Key Differences between French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers

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Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog

When dog-lovers compare French Bulldogs vs. Boston Terriers, how do they tell the difference?


Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are both two of the more popular breeds that the American Kennel Club tracks with its popularity rankings. (They’re at #21 and #4, respectively.) Both are relatively quiet dogs, which — when combined with their small stature — make them perfect for urban living.

The breeds are both known for being lively and friendly, sport black-and-white coats, and compact frames. But they differ on some key points that might be a dealbreaker for would-be dog owners. Here are some of the key differences between the Boston Terriers and the French Bulldogs of the world:

French Bulldog - how is it different from a Boston Terrier
French Bulldog pups © / Lilun


It’s certainly possible to mistake one of these dogs for the other. Especially if both dogs are black and white, they can certainly look related.


But although the coloring in French Bulldogs vs. Boston Terriers can be similar, there’s more variation in the former. Frenchies can come in a variety of colors, including white, fawn, and can even be brindle, a sort of “tiger coat.” But just as the nickname “the American Gentleman” would imply, Terriers are always black and white.


Both dogs are decidedly compact, with little variation in weight. A French Bulldog’s weight usually tops out at 28 pounds, while Boston Terriers sit anywhere between 12-15 pounds. Among the other similarities are:


  • Short muzzles that give them that same scrunched-up face appearance
  • Large round eyes
  • Docked or minimal tails (the screwed tail is caused by a malformation that is more commonly found in Bulldogs than Terriers)
  • Short coats
  • Big ears that sit on top of their head


But there are some crucial differences to tell them apart.


French Bulldogs have rounded-tips on their distinctive “bat ears,” one of the breed’s trademark features. Their skulls are also more square-shaped than their Boston Terrier counterparts. Boston Terrier ears come to more of a point at the top.

Frenchies tend to be more muscled, with a larger bone structure. But they’re not quite as tall as the Terriers; Boston Terriers are typically known for having a slightly taller and more elegant-looking posture. French Bulldogs can grow to between 11-13 inches, while Terriers usually reach 15-17 inches.

Boston terrier vs French Bulldog
Cute Boston Terrier dog lying on a brown wooden terrace © / bubutu


Though they might be small and cute, there’s no reason to think that either of these dogs will be obedient from day one. French Bulldog vs. Boston Terrier training regime is important to take into consideration when considering which breed is right for you. The good news is that with proper training, both dogs are generally friendly and love people (including kids), meaning they make great first-time pets.


Boston Terriers have a lot of perky energy and learn very quickly. They are prone to being a little territorial, so early training and socialization — for interacting with both dogs and humans — are key to having well-behaved Terriers once they’re grown.


French Bulldogs are, like all bulldogs, one of the “bully breeds,” known for their stubborn nature. They may require more consistent and strict training to achieve the best results and avoid bad habits. It’s vital that owners establish their authority early on, more clearly than they might have to with a Terrier.


Both French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have relatively short and smooth coats. But that doesn’t mean that their hygiene habits are identical.


With a Boston Terrier’s sleek, fine coat you can expect some shedding, but not a ton. Weekly brushing should help owners remove loose hair while also distributing skin oils evenly throughout the coat to keep it healthy. They need to be bathed only occasionally, unless the dog has somehow gotten messy through play.


With French Bulldogs, you can expect hair to be shed more regularly. While the shedding level is nowhere near that of a long-haired dog, it’s significantly more than the Terrier. Expect to be a bit more on top of regular brushes throughout the week to help remove hair that has been shed, and to help keep the skin healthy.

Their short coats and short legs can make them prone to cold as well; be careful when bringing either of these dogs into low icy or snowy conditions.

French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier
A cute adorable brown and black French Bulldog playing with a ball © / Dasya11


How do these two breeds activity levels vary? French Bulldogs particularly enjoy canine sports like agility or rally. Each day, a short walk or session of fetch should provide enough exercise for the Bulldog to stay happy and healthy.


Boston Terriers’ needs vary more from dog to dog. For some, a brisk walk in the morning or afternoon should be enough. But others will need more frequent exercise, with more time to run and play. Hint: They are big fans of retrieving balls or toys for their owner.


Boston Terriers aren’t fans of just playing by themselves in the backyard either. If they’re put outside alone to run their energy off, they’ll likely just sit at the door and wait for their human to let them back in. It’s possible that if they’re understimulated they’ll develop undesirable behaviors, and wreak havoc on your house.

Boston Terrier dog lying on a fallen tree trunk © / bubutu


Since both breeds have flat faces, they are prone to breathing difficulties, including some diseases that can more easily impact their airways. They’ll likely both struggle to exert themselves in hot or humid weather. Owners should be careful to avoid the outdoors if the temperature creeps too high.


Both dogs are also prone to ear and eye problems, including conditions like cherry eye or just irritation from dust and debris. Some owners have taken to keeping a supply of saline drops on hand to help flush out their dog’s eyes after a day of running around the dog park.


Because of their front-heavy structure, French Bulldogs are not able to swim. They should be well-supervised whenever they’re around a tub, pool, or body of water.

Their lifespans are also close but not identical: a French Bulldog is expected to live 10-12 years, while a Boston Terrier is more like 11-13.


So how much do you need to set aside to bring one of these puppies home? Prices can always vary by the breeder or kennel that you get your dog from. But French Bulldogs tend to come at a higher price tag than Boston Terriers. The Frenchies can cost around $2,000 to acquire, whereas Boston Terriers are closer to $700.