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Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog: All the Similarities and Differences You Need to Know

Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog featured image
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog

With flat faces and erect ears, the Boston Terrier and French Bulldog are household favorites in America. If you are loving both breeds and not sure which to add to your family, here is everything you need to know about the Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog.

The French Bulldog’s reputation as a highly desirable companion dog has soared in recent years, with the American Kennel Club declaring it the most popular dog breed in America. However, the humble Boston Terrier has experienced a rise in popularity again, following fluctuations in demand from 1910 onward, to become the 24th most popular dog in America.

It’s no surprise both breeds are descended from the English Bulldog. The Boston Terrier originated in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1891 before being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1893 following the creation of the Boston Terrier Club of America. Originally known as Round Heads, or roundheads, this made-in-America breed was the result of a cross between old-fashioned English Bulldogs and the now extinct White English Terrier. Meanwhile, with ties to the English Bulldog in the Nottingham area of England, the French Bulldog became popularized in France in the 19th and 20th centuries before arriving on American shores. The French Bulldog’s arrival in America led to the formation of The French Bull Dog Club of America in 1897 to promote and protect the breed following a dispute surrounding the breed’s bat-shaped ears.

While Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs share some similarities, there are some notable differences between the two breeds that may influence a potential dog owner’s decision when selecting their next dog.

What is the Difference in Appearance Between a Boston Terrier and French Bulldog?

To those who are unfamiliar with these brachycephalic breeds, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs may look quite similar at first. However, once you become acquainted with them you should be able to easily tell them apart.

While French Bulldogs are renowned for their bat-shaped ears, soft and loose skin, and face wrinkles, Boston Terriers present a different look with their tuxedo-like markings and smaller, pointy shaped ears that are positioned near the corners of the skull. Boston Terriers have a square skull that is flat on the top, along with flat cheeks, and are free from the wrinkles associated with French Bulldogs. Their tails are usually short, fine, and tapered, while French Bulldogs typically have a short and straight or slightly screwed tail. The breeds also have different body shapes, with the Boston Terrier more streamlined with a level topline and the French Bulldog favoring a more pear-shaped body due to the heavier bone structure.

Compact dog breeds tend to be lighter than medium or large sized dogs, with Boston Terriers averaging 12-25 pounds and 15”-17” in height. In comparison, French Bulldogs are slightly shorter at 11”-13” but are usually heavier – up to 28 pounds – due to their more muscular build. In fact, the heavier front loading of a French Bulldog is why they shouldn’t be left unattended near water as they struggle to float, which may lead to them drowning.

If you’re keen on a companion dog with a short and smooth coat that doesn’t shed frequently, both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs tick that box. However, when it comes to coat colours the Boston Terrier has a bit less variety as their five approved colours by the American Kennel Club breed standard include black and white, black brindle and white, brindle and white, seal and white, and seal brindle and white. Alternatively, French Bulldogs feature a range of approved breed standard coat colors and markings, such as brindle, fawn, cream, white, brindle and white, fawn and white, and more.

Do Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs have Similar Temperaments?

While both breeds are cute and compact, they do have some general behavioural differences and personality traits. According to the American Kennel Club, Boston Terriers can be quite sensitive and energetic, so they require praise and gentle handling. As noted by the Boston Terrier Club of America, the breed is highly intelligent, making them quick learners and keen companion dogs. However, without appropriate training they may develop the habits of jumping or nipping and could become stubborn. Often considered attention seekers, Boston Terriers enjoy spending time with their humans.

French Bulldogs are generally affectionate and amicable companion dogs. They tend to be playful, but not too energetic, and usually mature and mellow with age. The American Kennel Club reports that the breed happily adapts to different living situations, making them ideal for living with households of various sizes and in city or urban environments. While they are alert, they’re not particularly noisy with the breed mainly barking to alert their owners. Noise wise, they are famous for a variety of snoring and wheezing sounds due to their brachycephalic faces.

Overall, both breeds are people oriented and are happy to spend time around humans whether it is sitting on the couch together or going to the park.

The Health of Boston Terriers vs French Bulldogs

When choosing a dog to add to your household, it’s best to be informed about any common health issues associated with the breed so you can decide whether that breed is suitable for you. Be prepared for a 10-12 year commitment if you adopt or purchase a French Bulldog, while Boston Terriers have an average lifespan of 11-13 years. As brachycephalic breeds they have some similar health issues potential owners should be aware of when searching for their next dog.

As flat faced dogs, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are predisposed to breathing complications, such as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Breathing conditions like BOAS may impact your dog’s day-to-day life and could lead to severe respiratory distress. Some veterinarians specialize in treating brachycephalic breeds, so seeking professional advice may assist in diagnosing and treating your dog for breathing issues in a timely manner.

In addition to the breathing complications, these companion breeds are at risk of musculoskeletal issues. Breed associations and veterinarians warn that French Bulldogs are genetically at risk of hip and elbow dysplasia due to their compact size. Meanwhile, the Boston Terrier Club of America reports that the most common orthopaedic problem for Boston Terriers is patellar luxation. It is also worth noting that Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are susceptible to congenital conditions like hemivertebrae.

While both breeds need to be monitored for eye issues, the Boston Terriers are impacted by more than 20 different eye diseases, including glaucoma and juvenile cataracts. The breed is also affected by sensorineural deafness, which can be assessed by a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. While French Bulldogs can be impacted by ear infections, their owners also need to be aware the breed is more susceptible to mast cell cancer than other breeds. Additional general health problems for both brachycephalic breeds include allergies, skin conditions, heatstroke, and demodectic mange.

Do Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs Require a Lot of Grooming and Exercise?

Due to their short and smooth coats, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs benefit from weekly brushing and occasional bathing. However, you may wish to consider the home environment, skin type, and daily activities when deciding how often you need to bathe your Boston Terrier or French Bulldog, especially if they have allergies or a skin condition. French Bulldogs may also need their wrinkles cleaned to help prevent build-up.

Individual dogs’ energy levels may influence how much exercise they require with some Boston Terriers being content with a brisk walk or two each day, while others may enjoy chasing a ball or participating in agility courses. Some light exercise, as opposed to regular hikes up mountains, is suitable for French Bulldogs but be sure to check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding their breathing.

The climate you live in might impact your Boston Terrier or French Bulldog’s care and exercise requirements as you don’t want to risk them overheating or experiencing breathing difficulties. Due to their short coats, they may also struggle with the cold so they might need some dog sweaters during the cooler months.

How Hard is it to Buy or Adopt a Boston Terrier or French Bulldog in America?

There are a few ways to acquire a Boston Terrier or French Bulldog due to their popularity in America. The respective breed organizations, the Boston Terrier Club of America and French Bull Dog Club of America, promote purchasing from reputable breeders – not backyard breeders or puppy mills – or adopting from a rescue organization. You can also find your next Boston Terrier or French Bulldog via referral by local interest breed groups or veterinary service providers.

The Boston Terrier Club of America notes that reputable breeders are happy to provide information about their dogs, such as health checks and bloodlines, and may require an application or ask questions regarding your experience with the breed or dog ownership in general. The club’s online breeder referral tool allows potential Boston Terrier owners to search for a breeder near them. Additionally, the club promotes the rescue of Boston Terriers regardless of health, pedigree, age, or condition through their BTCA Rescue Committee. The committee supports rescue organizations and prospective adopters through a referral system and coordinates with rescue groups, volunteers, and rescuers.

The French Bulldog Club of America also has an online breeder referral service to help prospective French Bulldog owners find the perfect companion dog. Breeders are expected to meet the club’s code of ethics and/or fulfill the association’s requirements in order to be listed. The club’s website also features information about French Bulldog rescue groups to assist Frenchie fans find their new, furry family member.

The cost of purchasing a Boston Terrier or French Bulldog usually varies between breeders and states. For example, purebred French Bulldog puppies may average around $3500 USD but could be higher for popular coat colors. When it comes to Boston Terrier puppies, the average cost is approximately $1200-1500 USD but may be up to $4000 USD depending on coat color and pedigree.

However, as the Boston Terrier Club of America warns, a bargain price may not reflect the quality of the dog’s health and pedigree. Before purchasing a Boston Terrier or French Bulldog, be sure to consider whether you could afford appropriate treatment if they do develop any common health conditions associated with the breeds.

Boston Terriers vs French Bulldogs: The Verdict

Compact dog breeds like Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs share similarities but there are also some differences between the breeds like body shape and coat colors. As flat faced breeds, they are susceptible to health conditions like BOAS; however, these wonderful companion dogs are renowned for being affectionate and enjoy being with humans so many owners are happy to support their veterinary treatment.

Boston Terriers have experienced enduring popularity throughout the decades and are recognizable by their tuxedo-like coloring, although the French Bulldog has become America’s favorite dog breed and is famous for bat-shaped ears and wrinkles. When it comes to choosing between the breeds, you may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages of Boston Terriers vs French Bulldogs before making a 10-13 year commitment. Nevertheless, either brachycephalic breed could potentially be your new best friend.

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