“...by 1940 FRENCH BULLDOGS WERE CONSIDERED
A RARE BREED and only 100 were registered with the AKC.”
the show, and the club organized their own show, for bat-eared dogs only, to be held at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria. Th is was the famous first specialty of the French Bulldog Club of America— which, incidentally, was the first breed club anywhere in the world to be dedi- cated to the French Bulldog. Th e winner of that first Specialty was a brindle dog named “Dimboolaa”. Popularity of Frenchies skyrocketed, particularly among the East Coast Society folks. After World War I, the breed’s pop- ularity began a decline that would last for the next fifty years. Th e enormous popular- ity of another small brachycephalic breed, the Boston Terrier, probably contributed to this. Also many Frenchies had problems whelping naturally; it would be years before safe veterinary cesarean sections would be routinely performed. Hot summer months, before residential air conditioning became common, were rough going for the dogs. And interest in purebred dogs gener- ally declined during the Depression of the 1930s. A small number of Frenchie breed- ers in America and Europe kept the flame alive, but by 1940 French Bulldogs were considered a rare breed and only 100 were registered with the AKC. Th e years dur- ing World War II were di ffi cult for all dog breeders and especially for those in Europe where many fine dogs starved or were put down for lack of food. Heretofore most Frenchies were brindle with a few pied and white dogs. Creams and fawns were rare and not particularly popular until the 1950s when a breeder from Detroit, Amanda West, began show- ing cream Frenchies with phenomenal
success. Her dogs, mostly creams, tallied over 500 group wins and 111 Best in Show awards as well as 21 consecutive breed wins at Westminster. From then on, creams and fawns were more and more common in the show rings. But Frenchie registrations totaled only 106 in 1960 and an article in the AKC Gazette stated, “ Th ere are many advantages to owning a dog of this breed but there are very few bred and very few exhibited. If the trend keeps on, eventually the breed will become extinct... No one wants to see the breed overpopularized but certainly the breed deserves to be known and appreciated by the public.” Th e 1980s witnessed a rapid rise in Frenchie registrations due to a newly ener- gized French Bull Dog Club of America that included younger breeders who trans- formed the annual specialty shows into
major events and who contributed to Th e French Bullytin , a new magazine devoted solely to Frenchies. Th e 1980 breed registrations were 170 and by 1990 were 632. Since then, the popularity of these little dogs has soared and 7,783 Frenchies were registered in 2011. Nowadays it’s not that uncommon to see Frenchies featured in ads, movies or in stories about celebrities. Th is skyrocket- ing popularity can be scary for those of us who love the breed and who fight a con- stant battle to maintain breed type and minimize those health problems to which Frenchies are subject. Unscrupulous breed- ers and importers complicate the picture. Let’s hope that today’s successes are not a passing fad and that many future fanciers will enjoy all that can be o ff ered by this most companionable breed.
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