While theories abound about the the exact origin of the French Bulldog, the most prevalent opinion is that around the mid 1800's Normandy lace workers from England took smaller bulldogs with them when they sought work in France. In the farming communities north of France that the lace workers settled in, the little Bulldogs became very popular as ratters and loyal family companions and their population began to swell. These little bulldogs were in fact "culls" of the established Bulldog Breeders in England, who were generally more than happy to sell these undersized examples of their breed to fanciers of the "new" breed in England. This was especially true of the "tulip" eared puppies that cropped up at times in Bulldog litters.
As the new, smaller Bulldogs gained popularity in France, they became favourites of the Parisian "Belles De Nuit" - the street walkers. Breed historians can still sometimes turn up notorious "French Postcards" bearing images of scantily clad French prostitutes posing with their little "Bouledogues Francais." The aura of notoriety that ownership of the little dogs conveyed soon made them a fashionable way for the well to do classes to show off how daring they could be, and they soon became favourites of the "artistic" set across Europe. Photos dating to around this time show photos of the Russian Royal family posing along side their French Bulldogs, and they were said to have imported several of the little dogs from France.
It is inarguable that without the influence of dedicated, turn of the century American fanciers the breed would not be what it is today. It is they that organised the very first French Bulldog Club in the world, and it was they who insisted that the "bat" ear so associated with the breed today was correct. Until that time, French Bulldogs were shown with either the "bat" or "rose" ear.
As a point of historic interest, a French Bulldog, insured for an astronomical sum of $750 (at the time), was on board the ill fated Titanic. All in all, French Bulldogs truly are an International Breed, with fanciers of many nations being responsible for the creation of the loving dogs we know today.
The most frequent comparison owners hear is that they resemble either Pugs with their ears cropped, Boston Terriers on steroids or Pot Bellied Pigs!
While definitely not a rare breed, they are also not that commonly seen. For example, in April of 1995, 27 French Bulldog litters were registered in all of the USA, as opposed to 2,512 litters of standard poodles, or 291 litters of Bulldogs.
The Average weight for a male tends to be 10-12 Kg's, and for a female 8-10 kg's. This size makes them a nice, sturdy, smaller sized dog, without the inherent frailty of so many of the Toy breeds. Their bodies are similar in type to the Bulldog, with less exaggeration. For example, while their jaw is also undershot, it is not to the same degree as the bulldog. Neither are their faces as wrinkled as their cousins the bulldog. They should in general resemble a sturdy, compact, cobby little dog.
Their ears are of primary importance to the appearance of the breed, and should always be "Bat." Equally important is that elusive something known as expression. As a matter of fact, most fanciers will describe "that face" as being one of their primary reasons for choosing this breed. With their gently wrinkled brow, clear gaze and alertly intense gaze, almost no other breed can give as clear an impression that they not only hear you but can understand everything that you say - which is not to imply that they intend to listen!
French Bulldogs come in a gorgeous array of colours. Most common are brindle and pied.
Frenchies make excellent pets for either apartments or homes, and they are comfortable as either city dogs or country dwellers. Frenchies in any environment have one overwhelming need, and that is to be in close contact with the person they love. Due to their inability to tolerate either extreme cold or extreme heat, it is not a consideration to house a Frenchie outdoors. Regardless of temperature, a French Bulldog is happiest when with its owner, and they enjoy long walks or car drives as much as any breed of dog you may hope to meet.
DO FRENCHIES BARK?
Actually, some owners tell of having owned Frenchies for as long as six months without ever having heard them bark. This was the case for us - we first heard Marius bark crazily then moan about 3 minutes before an earthquake. Remember in Melbourne in 2009 there was a couple weeks where we had several smallish earthquakes? Well he sensed it just before it happened. He's never really barked ever since, either. In general, though, most Frenchies are sensible barkers, doing so only if they feel that there is something worth really getting excited about.
HOW ARE THEY WITH KIDS?
Whenever I am asked "How are Frenchies with children?" I like to reply "How are your children with dogs?" As with most dogs, Frenchies will play and rough house happily with older children who have been carefully introduced and taught to respect a dogs limitations. Having said that, we got our first Frenchie when our son was 13 months. They've grown up together and are wonderful to each other, well Marius is kinder to our son, than our son is to Marius. He rides Marius, he reads him stories, he tackles him and they play together in the garden while I'm cooking. Frenchies really are GREAT with kids. We got Molly when our son was a bit over 2. Both Frenchies have their own personalities and its how you teach your dog, same as you would your child, that will determine much of their behaviours. Molly is affectionate and gentle and cuddly and soft. Marius loves being active, and outgoing and being scratched and doted on.
HOW MUCH $$$ DO THEY COST?
Well, quite frankly, a lot. French Bulldogs tend to be rather expensive, for a number of reasons. They are generally able to deliver only by Caesarean, have very low litter sizes, and usually need to be artificially inseminated. All of this tends to keep their prices rather high. We got Marius for $3000 and a year later the price had gone up by an extra $500 for Molly. It's a bit ridiculous.
DO THEY DROOL OR SHED ?
No! And Yes. A bit. They are French, and as such would never be caught dead doing anything as uncouth as drooling - they leave that to their British Bulldog cousins! Shedding, well they only have one coat so any shedding is very minimal. They are great for people with allergies as their coats are generally VERY low maintenance. Their coat is meant to be glossy and smooth and diet will greatly affect this.
IS A FRENCHIE THE RIGHT DOG FOR ME / US?
It is our experiences that while they can be stubborn and have their own opinions that they stick to, Frenchies are very easily trainable and LOVE working with their owners, especially for a treat. Frenchies, with their gentle nature and love of attention, make excellent therapy dogs but are not the breed to choose, however, if you are seeking a vigorous jogging companion or highly athletic dog. Their joints were not made to take the stress of constant pounding, and their impaired breathing can make heavy activity life threatening in extreme weather conditions. If there was ever a couch potato Olympics, on the other hand, I am quite sure that most of the Gold Medal Winners would be French Bulldogs. Having said that they LOVE LOVE LOVE going out with you EVERYWHERE. Walk to the park, car ride to the shops, family outing, school pick up, ANYWHERE.
HOW MUCH SPACE DOES A FRENCHIE REQUIRE?If you enjoy walks, long drives or outings to the park then a Frenchie just may be the dog for you!
Not a lot. A French bulldog is typically an indoor dog. They are really popular as apartment dogs in New York. Ours typically love having a good play in the back garden for 5 - 10 minutes max, then will want to come back to wherever you are. They'll be best to sleep inside away from cold or extreme heat. Molly for example, will sit on our heating vents as her fave spot. Marius will always choose to plonk down on a pillow or a corner of the couch. These dogs want to be comfortable and don't need much space.
WHAT LEVEL OF EXERCISE DO THEY NEED?
Well being a dog of coarse they love to get out and have some exercise. But exercise to a Frenchie is something like a walk to the shops or park. I take ours (in turn) on short runs of no more than 4km's. Their short faces and lack of a snout means they have difficulty breathing and therefore aren't designed to go on marathon runs. The advantage is that a good run in the backyard is probably sufficient although they will absolutely LOVE you if take them for a short daily walk.
CAN I MEET THE PUPPY'S MOTHER OR FATHER?
OUI! You can meet both. We own both parents.
Any other questions not answered here? Send me an email or phone.