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What is a Frenchton? One parent, the French bulldog, is considered the clown of the dog world. The other, a Boston terrier, wears a dapper tuxedo suit that's earned him the nickname of "American gentleman" (but looks can be deceiving because Bostons are quite silly, too). When these two breeds mix, the result is a charismatic Frenchton with a double dose of goofiness in his DNA. His variety act includes snuggling, bursts of playfulness followed by naps (with a chorus of snoring), and goofy antics that, if caught on camera, could just become one of those viral funny pet videos.
These endearing small dogs (they're about 15–25 pounds) make great companions for families and can fare well as apartment dwellers. French bulldogs and Boston terriers rank high on the list of most popular dogs in the U.S., but Frenchtons are still making a name for themselves and remain somewhat of a rare crossbreed.
"With a big personality packed into a little body, these fun-loving and happy pups quickly turn foe into friends," says Colleen Demling-Riley, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, dog behaviorist with Dogtopia. "They are very social but have a laid-back vibe, so they prefer a relaxed afternoon at the park or a dog-friendly establishment over a long jog in the neighborhood." (Frenchtons are brachycephalic, meaning they have a smooshy face, and that short snout means they're not endurance athletes!)
The hybrid dog can make fun and entertaining pets for a variety of homes and families.
Like all mixed breed dogs, the appearance of Frenchton puppies (even from the same litter) can be a wild card. But, in general, the Frenchton size is small, and these dogs have compact bodies. They may not look like the most athletic dogs, but they do tend to be muscular with a jaunty gait (translated, their speedy, low-to-the-ground zoomies look like they've been training for the NFL combine).
Frenchtons weigh between 15–25 pounds, which is pretty darn close to the average size of Boston terriers, and their height is 11–15 inches, which mimics the Frenchie frame. Two distinctive Frenchie features are their bat ears (a built-in Halloween costume) and half-flat, half-domed skull. On the Boston side, a quizzical, intelligent gaze is a defining feature, in addition to the tightly worn tuxedo coat that's best accented with a bow tie collar. Eyes are round and black or brown.
Because both Frenchie and Boston parents have a squished-up face, it's a given that a Frenchton will inherit this adorable smooshy feature.
Frenchtons tend to have a short, shiny, easy-to-care-for coat that needs a twice-a-week brushing. These dogs can come in a variety of colors including white, black, red, blue, brown, or cream. Some inherit the tuxedo suit from their Boston lineage; others are brindle. Most often Frenchtons have a combo of colors on their coats, though.
Boston terriers have a needle-like coat that doesn't shed all too much; but Frenchies' sleek coats tend to shed just a tad more. Therefore, a Frenchton can shed a little … or regularly.
Frenchtons inherit some of the best traits from their Frenchie and Boston terrier parents and have a happy-go-lucky attitude.
In a nutshell, "they are friendly, sociable, outgoing, and affectionate" dogs, says Jen Jones, a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist who runs Your Dog Advisor. Because of this, they can make great dogs for first-time pet parents.
Frenchtons are notably great family dogs and get along well with children and other household pets, including cats, Deming-Riley says. Because adults weigh 15–25 pounds, young kids will need to be supervised when around their Frenchton family pet so they don't accidently hurt the small-statured pup, she says.
These dogs will love a brisk walk, some quality time with their pet parents, and toys to play with. Once they're worn out, they'll morph into snuggly, snoring couch potatoes.
Frenchies tend to be described as chilled-out dogs, but Bostons are lively and more high-energy. Just how much exercise full-grown Frenchtons need could vary from dog to dog. But a perfect day for a Frenchton would include a brisk walk, playing with some toys, plus some treats and snuggles … lots and lots of snuggles.
They don't tend to be natural swimmers because of the Frenchies' front-heavy structure. (If you're near water, life jackets are a must for these dogs!) But they might enjoy splashing around with some water toys.
Because they are social dogs, they're a good fit in a home where they can get plenty of attention and be a part of your daily routine. You won't find them hanging outside in the yard all day—they don't do well in weather that's too hot or cold. Instead, they like to be inside, spending some quality time with their humans.
"They love to hang with their families and accompany them on outings, but given their short stature, they aren't up for all-day hikes and hours of activity," Deming-Riley says.
As a fairly low-energy dog with an easy-going personality, these pups are a good fit for apartment living and novice pet parents, she says.
Frenchtons are easier to groom than many other dogs thanks to their short, sleek, low-maintenance coats. However, they should be brushed once or twice a week. A soft-bristle brush or rubber grooming mitt can help collect their loose hairs, and this brushing ritual helps to distribute skin oils to keep their coat healthy and shiny.
Frenchtons will also require a bath about once a month, giving extra attention to those smushy-face wrinkles so they don't get infected. Regular nail trims and a good tooth-brushing routine are also imperative. Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to periodontal disease because their teeth are close together, so daily brushing and regular dental cleanings could help your pet keep a healthy mouth.
Exercise needs can vary by Frenchton as their parents have different activity levels. Boston terriers can be high energy and need a couple walks a day plus playtime, while Frenchies prefer an outdoor play session or short walk. A daily walk and some play time should do the trick with Frenchtons, but be mindful that this flat-faced breed shouldn't overexert themselves in hot weather.
As far as training goes, Frenchtons are smart, but they're also a little mischievous (you can see hints of this in their gaze!).
"Frenchtons are sweet in nature, but some do have a [willful] streak when it comes to listening to their pet parents," Deming-Riley Riley says.
Training with positive reinforcement, some patience, and socializing your Frenchton puppy when he's young is a winning formula for having a well-rounded, responsive pet, Deming-Riley says. Because they're known to love treats and being the center of attention, keeping training treats on hand could be a key to training success (along with head pats and belly rubs).
Because this is an intelligent crossbreed, set aside some time for mental stimulation and watch your Frenchton work food puzzles like a pro!
The lifespan of Frenchtons is 12–15 years, which is longer than that of French bulldogs and Boston terriers.
Frenchtons are brachycephalic dogs, which means they have short noses. "These smaller snouts make it difficult for a pup to cool themselves efficiently through panting," Deming-Riley says. "They must be watched closely for signs of overheating."
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Deming-Riley says Frenchtons are also prone to the health issues of both the French bulldog and the Boston terrier.
Bostons' prominent eyes can make them susceptible to eye health issues. They also have some issues with their knee joints, including patellar luxation, which causes kneecaps to slip out of place. French bulldogs, on the other hand, can develop Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Disease, which can obstruct airflow and cause dogs to snort and snuffle.
"However, since the two breeds are mixed, this reduces the risk of the Frenchton developing serious respiratory, eye, and digestive issues," Deming-Riley says.
While Boston terriers and French bulldogs may have been bred together in the past, the Frenchton emerged as a hybrid dog in the United States in the mid-1990s. But the Frenchton's parent breeds both have lengthy, fascinating histories.
The French bulldog can be traced back to Nottingham, England, where lace makers kept these small bulldogs to chase away rats in their small working quarters. The French eventually fell in love with this tiny bulldog, and the breed became popular among Parisian artists, actors, and celebs. They also gained fans in the U.S., and the French Bulldog Club of America formed in 1897.
Back in the 1860s (and before the Boston terrier became the mascot of Boston University and the official dog of Massachusetts), a bulldog and the now-extinct white English terrier were crossbred in Liverpool to create a muscular dog named Judge, according to the Boston Terrier Club of America. An American purchased Judge in 1870, brought the dog to Boston, where he sold Judge to fellow Bostonian Robert C. Hooper. Known as "Hooper's Judge," the dog became the patriarch of the Boston terrier breed.
- The hybrid breed has lots of nicknames that borrow from the names of both breeds. They include: Boston Frenchie, Boston Bulldog, Faux Boston terrier, Frenchbo, and Frenchie terrier.
- Don't let the names fool you. Both Frenchton's parents (the Boston terrier and the French bulldog) have stories that begin in ... England.
- Because they're a hybrid breed, Frenchton puppies—even from the same litter—can look completely different. One may be donning a tuxedo coat while another could be brindle.