French Bulldogs have a history as colorful as their personalities. A true international sensation, Frenchies are a relatively new breed, even though they have ancient roots. With a varied past, there’s much to look into when it comes to French Bulldogs. This brief history covers the highlights.
The French Bulldog’s great-great ancestor was an ancient Greek breed. Molossians are the ancestors of many modern breeds, as they were carried through the ancient world by Phoenician traders. Though noble dogs, they would not be easily recognizable as ancestors to the French Bulldog as they were extremely large dogs. The Molossians were mostly bred for fighting wild game but also fighting for sport. While this ancient breed is related to the French Bulldog, you would have to stop off at a couple of breeds before they actually became French Bulldogs.
England’s Brief Love Affair with Toy Bulldogs
Sadly, most people think of bulldogs as fighting dogs, even as bull fighting dogs. Bull-baiting was a form of animal fighting that would put dogs against a bull, typically with the dog biting the bull and attempting to hold on. However, England put a stop to bull-baiting in the early to mid-1800’s. Once the dogs no longer had to work for a living, they were quickly bred into smaller and smaller forms. The English Bulldog was the first descendant of the large, bullfighting dogs of that time. By the 1860’s, toy English Bulldogs became extremely popular. This breeding effort helped establish the small size of Frenchies today.
Paris Makes Frenchies Her Own
The ancestors of French Bulldogs first arrived in Pairs about 1860 as miniature English Bulldogs. From there, they quickly became the best fashion accessory for all levels of Paris society. Miniature English Bulldogs were imported in such vast numbers that supply couldn’t keep up with demand. The dogs were bred with terriers, pugs, and others to develop some of the Frenchie’s most beloved features. For example, it was during this period the large, bat-like ears and round eyes began to emerge. They also cemented the Frenchie as a distinct breed. When the classic Frenchie was reintroduced to England, none of the English Bulldogs breeders wanted their animals (bred for drastically different traits, by now) to interbreed with Frenchies. A new breed had to be formed to establish guidelines for these beloved companion dogs.
America Preserves French Bulldogs
The first French Bulldog club in America was established in 1897, five years before the breed was recognized in England and 15 years before it was called the “French Bulldog” in England. The club was organized and founded by influential, wealthy women to establish a formal correct breed standard. The key reason for this creation? French Bulldogs had performed poorly in shows as many of them lacked “rose ears”, or ears that folded at the tip. The society made it explicit that “erect bat ears” were correct. Modern Frenchie owners agree!
It’s been a long road for Frenchies, but there’s no sign of the breed going away. These original companion dogs are still prized for their big personalities. Maybe, deep in their bones, they know their ancestors were ancient Greek giants.