Showsight Presents the French Bulldog

A Brief History of FRENCH BULLDOGS

By Jim Grebe FBDCA Historian


n discussing the history of the French Bulldog, we should note the importance of three countries: England, France and America. England provided the foundation for our modern

Frenchie: the old bulldog. Breeders in France developed the smaller bulldogs into a distinctly “French” type and American breeders set the standard that prescribed the all-important “bat ears.” We begin with the bulldog in Eng- land, where so many of our AKC breeds originated. Th e ancestral type was not our modern bulldog but the bulldog of 150- 200 years ago: a strong, athletic dog, high on leg, and capable of being used in that barbarous activity called “bull-baiting.” Many English bulldog breeders began to change the breed around this time to a big- ger, heavier dog with exaggerated features. Others crossbred them with terriers result- ing in the bull-and-terrier breeds used for dog fi ghting, ratting, etc. Another group of breeders developed a smaller, lighter toy bulldog, around 12-25 lbs. in weight, having either upright or rose ears, round foreheads and short underjaws—and perhaps a touch of ter- rier liveliness. Th ese were quite popular with workers in the English midlands, in particular the artisans in the lace-making industry around Nottingham. When the Industrial Revolution closed down many of the small craft shops, these lace-makers emigrated to the North of France—and they took their little bulldogs with them. Th e popularity of these little dogs spread from Normandy to Paris and soon the English breeders had a lively trade, export- ing small bulldogs to France where they began to be called Bouledogues Français. Th ey were favorites of ordinary Parisians such as butchers, cafe owners and dealers in the rag trade and became notorious as 146 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014

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