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French Bulldog Temperament: Ideal companion dog overshadowed by controversy

The French Bulldog, or "Frenchie" as they're lovingly called, is a famous dog breed that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Their compact size and loving temperament contributed to their shot to fame, especially in urban areas. So if you're thinking about adding one to your family, this blog post can help you decide if the Frenchie is the right dog for you.

French Bulldogs are fun-loving and affectionate dogs who make great family pets. They're known for their loyalty, companionship, and sweet demeanour, but it's essential to understand their temperament and the controversy before bringing one home.

French Bulldogs can be wonderful pets, but there are some things to consider before deciding.

They are unique dogs with a lot of personalities but come with some severe health issues. #EndTheTrend and #SaveOurBreath are only two campaigns calling for a ban or an overhaul of breeding standards for this dog.

Are you ready for all that comes with owning a French Bulldog? Then, let's dive right in.

French Bulldog History

Surprisingly the ancestors of the French Bulldog weren't French, and they weren't small and cute either. The French Bulldog is actually of British descent.

The ancestor of the French Bulldog is the Old English Bulldog, a dog bred for bullbaiting. These dogs had to be robust, agile and basically able to take down a bull. They used to look more like a Staffordshire Bullterrier than the English Bulldogs we know today.

French Bulldog Temperament
French Bulldogs have British ancestors

Bullbaiting was banned in 1835 in England and made space for Dog shows that relied more on looks than abilities. During that time, the more fashionable Bulldog had a short muzzle, squished face and lower jaws. They probably went through the most dramatic physical change as they were bred for more exaggerated features and smaller sizes.

But even back then, breeders realised the health issues that the Bulldogs displayed due to these selective breeding practices. Can you imagine? Already 100 years ago, health issues were called out in brachycephalic breeds.

A dwarf Bulldog was first bred in Nottingham and became especially popular with the artisans in the lace-making industry. However, during the industrial revolution, when machinery became more prominent for lace making, the traders had to move to France and bring their toy-sized English Bulldogs.

France is the country where the French Bulldog was bred to look more like they look today. It is believed they were crossed with more miniature Terriers and Pugs to retain their small size or to become even smaller. The Terriers were responsible for giving these little dogs their terrier liveliness.

The new Frenchies quickly became the favourite accessory of women working in the oldest profession in the world, also called Les Belles de Nuit – streetwalkers.

Some had erect "bat ears' while others had "rose" ears. Wealthy Americans in France fell in love with these charming little dogs and began bringing them back to the USA. Naturally, the Americans preferred dogs with erect ears, undisputed by French and British breeders, who chose the rose-eared specimens. So the Americans quickly set up the AKC registered breed that only allowed Bat ears.

What made this little dog explode to such popularity?

It's known as baby syndrome. Big eyes, squishy face and tiny frame, are just so cute and the perfect accessory for a night out in town.

French Bulldog Temperament
The French Bulldog is the second most popular dog breed in 2022

However, by 1940 the French Bulldog was considered a rare breed, threatened by recession and World Wars and their inability to give birth naturally. It would be years until the C-section was advanced to let little puppies see the light of the world.

Over the last decade, UK registrations for French Bulldogs have risen by 1,682 %. It is a meteoric rise in popularity. In 2021, the Frenchie was the second most popular dog breed in the UK, right after the Labrador Retriever.

So it's common to see them in the hands of celebrities on Instagram and in adverts.

This worries people who would like to see the breed thrive with reduced health issues and an updated breed standard to improve the dog's breathing.

Unfortunately, 90% of Frenchies today have restricted breathing due to unscrupulous breeders, puppy farms and years of breeding for exaggerated features.

The below numbers show that the Covid pandemic also contributed to the rise of the French Bulldog. Q3 2022 showed a slowing in new Frenchie registrations compared with the pandemic year 2021. In 2022, 42,538 French Bulldogs were registered, much less than in 2021 and a 20% decrease.

Q1 2021

Q2 2021