French bulldogs are now our fourth most popular breed, says the Kennel Club.
The French bulldog, a cuter, daintier version of the British bulldog, is the surprise riser in the Kennel Club’s (KC) list of popular breeds announced this month. The pointy-eared ‘Frenchie’ appeared in the top 10 for the first time in 2013 and there has been an astonishing 1,724% increase in puppy registrations since 2004, from 350 to 9,670. The breed has now shot into fourth place behind the labrador (34,715 puppies), cocker spaniel (22,366) and English springer spaniel (10,616). Numbers are slightly down for the majority of the top 20 dogs, excluding the pug, the whippet and the British bulldog.
The French version, also known as the ‘pigdog’ because it makes snorting noises, was first bred in the 19th century by crossing English bulldogs with pugs and terriers and they became popular with Parisians when taken over to France by Nottinghamshire lace workers displaced by the Industrial Revolution. The type was christened ‘bouledogue Français’ and was recognised by the KC in 1905.
Another bat-eared dog is faring less well. The Pembroke Welsh corgi, which is synonymous with The Queen, has now been placed on the KC’s list of vulnerable native breeds. Only 274 puppies were registered in 2014, compared to 9,000 in 1960. Although corgis were originally bred for cattle herding and tend to be great characters, aficionados say that they’re being seen as ‘an old person’s dog’. Debbie Richardson, who has bred a Crufts-winning corgi, Bailey, says: ‘We are simply failing to attract younger people to the breed’s charm.’