The French bulldog is a small breed of domestic dog, related to the English bulldog and American bulldog.
The origin of the modern French Bulldog breed descends directly from the dogs of the Molossians, an ancient Greek tribe. The dogs were spread throughout the ancient world by Phoenician traders. British Molossian dogs were developed into the Mastiff. A sub-family of the Mastiff were the Bullenbeisser, a type of dog used for bull-baiting.
Lace workers from Nottingham, displaced by the industrial revolution, began to settle in Normandy, France in the 1800s. They brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. The dogs became popular in France and a trade in imported small Bulldogs was created, with breeders in England sending over Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as ears that stood up. By 1860, there were few miniature Bulldogs left in England, such was their popularity in France and due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters. The small Bulldog type gradually became thought of as a breed, and received a name, the Bouledogue Francais. The dogs were highly fashionable and were sought after by society ladies and Parisian prostitutes alike, as well as creatives such as artists, writers and fashion designers. However, records were not kept of the breed's development as it diverged further from it's original Bulldog roots. As it changed, terrier and Pug stock may have been brought in to develop traits such as the breed's long straight ears, and the roundness of their eyes.
Source: Wikipedia, "French Bulldog", available under the CC-BY-SA License.