What role did the English Industrial revolution play in the French Bulldog's history? Well, the many economic crises of the 19th century and the industrial production of textiles had made life in England very difficult to the artesan producers, like the Nottingham lace workers. From about 1850 to 1860 the English textile and clothing industries were in a turmoil.
French Bulldog painting 19th century
by Dean Wolstenholme 1757-1837)
Photo credit: William Secord
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. By the 1850s - 1860s Nottingham in England also was a great centre for English bulldogs, including the toy or miniature bulldogs.
When many of the lace workers of Nottingham moved to France to seek work, more specifically to the Calais area, they took their smaller bulldogs with them. The miniature bulldogs were perfectly suited to the new, cramped, living conditions in the apartments and small houses the workers lived in, and also because they were excellent ratters, the plague of that century.
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.
Why precisely these smaller bulldogs became very popular amongst the workers in the Nottingham lace industry in the first place is not very clear but speculations are that these little bulldogs were in fact "culls" of the established Bulldog Breeders in England, who were generally more than happy to sell these undersized examples of their breed to fanciers of the "new" Toy breed in England.
This was especially true of the "tulip" eared puppies that cropped up at times in Bulldog litters. And later on when they had to move to France, the pocket-sized edition of the bulldog was very convenient because they were easier to smuggle aboard ship and keep out of sight during the trip to France and because they were more prone to adapt to the new living conditions.
In the farming communities north of France where they moved to, the little Bulldogs became very popular as ratters and loyal family companions and their population soon grew. In the 1860s the export of miniature or toy bulldogs from England to France was so great that they practically became extinct in England. Read more about the French bulldog history >>
French Bulldog bronze, Laplanche (France, 19th C.)
Photo credit: William Secord
(History and Origins of the French Bulldog)
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