The History of the French Bulldog: The Beginnings of America’s #1 Breed

| AKC Pet Insurance

From England to France to America – find out about the fascinating origin of the iconic French Bulldog and how they became America’s most popular breed!

french bulldog spotlight header

Charming and playful, the French Bulldog, or “Frenchie” has captured the hearts of Americans to become the most popular breed in the nation. But, before they entered the hearts and homes of so many Americans, the Frenchie captured the hearts of traveling artisans.

England, Lace, and Revolution

As French lace makers moved from England back to France to escape the Industrial Revolution, they took some very important four-legged passengers with them. While in England, the crafting community became enamored with a type of toy bulldog popular in the region. These perfectly sized pets could be found in most households and were a staple of their lives and profession. Upon moving back to France, the popularity of these companion dogs skyrocketed. 

Over the years, they were mixed with other breeds from the region until the iconic bat ears and snub nose became part of the dog we all know and love. They also picked up a new name – the French Bulldog! 

Popularity in Paris: The French Bulldog as a Status Symbol

Soon, their fame spread to Paris, where they were lauded as perfect companions for people from all walks of life due to their loving and clownish behavior. Owning a French Bulldog quickly became a status symbol and a must-have for fashion forward Parisians, and these family-oriented pups were more than happy to be involved in every aspect of their humans’ lives. 

The winning personalities and unique look of the French Bulldog carried their popularity across Europe and eventually into America, where they remain a top breed to this day. In 2023 the AKC declared them America’s Most Popular Breed, further cementing their widespread popularity!

The Beautiful Frenchie and Safe, Ethical Breeding Practices

French Bulldogs are easily recognized by their muscular, compact build, short nose, and distinct bat ears. Like other types of bulldogs, they have looser skin around the neck and shoulders, as well as a roll over the top of the muzzle. 

Another iconic trait of the French Bulldog is their clownish expression when panting, with their black flews and broad muzzle. Although the classic fawn coloring is what comes to mind when most people picture a Frenchie, they come in a wide range of colors like white, red fawn, and brindle too! Blues, dilutes, and merle colorings are off-standard breed colors and should be avoided, as merle coloring comes from mixing in other breeds to the bloodline, and diluted or off-standard colors can come with health concerns. 

Trends like light or blue eyes and ‘fluffy’ coats are hallmarks of unethical breeding practices. The only eye color a Frenchie should display is brown – the darker the better! Frenchies should look alert, curious, and be interested in the world around them. 

How to Breed and Raise Healthy French Bulldogs

Like every breed, there are certain health issues that can be prevalent, but they can be tested for, and in many cases, avoided in good breeding programs. The National Breed Club for the French Bulldog recommends all breeders at minimum have patellae evaluated, a cardiac exam, hip evaluations, and ophthalmologist exams, all done by licensed individuals. Keep in mind that these are just the minimum requirements. Many responsible breeders will do all of these and even more to ensure the health and well-being of their breeding program and the puppies they produce. 

Although they are a brachycephalic breed, a healthy Frenchie is more than capable of exercise, outdoor activities, and sports! French Bulldogs have successfully competed in AKC events like FastCat, Agility, and Obedience, in addition to excelling in the conformation ring. 

As a small, dense breed, they do need extra care in water, as they are not especially buoyant. With life jackets and supervision, though, they can enjoy a day on the lake with the rest of the family. Extra care should be taken in extreme heat, but this breed is far from fragile. As a companion animal, they love to be out and about with their families and friends and will be more than happy to tag along with whatever activity their people are involved in. 

The breed is not known for excessive barking, but that does not mean they don’t know how to communicate! French Bulldogs make a large variety of grumbles, groans, and other sounds, so that you always know what they are thinking. 

Adaptable and playful, they are capable of fitting in with almost any household, and are known to be great with other dogs, animals, and children too. If you are looking to get started with this famous breed, seek resources on responsible breeding from the French Bulldog Club of America and the AKC!

All dog breeds need regular, routine visits to the vet for optimal health and wellness. AKC Pet Insurance offers optional Veterinary Exam and Wellness coverage add-ons to help protect your pup. Get a quote for Accident and Illness coverage from AKC Pet Insurance today and learn more about coverage options in the event of a veterinary emergency.

logo mark