French Bulldog History – The Toy Bulldog, Pt 2

Miniature and Toy Bulldogs, 1904. From ‘The New Book of the Dog’. Full sized here.

 Part One | Part Two

Since the early history of the French Bulldog is indelibly intwined with that of the Miniature or Toy Bulldog, I thought it would be interesting to reproduce one of the best histories ever published on this extinct breed.

In 1907, Robert Leighton published “The New Book of the Dog“, one of the most exhaustively comprehensive examinations of modern British dog breeds. In it, he devotes several chapters to the history of the “Bull Breeds”, including the Bulldog, the Toy Bulldog, and the French Bulldog.

This is the chapter on Toy Bulldog history, taken from that book, and written by Lady Kathleen Pilkington.


Miniature Toy Bulldogs, 1904The original aim of Miniature Bulldogs – i.e., to look like the larger variety seen through the wrong end of the telescope – if not actually achedived, is being rapidly approached, and can no longer be looked upon as merely the hopeless dream of a few enthusiasts! The to get, in dog weighing under twenty two pounds, the enormous size of skull, ‘cloddiness’ of body, and thickness of bone obtaineable in a forty five or sicty pounds specimen, is a hard task, there is no denying, but such prodigious strides have been made of laet that one feels, given a few more years of patience and perserveance, it will come very near fulfilment.

Before passing to other matters, it is perhaps only right to mention, with all deference to our Gallic friends, that in many old prints of Bulldogs, big and small, dating from sixty to eighty years ago, the bat or prick ears are frequently to be noted; a fact which weakens the contention that they are the sign of a pure French breed, originating across the Channel.

To enumerate in detail the Miniature Bulldog scale of points is quite unnecessary, as it is simply that of the big ones writ small. In other words, “the general appearance of the Miniature Bulldog must as nearly as possible resemble that of the Big Bulldog “—a terse sentence which comprises in itself all that can be said on the subject.

The club has a large and ever-increasing membership, and possesses the Duchess of Sutherland as President. From its original start the Duchess has been a warm supporter of the breed, and has owned some good specimens in the past. The Hon. Mrs. Baillie, of Dochfour, is still on the committee, and another member of the club is Mr. George Weinberg, of larger Bulldog fame. he owns two splendid miniatures in Tablet and Baby Bullet, and was the former owner of the incomparable Champion No Trumps, one of the best ever seen.

Of this goodly company comes last, but far from least, Mrs. C. F. C. Clarke, also a well known owner of big “bulls.” She has of late turned her attention to breeding and showing the smaller variety, and with great success, as her Mersham Snowdrop and Tiger—the latter bred by her — abundantly testify. In fact, had not Tiger unluckily just topped the weight limit he would undoubtedly have been about the best dog ever benched, and, as far as points (and particularly head properties) go, is as typical a Miniature Bulldog as could be found. The present writer has also the honour of being a committee-woman, and her Champion Ninon de l’Enclos, Lady Cloda, Susan Anne, and Champion Bumps, the latter a very typical little dog and winner of many championships, have all upheld the prestige of the breed on the show bench. Mr. B. Marley, whose wife owns the celebrated Felton Bulldog kennels, is another member of the committee, so it will be seen that patrons of the big breed by no means scorn their smaller brethren.

A few years ago Lady de Grey owned a splendid little dog in Champion Bite, and Mr. W. R. Temple’s Tulip and Mrs. Baillie’s Crib and Lena II. were all hard to beat. Of present-day dogs Mrs. Burrell, the sporting lady-master of the North Northumberland Foxhounds, can bench a real good one in Champion Little Truefit, as can Mrs. G. Raper in Little Model and Miss Farquharson in Peter Pan, the latter a beautiful little fawn dog, possessing rare bone and Bulldog character.
So much for the breed as show dogs, though a great deal more might be written of other successful winners on the bench. As companions and friends they are second to none, being faithful, fond, and even foolish in their devotion, as all true friends should be. They are absolutely and invariably good-tempered, and, as a rule, sufficiently fond of the luxuries of this life — not to say greedy— to be easily cajoled into obedience. Remarkably intelligent and caring enough for sport to by sympathetically excited at the sight of a rabbit without degenerating into cranks on the subject like terriers. Taking a keen interest in all surrounding people and objects, without, however, giving way to ceaseless barking; enjoying outdoor exercise, without requiring an exhausting amount, they are in every way ideal pets, and adapt themselves to town and country alike.

As puppies they are delicate, and require constant care and supervision; but that only adds a keener zest to the attractive task of breeding them, the more so owing to the fact that as mothers they do not shine, being very difficult to manage, and generally manifesting a strong dislike to rearing their own offspring. In other respects they are quite hardy little dogs, and—one great advantage—they seldom have distemper. Cold and damp they particularly dislike, especially when puppies, and the greatest care should be taken to keep them thoroughly dry and warm. When very young indeed they can stand, and are the better for, an extraordinary amount of heat.

From a pecuniary point of view, given average good luck and management, Toy Bulldog breeding is a remunerative pursuit. Good specimens, fit for the show bench, command extremely high prices, and a ready sale is always to be had for less good ones for moderate sums as pets, the more so as, owing to their extraordinarily good tempers, they are much in request for children, with whom they can be absolutely trusted. No amount of teasing appears to rouse them to more than a somewhat bored grunt.

In fact, to sum up, they possess many advantages and few disadvantages. Anyone who has owned and loved a Toy Bull can seldom get really to care for any other kind of dog, and sooner or later takes unto himself or herself again another snorting little specimen, whose ugly wrinkled face and loving heart cannot fail to make life the pleasanter.


In recent years, a few breeders have endeavored to reintroduce the Toy Bulldog, likely by cross breeding French Bulldogs, Bulldogs and Pugs. So far, they haven’t been overly succesful, and most modern French Bulldog and Bulldog breeders are appalled by the practice. However, we should bear in mind that, not much more than 100 years ago, our own breeds began in just the same way, and that Lady Kathleen Pilkington, an early champion of both French Bulldogs and Miniature Bulldogs, was quite pragmatic about the financial benefits to be had from breeding them.

At the very least, let’s hope that anyone attempting to reintroduce either Miniature or Toy Bulldogs uses all of the modern health testing available to allow them to create a breed free of the health problems which can plague so many French Bulldogs and Bulldogs.

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