If you're looking for a true companion dog, both the French bulldog and Boston terrier fill the bill. Both are non-sporting dogs, bred simply to share your heart, hearth and air-conditioned home. Because of their short muzzles, their ability to pant and naturally cool themselves is limited.
Boston terriers come in several sizes for American Kennel Club competition: under 15 lbs.; between 15 and 20 lbs; between 20 and 25 lbs; and over 25 lbs. French bulldogs, or Frenchies as they're called by fans, must weight less than 28 lbs. to conform to AKC standards.
Boston terriers are either brindle - a mix of black and brown in a pattern - seal or black with required white markings. The seal color may actually appear black, but red highlights appear in sunlight. Bostons have a white chest, white muzzle and blaze between their eyes. Frenchie colors include brindle, fawn, white, and mixes of fawn/white and brindle/white. For AKCshow purposes, Frenchies can't be black and white, black and tan or solid black. The breed is also known for its bat-like ears.
While both dogs make excellent companions, there are distinct differences in temperament. Of the two, the Boston terrier has more athletic ability and is more active than the French bulldog. If you'd like to participate in activities such as agility or obedience, or train your pooch for therapy work, the Boston is the better candidate. The Frenchie may be shyer than the Boston, requiring more work at socialization with people other than the owner. While it's always a good idea to take your dog for basic obedience training, it's probably more important for the Boston owner. The breed may nip in play, so must learn that's not acceptable behavior.
Both of these short-coated breeds require minimal grooming. While neither need a great deal of exercise, the Boston has a higher energy level than the Frenchie. A short walk a few times a day or access to a fenced-in yard suffice for either. They're good choices for apartment dwellers. Don't overfeed either dog. Both are subject to certain physical problems, with extra weight just adding to that potential burden.
Both breeds generally require artificial means of reproduction, so breeders must turn to veterinary specialists. Once puppies are conceived, the actual birth usually takes place by Cesarean section, as the puppies' heads are too large to successfully navigate the birth canal. Think twice about breeding your Boston or Frenchie, especially a female, as she'll be going through not only pregnancy but surgery, with all the attendant risks.
Such artificial means of coming into the world gives you a clue that both breeds suffer from various hereditary issues. With the Boston, many eye issues turn up, including juvenile cataracts leading to blindness in young dogs. Frenchies are prone to food allergies, so careful feeding is critical. Both dogs may have respiratory problems, including soft palates causing breathing obstructions.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.