How to tell the difference between a Boston terrier and a French bulldog

How to tell the difference between a Boston terrier and a French bulldog

Breed Facts

The Boston terrier and the French bulldog are two small breeds of dog that are both becoming increasingly popular within the UK, and most of us will have run into several dogs of both breeds at some point when out and about.

But one issue that stumps even a lot of enthusiastic dog owners is how to tell the difference between the two breeds, which are ostensibly very similar if you don’t know what you are looking for! There are a fairly wide range of surface similarities between the two breeds, which is partially because they share a common ancestor in the English bulldog, but once you compare the two breeds side by side, you should be able to get a handle on identifying the difference between the two without any problems!

In this article, we will look at the similarities and differences between the Boston terrier and French bulldog, and how to tell the two breeds apart. Read on to learn more!

The origins of the two breeds

Both the Boston terrier and the French bulldog have ancestry involving the English bulldog, but this connection is rather distant and convoluted!

The Boston terrier breed was established in America as the result of crossing the English bulldog with an English terrier, while the exact origins of the French bulldog is less well known. Generally accepted wisdom states that the French bulldog breed was created by crossing toy English bulldogs with other small breeds of unknown provenance, and so while it cannot be argued that the two breeds are completely unrelated, they are nevertheless not as similar as they first may appear.

Shape and size

Both breeds have a squashed, brachycephalic face that comes from the bulldog side of their ancestry, but aside from this, their shape and build is rather different.

Boston terriers tend to be rather taller and more finely built than French bulldogs, which are stockier with shorter, more muscular legs and an overall squarer appearance. The French bulldog can weigh up to 28lb as part of the breed standard, while the Boston terrier’s weight range varies between 15-25lb.

Looking at the head of the two dogs, the French bulldog has long, erect “bat’s ears,” while the Boston terrier has smaller, more compact ears that tend to sit close to the head.

Colour and coat

The colour range across the two breeds is variable too, and the Boston terrier is most commonly seen in black with white markings, and normally has two colours such as black and white in their coats. The French bulldog, on the other hand, is usually all one colour, and can be seen in a wide range of shades including brindle, fawn or white. Brindle French bulldogs may have white markings, but colours such as grey or black are not indicated in the breed standard.

Both breeds of dog have a short, single layered smooth coat, but the French bulldog has looser, more wrinkled skin like other bulldog breeds, while the Boston terrier has smooth, unwrinkled skin.


Both breeds are very loving, loyal and affectionate, being excellent pets for people from all walks of life, being trustworthy and gentle with children and other dogs as a rule.

However, the Boston terrier is much more active than the French bulldog, enjoying long walks, lots of games and activity, and playing with balls and other toys. The French bulldog is more laid back and sedentary, and while they can be playful, they tend to live much quieter lifestyles than the livelier Boston.

The French bulldog is a better pick for people who live a more sedentary lifestyle and enjoy short, gentle walks, while the Boston terrier will prefer a more outdoorsy, active life.


The French bulldog is the more likely of the two breeds to become overweight or obese, due to their more muscular build and more sedentary lives. The Boston terrier tends to keep fit and lean, even into old age.

The short muzzle and brachycephalic face of both breeds means that they may suffer from problems with their respiration, including snoring, snorting and issues with staying cool enough during the summer months. It is also worth noting that while the Boston terrier may enjoy swimming and paddling, the French bulldog cannot physically swim, due to their heavy build, short legs and large heads.

At a glance

The core differences that you will spot between the two breeds at a glance are that the Boston terrier will be taller, leggier and lighter in build, with shorter ears. The French bulldog is more muscular and square-looking, with large, pointed ears.

A black and white dog is almost certainly a Boston terrier, while a dog whose coat is all one colour will likely be a French bulldog.



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