Frenchie History Lesson: The Origin of the French Bulldog

Frenchie History Lesson: The Origin of the French Bulldog

Of course, we love all fur babies, but Frenchies hold a special place in our hearts -- hence the name Frenchie Bulldog. You may be surprised to learn our sweet squishy-faced pups are not really French -- well, not in origin at least. From bullfighters to lap warmers and beyond, here is how this adorable little bowling ball of a dog came to charm the world!

The Strength of Bulldog Ancestors

While French Bulldogs are fierce in their own way, they are a far cry from their bull-fighting ancestors. If you’ve ever found yourself in a game of tuggy with a Frenchie, you understand just how strong their little jaws are! As descendants of bulldogs, their jaws were once used in a sport called bull baiting to immobilize bulls by locking onto the beast’s snout. Yikes!

Thankfully, in 1835, the horrendous sport of bull-baiting was banned, and the out-of-work bulldogs were divided into classes by size for show. Lace makers in England were particularly drawn to the toy version of the dog and would use the smaller pups as lap warmers while they worked. 

Bulldogs, But Make Them Fashion

When the lace industry moved to France; the workers took their miniature bulldogs with them. The dogs instantly became a fashion symbol of Parisian life, from prostitutes and madames to politicians and the social elite. Frenchies were the perfect accessory to any socialite’s lap.

Trading in miniature bulldogs became very popular between England and France. Breeders in England were happy to sell bulldogs they considered too small or with faults, such as ears that stood up, to the French. Some experts believe that the imported toy English Bulldogs were crossbred with Pugs or Terriers, creating ouledogues français, or French bulldogs.

Fido, The American Elite

Eventually, the social elite of America fell in love with the adorable breed. Highly influential Frenchie-owners such as the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgan put our favorite bat-eared dogs on the map. Those signature bat ears, by the way, are a product of the pups coming to America!

Originally, French bulldogs had rose-shaped ears, similar to English bulldogs. Breeders in England preferred the original shape, but American breeders favored the unique bat ears. Well, Americans got their way. Today, French bulldogs feature the bat-shaped ears American breeders fought to showcase.

French Bulldogs Today

There's a reason we love 'em so much! French bulldogs are affectionate, friendly, relaxed dogs bred to be companions. They get along with other dogs and love to play – just don’t expect them to chase a stick into a lake -- (most) Frenchies can’t swim! As a result of their squat frame and disproportionately large heads, it’s very difficult for them to stay afloat and keep their nose and mouth above water. This is our friendly reminder to pool owners to keep an eye on your pups!

Today, most French Bulldogs are bred by specialty breeders who have experience in modern techniques like artificial insemination, hygienic C-sections, and other health measures that are designed to keep Frenchies happy, safe, and healthy. These measures are safer for the dogs but also make each litter of pups more expensive, which is why Frenchies have become a "luxury" breed popularized by go-getters like Lady Gaga herself. 

So there you have it, produced in England, popularized in France and perfected in America, the origin of the French bulldog is an interesting one! Who would have thought those brutal bull-baiting dogs would shrink into the tiny, chubby little heart-throbs we love to spoil today! 

Spoil your pup with Frenchie’s stylish, high-quality hoodies and accessories! Don’t forget to post your puppy pictures on social media and tag us @frenchie_bulldog on Instagram!

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