There are varied explanations about the French Bulldog's origin. Some speculate that artwork and skeletal finds of the Bulldog known as Chincha in ancient Peru closely resemble the French Bulldog. Others have suggested the Spanish Bulldog featured in the creation of the French Bulldog.
Most agree it is probable that today's French Bulldog originated from the toy Bulldogs brought to France by the lace workers from Nottingham in England, following the Industrial Revolution. These miniature Bulldogs are thought to have been crossed with Terriers and Pugs and thus the French Bulldog evolved.
Quickly the French Bulldogs became popular among Parisian women and then became a status symbol of French society including artists, businessmen and aristocrats owned Frenchies. Toulouse Lautrec and Degas painted pictures that included French Bulldogs and French author, Colette wrote stories about her beloved Frenchies. Wealthy Americans visiting Paris also fell victim to the charms of the Frenchie and took them home to America.
The French Bulldog is one of only a few breeds which owes its existence to the efforts of breeders in different countries - France, America, England and Germany. Certainly the continuance of the unique bat ears at the turn of the century was due to America and there was immense popularity for the Frenchie in America from a century ago and which has continued for at least 30 years.
The French Bulldog is experiencing a popularity never seen before in the history of the breed. 2012 saw the French Bulldog appear in the top 20 breeds list for the first time in the UK, and in America the breed was the 14th most popular breed recorded. Based on 2011 registrations in France, the Frenchie was eighth on the list with 6085 puppies registered that year. Back home, Australian registrations for 2012 saw the Frenchie in 10th spot with 1175 registrations.
All eyes and ears, the French Bulldog has a large almost square head, with a soft melting expression beautifully set off with those superb ‘bat’ ears. Without the correct ear shape and set, you do not have a Frenchie. The ears are unique in the dog world and another important breed characteristic is the short, undocked tail.
The French Bulldog, or 'Frenchie' as often known, is a delightful companion. It is an endearing little character with a vibrant personality all of its own.
A wonderful characteristic of the breed is that each Frenchie has its own unique personality which makes it extremely difficult to settle on just one.
The French Bulldog may look tough on the outside, but inside it is a comical and affectionate companion. Generally well behaved, active, alert and playful, the breed is a fun dog to live with. It loves nothing more than to cuddle on the couch, romp inside or play in the yard – it spreads good vibes wherever it goes. People who love the breed know that this is one of the main reasons for its rise in popularity. Full of charisma, the French Bulldog is too hard to resist.
Small to medium in size, the Frenchie's appearance is unique with its distinguishing bat ears, a well-muscled and compact body, moderate angulation and a short, smooth coat. It has an alert, curious, and interested expression.
The tail should be short, undocked and set on low. The rear legs should be longer than the front legs so that they elevate the loin above the shoulders. Coat colours vary and can be brindle, pied or fawn. There can also be quite a variation in the brindle colour from an almost solid black colour to quite striped, commonly referred to as a tiger brindle.
The French Bulldog is generally a fairly sound dog, rarely suffering from heart, eye, skin problems or epilepsy. However, the combination of the brachycephalic head, short body and screw tail increases the potential for hemivertebrae and breathing difficulties. This includes Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome and Hemivertebrae.
Back problems are also not uncommon in the older Frenchie, from five to six years of age. A spine and hip grading scheme is in place for the French Bulldog and is a highly recommended breeding practice for all breeders in Australia. The breed’s lifespan is 12-16 years.
The French Bulldog is a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. The short coat is easy to maintain with regular brushing and minimal bathing. The breed will shed twice a year, but the short coat does not create a problem for indoor living. Ears and nails need attention and should be cared for on a weekly basis. Wrinkles and folds around the face and tail should be checked and kept clean and dry.
Frenchies are not for everyone but if you want an affectionate, good natured companion look no further. They thrive on social interaction with their family members and really do consider themselves a part of the family.
They are extremely curious, entertaining and will make you laugh every day.
The Frenchie is a loyal friend who requires plenty of companionship and so is not suited to outdoor life. Its small size and short hair makes it an excellent house dog.
Frenchies enjoy a little exercise, be it a walk or a game with their favourite toy, but they also love some quiet time curled up on your lap.
French Bulldogs are suited to most situations including inner city living, the suburbs or the country estate. It is a fairly hardy breed, but care must be taken during summer when there is an increased risk of overheating. The breed thrives on love and attention and is not suited to a kennel situation.
Words: Liz Davidson on behalf of the French Bulldog Club of NSW
Now you know a little about the French Bulldog, you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the French Bulldog and its needs, and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.