French Bulldog and Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier Stamp Boston Terrier Stamp The French Bulldog and Boston Terrier could appear similar as they are both smooth coated brachycephalic or short-faced breeds of approximately the same height with naturally short tails. Additionally these two breeds have the common origin of the now extinct Toy Bulldog. They began to develop a century after the original purpose of the Bulldog had been outlawed. During the following century these two breeds developed remarkably differently. So with their evolution into separate breeds taking well over a hundred years, a comparison of these two breeds is interesting.

The Toy Bulldog (now extinct)

Toy Bulldogs c 1905Toy Bulldogs c 1905

The Toy Bulldog first appeared in England in the late 1850's when the Bulldog was taking centre stage as a show dog. A Toy Bulldog Club was formed to cater for Bulldogs weighing only 15 - 16 pounds with bat shaped ears and a shorter underjaw than his Bulldog ancestor. Before the days of caesarean births, it was very difficult to raise Toy Bulldogs. So the allowable weight was increased to 20 pounds.

French Bulldog c 1902French Bulldog c 1902

Then arguments began not only because it was considered that 20 pounds did not constitute a Toy, but also because a small Bulldog with bat shaped ears was developing in France, probably with a bit of Spanish influence derived from the dogs which took part in bull fighting. This happened when the Industrial Revolution of England was causing English workers to become redundant. So English lace makers were emigrating to Northern France as well as America, accompanied by their Toy Bulldogs.

Despite it being written in 1909 that:

Toy Bulldogs have come to stay, and although the bat-eared French Bulldog is much liked, yet a miniature of the large dog (Bulldog) is what is required'[6].

Once it was proposed that the English variety should allow only rose shaped ears and crosses with the small Bulldogs from France became prohibited in England, the Toy Bulldog's popularity began to fade[2]. So today this breed is extinct.

History of the French Bulldog

Toy Bulldog c 1900Toy Bulldog c 1900

The Toy Bulldog of England's fate was further sealed because the small Bulldog of France had become known as the Bouledogue Francais. Also those who remained in England had imported French Bulldogs to improve their Toy strains. So in 1902, a Meeting was called to form the French Bulldog Club of England and draw up a Breed Standard to combine all the 'good' points of small Bulldogs. The next year this Club held a Show for pure breed French specimens either imported or bred from French imports. This led to the Kennel Club's recognition of the French Bulldog under the name Bouledogue Francais and a Breed Standard being set up to settle the disputed points[1a]. As this occurred three years after the first French Bulldog Show was held in the USA in 1898 allowing only bat shaped ears[1], controversy continues to this day as to whether country of development of the French Bulldog is France, England or even America!

Early French Bulldogs c 1892Early French Bulldogs c 1892

In Australia, one 'Bouledouge Francais' is recorded as being imported in 1908[3] with a number of others making their way here prior to World War 2. But it appears that no litters were registered. By the late 1940's a few more dogs were imported making a name for themselves, the first being Morebees Bunny (Imp UK) to NSW and Chassewood Rhea (Imp UK) to Victoria but there was still no record of litters from any of these dogs. By the early 1950's some serious breeding stock was imported into Australia notably by Mrs Portwine (Reserview) and others which formed the background for the breeders of the 1960's and beyond. Of these, it is fair to say Dulcie Partridge (Kama) and Kath Bartlett (Sanstache) piloted Frenchies over the next few decades, laying the sound foundation for the popular breed he is in this country today[4].

History of the Boston Terrier

Meanwhile a separate breed, the Boston Terrier was developing in Boston, America in the State of Massachusetts from a cross between a small Bulldog and the Old English White Terrier. The American Kennel Club first admitted this Boston Terrier to the Stud Book in 1893 making it the first American Kennel Club recognized breed. Interestingly, his background is visually demonstrated by the picture on the right which was accompanied by the following:

This picture of two French bulldogs, one with bat ears and one with rose ears, appeared in the 'Stockkeeper" in 1892. Their owner was identified simply as Mr Thomas of England. These dogs, bred in Paris, show at this time, the Frenchie possessed many qualities for crossing into the Boston - size, black coat, and lower station. It has been fairly reliably established that the Frenchie was crossed in around 1890[5].

History of the Boston Terrier in Australia

Ch Joyanders Dandy KimCh Joyanders Dandy Kim

Because information on the beginnings of Bostons in Australia is particularly space, the material published below is dealt with in some detail because of the difficulty of finding it elsewhere. The Boston Terrier was unknown here until the 1950's when Mrs Scott-Findlay imported the first breeding pair into Canberra and Mr Michael Lee brought a pair into Victoria from the famous Courtbarton Kennels in UK.

Bostonvale Fine-n-DandyBostonvale Fine-n-Dandy

Mrs Light who was already well-known with her Strathdene team of Cairn and other small terriers also brought in Courtbarton Showboat, Courtbarton Skiffle and Rusthardy Alice. Around this time Mrs Riley imported Delcinnatta Of Solarno from UK and this dog, personally selected by Mr Harry Spira had quite an impact on the breed in those early days, one notable son being Ch Herbrand Peter Pan. Also Mr Rex Summers established the Vonrefel prefix in Tasmania and imported Tailtean Mighty Wee from Mr and Mrs Fottrel who was then President of the Irish Kennel Club.

Ch Anisor Short-n-SweetCh Anisor Short-n-Sweet

In the early 1960's Mrs Betty O'Sullivan founded her 'Perfection' Kennels in Bonnyrigg NSW. With thanks to her family[7] , photos of her dogs are reproduced here. The first is her very successful Australian bred dark brindle dog Ch Joyanders Dandy Kim was sired by Tiger Tim of Torlu out of Courtbarton Flary Mary. He won 3 all-breeds Best Exhibit in Show and 2 runners up which was quite some feat considering these were very early days for Bostons in Australia. She also owned Bostonvale Fine-n-Dandy by Ch Gaystock Charlie Chuckles out of Greenway Kute Kate. The third Boston of Mrs O'Sullivan's pictured is the bitch Ch Anisor Short and Sweet, who won at Puppy level in 1964. The History of Bostons from the late 1960's is continued below.

The French Bulldog and Boston Terrier Today

Boston TerrierBoston Terrier

Although both breeds are brachycephalic, smooth coated and have naturally short tails, they have three important distinguishing features separating them. These are

    1. Size: The modern French Bulldog (affectionately known as 'the Frenchie') is a more solidly built dog than the elegant square Boston Terrier, with the Frenchie weighing up to 28 pounds (12.7 kg) for a dog and 24 pounds (10.9 kg) for a bitch, while a Boston dog or bitch must not exceed 25 pounds (11.4 kg)
    2. Colour: The Frenchie may come in the different colours of brindle, pied or fawn, while the Boston only comes in brindle, seal or black with precise white markings.
    3. Ear Shape: The Frenchie has unique 'bat' ears while the Boston's ears should be small and erect.

Comparison between the French Bulldog and Boston Terrier

French Bulldog Boston Terrier
Skull Large, square and almost flat, with sufficient wrinkle to show the dog's expression. Muscles of cheeks well developed Square and flat with no wrinkle, cheeks flat
French BulldogFrench Bulldog

Boston TerrierBoston Terrier

Stop Well defined Well defined
Muzzle Short, square, broad, deep and slightly turned up, with cushioned upper flews meeting the lower flews and completely hiding the teeth. Nose black and wide Short, square, wide and deep with no wrinkle, not exceeding one-third of skull length with parallel head planes. Nose black and wide
Mouth Undershot. Tongue must not protrude Sufficiently undershot to make the muzzle look square. Tongue must not protrude
Eyes Moderate size, round, set relatively wide apart Large, round, set square and wide apart
Ears 'Bat Ears' of medium size wide at the base and rounded at the top. Set high and carried upright and parallel with the orifice facing the front Small, carried erect and set on the corners of the skull
Neck Powerful and thick but not too short Long enough to balance the body and carry the head gracefully
Forelegs Set wide apart, straight, strong, muscular and short with absolutely sound pasterns Set moderately wide apart, straight with short, straight pasterns
French BulldogFrench Bulldog Boston TerrierBoston Terrier
Feet Small and compact with well knuckled toes and short, thick preferably black nails Small round and compact with short nails
Body Broader at the shoulders, narrowing slightly behind the ribs to a strong muscular loin. The ribs are well rounded and deep giving a gently roached topline Short, making the whole dog look square, level topline curving slightly to the set on of tail. Chest wide and deep with well sprung ribs
Hindquarters Longer than forelegs, strong and muscular with moderate angulation Balancing forelegs but strong and muscular with good angulation
Tail Undocked, naturally short and set low, thick at the root and tapering, preferably straight Undocked, naturally short and set low, thick at the root and tapering, straight or screw
Gait Free flowing, soundness of utmost importance Moves with an impression of determination, strength and activity with a style of high order. His carriage conveys ease and grace, with his fore and hind legs moving straight ahead with perfect rhythm
Colour Brindle, pied or fawn always with black eyelashes and rims, but never tan, mouse or grey/blue. Brindle is a mixture of black and coloured hairs. A brindle dog may be white with brindle markings so long as the brindle predominates. A pied is when the pied dominates and the white is clear. The fawn may contain brindle hairs Brindle, seal or black with precise white markings. (Note -'seal' is a shade of black that has a red sheen when viewed in bright sunlight). The Boston must have a white muzzle band with a blaze between the eyes and a white forechest. However, he looks much smarter if the white blaze is evenly placed between the eyes and extends over the head to a white collar, and there is also white markings on all four legs

References and Further Reading

Also Published as

Jane Harvey - 'Toy Bulldogs from Extinct to Modern' in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) Issue 6, 2015 Page 8

[1] Robert Leighton "The Book of the Dog" published circa 1907 Subscriber's Edition, The Waverley Book Co. Ltd. Volume 1 Chapter 111 'The Miniature Bulldog' P 52 - 55 written by Lady Kathleen Pilkington

[1a] Ibid., 'The French Bulldog' written by Frederick W Cousins M.C.R.V.S; F.Z.S. Chapter IV, Pages 57 - 60

[3] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner. Published 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne (Imports) Page 84

[4] 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 , Page 145; French Bulldog by Elizabeth Davidson Page 145 and Boston Terrier by Elaine Bond Page 67

[5] Arthur R Huddleston, 'The Boston Terrier' published by Delingers Publishers Ltd, Box 76 Fairfax Virginia 22030 1987, SBN 0-87714-096-0, Page 14

[6] J Maxtree 'Popular Dog Keeping' published by L. Upcott Gill, Bazaar Buildings, Drury Lane, W.C. 1909; Chapter II Choice of a Breed, Page 28

[7] Material and photos supplied by Peter and Tammy O'sullivan from the Estate of Betty O'sullivan

The History of Boston Terriers in Australia (Continued)

Boston Terrier c 1980Boston Terrier c 1980

Later, Mrs Joyce Hedley imported Gaystocks Whiskey Moll, Gaystocks Vera Vodka, Parkraine Solitare and Ch Folly Frolic Gay Boy from UK into New Zealand and in the late 1960's brought all her Bostons across to Australia. Also in the late 1960's Mrs Hedley brought Anjas Wards Black Prince from Texas to UK and when he was living there he sired Balleris Bunny Whitefoot and Ch. Anjas Afterthought which all finished up back in Australia! Then Josie Everson of the famous Beau Jenn Boxer Kennels in Victoria brought out the first English Champion Boston, Ch Courtbarton Navylark (imp UK) which mated to the New Zealand bitches, established Bostons in Victoria. After 1970 Elaine Bond (nee Hrobat) established the Bostonway Kennels in NSW and Sue Sutherland concentrated her already established Baronrath Kennels on Bostons in Victoria. These two ladies have piloted the breed in Australia ever since.

Thanks to Sue Sutherland for the above information on the History of Boston Terriers in Australia.


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