History of The Breed

During the 1850’s small bulldogs weighing less than 20lbs (10 kilos) became firm favourites with the inhabitants of the industrial cities of London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Champion Smasher Toy Bulldog - English winner 1870’s

During the industrial crisis between 1848 and 1860 the migrant lace makers of Nottingham were forced to seek work in Europe taking many of these small bulldogs with them. They continued to breed their dogs in France, but were not particular about breeding their dogs with those of a similar size but of a different breed.

Toy Bulldog Nottingham Frank c. 1849 Painting by Mr. Browne

The French also took these small bulldogs to heart and crossed them with a terrier type dog to introduce a ratting instinct into the breed. In particular they used the “Terriers-Boules” which to some extent had Pug breeding behind them. These French breeders did not have any specific pedigrees for their little dogs so did not feel bound to conform to any particular breeding “standard”. Consequently no records exist to record which breeds of dogs were actually used. The first registration of Brood bitches and Stud dogs began in 1885. Further more, many of the dogs, be they Miniature Bulldogs or Terriers-Boules, used in the development of the French Bulldog, were owned by people who were mostly illiterate and had little time for recording the names of dogs and bitches. The dogs’ function was more important.

The demand for the little bulldogs from England became so great that by the 1970’s – 80’s there were very few to be found in this country, and those which could be found were of poor quality. This prompted George Krehl to import six small bulldogs from Paris in 1893. However,. when Mr Krehl benched his six little Parisian Bulldogs at the British Kennel Club Show , the Bulldog Club objected to these French dogs questioning the purity of their bloodlines.

Leda Toy Bulldog born December 1892 Paris. Owned by R.G. Krehl

In the end the problem was solved by the Kennel Club granting a separate classification for the French dogs,. From this point on, the Toy Bulldog was a recognized breed and a club devoted solely to the Toy Bulldog was formed in 1898. The Club’s objective was to promote the breeding of pure Toy Bulldogs. Amongst its founders were Mr. Krehl, The Hon. Mrs. Baillie of Douchfour, Lady Katherine Pilkington and Miss Bruce.

The Toy Bulldog Club drew up a standard for the little dogs.

“ The general appearance of the Toy Bulldog must as nearly as possible resemble that of the big Bulldog.

The skull should be large, forehead flat and the skin about it well wrinkled, the stop broad and deep, extending up the middle of the forehead. Eyes of moderate size, situated low down on the skull, and as wide apart as possible.

Ears to be rose if possible; tulip ears are allowed, but not to be encouraged; button or terrier-like ears are a decided fault.

Face as short as possible, nose jet black, deeply set back, almost between the eyes. Muzzle to be short, broad and turned upwards. The lower jaw should ;project considerable in front of the upper, and turn up. Teeth not to be shown. Neck to be short, with much loose skin about it.

The Hon.Mrs Baillie of Douchfour, Secretary of the Toy Bulldog Club,

“Frogginess” is objectionable.

Chest to be very wide, round and deep. Back short and strong, narrow towards the loins, and broad at the shoulder.

A roach back is desirable.

Tail to be short, and not carried above the back.

Forelegs to be short in proportion to the hind legs. Hind quarters much lighter in proportion than forequarters.

The most desirable weight is below 20 lbs, and dogs or bitches that exceed 22lbs shall be disqualified.”

In the early 20th Century it was suggested that all Bulldogs under 20lbs in weight should come under the control of the Toy Bulldog Club, and be classed as Toy Bulldogs no matter what their ear carriage. However, those of 20-28lbs weight and with “bat ears” should be classified as “French Bulldogs”, and any dogs over that weight should be classified as standard Bulldogs.

Later the weight of the Toy Bulldog was fixed at 22lbs and under, which led to the Kennel Club’s decision that they could no longer be classed as “Toy” and reclassified them as “Miniature” Bulldogs

In France, the French Club rejected any connection with the English Bulldog and wrote its own standard. In this standard of 1898 they stated that the rose or button ear was the main characteristic of the Toy Bulldog of England and that the “spoon ear” or “Bat Ear” was the desired shape of the French breed.

Parisian bred French Bulldogs with “rose’ and “bat” ears 1892 owner Mr Thomas

Toy Bulldog “Norland Chei Pei” owned by Mrs J Howlett, Maidenhead

There then followed the decision to differentiate the Toy Bulldog from the French Bulldog in the UK.

Lady Katherine Pilkington wrote:

“ From the 1st January, 1907, all in-breeding with French Bulldogs has been absolutely forbidden, and the two breeds, so long confusedly intertwined, have at length been finally dissociated.”

Finally, the devotees of the French Bulldog split from the Toy Bulldog Club and the French Bulldog Club of England was formed in 1902. Sadly, as the French Bulldog grew both in popularity and numbers, the popularity of the Toy Bulldog fell into decline until it ceased to exist.

The first UK French Bulldog breed show took place on 7th April 1903 at Tattersalls. 51 “Frenchies “ were entered and were judged by the French judge Menans de Corre. Most of the dogs were imports from France. The Best in Show was a dog called Roquet owned by Mrs Townsend-Green.

Lady Lewis, President of The French Bulldog Club of England with “Harpton Betsy Trot”

In 1905 the French Breed Standard was recognized by the Kennel Club and the Breed name “Bouledogue Francais” accepted. This was replaced in 1912 by the name “French Bulldog”.

The foundation English breeders, Lady Lewis “Harpton”, Mrs. Pelham-Clinton “Amersham”, Mrs Townsend-Green “Barkston”, Miss. G Loseby “Millhouse” and those who followed brought the French Bulldog breed to a high standard with English French Bulldogs being recognized world-wide.

Bonhams Close Tessa, Tilda, Thelma, Tamarisk and Betley Berenge