We’ve owned a Frenchie since 2016 and it was one of the best decisions we ever made as a family, and you can see our adventures elsewhere on the website. But before we got Claude, we had (just like you are now) the whole Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog debate.
That included questions such as which was better, what was the difference, what breed would suit us best as a family, and so on.
As you know, we plumped for a Frenchie. But that doesn’t mean this breed is any better than a Boston Terrier. Not at all. It was just what suited us, and the decision we made at the time.
However, despite their similar appearances, and people often get the two breeds mixed up, there are differences.
In this guide, you can take advantage of all the research we did into the French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier argument. I hope it will let you better understand these breeds better and possibly help you decide which one will be joining your own family.
Pictures and photos challenge
Before we get into the differences in detail, I wanted to test you quickly on how well you know your dog breeds.
Below is a selection of photos of Frenchies and Bosties from different angles. See if you can guess right and spot the difference on which is which? I’ve thrown a few Pug photos in there too just to keep you on your toes.
The answers are at the bottom of the page.
What is the difference between a French Bulldog and Boston Terrier?
If you are just here for some very quick information, and a very concise answer to the question, then the following paragraph neatly sums up what the difference between a French Bulldog and Boston Terrier is.
The obvious differences between a French Bulldog and Boston Terrier will be pointier ears in a Boston, versus rounded ears on a Frenchie. Bostons also have a tuxedo pattern appearance to their coat, longer legs, and slimmer bodies versus Frenchie’s squat and more muscular appearance.
There’s so much more to it than that though, including their personality, temperament, suitability to your home, price, and history. Keep reading for the full low-down on the Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog differences.
But if you just want a really quick way to tell the difference then look at their color, markings, height, and ears. Boston Terriers have a tuxedo appearance pattern, which I will explain further down. They also have pointed ears, versus a Frenchie’s rounded ear shape at the top (whose ears will tend to stand up between 5 and 15 weeks of age).
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog Comparison
Coat colors and markings
A sure-fire way of telling the difference between the two breeds is colour and pattern. Boston Terriers are almost always black and white, with some seal and brindle colors.
A Boston has what is called a “tuxedo” pattern on their coat, with the white going through the middle up to their neck, surrounded by darker colours either side; just like a tuxedo looks like!
The main colors that Bostons come in are:
- Black brindle and white
- Brindle and white
- Seal and white
- Seal brindle & white
This tuxedo appearance is what led to them being nicknamed the American Gentleman.
Frenchies on the other hand come in a wider variety of colors, including brindle, cream, fawn and white.
- Brindle and white
- Fawn and white
- Fawn brindle
- White and brindle
- White and fawn
- And many more…
The ears of both breeds are a real giveaway to help you tell the difference between the two. Here’s a quick pointer on Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog ears:
- Frenchie ears: bat-like with rounded tips at the top
- Bostie ears: pointed ears
Frenchie ears are naturally erect. Known as the “bat-ear”, it is rounded off at the top and broader at the base of the head.
A Boston will have erect ears too, but they will look more pointed as you can see in the photos in this guide.
Their tails are very similar, and it’s not always easy to differentiate between the two breeds when seen from the rear.
Both breeds have minimal and stumpy little tails. In fact, many people see these dogs and think that their tails have been docked. This isn’t the case at all.
Both dogs’ tails will be either straight or screwed and sit just above the rear end.
Height and size comparisons
Boston Terriers are taller than French Bulldogs, but both are still small dogs on average. You can see a height chart comparing various popular dog breeds elsewhere on my blog.
- Bosties average height: 40 to 43 cm
- Frenchies average height: 28 to 30 cm
You can see how that compares to other popular dog breeds in the table below.
|Dog breed type||Average height of a male|
|Basset Hound||30 to 38 cm|
|Beagle||36 to 41 cm|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||64 to 70 cm|
|Boston Terrier||40 to 43 cm|
|British Bulldog||31 to 40 cm|
|Chihuahua||15 to 23 cm|
|Corgi||25 to 30 cm|
|Dachshund||13 to 18 cm|
|French Bulldog||28 to 30 cm|
|German Shepherd Dog||60 to 65 cm|
|Golden Retriever||56 to 61 cm|
|Great Dane||76 to 86 cm|
|Labrador||57 to 62 cm|
|Miniature Schnauzer||30 to 36 cm|
|Poodle||25 to 27 cm|
|Pug||29 to 30 cm|
|Rottweiler||61 to 69 cm|
|Shih Tzu||20 to 28 cm|
|Springer Spaniel||48 to 56 cm|
|Yorkshire Terrier||20 to 23 cm|
Our Frenchie is actually a little taller than the norm and you can see a video below where I tried my best to measure his height. It wasn’t easy, but I got there in the end!
In terms of build, Frenchies are more muscular with larger bones. Bosties have longer legs, which gives them that height advantage.
Weight is another factor where they can also be different, with averages shown below for adult dogs:
- Bosties average weight: 7 to 13 kg (15 to 29 lbs)
- Frenchies average weight: 8 to 15 kg (18 to 33 lbs)
Head size and shape
Both breeds are sometimes referred to as “head” breeds. This is because they have large heads in proportion to their bodies. There are some differences though, and this is one of the key ways in which you can compare the two.
Both breeds have square-shaped heads, but the Frenchie’s will have wrinkles on the top. A Bostie’s head won’t be so wrinkly up top, will have flatter cheeks, and a well-defined brow which stops abruptly.
A Bostie head will be flat at the forehead, compared to a Frenchie where their forehead is more rounded.
Both Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are bred to have shorter snouts, which have got shorter and shorter over the last few decades.
There are current initiatives from dog organisations to reverse this trend, as it can lead to health issues (which I will discuss later in this comparison guide).
A Bostie nose and snout will be wider than a Frenchies. But both snouts will black in appearance, with a line between the broad nostrils.
Boston Terriers have longer and leaner legs and a slimmer body appearance. The Frenchie will be more of a muscular and squat dog, with shorter legs.
As described in the height section, you can tell a Bostie vs a Frenchie because he will be taller with longer legs.
Shedding and hair
Both dogs are short-haired, and don’t shed masses amount of hair. You will experience increased shedding in summer months (watch this video) as they get rid of a little of their coat to cope with the heat. But overall don’t expect massive fur balls in your home!
Due to the low amount of hair shedding, it makes grooming and maintenance a lot less than a larger and hairier dog.
That lack of longer hair also means that both breeds don’t tend to trap as many nasty smells in their coat. They still do have their smelliness issues, such as farting, but generally neither of these dogs will smell due to their coat and hair.
Drooling and snoring
Both breeds snore and drool more than the average dog. This is due to their brachycephalic nature, more of which you can read about further down the page.
Their short and wide snouts, with overhanging lip folds, and the occasional underbite means a lot of slobber from time to time.
It’s perfectly natural, and Frenchies in particular are known for drooling, slobbering, and dribbling.
They aren’t the perfect house guests that’s for sure!
The reason that dogs drool is mainly due to eating and digestion. The slobbery dribble helps to wet their mouth, digests the food down, and helps to stop tooth decay and gum disease.
Handy Hint: Excessive drooling in either breed can be a sign of health issues. To know what to look out for, read this guide to drooling.
Temperament and personality comparison
Both breeds make for fun companions, are good with kids, other pets, and have personalities far larger than their physical appearance would suggest.
- French Bulldog personality traits: Active, affectionate, alert, friendly, loyal, playful.
- Boston Terrier personality traits: Active, alert, energetic, expressive, friendly, loyal, playful.
As you can see from the above character traits, I believe Frenchies are much more affectionate than Bosties.
But, Bosties can be more expressive in their face. A lot of time you won’t know by looking at a Frenchie’s face how he is feeling. Bosties do have expressions other than glum!
That would be the only real difference between the two.
Overall, neither of these dogs like to be left alone, and crave human company. If you don’t think that you can offer that, neither would be a great choice as a pet.
Which dog is easier to train?
Ease of training is definitely an area where they are some key differences in Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs.
Bosties are quick to learn new tricks, listen well, are eager to please, and tend to be very obedient.
But they can be more territorial than Frenchies, so socialisation at dog training with other animals and humans is essential – in fact, I recommend socialisation no matter what breed of dog you own if you want a happy and well-adjusted dog.
Frenchies are a little different, as they do have a stubborn streak.
As an owner you will need to persevere with training, exert your authority, reinforce good behaviour and put a lot more time in to training.
Our Frenchie took almost 18 months to learn to be properly recalled, and even now will occasionally get over-excited. The first year and a half though was really hard work, but worth it.
Despite what you might read online, no dog is easy to train, but some breeds certainly are than others.
Which one barks more or a lot?
Neither breed is a yappy dog, despite their small stature.
In fact, both breeds only tend to bark when necessary. Our Frenchie probably only barks a couple of times every fortnight, and that’s usually if he catches sight of his shadow in our shiny kitchen cabinets!
Boston Terriers bark a little bit more, but even it’s still very minimal compared to other dog breeds.
Neither of these dogs are big barkers or vocal, which is another reason why they can be a popular choice for people living in apartments or with close neighbors.
Farting and smelliness
Our Frenchie farts. He farts a lot.
Bosties are no different.
Both dogs are renowned for their gas, and when it comes out, you will know about it.
Many brachycephalic breeds are predisposed to flatulence.
The pushed-in faces cause them both to swallow a lot of air when they eat, and they like to chomp down food fast. That air they take in can lead to more gas than usual in the digestive tracts.
However, there are ways in which you can reduce the offensive smells, including their diet and the food you give them.
How intelligent are they?
How intelligent do you want your dog to be?
Let’s cut to the chase, neither breed would cut it as rescue dogs, sporting dogs, get a job sniffing out drugs at border control, or be trained up as guide dogs.
But don’t let that put you off.
Both are lively, alert, friendly, and expressive. But both can also be very stubborn.
Frenchies are often referred to as clowns of the dog world, whilst Bosties have the moniker of being the American Gentleman.
According to research, they both rank about mid-range in terms of the most popular dog breeds on the planet as the result of intelligence tests. You can see those IQ test rankings for yourself to see how they compare in various tests.
If you want a truly intelligent dog, here’s a top 10 list which apparently ranks dogs in terms of their intelligence.
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Labrador Retriever
Are they good with kids?
Let’s start off with Frenchies. Our dog Claude arrived in 2016 when my son was three years old. They are best buddies, play together, sometimes nap together, and I couldn’t wish for a friendlier and more loveable dog.
When Claude gets too over-excited, he will nip, but it’s more of a mouth grab, rather than a bite. He has never been aggressive towards my child. Ever.
And that’s in the face of extreme provocation, with my young son pulling on ears, poking, grabbing, and sometimes being too rough in play.
But that’s not to say our Frenchie will never be aggressive. You never have any guarantees, as with any dog, it depends on the child and the animal.
However, my personal experience and that of Frenchie owners around the globe who blog about their pet, and videos you see on YouTube bears testament to the fact that French Bulldogs are good with kids.
What about Boston Terriers?
Just like Frenchies they are curious and playful, and little kids will look like the perfect playmate.
Yes, they are good with kids, but your child should be taught how to behave around your dog. Some dogs could get sick, old, or have stress, which might provoke a negative reaction.
As an owner and parent, it’s your responsibility to supervise kid and dog play at all times.
But like Frenchies, Bosties can make great companions for young children due to their energetic and fun nature. Both breeds also demand a lot of stimulation, and a lot of the time, that can only be provided with a child-like approach to play.
What kid wouldn’t want a playmate like that?
One last point here is over-exercise. I will go on to talk more in depth about how both breeds can have breathing difficulties. But it’s important to make sure that your child understands that there should be a limit to playtime, before the dog over-exerts himself.
Are they good with cats?
We already had a cat before we got our Frenchie, and I’ve written at length about how good Frenchies are with cats elsewhere. It includes plenty of tips on how to make sure that both pets get along and how to introduce the puppy to your cat’s home.
You can see a video below of our Frenchie playing with our cat.
But what about the Boston Terrier?
Well, as a rule, most terrier breeds are not good with cats. But, from what I’ve been told by Bostie owners, this breed is an exception to the rule.
In short, both breeds are good with cats, but you will get better results if you introduce the young puppy into the cat’s household rather than the other way around.
Do Frenchies and Bostons get on?
In my experience of Frenchie ownership, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers do get along but it’s a very sweeping statement.
Our friends have a Bostie and we frequently come across them whilst out on walks with no problems whatsoever. From personal experience they can be the best of friends.
But, every dog on the planet has its own personality and character, much of which is defined by the dog owner.
Movement and gait
One way you can tell a French Bulldog and Boston Terrier apart is when you see them running.
Frenchies run in what’s called a double-tracking gait, which can look a little bit like a trot. His front legs move in a wider area to the back legs which is where you get the double-tracking. Imagine looking at his tracks in the mud, you will see two, one wider for the front, one narrower for the rear.
When you see a Frenchie run from the rear, it can sometimes look like their back legs are swinging and rolling as they pace. You don’t get that same gait with a Boston Terrier.
It’s different with Boston Terriers as their front and back legs are spaced the same width apart, so you would see a single track in the mud.
Health issues and differences
Below you can read the differences in how their health compares. For more information on French Bulldog health problems and how to spot them early, please read my guide to the most common health issues in Frenchies.
Both are brachycephalic breeds
The breeding and standards for both breeds over the last 150 years has resulted in flat faces. This makes them a brachycephalic breed.
Brachycephalic syndrome (which you can read more about here) refers to negative effects of airway obstruction that results from the way in which they have been bred for cosmetic appearance.
This is one of the criticisms often levelled at owners and breeders of both breeds. If you look back at historical photos of them both, their faces and snouts never used to be this flat, but that’s an argument for another day and another website to put their opinion on.
Because they are bred to have flatter faces, tinier nostrils, narrow tracheas, they can have breathing difficulties due to decreased airflow.
They way Frenchies have been bred also leads to difficulties in natural birth and the initial conception, more of which I cover in my blog post about litter sizes.
It’s a tough one, and means you need to make an ethical decision as a purchaser as to whether you are comfortable with contributing to this health issue.
I will leave that decision up to you rather than impart my own opinion.
What I would say though, if I had been more educated to this issue before my family bought a Frenchie, it’s very likely we would have made a different decision.
The Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog comparison when it comes to brachycephalic issues is quite even; both are affected, and both can have issues as all brachycephalic dogs can have breathing problems.
But the Frenchie is definitely the one most at risk of harm due to their physical appearance.
Exercise & activity levels
Neither breed requires as much exercise as a larger dog would. Their brachycephalic nature also means that if they do over-exert themselves, they can quickly become hot and out of breath.
There are some subtle differences though in how much exercise and physical activity they need.
For example, our French Bulldog is more than happy to sleep for 70% of the day and have one 30-minute daily walk. During that walk, he will be very active, but soon becomes tired and will happily come back home and fall back asleep.
Frenchies are more relaxed and less agile compared to Boston Terriers. But they will still love jumping around and playing. It’s their heavier-set build that contributes a lot to them needing only moderate levels of exercise.
Boston Terriers tend to require a little more physical activity, albeit still not a lot.
Our friends with Bosties give them one walk a day, at around 45 minutes. They are more agile than the Frenchie, but still love to sleep.
If you do get either breed, don’t think that just a walk will suffice though.
Both breeds love to play and just one walk a day won’t cut it in terms of their mental stimulation so have plenty of toys and playtime in the home too.
Life expectancy comparison
The average lifespan of both dogs is shown below:
- Boston Terriers: 11-15 years
- French Bulldogs: 8-12 years
How long your dog lives for will come down to a wide range of factors including how well you keep them and their health.
Due to the respiratory issues already highlighted, they can be at risk of health problems, leading to shorter life expectancy.
Take care of your dog, have adequate health insurance coverage, and you should maximise the time they both will be your loving friend.
How many puppies do they have?
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog puppies isn’t even an argument. They are both just as cute! But how many puppies do each breed have on average?
Below you can see a data table I created which shows the litter sizes for some of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
|Dog breed type||Average litter size|
|Basset Hound||5 puppies|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||8 puppies|
|Boston Terrier||4 puppies|
|British Bulldog||4 puppies|
|French Bulldog||3 puppies|
|German Shepherd Dog||8 puppies|
|Golden Retriever||8 puppies|
|Great Dane||8 puppies|
|Miniature Schnauzer||4 puppies|
|Shih Tzu||3 puppies|
|Springer Spaniel||7 puppies|
|Yorkshire Terrier||3 puppies|
On average, Frenchies have 3 puppies per litter, and Bosties have 4 puppies in a litter. So not massive differences, and its key to remember these are just averages.
If you are thinking about buying a puppy of either breed, make sure you do your homework on the breeder. Further down the page you can see some tips for what to look for.
Overall though, the puppies are very similar.
Both can have health issues if bred by a poor breeder, and both can also be a little territorial if not socialised with other dogs early in their life. That’s why I advocate you take your puppy to training classes, so he can get used to other dogs and humans.
Home and city living differences
Both Frenchies and Bosties are indoor dogs should not be left outside in a dog house or pen. With short coats, they don’t cope well in very cold weather. And those short snouts mean hot weather isn’t great for either breed.
Either dog will be a great addition to your home, and you don’t need a massive amount of space either.
They can quickly adapt, and Frenchies in particular don’t need a lot of exercise, making them ideal for city and apartment living. Compared to other popular dog breeds such as Labradors or German Shepherds who demand a lot of exercise, both Frenchies and Bosties don’t need as much.
Boston Terriers need a little more exercise and area to run around in, so a small apartment probably won’t be a great idea – you would certainly want a bit more room.
Having said that, both breeds are more than happy to curl up on the sofa and chill out with you until it’s the next time to go for a walk.
For a city dweller or person with a small home, it’s no wonder that Frenchies and Bosties are very popular.
Which is easier to own?
I can only talk here from an entirely personal perspective, as I have never owned a Boston Terrier, only a Frenchie.
But having put all of this research together, it’s clear that there isn’t actually a massive difference when it comes to ease of ownership.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
Owning our Frenchie has come with multiple challenges that we have had to overcome, including adapting how we live and work.
Both of these dogs are very sociable, so if you are considering buying one, you should only do so if you can give them the love, attention, and time that they both deserve.
Dog ownership isn’t something that you should enter into lightly, and the best advice I can give you is to volunteer to look after a friend’s dog when they go on a vacation.
If after a week of looking after someone else’s dog, you think you can cut it, then that’s the barometer.
The practicalities of ownership are often not considered by people who rush into a purchase.
Don’t be that person!
If you do end up buying either breed, please make sure that you take out adequate pet insurance. Both dogs can come with health issues as I’ve already highlighted, so it pays to have a decent policy in place.
Things to look for with a breeder
If you are decided on which breed you want to buy, then where you buy them from is key. Breeders of Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog puppies are no different.
You get bad ones and good ones.
Sadly, some breeders are simply in it for the money, and farm their female dogs (dams) for maximum profitability.
Some breeders will try to get as many litters as possible from the female in her lifespan. If the breeder you are talking to has had anything more than 4 litters from their female, then walk away.
At that level of breeding, the dam will have been farmed intensively and it will have health implications for both her and any future litters of puppies.
There are also reports of Frenchie and Boston Terrier breeders deliberately breeding dogs to get shorter muzzles, far shorter than what is acceptable.
This can lead to health issues in both breeds.
Check up the reputation of the breeder, and whether they are registered with the relevant authorities in your country.
And before you decide to go ahead, one final check with to make sure health tests and checks have been made on the puppies.
Neither puppy is cheap, with typical costs varying from breeder to breeder. In the UK, French Bulldogs have become extremely popular over the last 5 years, just like the United States. This has led to an increase in demand and price.
The Boston Terrier is a little cheaper on average but will still set you back more money than other popular dogs do.
Average prices you might expect to pay in the UK and US are:
- French Bulldog: $1,400 to $2,000 USD / £1,100 to £1,900 GBP
- Boston Terrier: USD $700 to $1,900 / £800 to £1,500 GBP
History of the two breeds
And now for a very short history lesson on French Bulldogs vs Boston Terriers, which will help you understand better why they look similar in appearance.
The French Bulldog and Boston Terrier are related to each other, which comes as no surprise when you compare them side by side. Their ancestry can be traced back to the English Bulldog.
Bosties and Frenchies look very alike. Both are active and expressive brachycephalic breeds, reasonably intelligent, small and compact with a short-tail and smooth coat.
French Bulldogs first appeared on the scene in 1800’s England and France. During the Industrial Revolution, English lace makers sailed across the channel to work in Normandy, France. They took their small bulldogs with them which ended up inter-breeding with French Terriers, with the puppies coming back home to England.
Moving forward in time, American tourists then took this new breed back to the United States. Over the next 100 years, the bat ear type was bred to be the French Bulldog accepted standard.
So where do the Bosties come into it historically?
Well, as you would have guessed, there are of a more American heritage with the name coming from Boston, Massachusetts.
According to records, the Boston Terrier came about due to crossing English Bulldogs with English White Terriers. This was way back in the 1870s, and over the next few decades, other breeds are said to have been introduced to the genetic mix including Boxers, Pit Bull Terriers, and yes, you guessed it: French Bulldogs.
The Boston Terrier as we now know it.
The UK Kennel Club of Great Britain officially recognised the French Bulldog as a breed in 1905 and the Boston Terrier in 1914.
Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog vs Pug Comparison
Since owning our Frenchie we’ve often had people asking if he’s a Boston Terrier (as you would expect), but also whether or not he is a pug. I can understand that, as all three of these breeds can look very similar.
Here’s are three head-shots of each of the different breeds shown close up so you can see how similar they look, and what the subtle differences are, particularly concerning the ears.
Soon I will be putting together a new guide which explains the Pug vs French Bulldog argument, so keep checking back to see when that goes live.
Conclusion: French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier – Which is better?
I’ve hopefully given you a better understanding on the differences between Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs.
As you can see, there aren’t huge differences between the two breeds, and they certainly share more similarities than not.
They share these similarities:
- Short noses and flat faces
- Short and stumpy tails
- Cute and playful characteristics
- Erect ears
- Short coats
- Bug shaped eyes
- Shorter legs
- More of a muscular body
- Rounded tips on their ears
- Slimmer frame
- Longer and leaner legs
- Pointed tips on their ears
Quick comparison chart
Below is a quick comparison table which compiles all my research in this article into one simple overview.
|Average comparison||French Bulldog||Boston Terrier|
|Litter size||3 puppies||4 puppies|
|Price bracket||$1,400 to $2,000 USD / £1,100 to £1,900 GBP||USD $700 to $1,900 / £800 to £1,500 GBP|
|Walk length||30 minutes daily||45 minutes daily|
|Personality||Active, affectionate, alert, friendly, loyal, playful||Active, Alert, energetic, expressive, friendly, loyal, playful.|
|Barking||Very minimal||Very minimal|
|Training||Can be stubborn and harder to train||Easier to train than a Frenchie|
|Ears||Rounded tips on their bat-like ears||Pointed tips on their ears|
|Height||28 to 30 cm||40 to 43 cm|
|Weight||8 to 15 kg (18 to 33 lbs)||7 to 13 kg (15 to 29 lbs)|
|Life expectancy||8 to 12 years||11 to 15 years|
To conclude, both breeds make for great family pets and they are almost indistinguishable on the following factors:
- Both are playful
- Both are easy to groom
- Both can be trained if you put the effort in
- Both are friendly
- Both are adaptable for city living
- Both tend to fart and drool
- Both can have respiratory health issues relating
Oh, and before I forget, here are those answers to the quiz from the beginning of the guide.
Spot the difference quiz answers
- French Bulldogs: 1, 4, 8, 11, 13, 14
- Boston Terriers: 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 15
- Pugs: 2, 10, 12