History of the the French Bulldog

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First page is only available in Dutch. From page two on there is an english translation available.

Als er een hond is, die terecht bij de dogachtigen thuis hoort, dan is het wel de Franse Bulldog.
Met zijn atletische bouw en gespierde, brede borstkas straalt hij moed en vastberadenheid uit, doch ook trouw en vriendschap.
De kleine Fransoos had niet beter beschreven kunnen worden dan in het onderstaande gedicht, opgetekend door de heer J.J. Fris:

Jij kleine hond
Met heel groot oog
Dat spreekt en tevens luistert;
Jij kleine hond,
Met heel groot oor,
Dat hoort, wat men ook fluistert.

Jij brokje spier,
Dat nijdig trilt
Wanneer je wilt gaan vechten;
Jij luide kef
Die snerpend gilt
Komt iemand aan jouw rechten

Je borst is breed,
Je rug is kort,
Jij laat je niet kleineren;
Jij hebt
Een hondenhart van goud
Dat elkeen moet waarderen.



About the exact history of the breed, contrary to most other breeds, very little can be said with certainty.  Most history writers agree that the English Bulldog has played a significant part in the history of the breed, according to their lectures.  When the popularity of dog fights diminished around 1820, and the Bulldog was kept more as a pet dog, these dogs were crossed with smaller breeds, most probably terriers, resulting in a smaller type of dog that could easily be kept in smaller workers’ homes of the lace workers around Nottingham; these dogs were called Toy Bulldogs and they had pointy ears.
By further selection and crossbreeding with Terriers the standing ear probably came into existence.  These dogs were exported back to England where they were highly appreciated and recognized as French Bulldogs by the kennel clubs.
Another opinion, supported by Paul Megnin, a famous dog connoisseur from the beginning of the 20th century is as follows: there have always been Mollossers in Paris, especially in Parisian butcheries established near the halls.  Around 1870 these Mollossers were replaced by Terriers-Boules (not to be confused with Bull Terriers).  They were small, short dogs, muscular, with cropped ears and tail; the head already had features of the present French Bulldog.  These dogs were used as rat catchers.  By crossbreeding with the previously mentioned Toy Bulldogs and possibly Pugs, gradually the French Bulldog came into existence in Paris around 1870. 
According to veterans like Lecomte and Riant it is more likely that the original types English import on the one hand and crossbreeding with older, smaller Bulldogs of simple merchants on the other hand, were mixed.  They reject crossbreeding with Pugs.  Finally the Englishman Krel states that the French Bulldog is a direct descendant of the Dog de Burgos.



The advocates/breeders of the breed were originally found in the suburbs of Paris.  They were ordinary people of simple descent that came to compare their breeding products in small pubs and exchanged experiences.  Around 1880 more effort was put into perfection of the total image.  A foundation was founded, Charles Roger became president.  This foundation had 47 members.  The first standard was made in 1888 and the public was very interested.
At first the ladies of easy leisure and the owners of brothels bought these dogs because of their special appearance, later on when they were admitted in shows also the middle classes and the nobility became obsessed by these cheerful frenchies.  He accompanied lovely ladies at Mont Martre but you could also see him in carriages, riding through the Bois de Boulogne or the Champs Elysées.  They became the pet animals of the future King Edward VII, than still the Prince of Wales, of Colette de Mistinguette and even of some Grand Dukes at the Russian Court.  He became really fashionable as of 1888 and especially the English and the Americans showed very great interest, and the development went very fast.  One of the best Parisian breeding dogs was Rabot de Beaubourg; he passed on the bat ears to his descendants.  Only in 1898 the breed became officially recognized, with the input of Baron Carayon de la Tour, one of the first aristocrats that owned a French Bulldog and showed him publicly.  Also Gordon Bennett, an American who was President of the French Bulldog Club in France and very renowned for his talent, made a large contribution.



At first the French and the English together created the French Bulldog but its perfection was created by international cooperation.  The Americans, to whom money was no objection, bought all the good dogs in France.  It was Mr. Harrison who imported the first dogs to America.  Impressed by the breed and the enthusiasm to further improve the dogs in America Mr. Harrison returned to France accompanied by George Phelps from Philadelphia and together they bought top dogs for very high prices. 
The breeding of the French Bulldog in the United States flourished and around 1922 the most beautiful dogs could be found in America.  Around 1920 the development in England improved and after the war crisis they imported a few good descendants of Nellcote Gamin from America and they could start a new good basis again.  After the second World War England played a very important part in the reconstitution of the breed.  In Germany Mr. Hartenstein was the first one who imported French Bulldogs from France to his native country.  In 1913 a club was founded that would promote the interests of the breed.  This was the I.K.B.F. (Internationale Klub für Französische Bulldoggen, and it had an international character.  The committee was Mr. Hartenstein (Germany), Mr. Nans de Corre (France), concert master La Grange (also a fan of the breed) and Mrs. Sacher and Mrs. Muller from Austria.  The club still has the same name in Germany but the international character has disappeared.  The period after the war shows another revival of the breed.  Very famous and important for our country were the “v.d. Grimmelsburg” dogs and the dogs from the “von Ratibor und Corvey” kennel.  Together with the English imports and the Dutch breeding products they have enhanced the breed in our country.  Up to now you can find them in many pedigrees in our country.

Our country became very impressed by the breed around the turn of the century.  The first French Bulldog in a show in our country was in 1907.  It was a female called Negresse and she was bred by Mr. Desplasse.  She was judged by Count van Bijlandt and she was owned by Mr. A. Outshoorn from Antwerp.  A year later you could see four dogs at a show in Amsterdam.  As far as we know Mr. van Enthoven bred the first litter of French Bulldogs in our country in 1908.  In 1912, twelve French Bulldogs could be admired in our country.  There we still two varieties: the French Bulldog and the French Dwarf Bulldog.  These two varieties were separately entered in the N.H.S.B. although they were judged as one breed.  Only after the first World War the breeding in our country became larger.  In 1917 three males and one female from England were imported by Mrs. van de Linden from Rotterdam and in the same year one female was imported from Germany by Miss Schult from ‘s Gravenhage where three females were born in 1914 but only entered in the N.H.S.B. in 1917.  More imports followed.  In the N.H.S.B. of 1929 two French Bulldogs were announced that had reached their championship since 1918, they were Charlotte of Birmingham and Guilfort Topper.  As you can see, imports from England.
Nevertheless, in those days our country already had three judges.  They were Mrs. van Enthoven, Schult and van de Hulst.  That year 22 males and 24 females were entered in the N.H.S.B.  Famous names of people who occupied themselves with breeding: Mrs. Hulsman, Mrs. Frowein-Gratema, Mrs. Jonker-Floeser, Mrs. de Wit-Kranz and Mrs. Bontekoe-Hylkema, as you can see a ladies’ affair in those days.  A beautiful picture of two gorgeous females owned by Mrs. Bontekoe-Hylkema is printed in the N.H.S.B. of 1929.  They were her own bred Bibi’s Mussolini and Bella van Konigswinter, bred by Mrs. de Wit-Kranz.  I know these two ladies always remained faithful to the breed and they never went through life without a frenchie not even in their old days.  The breeding virtually stopped during the second World War.  In 1944 new kennel names emerged: Cillys kennel of the Teenstra family in Leek, and van Vredelust (a very appropriate name at the name) of Mrs. Adriaansen in ‘s Gravenhage.  Also the veterans emerged again: van Konigswinter van Mrs. de Wit-Kranz and Bibi’s kennel of Mrs. Bontekoe-Hylkema.  In this period after the war several dogs were imported from Germany and England.  Many breeders were added and took over the work of their predecessors. 
It wasn’t my intention to flood you with names of kennels or persons but it is my opinion that we have to be grateful to these people that picked up breeding again after the war because they gave the breed an acceptable basis and gave the present breeders the opportunity to elaborate the breed even more.
Holland is therefore highly renowned in the French Bulldog world.


The character.

Now that he obliging reader knows something more about the origin and the progress of the breed, we shall now say some more about the character of the little rascal.  In her book “The French Bulldog” Countess de Comminges wrote in 1933: “it is not only the bravest dog but beyond any doubt the bravest animal.  Don’t let him fool you, behind his apparent indifference hides a kind creature that asks for a lot of love to fully develop.”  Out of this you can see that this noble lady was completely obsessed by the breed.  Quotes like “once a bulldog, always a bulldog” or “he who once had the pleasure to experience the love of a Frenchie, will only with difficulty except another breed”, are not uncommon.  With his noble and yet soft character, his faithful look and his irrepressibly gay enthusiasm, he has something that is hard to define.  He is a very lively social pet dog, very sweet to children and people and he will win everybody’s heart with these characteristics.  He is faithful, intelligent and peaceful at heart.  Once he has won your heart, he will always stand by your side and show his affection.  One harsh word is enough to offend him, but one cheerful note and he is enthusiastic again.  He may be a small dog but he has the characteristics of this larger Mollosser brothers.  This mainly means that he isn’t afraid of anything and he is quite dominant towards other dogs.  For people who don’t know the breed, his looks dangerous but he really is not.  He is a clown disguised as a philosopher.  He’s very devoted, likes being in the centre of attention and through this needs a lot of attention.  He’s very reliable.  He’s a good jumper and runner and with his sturdy composition and bones he is a very strong dog.  Through his fierceness he in the game he appears wild, but he can be snoring peacefully with his room mates, which is an expression of a satisfied and happy feeling.  He’s curious by nature because he is so intelligent, nothing passes him by and he loves to explore.  He is very stubborn and he has a strong will of his own.  His persistence has no limits.  In short, when one is surrounded by a creature full of character, there is no way out:

You have to love a Frenchie