A BRIEF HISTORY
What has the English industrial revolution to do with French Bulldogs? A great deal, for it's our starting point. From about 1850 to 1860 the English textile and clothing industries were in turmoil. Machinery was replacing man. Cottage industries in the English Midlands were being abandoned. The lacemakers of Nottingham who worked by hand no longer had jobs.
Seeking work elsewhere the Nottingham lacemakers were welcomed with open arms by the French to the coastal towns of Normandy and in particular to Brittany and Calais where the old traditional work continued.
By the 1850s - 1860s Nottingham in England was a great centre for British Bulldogs, including the toy or miniature bulldogs. The emigrants from Nottingham took their miniature bulldogs with them because of the dogs' size, companionship and because they were good ratters. (Living conditions were cramped in the apartments and small houses in which workers lived.)
By the 1860s the export of miniature of toy bulldogs from England to France was so great that they practically became extinct in England. The miniature bulldogs are thought to have been crossed with terriers and pugs and the French Bulldog evolved. Lack of records has so far frustrated researches of breed historians and it seems unlikely that more will emerge.
French Bulldogs became popular among the ladies of the night of Paris and then became a status symbol of French society. Artists, businessmen and aristocrats owned frenchies. Toulouse Lautrec and Degas painted pictures that included French Bulldogs. Colette wrote stories about her beloved frenchies. Wealthy Americans visiting Paris fell victim to the charms of the frenchie and took them home to America.
The French Bulldog is one of only a few breeds which owes its existance to the efforts of breeders in different countries - France, America, England and Germany. Certainly the continuance of the unique bat ears at the turn of the century was due largely to America and there was immense popularity for the frenchie in America from a century ago and continuing for at least thirty years.
The breed is still in its infancy here in Australia. Whereas France, England, Germany and the USA have been breeding French Bulldogs since the beginning of the 1900s, serious breeding did not really start in Australia until the 1960s and 70s. It was not until 1983 that there were sufficient numbers to form a breed club. The French Bulldog Club of NSW was founded in 1983 being fully affiliated on 15 November 1985 and was the first breed club for frenchies in Australia.
"There is no dog in the world which is more "Eyes and Ears" and at the same time a little athlete than the French Bulldog ... He has a serious expression, but laughs with all his body and is always gay. He is a clown under the robe of a philosopher. Always ready for tricks, and yet full of dignity while at rest. Made of contrasts, yet very agreeable and well proportioned. Of great vivacity, and yet full of gravity, he accepts patiently immobility. Quiet in his basket, he does not lose a word of the conversation ... He is indeed most desirable and in him are combined all the virtues of the house dog." Reproduced from an old Belgian dog journal Journal Chasse et Pêche
FRENCHIES HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS
Flat-faced dogs such as the frenchie are more prone to heat stress than their pointy-nosed cousins. Breed specific problems include elongated soft palate, an obstruction of the airway sometimes requiring surgery. Over the past ten years we have seen a vast improvement in the overall health of the breed in Australia. We strive to only breed from dogs free of elongated soft palate and associated problems with brachycephalic syndrome. Living in our hot climate frenchies have to be good breathers.
Here are a few tips:
- Never exercise a French Bulldog in the heat of the day
- Air-conditioning recommended particularly if you live in an apartment
- Most frenchies will jump in and out of a shallow children's wading pool to keep cool
- French Bulldogs are not good swimmers and should not have unsupervised access to pools
- Plan car trips carefully and provide for your frenchie's needs. Air-conditioning highly recommended. If this is not available lie your dog on arctic mats or wet towels and use car curtains to shade the dog from direct sunlight
- Keep your frenchie fit. Although exercise requirements are minimal, a fit and healthy frenchie will be more heat tolerant than an overweight and unhealthy one
- Have cool, clean drinking water available at all times and during heat wave conditions give your frenchie electrolytes
CARE AND GROOMING
Minimal grooming is required to keep your frenchie looking good. Keep the coat soft and shiny with a thorough weekly brushing. A bath and regular nail clipping should be performed when necessary. Keep the face folds clean and dry using cotton wool or a soft face flannel as necessary. Apply vaseline on the nose leather to keep it moist and soft. Remember to keep the ears clean and check them on a weekly basis.
A balanced diet, fresh water and regular exercise will keep your frenchie healthy and happy. The most important thing of all is to give your frenchie lots of TLC. Frenchies thrive on love and attention and kennel life is not for them!