At first glance, the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog can seem almost indistinguishable. With their short snouts, big, beautiful eyes, and similar coat patterns, both are undoubtedly adorable, and that’s before we get into their personality, energy levels, and other important characteristics.
Yet despite all that they do have in common, these two breeds also have a few things that make them different, and it’s important to know exactly what those things are if you’re thinking of adopting one.
As such, we’ve put together this guide to Boston Terriers vs. French Bulldogs, outlining 6 key differences in their background, appearance, behavior, and more.
The similarities between the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier can easily be explained by the fact that both share a common ancestor, the English Bulldog.
The evolution of both breeds began in England before eventually splintering off, with their eventual journeys being a major factor in them each becoming their own unique, separate breed.
Given the close proximity between England and France, it’s no surprise that the French Bulldog was the first of the two breeds to develop from the English Bulldog.
Back in the days of the Industrial Revolution, Brits looking for work would cross the English Channel heading for Normandy. To keep them company, they often took their English Bulldogs with them.
It’s also no surprise that these ever-so-cute canines proved popular with the French locals, and began to be bred with the French Terrier, ultimately giving us the French Bulldog -or Frenchie to their friends- that we know and love today.
While the Europeans were swooning over their new French Bulldogs, those in the North of England were busy breeding bull breeds with terriers to compete in dog fights. In the late 186s, a dog owner in Liverpool crossed a bulldog with the English Terrier to create a super-strong dog known as Judge.
Judge was later sold to an American man called William O’Brien, who took him back to his native Boston, Massachusetts. There, Judge once again changed owners, with another Boston man named Robert C. Hooper. Hooper’s Judge became known as the Boston Terrier patriarch and the one dog from which all other Bostons would later come.
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog: Temperament and Behavior
Both the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog pack a whole lot of personality into their small size. Both are known to be friendly and affectionate, and both have a reputation for being wonderful companions.
However, there are some differences in the way that they behave.
Boston Terrier Temperament and Behavior
The Boston Terrier is a smart, intelligent dog that will respond well to training. Of the two breeds, they’re also the one with the highest levels of activity and are well-known for their big bursts of energy.
Together, these two traits mean they’ll love chasing after a ball, accompanying you on runs, or even tackling agility courses and putting their skills to work on dog training challenges.
Despite all that, what the Boston really loves most is spending time with you. The Boston Terrier is known best as a companion dog and will love being around you, whether that’s curling up for cuddles on the sofa, following you up to bed, or just enjoying being in your presence.
If you have a lot of time and energy to give a Boston Terrier the affection and attention they so crave, you’ll never find yourself wanting for companionship.
French Bulldog Temperament and Behaviour
The French Bulldog is often known for their clown-like qualities, loving nothing more than playing around and trying to make their humans happy.
This doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart dogs.
Sure, they’re more stubborn than the Boston and don’t have quite the same keen sense of intellect, but an experienced dog owner will find that their Frenchie is easy to train with enough patience and positive reinforcement.
While both breeds can be a little stand-offish around strangers and other dogs, French Bulldogs tend to demonstrate this trait to a higher degree than Bostons, though this is something that can usually be overcome with early socialization and adequate training.
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog: Physical Appearance
With their flat, round faces, similar breeds, and small snouts, the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog are often confused for one another among those with less experience around dogs. It’s understandable, but the more time you spend around these equally adorable breeds, the more you learn to discover that it is actually quite easy to tell them apart, especially when you look more closely at their ears, their coat, and other key features.
Boston Terrier Appearance
The Boston Terrier is famous for its “tuxedo” coat. This means that they tend to have mixed colors on their coat, usually, a darker color all over with distinct, lighter colored markings around their face and chest that looks not unlike the kind of evening wear one might wear to a formal dinner.
You can also tell them apart from the Frenchie by the shape of their ears. While both breeds have erect ears, the Boston Terrier’s ears are pointy and sit at the top of a round head.
Size-wise, Bostons grow to around 16″ in height and can reach adult weights of 10 lbs – 25 lbs, making them the larger of the two.
French Bulldog Appearance
The Frenchie can occasionally have tuxedo-like coats, which is why it’s sometimes more difficult than usual to tell the two apart. However, it’s more likely that you’ll find a French Bulldog with less distinctive markings and more of an all-over coat in a range of different colors such as fawn, cream, white, and even brindle.
If the type of coat hasn’t helped you identify whether you’re looking at a Frenchie or a Boston then, once again, it pays to look at the ears.
French Bulldogs tend to have flat heads and round ears that are often described as bat-like in appearance.
The smaller of the two breeds, most Frenchies grow to 11″ – 12″ in height, though they can be the heavier breed, with females averaging between 16 lbs – 24lbs and males growing to as big as 28 lbs.
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog: Grooming Needs
The good news is that both the Boston Terrier and the French Bulldog can be classed as low maintenance dog breeds.
Both have short coats which mean minimal shedding and hardly any grooming, with most experts recommending little more than a weekly brushing with a soft brush to take care of their coat.
Keeping in mind that this short coat also means that they tend to feel the cold much more than other dogs, so you might want to treat them to a good winter jacket to keep them warm when walking them outdoors in the colder parts of the year.
Both breeds are generally clean and rarely smell, meaning you won’t have to worry about bathing them too frequently. As a general rule, once every four to six weeks or whenever your pooch is visibly dirty should be enough to keep them clean and healthy.
The big difference is that Frenchie tends to require more care and attention when bathing. Water can get under the folds in their face and, if not dried properly, can lead to infection. Avoiding the face altogether, drying properly if the face does get wet, and being sure to use a good quality dog shampoo can all help prevent this.
Other than that, most of their grooming needs are the same as with most breeds:
Check and trim their nails regularly, and use a soft toothbrush and special toothpaste for dogs to protect their teeth.
You may also find that while both breeds require gentle ear cleaning, this is more frequent with the Boston Terrier than it is with the French Bulldog.
As we’ve already discussed, both breeds can be particularly sensitive to cold weather. Their short coats and snouts can also make them more susceptible to problems in warm weather too, particularly with heat stroke or breathing issues.
There are some differences in terms of the health of both breeds.
Boston Terrier Health Issues
Boston Terriers tend to live between 12 – 14 years. Their common health issues include:
Health Issues with French Bulldogs
Frenchies usually live between 10 – 14 years and can suffer from common health problems such as:
- Dermatitis and skin conditions (usually due to the skin under their folds and wrinkles becoming infected)
- Eye problems including cataracts
- Hyperuricosuria – A condition where stones form in the urine causing infections
- Back problems including Intervertebral disc disease.
As we mentioned earlier, Boston Terriers tend to be the most active of the two breeds and are prone to big bursts of energy that they’ll love burning off by running around, playing games, or generally getting into a long walk.
The Frenchie tends to be more laid back, but will still benefit from moderate, regular exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Neither breed is particularly known for its barking. These are generally pleasant, quiet dogs, though of the two, we’d say the Boston Terrier barks most.
Being small breeds, both can adjust fairly well to apartment living, though since the Frenchie is less prone to bursts of energy (and thus won’t need to run around as much) than the Boston, we’d say a French Bulldog is better suited for those in apartments.
Unfortunately, yes. While it’s certainly not enough to put most people off, the French Bulldog does have a reputation for being rather on the flatulent side! Fortunately, we do know of some good remedies for gassy dogs.
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog – Which Dog is Right For You
If you clicked on this article with the hopes of determining whether you should adopt a French Bulldog or a Boston Terrier, then we’ve hopefully given you all the information you need to make that decision.
That said, the truth of the matter is that both breeds make ideal family pets.
They’re both quiet, calm, affectionate dogs with an abundance of love to give, though on the flip side, they both have a tendency to become quite territorial and over-protective, so it’s often best to get them mixing with other pets and humans from an early age.
The easiest way to decide which one to adopt may be to look at how much time, energy, and experience you have when it comes to training.
Boston Terriers are fast-learners and easy to train, making them a great choice if you’re a first-time owner, but they can also require a lot of attention and more exercise than the Frenchie. As such, if you’re out at work a lot or simply don’t have the time to dedicate to a Boston, the low-energy French Bulldog -though occasionally stubborn when it comes to training- may be more your speed.
Either way, whichever breed you choose, you’ll be choosing an adorable, affectionate dog who will make a loyal, loving, and life-long companion.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.