GuidesPug vs French Bulldog: Which Breed is Best for You?

Pug vs French Bulldog: Which Breed is Best for You?

Pug vs French Bulldog featured image
Pug Vs French Bulldog

It’s no surprise dog breeds like the pug and French bulldog have increased in popularity in America throughout the decades. When it comes to the debate of the pug vs french bulldog, many wonder which breed is the best for them and what are the biggest similarities and differences between the two breeds. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the pug is ranked the 35th most popular dog breed in America while the French Bulldog recently became the most popular dog breed in America for the first time. The pug and French bulldog’s popularity has been attributed to their wonderful temperaments and compact size, which makes them ideal companions for city households as well as suburban homes. 

As small dogs, pugs and French bulldogs share some similar characteristics but are distinct breeds. The origins of the pug have been traced to ancient China where they were bred as companion dogs before becoming popular in Europe centuries later. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, followed by the formation of The Pug Dog Club of America in 1931.

The French bulldog’s breeding was influenced by the English bulldog, particularly from the Nottingham area, and other small dog breeds before being popularized in France during the 19th and 20th century then arriving in America. The French Bull Dog Club of America was formed in 1897 following a dispute surrounding the breed’s ears with the club working to promote and protect the breed standard people admire today.

Since pugs and French bulldogs are a popular choice among American households, there are several things you should consider before welcoming a pug or French bulldog into your family.

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

Have you ever seen a dog at the park and wondered whether they are a Pug or French bulldog? You’re not alone as pugs and French bulldogs both have flat faces, wrinkles, and other similar physical features. If in doubt, the most obvious difference in appearance between pugs and French bulldogs is their ears. Pugs have floppy ears that fold over while French bulldogs possess what is referred to as a ‘bat’ ear, which are broad at the base before extending toward the round tip. Their tails also differ, with pugs showcasing a tight, curly tail while French bulldogs tend to have a short and straight or slightly screwed tail. 

Another easy way to tell these flat faced breeds apart is their coat colors. Pugs are well-known for their limited coat colors, with the breed standard stating they must be either fawn or black, and they tend to have a contrasting trace and mask. Alternatively, French bulldogs boast a variety of approved coat colors and markings, such as brindle, fawn, cream, white, brindle and white, fawn and white, and more. While the breed has more color variety than pugs, there are some disqualifying colors and markings, such as solid black, black and tan, and blue. Additionally, both breeds have short, smooth coats but the pug’s coat tends to be a bit coarser and sheds more.

These two breeds are known for being compact but have slightly different body shapes. The American Kennel Club’s breed standards state pugs range from 10”-13” in height while French bulldogs are generally slightly taller at 11”-13”. Pugs are usually a lighter build and weight, averaging 14-18 pounds, while French bulldogs can range up to 28 pounds, which is reflective of their heavier bone structure and more muscular shape. The French bulldog’s skin is typically soft and loose, which forms milder wrinkles on their flat faces and shoulders, while pugs feature large and deeper wrinkles on their short, squarer faces and muzzles. 

Do Pugs and French Bulldogs have Similar Temperaments?

Pugs and French bulldogs are an ideal choice if you want a dog with an amicable personality. The friendly natures of pugs and French bulldogs contribute to their popularity as pets and make them favorites for city lifestyles where they live in smaller houses or apartments but often socialize in busier, public settings. Both breeds have admirable temperaments and are generally alert, affectionate, and playful but not as lively compared to larger, working breeds. 

While French bulldogs are known to mature and become more laid back with age, pugs generally remain a bit more active and mischievous even as they get older. Pugs have even been described as stubborn and needy, so they may not always obey commands and might continually seek your attention. According to the American Kennel Club, both breeds mostly bark when wanting to alert their owners, with pugs being slightly more vocal. Aside from barking, both pugs and French bulldogs are known for snoring, wheezing, and various other sounds due to their facial structures. 

If you’re searching for a dog who will happily sit on the couch with you, then pugs and French bulldogs would suit that lifestyle. As loyal companion dogs, their smaller size makes it easier to take them along on trips but be sure to invest in appropriate training and equipment prior to any big adventures.

The Health of Pugs vs French Bulldogs

Any dog may suffer from unexpected health issues throughout their life, but some breeds tend to have some specific health concerns that future owners should familiarize themselves with prior to purchase. As brachycephalic breeds, pugs and French bulldogs are more likely to suffer from breathing complications, such as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), due to their short noses, narrow nostrils, elongated soft palate, and smaller than normal trachea. These flat faced breeds are also prone to skin fold dermatitis and skin infections due to their wrinkles, along with allergies, ear infections, eye issues, and heatstroke. 

Scientific research, such as epidemiological assessments from 2018 and 2021, suggests French bulldogs are more prone to mast cell cancer than some breeds, so checking your dog for lumps and bumps could help identify tumors and aid early intervention. Meanwhile, a study undertaken in 2022 by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) revealed pugs were at higher risk for conditions such as demodectic mange, retained baby teeth, and obesity, on top of the already noted issue of spine deformities (hemivertebrae).

Another health issue commonly associated with both pugs and French bulldogs is hip and elbow dysplasia due to their short, compact bodies. Breed associations and veterinary professionals advise that dysplasia is often genetic, so before buying a pug or French bulldog be sure to ask breeders questions regarding their bloodlines and health checks. 

Pugs have a life expectancy of 13-15 years and French bulldogs of 10-12 years, but careful monitoring of their health is essential to ensure any complications, such as BOAS, are diagnosed quickly and treated appropriately. Some veterinarians specialize in treating brachycephalic breeds, and it’s best to consult your veterinarian for guidance regarding your pug or French bulldog’s health.

Do Pugs and French Bulldogs Require a Lot of Exercise and Grooming?

Due to their breathing and risk of overheating, pugs and French bulldogs have lower exercise requirements compared to other breeds. So, if you want a dog that only requires light exercise, as opposed to daily 10-mile runs, a pug or French bulldog would be a great choice for a gentle stroll around the block or to the local park. It’s also worth keeping in mind that French bulldogs can’t float or easily swim, so they shouldn’t be left unsupervised around bodies of water, and you may want to buy a doggy life vest if you take them out on a boat.

Since both breeds have flat faces and wrinkles, the wrinkles – and ears – benefit from being checked and cleaned often. Pugs are regular shedders, so they may require a bit more frequent brushing than French bulldogs. Both breeds also benefit from regular nail trims since they don’t exercise as much as other breeds, along with teeth checks – especially pugs – due to their face shape. Factors like home environment, skin type, and daily activities may influence how often you bathe your pug or French bulldog. Depending on the climate you live in, you might find your pug or French bulldog requires some extra attention during the warmer and/or colder seasons. 

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

Since the pug and French bulldog enjoy ongoing popularity in America, there are plenty of breeders and rescue groups that promote the breed as an ideal pet. When buying a pug or French bulldog, be sure to carefully research your options. While you need to be aware of puppy mills, backyard breeders, and dog broker websites, there are genuine, registered breeders of both breeds throughout America. 

Breed organizations, such as the Pug Dog Club of America and French Bull Dog Club of America, offer breeder directories to assist potential buyers in locating a breeder that has agreed to abide by the organization’s code of ethics and/or fulfilled the association’s requirements to be listed. Potential buyers of pugs and French bulldogs may also find local breed interest groups or veterinary services are able to recommend breeders based on their members’ experiences in acquiring their dogs. 

The cost of buying a pug or French bulldog may vary between breeders and depend on the dog’s age, bloodlines, and color. Overall, French bulldogs tend to be more expensive than pugs, with purebred puppies averaging around $3500 USD but often higher for popular colors. Purebred pug puppies generally average around $1200-$2000 USD, but of course that varies depending on demand.   

If you’re unable to find a reputable breeder near you or would prefer to adopt, there are numerous rescue groups and adoption agencies in America that specialize in rehoming brachycephalic breeds. Some groups focus on rehoming specific breeds while others accept flat faced dogs regardless of their breed. The Pug Dog Club of America has a pug rescue directory, and the French Bull Dog Club of America has a list of national French bulldog rescue groups. A quick online search should help you locate your closest rescue group, with some organizations willing to transport dogs interstate so they can find their perfect, furever home.

Pugs vs French Bulldogs: The Verdict

Every dog breed has different advantages and disadvantages depending on your priorities when choosing a companion dog. As brachycephalic breeds, pugs and French bulldogs are susceptible to some specific health concerns, but these beautiful flat faced dogs are also widely praised for their friendly natures, compact sizes, and low exercise requirements.

Pugs and French bulldogs continue to be popular choices among dog lovers in America, as demonstrated through their availability and average prices. While many debate the pros and cons of pugs vs French bulldogs, it ultimately depends on your personal preference whether you choose a pug or French bulldog. Since over 66% of American households own a pet in 2023, with dogs being the most popular furry family members, a pug or French bulldog could be the perfect addition to your household. 


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