Pug vs. French Bulldog – What are the Differences and Similarities?

If you are trying to decide whether a Pug or a French Bulldog is the right dog breed for your family, it can be a somewhat challenging decision.

french bulldog puppy with pug puppy

The two breeds – which include the English Bulldog, Frenchie Pug, Boston Terrier, and the American Bulldog – share plenty of physical similarities, as these adorable little pooches have almost identical squat builds and scrunched-up faces. With that being said, these two family-friendly breeds are also quite different, which is why we are offering this thorough comparison between the two.

If would like to know more about Pugs and French Bulldogs, you have come to the right place, as this breed breakdown will help you decide which breed is right for you!

Table of Contents

Pug vs. French Bulldog – Breed Histories and Origins

The Pug

While many people think of the Pug as being a somewhat goofy type of dog, the breed actually has a very storied and regal past. This ancient breed was originally bred in China during the Han Dynasty (206BC to 200AD). While it may sound funny today, Pugs were bred to act as companions to ancient Chinese emperors.

pug puppy

When European traders arrived in China during the 1500s, they were impressed by this unique little breed that was full of character and energy. They began bringing the dogs back to Europe, where they quickly became a favorite of some of the wealthiest aristocratic families across the continent. In fact, Marie Antoinette of France even had a pet Pug! Later, Queen Victoria of England became very fond of Pugs and even had them bred.

The French Bulldog

French Bulldogs, or Frenchies as they are affectionally known, were actually first bred in England! Given their name, this might come as a bit of a surprise, but it was the British that first bred these small and feisty dogs as a smaller alternative to the iconic British Bulldog. Not only were these smaller dogs cute, but these “Toy Bulldogs” were also far more energetic than their larger cousins, which made them excellent for chasing down and killing rats and other vermin.

french bulldog puppy

When workers in the south of England emigrated to France in the early 1800s in search of better employment opportunities, they brought their beloved little pups with them. Thanks to their cute looks and incredible ability to hunt down rats, they quickly became popular with Northern France’s farmers. Within just a few short decades, the “Toy Bulldog” became known as the French Bulldog and the breed’s popularity across France skyrocketed.

Pug vs. French Bulldog – Physical Appearance and Stature

Height and Weight

Pugs and French Bulldogs actually have a similar height. However, Frenchies tend to weigh almost twice as much as Pugs, as they have extremely bulky and muscular bodies.

Where both breeds reach about 0.8 feet (30 cm) in height when they near adulthood, a full-grown French Bulldog usually weighs in the range of 16 to 28 lbs, while an adult Pug usually weighs 10 to 17 lbs. Not only will the average French Bulldog weigh significantly more than a Pug, but they are also usually much wider, especially at the shoulders.

While the weight difference may not seem like a major concern, especially given that both breeds still weigh much less than medium and large-sized dog breeds, the added weight and strength of a French Bulldog can make them somewhat difficult to handle if you are elderly or have any sort of physical disability. Their impressive strength can also make them a bit of a challenge for small children, as all of that muscle means they can really pull when they are on a leash.

Facial Appearance

Given that both breeds have fairly iconic faces, it is worth discussing the differences. Pugs have very large, flat, and round heads. Their bulgy eyes and deep wrinkles are their most recognizable features. Unfortunately, their squished-in faces also result in some fairly serious breathing issues, which is why you can normally hear a pug dog coming. They wheeze, grunt, and even cough quite a bit.

French Bulldogs also have fairly flat faces, as well as tiny nostrils. They have very large mouths relative to their small stature, which almost makes them look like they are perpetually smiling. Unfortunately, French Bulldogs are also considered a brachycephalic breed, which means they have narrow, squished-in tracheas. Like Pugs, French Bulldogs can also suffer from a wide range of respiratory issues and also have the same grunting and wheezing you often hear when a Pug is nearby.

Where Pugs have floppy ears that many people find very cute, French Bulldogs have pointy, bat-like ears that stand erect on top of their bulky heads.

Coats

In most cases, a French Bulldog will have a short coat that is very easy to take care of. They shed very little, so they can be a good option for anyone that suffers from any sort of pet hair allergy. They are also found in a wide range of colors, so it is easy to choose a Frenchie that matches your own personal preferences for coat coloration.

On the other hand, Pugs also have short coats, but they shed quite a bit, especially during the warmer months. This is because Pugs are a double-coated breed, which tends to surprise many, as the coat is so short. While there is some variation in color, most pugs have a light beige coat and black face.

Thanks to their double coat and short muzzle, Pugs are very susceptible to overheating, so you have to be really careful during the summer, especially if you are out on a long walk.

Pug vs. French Bulldog – Personality Traits and Temperament

hapy french bulldog with pug

The Pug

Pugs tend to have very goofy personalities, which explains why they have taken on so many comedic roles in movies and on television. They are prone to random spurts of energy, so don’t be surprised if your little Pug gets a case of the “zoomies” from time to time.

Despite how amusing they can be, Pugs are also very affectionate. Some people even find that their Pug acts like a lap dog and loves nothing more than cuddling up. Unfortunately, their affectionate nature can make the breed highly susceptible to separation anxiety. So, it is important that your dog is properly socialized and conditioned to being alone, especially if you work or study outside of the house for long hours.

Since Pugs are quite small and very prone to overheating, they do not need a significant amount of exercise and they can actually do quite well in smaller dwellings, like apartments. With that being said, they are prone to over-eating and obesity, so it is very important that you have your Pug on a healthy and calorie-restricted diet.

The French Bulldog

Like Pugs, French Bulldogs are very friendly and affectionate. They can also be very goofy. However, thanks to their bulky and muscular build, all of their bursts of energy and goofiness can become quite destructive if they are not trained properly.

French Bulldogs tend to need more exercise than Pugs, as they are a far more active breed. If you are someone that enjoys taking long walks and hikes, you may quickly find that your little Frenchie can easily keep up with you on the trails. In order to keep your French Bulldog happy and healthy, you will need to take him or her on at least two walks per day. It will also help if you have a backyard, as this will let your Frenchie burn off some of his or her energy.

While they are a little bit less affectionate than Pugs, French Bulldogs also like cuddling up. However, some Frenchies are more independent and prefer to be alone.

Pug vs. French Bulldog – Potential Health Issues

Both Pugs and French Bulldogs are susceptible to a range of potential health issues, which is why you should make sure that you are feeding your pooch a healthy diet and budget for plenty of visits to the veterinarian.

On average, a French Bulldog will live for about 10 years, while an average Pug tends to live between 12 and 15 years. While the longer average lifespan of a Pug may lead you to believe they are a healthier breed, the truth is Pugs tend to suffer from a greater number of health issues than French Bulldogs.

Both breeds can suffer from a wide range of respiratory issues, which is a result of their short muzzles and compressed tracheas. Both breeds also have a heightened susceptibility to a variety of eye-related issues, like cataracts and corneal ulceration, but these are more common in Pugs. In fact, many elderly Pugs eventually become blind.

French Bulldogs are very susceptible to back injuries, as their compressed spine and unique musculature put them at risk of slipped disks and more. This is why it is very important to train your French Bulldog not to run around too crazily, as these back issues can be painful, debilitating, and extremely expensive to correct.

Whether you choose a Pug or a Frenchie, it is important to have a thorough conversation with your veterinarian about a breed-appropriate diet and exercise plan. You should also consider pet insurance, or put money aside for any future health issue, as both breeds are susceptible to some very traumatic and expensive health issues.

Conclusion

There is a reason that many people confuse Pugs and French Bulldogs. The two breeds certainly have their differences, but they are also fairly similar.

The decision on which type of dog is right for you should be based on your own personal preferences, as well as your budget and lifestyle. Frenchies tend to be amongst the most expensive dog breeds, but Pugs usually live much longer. Pugs also need less exercise and are somewhat easier to manage, as they weigh less and are certainly less strong than Frenchies.

Whichever type of dog you choose, make sure that you have your pooch on a healthy, breed-appropriate diet, and make sure that you offer your canine companion all of the love and attention he or she deserves!