French Bulldog Origins

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Frenchie History 101

The history of French Bulldogs dates all the way back to the 1700s.

Since then, Frenchies have slowly evolved into the breed we all know and love today.

Let’s now explore the history of Frenchies.

French Bulldog Historical Timeline

Origins of French Bulldogs

The original ancestral type of the current version of the French Bulldog can trace its lineage back to England between 150-200 years ago.

Yes, that’s right… Frenchies aren’t originally from France.

Bull Baiting

The ancestor of the modern-day French Bulldog was a robust and athletic dog used in the activity of bull-baiting.

Bull-baiting was a popular sport in medieval times and is the practice whereby dogs are encouraged to harass and attack a tethered bull.

Late 1800s

The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s created stable jobs and better economic conditions for many people.

Now, people could care for pets as animals, rather than just owning them for agricultural reasons.

Industrialization also led to many small craft shops in England being forced out of business.

These British craftsmen left their native country and headed to Northern France, where they’d be bringing their newly bred version of the toy bulldog.

Bouledogue français (French Bulldog)

It was here in France where the breed got the name “Bouledogue français” or “French Bulldog” in English.

It wasn’t long before the French Bulldog gained popularity among the social elite of Paris.


At this point, the English wanted nothing to do with the new “French” version of their Toy Bulldog. They preferred their version of the bulldog over the French one.


Frenchies first exhibited at Westminster in 1896, despite not being an American Kennel Club (AKC) approved bred.

To America

Affluent Americans visiting France quickly fell in love with the Frenchies and brought them back to America with them.

1897 – FBDCA

On April 5th, 1897, the French Bulldog Club of America (FBDCA) was formed after much debate over whether the Frenchie should have “bat” ears or rose-shaped ears.


At the Westminster Dog Show of 1898, both bat-eared and rose-eared were shown.

Drama at the Dog Show

As you could imagine, the Americans were not happy with this decision– according to their breed standards, “bat ears” were required for a dog to be considered a French Bulldog.

In protest to this, the Americans actually pulled their dogs from the show! The only American judge refused to participate as well!


In 1898, the first French Bulldog specialty show was held at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria hotel in NYC.

This was also the first time the Frenchie received serious media attention and was sure to be responsible for their subsequent increase in popularity.

1898 –

1913 – Westminster Kennel Club

The French Bulldog enters the Westminster Kennel Club with an entry of 100.

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