There are many varied explanations of where the French bulldog actually originated from, however the most prevalent of these suggests that it came from the toy bulldog which was brought to France by some lace workers from Nottingham in the UK. There is however some that speculate the fact of artwork and skeletal finds of the bulldog know as Chincha in ancient Peru and which is said to closely resemble the French bulldog.
Excavated sites uncovered burial grounds which unearthed mummified bodies of dogs, skulls and skeletons, which did indeed confirm that bulldog like dogs did live around 1100 to 1400 AD in Peru. It was found that the Chincha bulldogs skull did have many similarities to what we know as the French bulldog today.
By the 1950`s and 1860`s England saw the increase of the toy or miniature bulldog and when many of the workers moved to France in search of work they took these smaller bulldogs with them. They found this small variety of bulldog was ideal for the small, cramped living conditions, in which they lived also these small bulldogs, were found to be excellent at hunting and killing rats which where to be a plague of that century.
Their popularity increased as more French realised they were not only good companions but also great “ratters”. By the mid 1860`s the breed became so popular and exportation to France was so great that the breed almost became extinct in England. The bulldog was then crossed with a terrier native to France the “terrier boule”, this also looked very similar to a small bulldog and this cross eventually gave rise to the French bulldog of which we know today.
Historians of other breeds have also claimed that the small bulldog was crossed with the pug but no evidence has ever substantiated this claim. What was known then as the petite boule quickly expanded in popularity throughout France and they became a favourite of the courtesans who adored the dog for its eccentric appearance? It was during this period that the upper class also fell for the charm of the little bulldog and its popularity soon began to extend to royalty.
The French bulldog however really took off in the 1880 when a group of French bulldog owners began to have regular meetings and it was during 1885 that the first provisional register of the breed was recognised and the French bulldog appeared in a show under its own name, the French bulldog in 1887. the French bulldog first appeared at a show in the United States in 1896 in New York, this is where the popular name “frenchie” was first given them and it is a name which has stuck with them ever since.
It was the Americans who organised the first ever French bulldog club in the world and it was these who first insisted that the “bat” ear of the dog which is still associated with the breed today should be considered the correct form for the standard.