Famous French Bulldogs Through History


French bulldogs pull their roots back to the second half of the 1800s. Their popularity started to rapidly grow when Nottingham’s lacemakers traveled to France for trading purposes. Soon, Frenchies became the stars of working-class Parisian society. The so-called French Bouledogue has been ‘produced’ by crossbreeding between a miniature small bulldog and native terrier boule that served as ‘ratter dog’. So far, you’ve probably heard only these facts about Frenchie’s history. However, have you ever wondered who famous French bulldogs through history were? Read on and discover the amazing history of these frog dogs.

Who were the most famous French bulldogs through history?

As we already mentioned, Frenchies came to France thanks to the influence of the Industrial revolution. Their distinctive appearance helped them to step out from the crowd and become popular among the ‘ladies of the night’. The so-called ‘Belles de Nuit’ adored Frenchies because of their uniqueness.


Many people don’t know that first-created Frenchies had longer muzzles and tulip-shaped ears. There were actually two types of these pooches- with rose-shaped ears as seen in English bulldogs and later bat-shaped ears as seen in today’s Frenchies.

As French bulldogs have been changing their appearances over the decades, people from higher society started to appreciate their affectionate personalities and decided to carry them for pets.

Who is a ‘dog Bouboule’?

The dog Bouboule was the nickname for a French bulldog. The word ‘bouboule’ describes people and dogs with a podgy, butterball face and physique. The first ‘dog Bouboule’ that entered to the Parisian history was the dog depicted in the pastel of Toulouse-Lautrec from 1897. You can see it in the following image.


Bouboule was owned by a Mme. Palmyre who owned well known lesbian restaurant, La Souris, in that seedy, underground milieu Toulouse-Lautrec embraced in both life and his art.

By searching about famous Frenchies through history, we can find them in artworks of many world-famous artists. Besides Toulouse-Lautrec that often used these little gremlins as inspiration for his paintings, French bulldogs can be seen also in Degas’, Boris Kustodiev’s, Ilya Repin’s, and Carl Reichert’s works.

In the following picture made by Carl Reichert, you can notice that Frenchies had much longer muzzles. They breathed easier and was a bit taller.

Frenchie ‘Roika’ – the most popular French bulldog in the Soviet Union

The portrait of a famous Russian bass opera singer Chaliapin was painted by Boris Kustodiev in 1921. The picture is full of symbolism and Chaliapin often required to be painted with his favorite dog breed. In the following picture, you can see his daughter’s Frenchie Roika. Chaliapin is dressed in a smart suit, holding a cane, as was fashionable at the time.

In the lower-left corner of the portrait, we can see Chaliapin’s daughters Mary and Martha, strolling on the festive square, accompanied by a close friend, the secretary of singer I. Dvorictchin.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this picture? If you are also wondering how Frenchies were capable to sustain harsh winter conditions in Russia, the answer is simple. Previous Frenchies have longer legs and muzzles. Longer legs helped them to keep their bellies higher from the ground, while longer muzzles helped them to warm up the air they inhaled.


French bulldog- The Dog of a king

Do you also agree that destinies have strange ways even for Frenchies? Besides they were famous in circles of Moulin Rouge but they also succeeded to live like royals.

Peter was another famous French bulldog that served as a lovely companion to King Edward VII. King Edward VII loved to go hunting and always used to take his Frenchie to follow him. In the following picture, you can see his majesty posing with Peter’s son, Paul.


Another royal family that valued Frenchies for companions is the royal family of Romanov’s. The daughter Tatiana of the Russian emperor’s Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov owned a Frenchie named Ortipo. It was a gift presented in 1914 by the officer recovering in a hospital that the grand duchess visited. Unfortunately, Ortipo was killed by guards outside the Romanov palace annoyed with the dog’s barking. In the following image, you can see the dutches Tatiana posing with her French bulldog.


When did Frenchies appear in the USA?

The French bulldogs first appeared in the United States in 1896 at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club’s show in New York. That was actually the time when they got a nickname ‘Frenchies’.

At that time, the French bulldog Club of America, headed by the English judge, decided to take rose-shaped ears as the standard for this breed. However, since many people disagreed, in the year 1898 they decided to take the bat-ears for the standard.

French bulldogs in WW1

Another amazing fact about these pooches is that Frenchies served as delivery dogs. In the following image, you can see the French bulldog called Mutt. He used to deliver cigarettes to soldiers. Mutt was wounded twice and served as moral support to soldiers in the WW1. Unlike most war mascots that ended up in the streets, Mutt was safely returned to the USA.


Have you heard of Moujik?

Did you know that American pop artist Andy Warhol used Frenchies for his inspiration? Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was the son of immigrants from what was known as Czechoslovakia. With the breed’s attractive and unique appearance, the French Bulldog was an obvious choice for his artworks.

The French fashion icon, Yves Saint Laurent, asked Warhol to make a paint of his French bulldog Moujik II. Moujik was the name of both Frenchies Yves Saint Laurent owned. This dog was the subject of the final portrait painted by Warhol a year before he died.  It’s the only dog ever immortalized by the great pop artist who helped immortalize such icons as Marilyn Monroe.


Yves Saint Laurent was a great admirer of this breed. He used to design for over 20 years small season’s greetings posters entitled ‘Love’ with Frenchies on them. The pop-art images were created by Andy Warhol and the text on the card was –‘He is Moujik, my dog, painted by Andy Warhol, I am Yves Saint Laurent’, and with ‘Love 1991’ along the bottom of the poster.


Back to list