Although the French Bulldog shares the same origins as the English Bulldog, namely that it grew from the blood sport of bull- and bear-baiting, there are few other similarities. After bull-baiting was outlawed in England in 1835, Bulldogs became a companion breed. In the cramped dwellings that were common in industrialized England, a reduction in the Bulldog’s size was necessary, leading to crossing of the English Bulldog with smaller terriers and pugs, leading to a “toy” breed of sorts. Concurrently, a mass migration of displaced lace workers occurred which sent a number of Nottingham residents (and their dogs) to Normandy, France. These miniature Bulldogs became so popular that a second recognized breed, the French Bulldog was developed. In 1885 French Bulldogs were brought to America where they were hugely popular among high society. Due to a controversy over whether the breed should have “rose ears” like the English Bulldog or “bat ears” like the modern French Bulldog, the first French Bulldog breed society was formed in 1896 and the AKC recognized the breed two years later.
French Bulldogs are widely popular due to their small size, adaptable and playful personality, and low-maintenance attitude. Frenchies, as they are often called, bond strongly with humans and are not suited as outdoor animals, much preferring to spend time on the couch than outdoors. Due to their short nose, they require little more exercise than a quick daily walk. Despite their relationship to aggressive bull-baiting dogs of the 19th century, French Bulldogs have developed into ideal family companions, able to get along with people and animals of all kinds.
The ideal French Bulldog should weigh 20 – 28 lbs for males and 18 – 24 lbs for females. There are nine standard colors of French Bulldog, including brindle, cream, fawn, white, and any mixture thereof. The coat is comprised of a single, short layer that sheds minimally.
French Bulldogs suffer from similar health complaints as English Bulldogs, namely heat and exercise intolerance, as well as predisposition to respiratory issues. They are also prone to patellar luxation, which is the dislocation of the kneecap. Due to their dwarfed size over the larger English breed, many French Bulldogs also suffer from spine and disk disorders/diseases. In the UK their health has been rated as “silver” on a three level scale, meaning breeders are required to perform DNA testing for hereditary cataracts, a cardiology test, and grading of the patella. In the US, the AKC has banned curly tails, which is a spinal defect caused by inbreeding. Despite the incidence of certain health conditions, the French Bulldog has a longer lifespan than its English cousin, with an average lifespan of 8 – 10 years.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the French Bulldog’s legacy is that it has always fetched a high price from the breeder. While an owner can expect to pay upwards of $3,000 today for a Frenchie puppy, that was also the going price for a French Bulldog in the early 1900’s, before inflation. In fact, a French Bulldog was known to have been aboard the Titanic when it sank in 1915, and records show that the owner paid $17,000 for it in today’s prices!