Look out labradors, the French bulldogs are coming: how the cute Continental breed stole our affections
Sacrebleu! It seems that Britain’s top dog is a French bulldog. Katy Birchall finds out why the endearingly bateared canine is taking over homes and hearts–and why you should do your research before buying a puppy
Everybody loves them— it takes me hours to get anywhere,’ says Jamie bouloux of his two French bulldogs, bruce (named after bruce Springsteen) and Shirley (Shirley Temple). ‘There’s just something about them.’ Mr bouloux, Ceo of London-based MGA emergin risk, is besotted with the breed and he’s not the only one.
Last month, the Kennel Club (KC) sent shockwaves through the nation when it announced that the labrador’s long-held position as britain’s most popular dog was under threat, for the first time in 27 years, from the rise of the French bulldog, a breed that saw a 47% increase in puppy registrations in 2016 alone. registrations have increased by 368% in the past five years and 3,000% in the past 10.
Although labrador devotees are currently splashing their faces with cold water, the news is no surprise to ‘Frenchie’ fans. ‘What is surprising is that it’s taken nearly 100 years for the Frenchie to become so popular,’ declares Jackie Mavro-michaelis, secretary of the Pennine and Scottish French bulldog Association and owner of more than 20 dogs.
‘They’re funny, loving, companionable, curious, intelligent and tenacious. They’re ideal for town or country living, they make good family pets and don’t need lots of exercise. They can, however, suffer from flatulence,’ she adds knowingly. Nor do they like water— they’re not natural swimmers.
enthusiasm for this cheerful, wrinklynosed dog stems largely from its endearingly comical appearance— with its big bat ears, sturdy body and exaggerated features, the French bulldog appeals to us in the same way a baby chimp does, explains Mrs Mavromichaelis. ‘They have a unique look— a flat face and big, dark engaging eyes.’
It was certainly love at first sight for Penny rankine-parsons, now president of the French bulldog Club of england,
They’re funny, loving, companionable, curious and intelligent’
‘He may look serious but he is a laughing philosopher. He is always a clown
when she set eyes on two Frenchies belonging to a bulldog breeder she was visiting. ‘I discovered the breed purely by accident—i’d never seen one before and knew nothing about them. At that time, fewer than 200 puppies were being born a year, so I waited two years for one [Wiz]. Before Wiz arrived, I educated myself about all matters Frenchie.’
Mrs Rankine-parsons shares her home with three Frenchies and has lost count of the number she has owned over the past 35 years. ‘They have each had their own personalities, but have all been super companions, with the best of temperaments. The breed is charming and has such an amusing clown-like persona.’
Clownish is a description long associated with the Frenchie—will Judy wrote of the breed in the 1936 Dog
Encyclopaedia: ‘He may look serious but he is a laughing philosopher… He is always a clown.’ ‘They’re hilarious,’ Mr Bouloux agrees. ‘We once came home to find Bruce, who’d been chasing his ball about, with his head stuck underneath the dressing table and his bottom sticking out in the air.’
Television chef Tom Kerridge, proprietor of the Michelin-starred The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, describes his French bulldog, Inky, as ‘a cross between a grumpy teenager, a slightly deranged boxer dog and a very happy spaniel’. He adds: ‘I absolutely love this breed. There’s so much character behind that squashy face.’
Jeweller Cecilia Stamp, proud owner of one-year-old Leo (Frontispiece, March 1), agrees that these small dogs come with
Bruce and Shirley attract admiring fans wherever they go
Jamie Bouloux wouldn’t be without Bruce and Shirley: ‘I’m a Frenchie fan for life’