History of the French Bulldog
The origin of the modern French Bulldog breed descends directly from the dogs of the Molossians, an ancient Greek tribe. The dogs were spread throughout the ancient world by Phoenician traders. British Molossian dogs were developed into the Mastiff. A sub-family of the Mastiff were the Bullenbeisser, a type of dog used for bull-baiting.
Blood sports such as bull-baiting were outlawed in England in 1835, leaving these “Bulldogs” unemployed. However, they had been bred for non-sporting reasons since at least 1800, and so their use changed from a sporting breed to a companion breed. Some Bulldogs were crossed with terriers, while others were bred for reduced size. By 1850 the Toy Bulldog had become common in England, and appeared in conformation shows when they began around 1860. These dogs weighed around 16–25 pounds, although classes were also available at dog shows for those that weighed under 12 pounds.
At the same time, lace workers from Nottingham, displaced by the industrial revolution, began to settle in Normandy, France They brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. The dogs became popular in France and a trade in imported small Bulldogs was created, with breeders in England sending over Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as ears that stood up. By 1860, there were few miniature Bulldogs left in England, such was their popularity in France and due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters.
The small Bulldog type gradually became thought of as a breed, and received a name, the Bouledogue Francais. The dogs were highly fashionable and were sought after by society ladies and Parisian prostitutes alike, as well as creatives such as artists, writers and fashion designers. However, records were not kept of the breed’s development as it diverged further from it’s original Bulldog roots. As it changed, terrier and Pug stock may have been brought in to develop traits such as the breed’s long straight ears, and the roundness of their eyes.
Breed clubs and modern recognition
Americans had been importing French Bulldogs for a while, but it was not until 1885 when they were brought over in order to set up an American based breeding program. They were mostly owned by society ladies, who first displayed them at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1896. They arrived again in the following year with even more entries, where the judging of the breed would go on to have future ramifications. The judge in question at the dog show only chose winners with “rose ears” – ears that folded at the tip, as with the standard for English Bulldogs. The ladies formed the French Bull Dog Club of America and created the breed standard which stated for the first time that the “erect bat ear” was the correct type. In the early 20th century they remained in vogue for high society, with dogs changing hands for up to $3,000 and being owned by members of influential families such as the Rockefellers and the J. P. Morgans. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed quickly after the breed club was formed, and by 1906 the French Bulldog was the fifth most popular dog breed in America.
This new Bulldog breed arrived for the first time in England in 1893, with English Bulldog breeds in uproar as the French imports did not meet the new breed standards in place by this time and wanted to prevent the English stock from cross-breeding with the French. The Kennel Club initially recognized them as a subset of the existing English Bulldog breed rather than an entirely new breed. Some English breeders in this period bred the French Bulldogs in order to resurrect the Toy Bulldog breed. On July 10, 1902, at the house of Frederick W. Cousens, a meeting was held to set up a breed club in order to seek individual recognition for the French breed. The adopted breed standard was the same one which was already in use in America, France, Germany and Austria. Despite opposition from Miniature Bulldog (the new breed name for the Toy Bulldog) and Bulldog breeders, in 1905, the Kennel Club changed its policy on the breed and recognised them separate from the English variety, initially as the Bouledogue Francais, then later in 1912 the name changed to French Bulldog.
Taken as an excerpt from Wikipedia.