Is Boston Terrier a Bulldog?

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A great number of people often ask “Is Boston Terrier a Bulldog?” because of their resemblance in appearance. Although the Bulldog is bigger, they both have a compact body and a square face. Let’s answer this question, go over their differences, and the reason why they look so similar.

Is Boston Terrier a Bulldog?

The Boston Terrier is not a Bulldog based on dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, the Boston Terrier did originate from crosses involving the Bulldog and other dog breeds. The original sire of the first Boston Terrier was born from a mix of an English Bulldog and an English White Terrier.

Bulldog in a field

A long time ago, Bulldogs were bigger — weighing around 100 pounds — and were nearing extinction. To preserve the breed, fanciers worked on crosses with other dog breeds to produce smaller, less aggressive dogs. One of these crosses resulted in the birth of the Boston Terrier.

Why Does The Boston Terrier Look Like A Bulldog?

The Boston Terrier looks like a bulldog because it carries its genes. In 1870, a man from Boston named Robert Hooper purchased a dog from William O’Brien, a friend from the same city. It was a Bull and Terrier from England.

Hooper named the dog Judge. Judge weighed around 32 pounds and was bred to a small, white female dog named Gyp. Edward Burnett’s Gyp was around 20 pounds and was of unknown origin.

Well’s Eph was the name of the only offspring of Hooper’s Judge and Burnett’s Gyp. Well’s Eph acquired the traits of the Bulldog more, which had a square head, big eyes, short nose, and erect ears.

What’s The History Behind The Old Bulldog?

During the 1800s, Bulldogs were used for bull-baiting and were a popular breed at the time. Bull-baiting is a type of cruel sports between a bull and a bulldog. To survive, the dog must attack the bull’s nose and pin its head down to the ground. In most unfortunate cases, the bull would attack the dog first by the horns and seriously injure or kill it.

That being said, bull-baiting was the origin of the breed name Bulldog. Bulldogs during those times were bred for that particular purpose. Therefore, they were selectively breeding them to produce huge, ferocious, yet easy to train dogs.

However, bull-baiting was discontinued when the law implemented the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835. Now considered useless, some bulldogs were imported to Germany and the US. In Germany, crosses created the Boxer, and eventually, the Boston Terrier was bred in the US.

Boston Terrier looking like a Bulldog

How Did Boston Terriers Evolve Into Companion Dogs?

The first generations of the Boston Terriers were bulky, ferocious-looking dogs. Influenced by the Bulldog ancestry, they also had an aggressive temperament, although they were undeniably intelligent.

The first Boston Terrier in the US was Well’s Eph. Eph was considerably bigger than modern Boston Terriers yet a lot smaller than the Bulldog ancestors. Eph was bred to Toby’s Kate and produced many puppies. This started the crosses between the first Boston Terriers and other dog breeds, producing less-aggressive and smaller dogs.

The American Kennel Club Recognizes the Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier instantly became popular. Its first attempt to register with the American Kennel Club in 1891 was denied, though. The breed was not sufficiently established, according to the organization.

Giving up was not an option. In 1893, the AKC officially recognized the Boston Terrier and became the number one dog breed in the US for many years. Now, it holds the 21st rank based on popularity at present.

Also, the AKC has set standards for Boston Terriers according to color and weight. To be able to register with the AKC, your pet should be an offspring of a purebred dam and sire, do not exceed 25 pounds, and have a coat color of either:

  • black with white markings
  • seal with white markings
  • brindle with white markings

The Boston Terrier Today

The selective breeding approaches led to the creation of non-sporting Boston Terriers. Because of their cheerful personality, Bosties earned the nickname The American Gentleman. These dogs with a short, tuxedo-like coat have a wonderful personality that loves people, especially kids.

Person cradling a puppy

Boston Terrier vs French Bulldog

Often, many people compare the Boston Terrier with the French Bulldog because of their similarities in appearance. Both dogs are small and have erect ears, a short nose, and a muscular body. These two dog breeds also originated from the English Bulldog.

In terms of personality, both dogs are smart, friendly, and affectionate. They both need a lot of social interaction, although the French Bulldog is more playful than the Boston Terrier. As both dogs have short noses, they could experience breathing problems later in life.

While they look almost the same, the French Bulldog is more expensive than the Bostie. While Bosties cost $600 to $800, the price of a French Bulldog ranges from $2000 to $4000 depending on the quality of the breed.

Are Boston Terriers a Good Dog?

Boston Terriers are a good dog in so many ways. If you are looking for a companion dog, then this is a good choice. Here are some great things to love about Boston Terriers:

  • playful and energetic
  • easy to train
  • goes along with people easily
  • loyal
  • do not shed a lot
  • not big barkers

However, as with any dog breed, some things don’t make the Boston Terrier breed a suitable option for some people. Here are the common issues with Boston Terriers:

  • health problems (heart disease, breathing difficulties, cataracts, deafness)
  • loud snorers
  • slightly stubborn
  • at risk of flatulence
  • may slobber when they drink or pant
Little boy snuggling a Boston Terrier

Where to Get a Boston Terrier

Get a Boston Terrier from a reputable breeder for a healthy breed. Still, remember that the health and traits of Bosties may vary as they come from different mixes. Some may be too energetic while others may be calm and obedient. Make sure to research for a good breed before you get a pup.

Alternatively, some home shelters offer Boston Terriers for adoption. If this is going to be your approach, try to avoid puppies. Instead, choose adult Bostons because they are already fully developed. It would be easier to detect defects when they are already matured.

Related Questions

Before we finish this article, let’s answer a couple of questions related to Boston Terriers and Bulldogs.

What Is the Difference Between a Boston Terrier and a Boston Bulldog?

The main differences between a Boston Terrier and a Boston Bulldog are their origin and appearance. The Boston Terrier came from mixes between the English Bulldog, the English White Terrier, and other breeds. The Boston Bulldog is the result of a cross between the Boston Terrier and the English Bulldog.

What’s Bad About Boston Terriers?

One bad thing about Boston Terriers is they are at high risk of health problems involving the eyes, ears, and heart. They have a short nose which naturally contributes to breathing problems. Many cases of breathing difficulties were reported to exist in their later life. 


The Boston Terrier and the Bulldog are different dog breeds. Thankfully though, the Bulldog has a huge contribution to why the Boston Terrier Breed exists today. This is also the reason why these two dogs have some similarities in their traits.