Boston Terrier vs. Pug Breed Comparison [Which is Right for Your Family?] is reader-supported. If you buy a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Choosing the perfect small-sized dog breed to complement your family’s lifestyle and preferences can be a fun challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.

Among the top contenders for your family might be the Boston Terrier and Pug. Both these breeds capture hearts with their compact sizes, friendly dispositions, and undeniable cuteness.

However, when you delve a bit deeper, you’ll discover a range of similarities and differences between them, spanning aspects such as their origins, physical attributes, temperaments, and exercise needs.

Boston Terriers and Pugs are both exceptional family pets, and the decision between the two can seem daunting initially. That’s where this article comes into play.

Our goal is to illuminate the key characteristics, both shared and unique, of these two lovable breeds, providing you with the insights you need to select the canine companion that fits seamlessly into your family dynamic.

Let’s get started.

Boston Terrier vs. Pug Breed Comparison [Which is Right for Your Family?]
  1. Quick Comparison
  2. Origin and History
  3. Size and Appearance
  4. Personality and Temperament
  5. Health and Lifespan
  6. Exercise Needs
  7. Suitability as Family Pets
  8. Boston Terrier or Pug: Which Breed is Right for You?

Boston Terrier vs. Pug Quick Comparison

TraitBoston TerrierPug
Height15 to 17 inches tall10 to 13 inches tall
Weight12 to 25 pounds14 to 18 pounds
PersonalityAffectionate, Intelligent, PlayfulLoving, Mischievous, Playful
Good with ChildrenYesYes
Exercise NeedsModerateLow
Lifespan13 to 15 years12 to 14 years

Origin and History

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers owe their origins to the city of Boston, Massachusetts. They emerged towards the end of the 19th century, the result of cross-breeding a small English Bulldog with a white English Terrier, a breed that’s now extinct.

The crossbreeding resulted in a dog with a tuxedo-style coat, compact stature, and friendly nature. Through years of selective breeding, what was initially a pit-fighting dog transformed into the amiable creature we recognize today as ‘the American Gentleman.’

The underlying goal of developing this breed was to create a small, friendly family dog that incorporated the desirable traits of terriers and English Bulldogs.


Pugs, on the other hand, boast a rich history that extends back thousands of years. They originated in China approximately 2,000 years ago and were cherished by the emperors during the Han Dynasty’s reign (206 BC to 220 AD). Known then as the Sichuan Pai Dog, Pugs were accorded royal status and indulged by servants.

Pugs’ journey to Europe began in the 16th century. The Dutch East India Company took pugs as part of their trade, facilitating their journey to Holland.

The breed then made its way to England with William and Mary of Orange when they assumed the monarchy. Gaining wide popularity in England, they were renamed as Pugs.

Known for their unique wrinkled faces, short-muzzled appearance, and playful disposition, Pugs were initially bred for royalty as lap dogs. These historical backgrounds set the stage for the traits and temperaments we observe in these breeds today.

Size and Appearance

Boston Terrier Size and Appearance

Boston Terriers represent the small to medium-sized category of dogs. Their shoulder height averages between 15 to 17 inches tall, and they typically weigh from 12 to 25 pounds. They possess a compact, muscular body and a distinctively square-shaped head.

The Boston Terrier’s short, sleek coat comes in many colors, including black, brindle, and seal, and is known for its tuxedo-style dual color combinations.

Other distinctive features include a broad chest, a short tail, and a square-shaped head with a short muzzle. Their eyes are round and expressive, and their ears are straight and slightly angled.

Pug Size and Appearance

Pugs, in contrast, are squarely in the small dog category. They boast a compact and sturdy build, with an average shoulder height of 10 to 13 inches tall, and a typical weight ranging from 14 to 18 pounds.

Pugs’ defining features include a round head and a short, flat face. Their body is stocky, featuring a deep chest and a level back. Pugs have a short, smooth coat that comes in various colors such as fawn, black, and silver.

Their tail is often tightly curled over their back. Pugs’ large, dark eyes are exceptionally expressive, and their face is marked by its signature wrinkles and flatness.

Two types of ear variations can be observed in Pugs: Button ears, which fold forward in a flap-like manner pointing towards the eyes, and Rose ears, where the base is erected, and the rest folds forward.

Similarities and Differences

In summary, while both Boston Terriers and Pugs are small dogs, Boston Terriers tend to be slightly taller and heavier on average.

They both share a compact body build, but Boston Terriers have a more square-shaped head compared to the Pug’s round head and noticeably flatter, wrinkled face.

As for the ears, Boston Terriers have straight, upward-pointing ears, whereas Pugs feature either Button ears or Rose ears that fold forward.

A key distinction is the presence of wrinkles on the Pug’s face, which you won’t find on a Boston Terrier’s face.

These points of comparison may prove instrumental in helping you tell the difference between the two breeds.

Personality and Temperament

Boston Terriers and Pugs are both known for their fun personalities.

When it comes to temperament, Boston Terriers and Pugs are both known for their fun personalities. While they share some traits, each breed has distinctive characteristics that set them apart.

Boston Terrier Personality and Temperament

  • Sociable and Friendly: Boston Terriers are friendly and sociable dogs. They usually mesh well with individuals of all age groups, including children, making them excellent family pets.
  • Intelligent: Known for their quick wit and learning abilities, Boston Terriers are smart dogs usually eager to please their owners, making them relatively straightforward to train.
  • Affectionate: Boston Terriers are loving companions. They thrive on human companionship and often vie for their owners’ attention.
  • Alert and Watchful: Boston Terriers are instinctively alert and watchful. They are protective of their families and can be good watchdogs.
  • Lively and Energetic: Despite their small size, Boston Terriers are energetic and love to play. They enjoy activities that engage their minds and bodies.
  • Stubborn and Independent: Boston Terriers have a strong-willed, independent nature. They exhibit terrier tenacity and can show stubbornness to some degree. Although they learn commands quickly and are generally easy to train, poor socialization can lead to negative behavioral traits.

Pug Personality and Temperament

  • Playful and Mischievous: Pugs are playful and mischievous, often amusing their owners with their clown-like antics.
  • Loving Nature: Pugs are known for their loving nature. They form strong bonds with their owners and love being a part of the family.
  • Easygoing and Laid-back: Pugs generally have a laid-back temperament. They are content with a comfortable, relaxed lifestyle and can adapt well to various living environments.
  • Attention Seekers: Pugs love attention. They enjoy being the center of their owner’s world, often craving affection, and can become quite attached to their human companions.
  • Gentle with Children: Pugs are typically good with children, being gentle and patient. They often form strong bonds with kids, making them excellent family pets.

Similarities and Differences

Both breeds share traits such as a friendly and sociable nature, bonding with family members, friendliness towards children, and a playful, goofy nature. However, differences can be noted in their levels of activity, alertness, and certain behavioral aspects.

Boston Terriers tend to be more lively, intelligent, and alert, while Pugs are known for their playfulness, loving nature, and easygoing temperament.

The choice between these two delightful breeds will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and the kind of companion you’re seeking in a dog.

Health and Lifespan

Boston Terriers and Pugs are similar in size and share some common health problems due to their brachycephalic (flat-faced) nature.

Lifespan and health conditions in both breeds can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, environment, and regular veterinary care.

Lifespan of Boston Terriers

The average lifespan of a Boston Terrier ranges from 13 to 15 years. Factors like immunity, a balanced diet, environment, and genetics can influence their longevity.

Lifespan of Pugs

Pugs have a similar average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Lifestyle, diet, and regular checkups play crucial roles in maintaining a Pug’s optimum health.

Shared Health Issues of Boston Terrier and Pug

Both Boston Terriers and Pugs are predisposed to many of the same health issues due to their shared anatomical features, most notably eye and respiratory problems.

The biggest of these health issues is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

The shortened muzzle and flat face of Boston Terriers and Pugs can lead to respiratory difficulties, including narrow nostrils, elongated soft palate, and a small windpipe. These issues can cause snorting, snoring, difficulty breathing, and intolerance to heat or exercise.

Both breeds are prone to several eye conditions, such as corneal ulcers, glaucoma, dry eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca), and bulging eyes (proptosis).

Other Health Issues

Other health issues found in Boston Terriers and Pugs include:

  • Allergies: Boston Terriers and Pugs can be prone to allergies, leading to skin irritations, itchiness, and recurrent ear infections.
  • Pyoderma: Common in Pugs due to their facial wrinkles, trapped moisture can lead to skin infections.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Both breeds are predisposed to IVDD, where the discs between the vertebrae degenerate or rupture, causing pain, mobility issues, or potentially paralysis.
  • Patellar Luxation: This condition involves the dislocation of the kneecap and is common in smaller breeds like Boston Terriers and Pugs.
  • Dental Issues: Dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, can be managed with regular dental care and a balanced diet.

Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help manage these conditions and ensure a long, happy life for both Boston Terriers and Pugs.

Exercise Needs

Boston Terriers and Pugs share similarities in their exercise needs due to their size and breed characteristics. However, slight differences do exist, influenced by their individual energy levels and anatomical considerations.

Boston Terriers and Pugs share similarities in their exercise needs due to their size and breed characteristics. However, slight differences do exist, influenced by their individual energy levels and anatomical considerations.

Similar Exercise Needs

  • Moderate Exercise: Both breeds are moderately active and require regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight, stimulate their minds, and prevent boredom.
  • Regular Walks: Daily walks are beneficial for both Boston Terriers and Pugs. These walks provide physical exercise, mental stimulation, and allow the dogs to explore their surroundings.
  • Play Sessions: Play sessions form a vital part of the exercise routine for both breeds. Interactive games like fetch or retrieve can fulfill their exercise needs while strengthening the human-dog bond.

Differences in Exercise Needs

  • Energy Levels: Although both breeds have moderate exercise needs, Boston Terriers tend to be slightly more energetic than Pugs. They often display more stamina and enthusiasm for play and exercise.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Due to their brachycephalic anatomy, Pugs are more susceptible to heat sensitivity compared to Boston Terriers. While both breeds can struggle with heat regulation, Boston Terriers appear to tolerate heat to some degree. Exercise should be scheduled during cooler parts of the day for Pugs, and they should be closely monitored for signs of overheating.
  • Exercise Intensity: Boston Terriers may enjoy more intense exercise sessions compared to Pugs. Activities like running, fetching, or agility training may be more appealing to them. In contrast, Pugs, owing to their brachycephalic syndrome, may prefer shorter bursts of play and exercise.

Despite the similarities and differences, the ultimate goal is to ensure regular exercise to maintain optimal health for both breeds.

It’s also crucial to monitor them during exercise, especially in extreme weather conditions, to avoid potential health risks.

Suitability as Family Pets

Boston Terriers and Pugs are both popular choices as family pets due to their affectionate and friendly nature.

Boston Terriers and Pugs are both popular choices as family pets due to their affectionate and friendly nature. They offer unique characteristics that can make them the perfect addition to various family settings, depending on the household’s specific needs and lifestyle.

Boston Terriers as Family Dogs

Boston Terriers, also known as the ‘American Gentlemen,’ are known for their lively, polite, and friendly behavior. They have a protective nature towards their families, providing comfort and companionship.

One of the advantages of Boston Terriers is that while they are not hypoallergenic, they shed less than most dogs including Pugs, producing less dander and other allergens. For families with a history of dog allergies, this is something to consider.

Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train, especially when socialization starts at a young age. They are generally active dogs and would be a perfect match for families that can offer them regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Even though Boston Terriers are an active breed, they can do well living in apartments as well as homes.

Pugs as Family Dogs

Pugs were initially bred as lap dogs, and they have carried their need for human connection into modern times. They are incredibly affectionate and require a lot of interaction with their families. Long periods of isolation can lead to anxiety in Pugs.

These little characters are great with children, participating enthusiastically in play activities and entertaining the family with their goofy antics. Pugs love to snuggle and generally have lower exercise requirements compared to Boston Terriers, making them suitable for more laid-back families.

However, Pugs shed significantly more than Boston Terriers and require more regular grooming to manage their hair fall.

Boston Terrier or Pug: Which Breed is Right for You?

Deciding between a Boston Terrier and a Pug can be a challenging task, as both breeds bring their unique qualities, personalities, and affection to a home. However, your personal lifestyle, preferences, and living circumstances can help guide your decision.

If you’re looking for a slightly more active and agile companion with higher energy levels, a Boston Terrier may be the right fit.

Boston Terriers are quick learners, making them easy to train. They are also known for being protective of their families, making them a great choice for those seeking a more alert companion.

Boston Terriers also shed less than Pugs, making them a better choice for individuals who may be concerned about shedding.

On the other hand, if you are seeking a more laid-back, easygoing companion with lower exercise needs, a Pug might be more suitable. They thrive on companionship and are known for their loving nature, always craving affection and attention.

Pugs are also known for their distinctive playful and mischievous behavior, often entertaining their owners with their clown-like antics.

However, Pugs do shed more than Boston Terriers, which can be a consideration for potential pet owners.

Both breeds are compact in size, making them suitable for apartment living. They also tend to get along well with children and other pets, making them an excellent choice for families.

Regardless of the breed you choose, it is important to remember that every dog is an individual with their own personality and needs.

Owning a dog requires a commitment to provide care, training, and companionship throughout their life. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and a safe, loving environment are also essential to a dog’s well-being.

Whether you decide on a Boston Terrier or a Pug, both breeds can bring endless joy, companionship, and love into a home.

It’s not so much about which breed is better overall, but which breed is a better match for your lifestyle and preferences. In the end, you’re sure to find a loyal and loving companion in either breed.

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.

Recent Posts