The “bouldogge Francais,” as he is known in his adopted home country of France, actually originated in England, in the city of Nottingham. Small bulldogs were popular pets with the local laceworkers, keeping them company and ridding their workrooms of rats. After the industrial revolution, lacemaking became mechanized and many of the laceworkers lost their jobs. Some of them moved to France, where their skills were in demand, and of course they took their beloved dogs with them. The dogs were equally popular with French shopkeepers and eventually took on the name of their new country.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the dogs became popular with members of the Paris bohemian class: ladies of the night, artists, writers such as the novelist Colette, and wealthy Americans doing the Grand Tour. Impressionist artist Toulouse Lautrec even put a Frenchie in one of his paintings, “Le Marchand des Marrons.”
The Frenchie has gained rapidly in popularity in the past decade. Today, the breed ranks 21st among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, up from 71st in 2000, a testament to his qualities as a companion.