In this article, I am going to be taking a brief look at the origin of French Bulldogs. Being a longstanding ‘Frenchie’ owner, I really enjoyed researching the history of French Bulldogs.
The French Bulldog’s oldest known ancestors are probably dogs of an ancient Greek tribe Molossians who were carried to all parts of the world by Phoenicians. Molossian dogs that ended up in the British Isles were the direct ancestors of Mastiff. One of the sub-species of Mastiff was called Bullenbeisser and it was used for a rather cruel “sport” called bull-baiting which pretty much consisted of a bull whose movement was limited to some 30 square feet and dogs who tried to immobilize him, usually by grabbing him by the snout and pulling down.
When this activity got banned in 1835 Bulldogs lost their previous purpose and shifted from being sporting breed to being bred to be companion dogs. Some were paired with terriers and used as fighting dogs, while others were bred with smaller partners in order to produce smaller offspring. When conformation shows started being held in 1860 this new breed of companion dogs had already been around for ten years.
What Were French Bulldogs Bred For?
This relatively new breed was introduced to France by workers migrating there from England. Their popularity among various parts of social strata skyrocketed, and soon enough, the typical type of these dogs that were exported to France became recognized as a breed: the Bouledogue Francais. There is a distinct possibility that the modern French Bulldog also has some terrier or pug ancestors, as that might account for some of its characteristics.
Franch Bulldog was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club somewhere around 1900, by which time these adorable little dogs already had a club of admirers in the USA. At first they were rather expensive and usually possessed only by the members of higher society, but even despite that, their popularity grew among the general populace, until in 1906 they became the fifth most popular breed in the USA.
For more, check out my French Bulldog 101 Guide!