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Today, we’re delving into a common conundrum in the dog-loving world: the Boston Terrier vs. the French Bulldog. With their similar sizes, compact builds, and shared ancestry, it’s not surprising that these two breeds often get mistaken for each other.

It’s easy to get these two breeds mixed up at first glance. Their shared qualities can make them seem more like siblings than separate breeds.

In this post, we’re going to help you distinguish between the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog by highlighting their unique differences, from their body shapes to their heights, and even their coat patterns.

Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, while similar in many respects, are distinguished by several key differences. Boston Terriers are generally taller and leaner with a square-shaped head, pointy ears, and a coat that typically exhibits a ‘tuxedo pattern’. On the other hand, French Bulldogs are shorter, more muscular, characterized by a square-shaped head with wrinkles, distinctive ‘bat-like’ erect ears, and a wider range of coat colors.

By the end of this article, you’ll not only be able to tell a Boston Terrier from a French Bulldog at a glance, but you’ll also have the information you need to decide which of these breeds might suit your needs best.

If by the end you still can’t decide which breed is right for you, you might want to check out the French Bulldog Boston Terrier mixed breed.

Boston Terrier vs. French Bulldog Breed Comparison
  1. History of the Boston Terrier
  2. History of the French Bulldog
  3. Size and Appearance
  4. How to Tell the Difference
  5. Temperament and Behavior
  6. Family Dogs
  7. Health Issues
  8. Lifespan
  9. Which Breed is Right for You?

History of the Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier, aptly named after its birthplace in Boston, Massachusetts, is an American breed dating back to 1875. The breed has an interesting backstory beginning with English White Terriers and English Bulldogs.

Over time, breeders continued to cross this lineage with other breeds like Pitbull Terriers, Boxers, and both French and English Bulldogs. This process of meticulous crossbreeding eventually led to the development of today’s Boston Terriers.

The breed, once weighing up to 44 pounds, has gradually evolved to a more compact size, ranging between 15 to 25 pounds.

Originally, Boston Terriers were bred as fighting dogs. However, with the strategic breeding efforts, they transitioned from the fierce arena of pit fights to a more domestic setting, becoming America’s first non-sporting breed.

The goal was to combine the Bulldog’s solid frame and short face with the elegance and playful nature of the Terrier breeds. This resulted in the breed’s status as a small, easily trainable, and sociable family dog – earning them the nickname, “The American Gentleman.”

Since the1800’s their popularity surged, not just among everyday families, but also in celebrity circles and at dog shows.

History of the French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, or as it’s known in its home country, Bouledogue Francais, is a breed that originated in France. Its history traces back to the mid-19th century, during the industrial revolution, when some English lacemakers relocated to France, bringing with them their small, toy English Bulldogs.

These small dogs quickly gained popularity among the French locals, who began to crossbreed them with their native French terriers. The resulting breed retained the body shape of the English Bulldog, but in a more compact form, with shorter stature and distinctive erect “bat-like” ears.

French Bulldogs were bred for companionship – a smaller dog with the hallmark traits of a Bulldog but in a manageable size. Over time, they transitioned from their bull baiting origins to becoming lovable family pets.

By 2022, French Bulldogs had achieved a significant milestone by becoming the most popular dog breed in America for the first time.

Size and Appearance

Boston Terrier

Standing taller and leaner than their French counterparts, Boston Terriers generally measure 15 to 17 inches in height and weigh between 12 to 25 pounds. Despite their compact size, these dogs boast a relatively lean build.

Physical attributes of Boston Terriers include a broad square-shaped head and square jaw, further characterized by a broad nose with a clearly defined line. Their ears are pointy, offering a contrast to the French Bulldog’s ‘bat-like’ ears.

As per the American Kennel Club, Boston Terriers officially sport a ‘tuxedo coat’—a two-tone mix of either black and white, brindle, or seal. But in reality, these charming pooches exhibit a wider range of coat colors.

French Bulldog

In contrast, French Bulldogs are shorter, standing at 11 to 12 inches tall. They may be small, but they pack more weight, usually around 15 to 28 pounds.

These dogs are distinct with their compact, muscular build, and shorter, heavier stature when compared to Boston Terriers. Physical attributes that make a French Bulldog stand out include a square-shaped head adorned with wrinkles, an extremely short nose, and characteristic ‘bat-like’ erect ears.

French Bulldogs also display a wide range of coat colors including fawn, brindle, white, cream, brindle and fawn, as well as brindle and white.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog

Boston Terrier French Bulldog comparison

While it might be challenging for the untrained eye to tell a Boston Terrier from a French Bulldog, there are key differences that can help you distinguish one from the other.

Size and Body Shape: First, consider the size and body shape. Boston Terriers, with their taller and leaner build, offer a clear contrast to the shorter, compact, and muscular French Bulldogs.

Face: The facial structure is another giveaway. French Bulldogs usually have more jowly faces, complete with wrinkles, compared to Boston Terriers.

Coat Color Patterns: Although both breeds exhibit a range of coat colors, Boston Terriers are known for their classic ‘Tuxedo Pattern’ of black and white, brindle, or seal, often with a broader white marking between the eyes—a pattern not common in French Bulldogs. However, coat color is not always a reliable distinguishing factor since both breeds share many similar colors.

Ears: Lastly, take a good look at the ears. Boston Terriers have pointy, angled ears, whereas French Bulldogs boast straight and rounded, bat-like ears. This could be a good indicator to tell these breeds apart.

Temperament and Behavior

Boston Terrier

Known for their sociable and friendly demeanor, Boston Terriers are great companions for any family. They tend to be outgoing and affectionate, particularly with children, making them a perfect family pet.

They’re energetic dogs with a moderate activity level. Puzzles, games, and regular exercise can keep them occupied and prevent them from becoming bored. Remember, a bored Boston Terrier might resort to mischief to entertain itself.

Another notable trait of Boston Terriers is their alertness and curiosity. They’re quick to investigate any subtle changes in their environment, showcasing their independent nature.

Furthermore, Boston Terriers are smart dogs. They can grasp new commands quickly and display an eagerness to learn. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, providing an enjoyable experience for both pet and owner.

French Bulldog

French Bulldogs are renowned for their affectionate nature. They’re the quintessential ‘cuddly’ dogs who prefer lounging on their owner’s lap over strenuous activities.

Despite their calm and easygoing nature, Frenchies also have a playful, goofy side that can bring a smile to anyone’s face. They’re perfect companions for those who love a mix of relaxation and fun.

When it comes to exercise, French Bulldogs have moderate needs. Short walks and playtime are usually sufficient to keep them in good shape. Unlike some energetic breeds, they do not require intense physical activities.

However, training a French Bulldog can be a bit challenging. These dogs have a stubborn streak and might get distracted when following commands.

Therefore, early socialization and positive reinforcement training methods are recommended to ensure successful training. Despite this, the affectionate and comical nature of French Bulldogs makes all the effort worthwhile.

Family Dogs

Both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs were purposefully bred to be family dogs, embodying the unique characteristics of the bulldog breed in a smaller, friendlier package. Their affectionate nature and ability to integrate well into family life have resulted in their widespread popularity, particularly in the US and Europe.

Boston Terriers are exceptionally attached to their families. They tend to form deep bonds with their owners, making them perfect companions. They’re also known for their amicability with children, making them a great choice for families of all sizes.

However, their deep attachment can lead to issues of separation anxiety if the family members are away from the house for prolonged periods. It’s important to remember that Boston Terriers thrive on companionship and may need some extra attention to alleviate feelings of anxiety when left alone.

French Bulldogs are known for their affectionate nature and their protective instinct towards children. They’re generally calm dogs that love being part of a family. French Bulldogs are more than happy to spend their days lounging around the house, as long as they’re close to their family.

Despite their sometimes stubborn demeanor, French Bulldogs are loyal companions that will add warmth and character to any home. Their affectionate and protective nature makes them a wonderful addition to families with children.

Both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are great family dogs. They’re both loving, friendly, and adapt well to different family dynamics. Their small size and affectionate nature make them suitable for both apartment living and larger homes, making them a great choice for a wide range of households.

Health Issues

When it comes to health, both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs share some common issues due to their brachycephalic breed characteristics. These are breeds with short muzzles and flat faces, which can lead to a range of health problems, primarily respiratory.

Boston Terrier Health Problems

BOAS: Boston Terriers are prone to Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), a condition that results from the shortening of their muzzles.

This leads to problems such as a narrowed nasal passage and an elongated and thickened soft palate, which can obstruct airflow to the lungs. This can cause shortness of breath, low oxygen saturation in the lungs, difficulty in breathing, and fatigue.

Heat Stroke: Their skull anatomy also predisposes them to heat stroke as they can’t effectively thermoregulate in hot weather. They, therefore, need to be kept in a cool environment.

Other health issues include eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, and skin conditions like mange and allergies.

French Bulldog Health Problems

BOAS: Like Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs also fall under the brachycephalic category and share many of the same health problems. They too can develop BOAS, leading to difficulties with breathing and an increased risk of heat stroke due to their inability to pant as effectively as other breeds.

Obesity: French Bulldogs are prone to obesity if overfed and not given adequate exercise. Their eye conditions can include cherry eye, cataracts, and corneal ulcers, while skin and ear issues can range from dermatitis to Otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear).

Patella Luxation: Another common issue in French Bulldogs is the luxation of the patella. This is a condition where the kneecap slips out of place and usually requires surgery to correct.

Overall, while both breeds make wonderful pets, potential owners should be aware of these common health issues and prepared to provide the appropriate care and environment for these breeds.

Regular veterinary check-ups and a balanced diet with appropriate exercise are essential for their overall health and well-being.


The lifespan of a dog can vary based on numerous factors including breed, health, and care provided.

For Boston Terriers, the average life expectancy is around 12 to 14 years.

This can be positively influenced by providing the dog with a balanced and nutritious diet, ensuring regular health checkups and vaccinations, maintaining good dental health, and regular deworming.

On the other hand, French Bulldogs typically live for about 10 to 12 years.

French Bulldogs warrant a distinctive dietary approach, one high in proteins. A nutritious diet rich in high-quality ingredients and lean meats is best for their well-being. Ensuring optimal nutrition is essential for them to stay in the pink of their health even as they age.

It’s important to note that these are averages and individual dogs may live longer or shorter lives based on various factors including genetics and overall health condition. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and a loving environment are essential for the longevity and quality of life for any breed.

Which Breed is Right for You?

To summarize, both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs make delightful family pets, bred with the intention of embodying the best traits of the bulldog lineage in a friendly, lovable companion.

Their shared ancestry often leads to a challenge in distinguishing between the two, but with an observant eye for subtle differences in appearance, coat, and temperament, identification becomes simpler.

So, which breed is the best fit for you?

The decision between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog should primarily be based on your lifestyle and the kind of companionship you seek from your pet.

If you appreciate a touch of independence and are willing to provide a stimulating environment for your dog, a Boston Terrier might be the right fit for you.

On the other hand, if your schedule is more demanding and you have less time for exercise, a French Bulldog could be more suitable as they typically require less physical activity compared to Bostons. However, be prepared for early socialization of a Frenchie puppy and patience with its training.

Remember, becoming a pet owner is a commitment. Each breed has distinct needs in terms of nutrition, housing, social interaction, exercise, and veterinary care. The mark of a caring and responsible owner is one who attentively fulfills these requirements, providing a loving home for their four-legged friend.

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid DVM

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid, DVM, currently works an Associate Veterinarian at an animal clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. As an experienced veterinarian, Dr. Wahid has a passion for providing advice and helping pet owners.

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