information about the origin.

Currently, the French Bulldog is a decorative dog, cheerful with a benevolent temperament, obedient, and quick-witted. It is an affectionate animal, a great companion for any family. The French Bulldog is the favorite dog of children. With a French Bulldog, you can be sure that it will never bite a child. In general, the French Bulldog is not characterized by anger towards people and animals. The French Bulldog has a good stable psyche, never shows aggression first.

There are several versions of the origin of the French Bulldog. According to one of them, among the ancestors of the French Bulldog, there are medieval Alans – Spanish Bulldogs, who have disappeared at present. These were large, short-faced dogs, which were initially used exclusively for guarding and escorting cattle. A little later, they were made indispensable participants in the bullfight. The most famous center of these competitions was the city of Burgos, where the Burgos Bulldogs, dogs resembling the modern French Bulldog with large erect ears, took part in the battles.

In the work of George Crail, it is shown very convincingly, based on documentary facts, that the ancestors of the French Bulldogs lived in Spain for several centuries. Crail provided a photograph of an ancient bronze plate with the inscription “Dogue de Bourgos, Espana 1625” depicting a dog with erect ears and snub-nosed muzzle, very reminiscent of a French bulldog and undoubtedly belonging to the “Bulldog family.”

According to the most common theory, the French Bulldog inherited a lot from its ancestor, the Old English Bulldog. A very large similarity can be found when comparing the appearance of these breeds, especially in the structure of the body. The English Bulldog is descended from the Molossian Dog. These fighting dogs have long belonged to the Greek Molossi family from ancient Athens. Dogs were brought to Great Britain. Their smaller descendants, small English Bulldogs or toy Bulldogs, which were fond of breeding in England in the middle of the 19th century, were used for a long time to entertain the nobility part in bull-baiting.

In the middle of the XIX century. British light industry was in an acute crisis. Machine tools drove people out. Unemployed English weavers were forced to emigrate to France. They carried with them a reminder of England – the Bulldog.

Toy Bulldogs have become extremely popular in France. London dealers began to specialize in their export. And then the formation of the breed took place in France. It is believed that the crossing of the Spanish (Burgos) Bulldog with the English (Toy Bulldogs) brought from England, possibly also with Terriers and Pugs, resulted in the creation of a new breed in which the body of a reduced English Bulldog was combined with the head of the Burgos, and erect ears on a short Bulldog face became one of the main features of the breed. There is no exact documentary evidence reflecting the work of French dog handlers, but it is quite obvious that during the 19th century such work was carried out, however, without an entry in the studbooks.

The French Bulldog acquired its final, familiar to all appearance as a result of the selection work of French dog handlers around the 1880s. Breed historian Jennette Brownie wrote: “… I argue that it was the French who made the French Bulldog the compact, straight-legged, short-faced, playful and flamboyant little dog of today, and they achieved this by avoiding the English Bulldog as much as possible.”

The appearance of these dogs did not arouse sympathy among the Parisians, so they could be found only on the working-class outskirts, where the poor, shopkeepers, employees, and cabbies lived. Among these people there were not those who would be versed in the selection, they kept dogs, mainly for fun. Bulldogs were crossed with Terriers, and their crosses were called “Terrierbull”. These dogs guarded houses and caught rats.

Soon, prostitutes drew attention to the unusual dog, because of which for some time the breed acquired a bad reputation. The Parisian ladies, without even knowing it, brought the French Bulldog into high society, thereby turning the former rat-catcher into a respectable and noble dog.

By the end of the 19th century, the new breed, due to its qualities and original appearance, won the sympathy of the aristocracy and bohemians. Its popularity grew rapidly.

In Paris in 1880, the first club was organized, uniting lovers of the French Bulldog. President who became one of the most famous first breeders Marcel Roger, and in 1885 French Bulldogs first appeared at exhibitions. They began to be registered in the studbook and a preliminary standard for the breed was drawn up, but the English standard was still used for examination. The Central Union of French Dog Breeders in 1898 recognized the French Bulldog as a new independent breed, and in the same year, its standard was released.

In 1903, the first exhibition was held in Paris, at which the French Bulldogs were shown already as an independent breed, and not in the same ring with Toy Bulldogs, as it was before.
In 1912, the FCI adopted a new standard for the French Bulldog, which banned the fawn and red colors, indicating the blood of the Pug. Only in 1994 in France was it allowed to breed Bulldogs with this color.

Changes to the standard were made in 1931, 1932, and 1948. A new edition of the standard was developed in 1986 (recognized by the FCI in 1987). The latest version of the FCI standard, number 101, was published in 1995.

In the USA, the breeding of dogs imported from France began to be taken very seriously already in the eighties of the XIX century. Not constrained by the French breed standard, American breeders have presented the world with Bulldogs of high conformation and colors traditional for the breed and fawn, red, and even cream.

It was overseas that the world’s first specialized French Bulldog club was created, and in 1889 the first monobreed French Bulldog show was held at the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The resonance from her was very great, and the number of admirers of the breed increased dramatically.

One of the most famous American dogs was Jamin, whose nickname was the most common in the pedigrees of American dogs of the early 20th century.

Currently, the USA has excellent French Bulldogs, but their standard is slightly different from the European one. American dogs are slightly smaller (no more than 12 kg). In addition, they have long tolerated a wide variety of colors, including cream, fawn, and spotted with fawn spots. Fawn and spotted fawn were only recognized by the FCI in 1995, and cream is still not standard.

For a long time, the “French freak” was not recognized as an independent breed by the British, who believed that the Bulldog can only be English.

At the end of 1904, the English Kennel Club finally recognized the breed as an independent breed. She was given the name “Le Bouldogue Francais”, which later received the English equivalent of the French Bolldog. A number of French Bulldog nurseries are being set up in England. However, the first English dog handlers could not come to terms with the unusual appearance of this dog.

Lady Kathleen, one of the founders of the French Bulldog Club in England, believed that “the French Bulldog returned to England very attractive, but endowed with undesirable traits such as erect ears, frog face, wavy tail and lack of Bulldog character.”

We see that the formation of the breed proceeded in difficult conditions of struggle not only for the appearance but also for the character of the future representatives of the breed. However, of all these “shortcomings”, the British changed only the tail, which in the modern French Bulldog is from birth very short and strongly curved, like that of the English Bulldog.

Undoubtedly, English dog handlers have made a huge contribution to the development of the breed and now there are a number of excellent kennels in the country: Sashay, Gais, Bomlitz, Merrowlea, Nokomis, etc., whose puppies are the dream of dog breeders from different countries.

3 thoughts on “French Bulldog: Breed History & Origin

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