Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences


The Boston Terrier is often confused with the French Bulldog, and vice versa. This article’s sole purpose is to identify and present these differences as succinctly as possible. We explore both the physical and personality differences as well as other things, such as the differences in cost.  

The difference between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog is primarily in their temperament. The French Bulldog is more of a companion dog whereas the Boston Terrier is more of an individual.

There are a fair few differences in other areas too, including the cost! For more information, read on …

Summary of Differences

French Bulldog Attributes Summary

Body Size (More stars means larger)
Temperament (More stars means a better temperament)
Companion Dog (More stars means a better companion dog)
Breed Health (More stars means generally better health)
Aggressiveness (More stars means less aggressive)
Trainability (More stars means easier to train)
Life Expectancy (More stars the longer the average lifespan)
Cost of Purchase (Less stars is more expensive)

Boston Terrier Attributes Summary

Body Size (More stars means larger)
Temperament (More stars means a better temperament)
Companion Dog (More stars means a better companion dog)
Breed Health (More stars means generally better health)
Aggressiveness (More stars means less aggressive)
Trainability (More stars means easier to train)
Life Expectancy (More stars the longer the average lifespan)
Cost of Purchase (Less stars is more expensive)


Physical Differences Between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog

When talking about physical differences between the two breeds, it’s important to remember that we are generalizing.

Imagine a dog describing a human as something that is tall, fair-skinned, short-haired and with big ears (based on the appearance of their owner.)

Then another dog says a human is medium-height, dark-skinned, with long hair (based on the appearance of their owner.)

These people sound completely different, but they are both humans. Of course, with a dog breed, there’s not as much variation as with homo-sapiens, but you see my point.

Each dog is an individual and you will find both physical and temperamental differences between each one. However, you can generalize and that’s what we’ve done here.

There are dog breeds that are much better with children than other breeds. There are dog breeds that are happier to be trained than other breeds.

So, we use these widely accepted traits to build up a picture of a breed so we can compare it to another equally generalized breed. In this case, the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier.

Body Size

Both the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier are small dogs. There really isn’t much in it as far as height is concerned:

French Bulldog Height: 11 to 13 inches in height

Boston Terrier Height: 15 to 17 inches in height

Where these dogs can be differentiated (physically) is related to their mass. The French Bulldog is typically a ‘chunkier’ dog breed than the Boston Terrier. Although they are similar in size (in fact the Terrier is a little taller), the Frenchie,  you’ll notice, is just that bit wider in the middle. Like all dogs though, this can vary from one to another.

French Bulldog Weight: 16 to 28 lbs

Boston Terrier Weight: 12 to 25 lbs

Size comparison of horse Boston Terrier and French Bulldog

Comparison of the Eyes

Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences

The eyes on the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog are very similar. You could say that the Frenchie’s are a little more round perhaps, but there’s really not a lot in it and you’ll be hard pushed to distinguish the two breeds purely on this feature alone.

The Boston Terrier has a wide variety of eye colors: from green, gold or brown (varying shades) to a darker, almost black color. 

The French Bulldog doesn’t have so much of a variety in eye color. They’re typically quite dark, although you do see a blue shade with the blue colored dogs.

Comparison of the Ears

Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences

Now here is a physical attribute that does differ between the two breeds. The Boston Terrier has upright ears that appear quite rigid and do seem to stick straight up. The French Bulldog also has upright ears, however, they have a wider appearance and don’t appear to stick up quite as erectly. 

Comparison of the Nose

Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Differences

There isn’t a great deal to distinguish the two breeds as far as their noses are concerned but there are subtle differences if you look closely enough. They both have the small, stubby nose that is characteristic of brachycephalic dog breeds. The Boston Terrier has a slightly more emphasized snout, which is more evident due to the lack of facial folds when compared to the French Bulldog.  

Comparison of the Tail

Both the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier don’t have a tail to speak of, although there are exceptions. It’s more of a little stump than anything else.

Selection of Colors

French Bulldog: Standard colors are Brindle, Brindle & White, Cream, Fawn, Fawn & White, Fawn Brindle, White, White & Brindle, White & Fawn.

Boston Terrier: Standard colors are Black & White, Black Brindle & White, Brindle & White, Seal & White, Seal Brindle & White.

Photos of the Best Examples of Each Breed

The Best Boston Terrier Photos

The Best French Bulldog Photos

Personality Differences between the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog

This is most likely the reason you’re here. You may have already known that the two dog breeds are similar in appearance but what about the way they behave? 

Temperament

Boston Terrier

Owners report consistent findings when talking about the temperament of the Boston Terrier. That is, consistent in being inconsistent 🙂

They are a breed that has unique personality traits that vary from dog to dog. Some can be the perfect companion dog, happy to spend 2 hours on your lap whilst you watch a film – you’ll be unable to get up and go to the toilet until they move! Others will be fidgety and would rather lie on the floor than with you.

However, what they all seem to have in common is their love for you, their owner. They may not all want to go to sleep on your lap but they will all want to be very close to you.

Another trait that is consistent is their love of attention from other people, not just you. They can make someone their best friend in a matter of minutes. If you’ve ever visited someone who owns one, you will know how hard it is to leave. It will feel like you’re saying goodbye to an old friend. 

They are also typically very good with children. Socializing the dog at an early age has a huge bearing on how it interacts with kids at a later age. It’s a two-way street though and children need to know how to form a relationship with the dog.  They should understand that although it looks as sweet as anything,  they must always remember it is still an animal and if it is prodded or feels threatened it may, eventually, lash out.

Perhaps one reason why the Boston Terrier hasn’t increased in popularity with the general public over the last few years is, indeed, this inconsistency in temperament. A family buying a dog wants to know what they are getting and with this breed, you can’t guarantee it.

You can’t, of course, guarantee it with any breed but you certainly have more chance of predicting what you’ll get with the French Bulldog than with the Boston Terrier.

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, over the last few years, has become one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. It’s hard to believe that it was only 50 years or so ago that the breed was actually on the brink of extinction. Now, it is the fourth most popular dog breed in the United States (according to the American Kennel Club) and it looks like it’s only going to climb higher.

But why is this? Why has it suddenly become so popular? When you look at its temperament you start to see why. The French Bulldog is an astonishingly good companion dog. Its whole life revolves around its owner and it will not want to be away from you for a second.

It will curl up on your lap on a lazy Sunday afternoon or will run around playing with you until you become too tired to continue. It loves to have fun with you or with anyone who pays any attention to it 🙂

I think another reason why the French Bulldog has become so popular is that it gets on so well in a family environment. It is naturally gentle and so not only does it make a great pet for a family with young children it can also be put into an environment where there are other pets.

This latter point may take some work as it’s certainly easier to introduce pets at a younger age, but you’ve got a better shot with the Frenchie for sure.

Exercise Requirements

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier does not require much exercise. It does love to play though, which will make your job a lot easier. It doesn’t necessarily care who it plays with, as long as it’s playing. Although exercise is possible, you do need to be aware of the problems it has (like any brachycephalic dog breed). Being unable to regulate its temperature, it can quickly overheat so care should be taken when outside, particularly on a hot day. 

Although you don’t necessarily need to take the Boston Terrier out for regular walks, it is recommended that you take them out for a short walk once a day. Although, if you live in an apartment this may not be possible so you will just need to make sure you play with it, which you may not have any choice about with this breed 🙂

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog requires very little formal exercise. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 means you’re out three times a day walking several miles, the little Frenchie will come in at around 1! In fact, and arguably, because of her known difficulties with breathing it’s best if you don’t go out on long walks.

This doesn’t mean the French Bulldog is lazy though, far from it. Yes, she’ll be happy to be sat on your lap for hours on end so you’re unable to move (this is great as it means your other-half has to get you drinks until she decides to move) but she’ll equally be happy playing. In fact, when the Frenchie gets going you will definitely struggle to keep up. 

So, because she doesn’t require any formal exercise it is important that she has a run around inside, quite often. This is actually another reason why the breed is so popular.

As you don’t need to go out for exercise every day, it’s possible for people who live in apartments or those who are unable to move around much to have a great life with this dog. You’ll need to keep an eye on her weight but that’s typically not a problem with this breed due to the amount she wants to play.

Aggressiveness

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is not an aggressive dog, by nature. We mentioned earlier that when you acquire one of these dogs you don’t know exactly what you’re getting as they are all quite individual. But generally, you can say it would be uncommon for the Boston Terrier to show aggressive tendencies.

I hate to state the obvious but training does help enormously and at an early age. It is unlikely that the Terrier will feel that they are dominant over you but if one does show these tendencies than they should be dealt with swiftly.

It has been noted that even some well-trained Boston Terriers have shown lapses in their typical, gentle nature from time to time which has surprised their owners and made them understandably cautious when it comes to their dog’s relationship with their children.

It could also be a contributing factor as to why other the popularity of other breeds, such as the French Bulldog, has exceeded the Boston Terrier’s popularity in recent years.

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is also not an aggressive dog, by nature. I mentioned above that she is good with children and you certainly wouldn’t want a breed that has a habit of biting to be anywhere near your kids.

Although they don’t always require formal training, it is recommended (see the point below) and any behavioral problems should be ironed out in the first few months.

Sometimes, when these dogs are taken away from the littermates too soon, they haven’t had a chance to establish when one of their bites actually hurts and so they just don’t realize.

Their knowledge of how much they can hurt when biting is usually acquired when they are playing with their brothers or sisters and give them a little play-bite. When they bite too hard the recipient will let out a cry which will shock the biter.

This will eventually persuade her it’s a bad idea. I have actually written an article all about the French Bulldog and biting, so if you’d like to take a look please feel free (opens in a new window).

Trainability Differences

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier can be trained. Its personality may even see this training as ‘play’ and enjoy it, which makes it easier for you. As with any dog breed, get the training out the way when she is still a puppy as the older the dog, the more stubborn they may become. Sounds a bit like me, to be honest.  Due to the individuality of the Terrier, socialization with other animals and as many different people as you possibly can is very important. 

The early formal training will need to be (most likely) backed-up throughout its life. This is easy and can be managed with some confident, firm words and some treats 🙂 

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, despite being known for being a little bit stubborn, is perfectly willing to be trained. Training is recommended for all dog breeds and the Frenchie is certainly not an exception.

It’s not always possible of course as it depends on when you get her, but it is a lot easier to train dogs in general when they’re younger. It’s almost like the French Bulldog doesn’t realize how stubborn she should be until she gets older 🙂

An ideal family-focused French Bulldog will have been trained at a young age and properly socialized. This means that during those first few weeks she will have been introduced to as many other people and as many other pets as possible. Doing this gives you the very best chance of avoiding any problems later in life. 

It is certainly possible to train a French Bulldog when she’s older but remember, it will be easier today than it will be tomorrow so don’t keep putting off this training. You can do this yourself if you have enough time and patience but my recommendation is to get some formal training – you won’t regret it.

Health Problems

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is a brachycephalic dog breed and comes with the health problems that these breeds are known to have, specifically surrounding breathing difficulties. It is known to be at risk from the problems listed below (to name but a few):

Patella Luxation –  a rather common, orthopedic issue that doesn’t just affect the Boston. 

Hemivertebrae – a genetic problem affecting brachycephalic breeds.

Eye Problems – Similar to the French Bulldog, the Boston Terrier can suffer from numerous eye-related issues, including Cherry Eye.

The general advice to avoid genetically related health problems is to ensure the parents are healthy. This usually means buying through a professional breeder and paying the elevated costs that come with it!

There are similarities with health problems amongst these types of dog but the general rule is to ensure they are kept at a nice cozy temperature, not too hot and not too cold. Being unable to regulate their own temperature means you will need to do it for them.

French Bulldog

Like all brachycephalic dog breeds, the French Bulldog has its fair share of breathing problems, amongst other things. They can quickly become out of breath and are unable to regulate their temperature.

This can cause some very serious problems and some airlines have (rightly) banned them from flying due to some tragically losing their lives during the trip. Unfortunately, temperatures can get quite high in the aircraft’s hold prior to take-off and with the breed unable to cool down, heat exhaustion can be a problem.

Heat-related issues can also present a problem in hotter climates or in the summer months in a temperate climate. If you’re playing outside with your French Bulldog, you need to keep a very close eye on them and if they look like they’re struggling in any way, you need to stop and get them inside. Ideally, into a temperature-controlled environment where they can dissipate some of that heat.

The French Bulldog is also known for several genetic health problems but these can be largely ruled out if you buy your Frenchie from a respected breeder and you know that her parents were healthy. You will pay a premium for doing this but more on this later!

There is a lot of bad press about the health problems associated with the French Bulldog but if you look at their life expectancy, it’s not short which suggests that these health problems aren’t as evident as we’re perhaps led to believe. 

One last thing to mention is water. The French Bulldog does not get on well with water. Actually, let me rephrase this: they can’t swim. Despite what anyone may tell you to the contrary, don’t believe them. The French Bulldog is not physically capable of swimming for any length of time.

Yes, they might be able to splash around for a few feet but eventually, and after not a lot of time, they will sink. Unfortunately, they are then unable to swim back to the surface and many lives have been lost in this sad manner. You can get doggy lifejackets for them and these can be used but they shouldn’t be relied on. For more information on this, check out my article here (opens in a new tab). 

Life Expectancy 

French Bulldog: On average, the French Bulldog will live for between 10-12 years

Boston Terrier: The Boston Terrier will typically live for a little longer than the French Bulldog, 11-13 years

What I find most interesting about these numbers though is that despite all the health problems that these breeds are beset with (apparently) they still have quite a long lifespan. This tells me that, whatever the problems these little dogs have, they’re not normally life-threatening. 

There are things you can do to extend the lifespan of your dog of course, such as establishing that it comes from a healthy family for instance. I wrote an article on how to make your French Bulldog live longer that might give you some other ideas, don’t feel obliged to but if you’d like to see what I’ve written, do take a look here (opens in a new tab).

Cost Differences

Both the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier are not cheap dogs! The reason why they are so expensive is due to several factors. Firstly, in the case of the French Bulldog, they are usually unable to mate naturally and require artificial insemination.

Secondly, both the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier usually require Cesarean sections to give birth. Neither of these procedures is particularly cheap and this along with other risks associated with reproduction makes them particularly expensive dogs to buy.

Boston Terrier

The cost of the Boston Terrier fluctuates for numerous reasons such as where you buy it from (breeder or non-breeder), age, time of year and how much history is available for the parents of the dog. Typically though, you will pay anything from around $300 up to $2,000 from a top breeder. However, on average, expect to pay around $1,000.

French Bulldog

The cost of a French Bulldog varies wildly, like the Boston Terrier, depending on where you go to buy it. I mentioned earlier the importance of knowing the health of his or her parents as this can potentially eliminate some of the genetic health problems that it is known to suffer from.

This comes at a price though. I carried out a couple of bits of research here. Firstly, if you buy via the American Kennel Club (AKC) you will get this reassurance we have spoken of. But you will be charged for this, on average, between $2,870 and $4,650, depending on the quality of the breeder.

I then asked 416 French Bulldog owners on social media how much they paid for their Frenchie. A rather large 58% of all responses indicated that they spent between $975 and $1,950 for theirs. This suggests a lot of people are buying theirs not through a kennel club, perhaps understandably. The data for this can be seen below.

Puppy Cost ($)% of Total
1300-195035
975-130023
1950-260022
2600-39006.5
650-9754
0-2503.5
3900-65003
250-6501.5
Over 65001

Another option is to buy through a rescue center where you can pick one up for just a few hundred dollars.

History of the Breeds

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier’s origins are not straight-forward as there have been many crosses since an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier mated in the latter part of the 19th Century. This is only the start of the breed’s history though and a lot has happened since then. The Boston Terrier Club of America was organized in 1891 and this was the first time that the name was used.  Formerly, they were known as ‘Round Heads’.

Quite a bit of breeding, including inbreeding, has occurred since that point to get to where we are today but it is impossible to establish an accurate history of which breeds were crossed and when.

French Bulldog

During the 19th Century, and due to the Industrial Revolution that was starting to take hold in the United Kingdom, a lot of the manual workers in England had to try to find work elsewhere. For several of these people, that was France and a few of these took their bulldogs with them. These dogs were suited to their new environment and settled in immediately with the French.

The breeders of the day weren’t fussed about who the dogs mated with. So, numerous types of Terrier, Pugs, and Griffons contributed to the gene pool All this cross-breeding had a major impact on not only the appearance but the personality of the dog that we know today. When the physical appearance became obvious, a new breed-name was born – the Terrier-Boules and this breed would have looked very similar to the French Bulldog we know today.

As the breed’s population increased in the latter part of the 19th century, breeding clubs began to become interested. It was in 1888 that the Club du Bouledogue Français was founded and a few more years after that for the French Bulldog was formally recognized.

Reproduction

Both types of dog can undoubtedly have their problems reproducing naturally, but the French Bulldog has a tougher time for sure. In fact, around 80% of all French Bulldogs are unable to mate due to the size of their hips.

Also, the majority of Frenchie’s need to be delivered by Cesarean section due to their large head compared with the birthing canal, which is of course not without risk (and expense). Although the Boston Terrier does have its problems, these are not as extreme (and costly) as those for the little Frenchie.

Finally…

Well, that was fun. I do enjoy putting these articles together as I always learn something new. I thought I knew quite a bit about both of these breeds but once I started researching, I found out so much more. Also, it always makes me want to buy one! Right now I’d like to buy a little French Bulldog and a Boston Terrier puppy. Do you think they’d get along?

Jane

I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 years’ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then I’ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog, and 11 cats. I’ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences plus those of my family and friends.

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