Dog Portraits and Animal Portraits by Ann Seward
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Dog Portraits - French Bulldog

Portrait of Fawn French Bulldog, illustrating its breed standard of ‘Bat Ears’.
Dog Portraits - French Bulldog Back to previous page

The French Bulldog can claim part of its ancestry in Great Britain, going back to the 1850s when a dwarf Bulldog breed known as the Toy Bulldog was popular in some parts of the country.

Lace workers from Nottingham were real breed enthusiasts and used these little dogs to warm their laps while working. threatened by redundancy in the Industrial Revolution, they took their dogs with them when they moved to Normandy in France in search of work. Their little dogs soon found favour with the French and many Bulldogs the English did not like because they were too small were then sent over to France where they became extremely popular. French lace workers were especially fond of the smaller Bulldogs with upright ears and named them the Bouledogue Français. Very soon these little dogs became popular with Parisiens and became a symbol of fashion for the elite.

The Bouledogue Français was then reintroduced to England in 1893 where they were met with resistance from English Bulldog breeders, but to get around the problem French Bulldog breeders of the day set up their own Bulldog Club and held their first show in 1902. The first ever breed club was established in Paris in the late 1800’s and a little later a breed standard was established.

Unlike other Bulldog breeds, the French Bulldog has large ‘Bat Ears’ (a term used as a nickname for the breed) giving him a clownish appearance. Soon this was the fashionable breed, popular in artistic society in Paris and portrayed by Degas and Toulouse Lautrec in portraits of Parisian life.

The return of the breed to Britain in the last years of the 19th Century brought some antagonism from the traditionalists, but in 1902 the French Bulldog Club of England was formed. In 1906 the Kennel Club gave official recognition to the breed.

In recent years the breed has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. From 2009 to 2015 the registrations for the breed increased 10 fold and in 2015 the French Bulldog was ranked third most popular breed in the UK.


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