What Is the Difference Between Boston Terriers & French Bulldogs?


At first glance it's easy to confuse the Boston terrier and French bulldog. After all, both are cute little flat-faced dogs. When you take a moment to look at both dogs, you'll see the visible disparity between them. If you spend some time with them, you may pick up some personality differences, too.

Historical Differences

The Boston terrier and French bulldog have a common ancestor: the English bulldog. The American Kennel Club states the Boston terrier is the result of a cross between the English bulldog and the white English terrier. Officially recognized by the AKC in 1893, the Boston terrier that is so popular today is the result of years of careful breeding.

The French bulldog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1898. Aside from his link to the English bulldog, this little bulldog's bloodline is subject to debate, and may include pug and terrier boule, or a mini bulldog.

Physical Traits

The Boston terrier has three size ranges: less than 15 pounds, 15 pounds to less than 20 pounds and 20 to 25 pounds, compared to the French bulldog who may be quite a bit bigger, weighing up to 28 pounds.

Though both breeds are brachycephalic, often referred to as "flat" or "pushed in" faces, their heads are quite different. The Boston's head is more flat on top and has no wrinkles, and his ears are erect, either cropped or natural. The Frenchie sports distinctive wrinkles on his face, around his nose and on his jowls, as well as large, batlike ears that are rounded at the top and wide at the base.

Both have short, smooth coats, and according to their breed standards, the Boston should be brindle, seal or black with white, while the French bulldog has a greater variety of colors, including black with white, fawn, white and brindle.

Personality Traits

Consider the dog's nicknames and you'll get an idea of their personality types. The Boston terrier is referred to as "the American gentleman," in reference to his sweet, easygoing nature and his ease of getting along with just about anyone. The French bulldog is sometimes called the "Clown in the Cloak of a Philosopher," perhaps because he's fun loving and outgoing, with a healthy sense of humor. Both dogs are considered good family dogs as they're happiest when they're around their people and tend to get on well with children.

Physical Considerations

As brachycephalic dogs, both the Boston and Frenchie are not made for strenuous exercise or spending much time outdoors in hot weather because they may have breathing difficulties. The Boston terrier's corkscrew tail occasionally means his spine's bones aren't developed properly, a condition known as hemivertebrae, which can result in poor coordination or limited movement in the back legs. The Boston is also prone to:

  • Eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma as well as injuries because his eyes are pronounced due to his flat face.
  • Luxating patellas, which are kneecaps that slip out of place. 

In addition to the brachycephalic health concerns, the French bulldog is prone to:

  • Spinal malformations and intervertebral disk disease. 
  • Cataracts
  • Intestinal malabsorption conditions. 

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