Pug vs. French Bulldog: Breed Differences & Similarities

by Sonya | Last Updated:   April 30, 2021

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Pug vs. French Bulldog: choosing between these two adorable dogs is a tough decision for anyone to make. To fully understand how the two breeds compare we will review their size, appearance, temperament, exercise requirements, training and grooming needs, and overall health.

Let’s explore the similarities and differences of the French Bulldog and the Pug.

Pug puppy and French Bulldog puppy, 8 weeks old, hugging in front of white background

Pug vs. French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is a medium-to-small sized compact dog with a muscular body. They have a relaxed attitude and are considered one of the best companion dogs in the world today. The glamorous Frenchie likes to play, but they also enjoy spending their days relaxing on the couch. They are loving companions who thrive on human contact.

The Pug is simply charming and clownish with a playful and charismatic personality. They are cute, compact, mischievous, and bred to be lap dogs. Needless to say, they are often described as “a lot of dog in a small package.” Pugs thrive on human companionship and can make for a great apartment pet. Pugs are clowns at heart, but they carry themselves with dignity. They love to be the centre of attention and do not like being ignored.

StatsPugFrench Bulldog
Dog Breed GroupToy GroupNon-Sporting Group
Average Height10-13 inches11-13 inches
Average Weight14-18 poundsunder 28 pounds
Energy LevelModerateModerate 
Temperament Charming, Mischievous, LovingAdaptable, Playful, Smart
AKC Breed PopularityRanks 28 of 197Ranks 4 of 197
Life Expectancy 13-15 years10-12 years

Which is Better: Pug or French Bulldog?

Both the Pug and French Bulldog are crowd pleasers! They are both lovely, friendly dogs, who adore human companionship. There is no right or wrong choice, only what is right for you based on your personal taste and lifestyle.

Although the French Bulldog is the more popular of the two breeds, coming in 4th place compared to the Pug at 28th, there are far more important factors to consider.

Whichever breed you decide on, buy your puppy from a responsible and reputable breeder who has conducted essential health screening of the puppies and their parents. Alternatively, if you are adopting ensure that you are going to a reputable and well-known rescue facility. 

Size Differences

The French Bulldog is slightly bigger than the Pug, albeit not by much. They are similar in size but Frenchies are a bit heavier and more muscular.

The Pug ranges from 10 to 13 inches in height and weighs 14-18 pounds.

The French Bulldog measures 11-13 inches and weighs under 28 pounds (males weigh 20 to 28 pounds while females average 16 to 24 pounds).

Both of these breeds are small enough to be suited to apartment living. They typically don’t need much space outside to run around in although they would enjoy the occasional walk.

Both breeds are also big enough that they can live in a household with a toddler. Both Pugs and French Bulldogs are well-suited for families with children and have good temperaments.

Pug vs. French Bulldog: Physical appearance

Let’s compare the physical appearance of Pugs and French Bulldogs.

Colour: French Bulldogs come in a variety of colours like a white, cream, fawn and various shades of brindle. Pugs generally come in two colours; black or fawn.

Coat: The Frenchie’s coat is short, fine, and smooth, whereas the Pug’s coat is thicker with a coarser texture.

Flat face: Both Frenchies and Pugs are brachycephalic breeds and people are attracted to them for their cute smooshy faces.

Both Frenchies and Pugs are flat-faced dog breeds. Their skulls are shorter and wider, leading to the well-known appearance of a flattened snout.

Wrinkles: Both the Pug and Frenchie have loose, wrinkly skin. Pugs have more deep wrinkles than that of the French Bulldogs.

Nose: Both breeds have extremely short noses with broader nostrils. Their tiny nostrils, long palates and narrow tracheas can cause breathing problems.

Ears: French Bulldogs are known for their distinctive ‘bat’ ears. Frenchies’ ears are moderate in size and stand erect on their head. Pugs have floppy ears that are less pronounced. Their ears can feel quite velvety to the touch!

Tail: Frenchies have a short, straight tail while Pugs have a short curly tail.

Grooming Differences

Both breeds have short coats and are fairly easy to groom.

  • Bathing: The Pug and the French Bulldog require occasional baths with a high-quality canine shampoo. Over-bathing is not recommended for these dogs.
  • Wrinkle cleaning: Both the Pug and French Bulldog need regular cleaning of their wrinkles to prevent infections. Their wrinkles can become home to germs, dander, and dirt. If allowed to become dirty, they will become a hotbed of infections. Use cotton balls or wipes to wipe out the wrinkles and folds.
  • Ear cleaning: Once a week, check your fur buddy’s ears and, if needed, clean inside the dog’s ear with a cotton ball and a gentle cleanser. 
  • Dental hygiene: Like other small breeds, Pugs and Frenchies can be susceptible to gum disease. Regular teeth brushing with a small, soft toothbrush and canine toothpaste will help to prevent gum disease and remove bacteria and tartar buildup. 

Your regular grooming and careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early. When you groom your Pug or Frenchie, look inside its mouth and ears. Check for signs of allergies or infection like rashes, redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin. 

Make grooming a positive experience for Frenchies and Pugs, filled with praise and rewards.

Pug dog walking forward with grey background

Which is a Healthier Breed: Pug or French Bulldog?

The average life expectancy of a Pug is 12-15 years while a Frenchie has an average lifespan of 10-12 years. Both breeds can be prone to respiratory problems due to their short muzzles. Their short, flat noses make it difficult for them to tolerate heat or fluctuations in air temperature.

Pugs are generally healthy but, like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. They are particularly prone to eye problems due to their large, bulging, protuberant eyes. Let’s have a look into some of the common health problems that may affect a Pug:

  • Cheyletiella Dermatitis (Walking Dandruff)
  • Pug Dog Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Dry Eye
  • Eye Problems; such as; Proptosis, Distichiasis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and/or Entropion
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Allergies
  • Staph Infection
  • Yeast infection 
  • Hemi-Vertebrae
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Legg-Perthes Disease
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Vaccination Sensitivity

Some of the health problems that may affect a French Bulldog are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
  • Hemivertebrae
  • Allergies
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Cleft Palate
  • Elongated Soft Palate

Like Pugs, Frenchies too are prone to eye-related problems.

As you can see, the list for Pugs’ health issues is quite a bit longer than those of a French Bulldog.

To minimize your risk of ongoing health issues with your pup, always buy from a reputable breeder who follows good breeding practices. Ask the breeder to show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. It is also always a good idea to invest in Pet Health Insurance (opens new tab); in the event of health issues with your pet you will be glad you did!

blue french bulldog

Differences Between a Pug and French Bulldog?

Both French Bulldogs and Pugs are loveable and share a lot of similarities. While these two dogs have many comparable qualities, there are some differences you should be aware of.

Tolerates Being Alone

Both Pugs and French Bulldogs can become scared and find it difficult to stay alone or cope with isolation. Even if you leave them with interesting toys, treats, and a safe place to relax; they will still crave human companionship to feel happy. 

However, both breeds can be trained to stay in comfortable areas of the house when you leave. A French Bulldog or Pug should not be left alone at home for more than 4 to 8 hours, even when you have left enough food, water, and a safe place to relax. 

Easy to Train  

Pugs are not overly stubborn but definitely have big personalities. When training, they have the reputation of being rather difficult to train. Pugs can easily get distracted during training sessions. You need to use positive reinforcement techniques to teach your little one to concentrate on you.

French Bulldogs are easy to train, but they can also be stubborn. They are intelligent and usually eager to please, but also free thinkers. Frenchies are also notoriously difficult to housetrain. Positive reinforcement is vital when it comes to French Bulldogs. Try to make the training interesting with lots of fun, toys, treats, and prizes.

Intelligence 

Pugs are of average intelligence. They may not have high instinctive intelligence, but they possess a high level of adaptive intellect. Pugs have a big personality and don’t always obey a known command on the first try.

French Bulldogs are intelligent but stubborn dogs. They are bright and adaptable to living conditions. 

Both breeds need socialization and early training to avoid bad habits from setting in.

Energy Levels 

Pugs and Frenchies have fairly low energy levels, although there are exceptions to every rule. Despite moderate energy levels, they crave the outdoors and enjoy a bit of playtime.

If you prefer a couch potato, either a Pug or a Frenchies is perfect for you. However, you can expect both Pugs and French Bulldogs to have a lot of curiosity and energy as a puppy. 

Kid-Friendly 

Both breeds are child friendly, but the Frenchie is the more kid-friendly between the two. French Bulldogs can be protective around small children, so it’s best to socialise your Frenchie with other dogs and humans at a young age.

Pugs are gentle with children and make good play buddies, but only as long as they are socialized adequately from an early age.

Dog Friendly 

Pugs and Frenchies typically get along well with other dogs and other animals. Both are fairly laid back dogs.

However, Pugs are natural attention seekers and do not want other pets to take attention away from them. You should socialize them adequately right from puppyhood.

Affectionate with Family

Both Frenchies and Pugs are known for being affectionate and friendly. They have lovely, gentle personalities and can each make great family pets.

Pug and French Bulldogs love to spend time with their owners. These adorable dogs tend to follow their owners around everywhere they go. If socialized properly in puppyhood, both breeds make a superb family dog. 

Stranger Friendly

French Bulldogs and Pugs are social butterflies and considered “friendly towards strangers”. They are not bred as guardians or watchdogs. 

Pugs and Frenchies can each be very protective over their family but are also very friendly around strangers. So, they will not naturally be wary or hostile toward strangers and are probably not the best option for a guard dog (if that is what you’re after)!

Tolerates Hot and Cold Weather

Both these dog breeds can overheat quite easily and are very sensitive during cold weather as well. Pugs and Frenchies are brachycephalic canines. They may experience overheating and laboured breathing during hot weather.

Make sure you get a good coat and/or booties for your Pug or Frenchie if you will be spending any time outside during cold weather. 

Good for Novice Owners

Both Pugs and Frenchies are a good choice for novice owners. They require less exercise and grooming than larger breeds. Both breeds are adaptable and will fit in with most owners. Pugs and Frenchies are not athletes and are content to curl up on the couch with you to fall asleep watching Netflix.

Pugs and Frenchies are friendly, funny, loyal, adorable, and relatively easy to care for. Both can easily adjust to the lifestyle of their owners. However, Pugs have big personalities, and they’ll think of themselves as big dogs if you let them.

Sensitivity Level

Both Pugs and French Bulldogs have an average emotional level and are not the most sensitive dogs. Both breeds simply love to be involved in their family and need that sense of belonging.

Neither of these adorable little dogs take criticism lightly. If you scold a French Bulldog or a Pug, it might take it very seriously to heart and mope around the house as a result. Both French Bulldogs and Pugs respond better to positive reinforcement and encouragement than negative reinforcement or punishment.

Exercise Requirements

Exercising your dog plays an essential role in long-term health and is a vital part of overall care. Being brachycephalic breeds, both Pug and French Bulldog have low exercise requirements.  

Pugs do best with some daily exercise to help with their weight problems. At a minimum, Pugs should have 2 20-minute sessions of exercise per day. Pugs need low-intensity exercises such as walking, fetching, or playing in a fenced yard. 

You should expect to participate in daily exercise sessions with your French Bulldog. They need regular exercise to improve their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. At a minimum, Frenchies need less than 20-minute sessions of exercise per day.

When it comes to French Bulldogs, playing a few games or a short walk around the block every day should be more than enough to keep them in shape.

Pugs and French Bulldogs are not meant to be jogging companions. Both these breeds are perfect for small living spaces and busy urban lifestyles.

As both Pug and French Bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds, they can each suffer from breathing issues with high-intensity exercises. Due to their flat faces, they are easily predisposed to respiratory issues. Avoid vigorous exercises in extremely hot weather as it can lead to overheating, which can sadly be fatal.

Play Potential

French bulldogs are extremely playful and fun-loving dogs. They enjoy spending time and playing with their human companions and with children. They generally like to relax throughout the day with some moments of play in between naps. They must be taught to play nicely from puppyhood.

Pugs are also highly playful, making them a popular dog for families with or without children. They can form solid bonds with their humans. This friendly companion magnificently combines comedy with dignity.

In Closing

Before purchasing or adopting a Pug or Frenchie, it is important to understand that as a pet parent you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of your fur buddy. You must take a look at your lifestyle and how accommodating it would be for the Pug or Frenchie.

Both Pugs and Frenchies are simply heart stealers! These little guys each have amazing personalities and adorable distinctive looks. They do have a long list of potential health problems, but with proper care, they can live a healthy life and can reach or exceed their average life expectancy. 

They’re both very loveable small dog breeds and you’ll be happy with either one. We’d love to hear which one of these lovable dogs you’ve decided to bring home!

Sonya is a software engineer by day and recently earned her MBA degree, but she also loves spending her free time writing about her favourite passion, dogs! Click here to read more.
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