Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog – In Depth Comparison

boston terrier vs french bulldog

When we look at Boston terrier vs French bulldog on the scale of cuteness, it’s pretty impossible to declare a clear winner: Boston terrier versus French bulldog?

They both have adorable oversized bat-like ears, little squished snouts, and are both perfect Instagram divas [also real life divas, as every owner will attest to].

And although they both are very similar, there are some pretty significant differences between the two rates. As a prospective dog owner or just a curious dog-lover, you should know the following.

Boston Vs Frenchie: International Rivalry?

So, where did these breeds come from?

French bulldogs are actually a very ancient breed. They have been recorded to descend from dogs belonging to ancient Greek tribes, the Molossians, all the way back to 330 B.C. Later, they spread throughout the world through traders. Originally, they were much larger, muscular, and stockier, more like the English mastiff, which was the original breed.

Over time, when blood sports were banned in England, these dogs were crossbred with local ratter terriers. Their popularity exploded in France in the 1850s, and they were bred further to give us the smaller, more manageable dogs that we know today. Modern French Bulldogs are no longer allowed to be bred with the English Bulldogs, but only for the sake of retaining their features. 

In contrast, Boston Terriers are far more modern. Amazingly, all true modern Boston Terriers alive today trace their lineage back to a single dog, called Hooper’s Judge.

This pooch, Judge, was a terrier and bull mix belonging to Robert C. Hooper of Massachusetts, USA, in around 1875. His descendents form the dogs we typically know today. Although they have since been bred to be smaller, Boston Terriers still have that broad, flat forehead you’d typically associate with bulldogs.

Today’s Boston terriers are small, friendly, and have the honor of being the first non-sporting dog breed recognised in the USA and the state dog of Massachusetts.

French Bulldog Vs Boston Terrier: Physical Appearance

On first look, both breeds have a lot in common. They are small sized dogs, with typical flat faces, square heads, squashed looking noses, erect, bat-like ears (which define the breeds), and stocky frames, practically nonexistent tail stubs, with stubby paws. Their surprised, frog-like expressions are a very defining feature. too.

But the differences couldn’t be more distinctive. While they are similarly sized, French Bulldogs have shorter legs and are more predisposed to being ‘toy’ dogs. They stand 12-13 inches tall at the shoulder, compared to the Boston Terriers’ 15-16 inches.

On an average, a healthy French Bulldog weighs around 18-30 lb, while a Boston Terrier clocks in at 15-25 lb. French Bulldogs are smaller but heavier, because of their broader bones.

 Also, Boston terriers have a very typical gentleman-like appearance and that they wear a ‘suit’. Their markings make it look like they’re wearing a tux. Typically, Boston terriers are black, dark brown, or brindle, with white markings, in multiple combinations.

As defined by the American kennel club, no other color is accepted on a true Boston terrier. Cross breeding tends to make them lose their markings. Otherwise the ‘American Gentleman’ can be recognized at a glimpse.

 Color is one of the best ways to distinguish between the two ways. French bulldogs have colors varying from white, cream, window, to red, dark brown, and even pieds (piebald patterns).

There’s even a blue variant, which is a dark black mix, and this is significant because they tend to have skin and hair problems.  French bulldogs have skin that sits looser, with more wrinkles, and a short haired, silky coat.

Boston Terrier Vs French Bulldog: Habits

When it comes to temperament, both breeds have been bred long enough for gentleness, because of which they have lost original aggressive behaviors of their ancestors.

Boston Terriers are very friendly, respond well to positive reinforcement, and therefore are surprisingly easy to train even for amateur pet owners. They are Comfortable around people, and even prefer spending time with your family, as well as canine and non-canine companions.

 Occasionally, they display some territorial behavior, but that’s generally restricted towards strangers. They are not loud and do not require a lot of grooming.  Also, since they do not bark excessively, they make a pretty good indoor dog.

French bulldogs are equally, if not more content spending time with their owners. French bulldogs actually tend to lapse into separation anxiety, if left alone for too long.  They love being around their owners and their families, and are patient, loving, and extremely loyal.

They are also pretty stubborn and have a sense of humor, which makes it tricky to train them. Not only do they look like clowns, but also like to behave like them sometimes. However it’s easier to train this behavior out of them when they’re trained early. Like Boston terriers, French bulldogs rarely bark, and are well-suited for pet owners who are not looking for an extremely active dog.

A special mention must be made here for the intelligence of French bulldogs. A French bulldog named Princess Jacqueline who lived in the 1930s, is reported to have had a vocabulary of 20 words that she used depending on the situation. And I’m sure, French bulldog owners will chime in here to affirm that their mini pooches indeed can speak.

Boston Terrier Vs. French Bulldog: Pros and Cons

So! Boston terrier or French bulldog? If you are stuck deciding between a Boston terrier or a French bulldog, you can check which of the following apply to you and your family.

Aggression

Both French bulldogs and Boston terriers get along well with their families and bulldogs are better around small children, since they are especially protective. However, early socialization is always recommended for both.

Noise levels

Boston Terriers are likelier to bark than French bulldogs. Both breeds are still far less vocal than other small dog breeds.

Lifespan

On average, Boston terriers live between 11-13 years. Some have been known to live up to even 18 years. Their facial skeletal structure goes a long way in influencing their life expectancy.

French bulldogs have an average lifespan of 12-14 years, according to the UK Breed club,  and 11 to 13 years according to the American kennel club. In French bulldogs, both facial structure and skin conditions affect life expectancy.

Health

Both Boston terriers and French bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds. This means that their skulls are somewhat squashed in front, leading to a short snout, wide-set noses, and a short nasal passage. This anatomical defect is precisely why both these breeds very commonly have   respiratory difficulties.

Both breeds have small nostrils, elongated palates, and tracheas with very narrow lumens. As a consequence, when they naturally need to breathe faster, they are unable to do so, for example, in closed spaces, or while running, or exercising excessively. Boston terriers especially are loud snores.

Both breeds struggle with ‘reverse sneezing’, which is snorting and gagging repeatedly to clear clogged up mucus at the back of their oral cavities. It does not hurt them, and it does not harm them, but it definitely is very loud.  You have to get used to your dog sounding like he has a cold most of the time.

With age, increased temperatures, or stress, both French bulldogs and Boston terriers develop breathing issues. Hyperventilation for example can be fatal for these dogs. Allergies are also very common.  This is one of the reasons why airlines generally do not allow them to fly, along with other brachycephalic breeds.

Knees

Both French bulldogs and Boston terriers suffer from problems in their ‘knees’ in their back legs.  The kneecap or the patella is often deformed to varying degrees. The dogs compensate by leaning to varying extents on their front legs, resulting in a shift in the curve of the spine with age. This causes both postural and pain related issues in the strained joints.

French bulldogs especially, have a very weak patellas.  Either due to congenital defects or due to laxity of ligaments, the small kneecap often slips out of its natural anatomical position in French bulldogs, in one or both legs.

Back and Spine

More than Boston terriers, French bulldogs are highly susceptible to both vertebral and cartilaginous disc disorders. Breeding these dogs down for size has resulted in certain compressive deformations of their spine. Especially the tinier dogs, 10 to develop these problems faster with age.

Issues like a chondrodysplasia or congenital butterfly vertebrae contribute to compression of their spinal cords. Even the corkscrew tail on French Bulldogs is actually a genetic defect.

Temperature

Again, because of the structure of the skull, both breeds do not do well in extremes of temperature. Both French bulldogs and Boston terriers thrive when housed in artificial atmospheres, with both air conditioning and plenty of warmth available, depending on the weather.

Because of their breathing restrictions, the dogs are not able to compensate for their body temperatures depending upon the outside weather. Consequently, they can overheat very quickly.

Eyes

Both Boston terriers and French bulldogs have large, prominent, bulging eyes. French bulldogs in particular have very large frog-like eyes. Because of this, they are likely to develop high problems. Eyelid deformities, ulcers on the cornea, early onset cataracts, etc. are all well known in these breeds. 

Their eyes tend to be watery, because of the congestion and their nasal passages as well. Bulldogs especially, are predisposed to glaucoma, and infections in the skin folds under their eyes.

In both grieves, an important role of thumb is to remember is: the more inbred and the more purebred the dog, the likelier it is to have multiple health issues early on in life.

Fun fact: Boston terriers can actually have puppies on their own if the difference between the two parents is not too large. However, French bulldogs cannot actually breed on their own, because the males have Pelvic deformities that make breeding difficult, while the females often have latent thyroid abnormalities that interfere with their fertility.

As a result, French bulldogs are bred by artificial insemination.  And the puppies are actually delivered by C-section.

Boston Terrier Vs French Bulldog Puppies

Although equally adorable [that’s a debate that there’s no winning], Boston terrier and French bulldog puppies require different levels of care and early life.

Cost

A Boston terrier puppy can put you back anywhere between $600-$1200. If you’re looking to invest in a pedigree dog, this price can go upwards all the way to $4500.

French bulldogs are even pricier. Puppies go for around $1500-$2000 on average, with pure bred pedigree puppies going for between $5000-$10,000.

Training

 Both breeds benefit from early socialization and early training. However French bulldogs are sometimes a little harder to train, because of the more stubborn temperaments. However, both respond well to positive reinforcement, and to training with treats.

Grooming

Both breeds of dog are easy to groom and low maintenance, because of the short, fine fur. They also do not shed much.

Exercise

Although Boston Terriers are more active than French bulldogs, both breeds are firmly in the moderately active category. In fact, they don’t do well in high physical stress situations, because of their health issues.  So short walks twice a day will suit you both good.

Other Dogs That Look Like Boston Terriers

Other than French Bulldogs, similar breeds with brachycephalic skulls share certain facial features. For example, pugs, terrier puppies, Bullterriers, and smaller English bulldogs, all look fairly similar.  However, the erect bat-like ears are very typical of French bulldogs and Boston terriers.

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