A RARE dog toy is set to go under the hammer.

A papier mache bulldog, complete with its original growling mechanism from the late 19th/early 20th century is to go on sale at the Cotswold Auction Company.

Papier mache French bulldogs, known colloquially as ‘growlers’, were originally created in France in the 1890s in homage to the breed, which is closely related to the better-known British bulldog.

One of the few of its kind to come up at auction in recent years, Pierre is expected to sell for £400 to £600.

Auctioneer Lindsey Braune said: “We were going to call him Winston, until we realised he’s French.

“He still growls when you pull on his lead, but his bark is worse than his bite. We think he’s rather cute and feel sure he’ll win the hearts of buyers at auction.”

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Cotswold Journal: Pierre is expected to sell for £400 to £600Pierre is expected to sell for £400 to £600 (Image: The Cotswold Auction Company)

Modelled in papier mache, Pierre has a fine hair collar, a copy of the straw collars worn by French bulldogs to stop them from getting their heads stuck in the openings to badgers’ dens.

In excellent condition, he still has his original lead, which, when pulled, causes him to bare his teeth and growl.

French bulldogs were hugely popular in high society during the early 20th century, in both France and the UK, and a variety of decorative items were produced celebrating the breed, including music boxes, porcelain figurines – even cuckoo clocks.

Their rarity is due largely to the material used – papier mache – which is easily damaged by curious children or other dogs who might mistake the realistic toy for a rival.

The Cotswold Auction Company will hold its next toys sale, at which Pierre will feature, on July 25 and 26.

The auction will be held at the Love Lane saleroom in Cirencester, starting at 10am.