These three breeds are quizzical, lovable, and totally snuggable. Can you tell them apart?

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Trying to compare a pug vs. French bulldog vs. English bulldog is like pondering if you want ice cream or more ice cream: no matter what, there's complete goodness. 

Genna Mize, DVM, is a staff technical services veterinarian at Virbac Animal Health. She says all three of these breeds are great, fun-loving family companions. She adds that pugs are full of personality—just funny, entertaining dogs who love to love. English bulldogs are courageous, tenacious, and friendly all packed in a bruiser build. "However, full disclosure here: I'm biased because I have a Frenchie," she says. She adores this breed's shocking intelligence and clown-like nature, "as if they're trying to make you laugh!"

Each one of these endearing doggos has devotees, because while they share similar faces, they also have unique individual qualities which make them totally shine! Let's take a closer look at these sweet mugs.

An Introduction to the Pug, French Bulldog, & English Bulldog Breeds

Flat-faced breeds like these three can be found all over the world, and all have fascinating histories.

Pug

Black pug wearing a striped shirt looking out car window with her owners smiling in the back
Credit: Indeed / Getty

Bred to be true companions, pugs are one of the oldest Chinese dog breeds. More than 2,000 years ago, emperors and other royalty favored these animated pups. Ancient legends even suggest that their wrinkles resemble Chinese language symbols for good luck. Does this mean they're quite accustomed to living lush lives and being adored? Maaaybe! Totally quirky but clever and full of licks and cuddles for their people, pugs are super with children of all ages, especially once they've graduated from puppy kindergarten.

French Bulldog

Two French Bulldogs sitting in Central Park
Credit: Jessica Peterson / Getty

Just what is it that makes the French bulldog currently the 2nd most popular dog in America? A certain, how you say, je ne sais quoi. Although originally from England and considered a toy bulldog crossbreed, this sparky fireplug took Paris by storm in the 1800s, and became a status symbol in both high and low society circles. Charming, smart, and playful, Frenchies are easily the life of the party, so early socialization and training activities with you get their tails wagging.

English Bulldog

woman being kissed by her english bulldog in a park
Credit: Maskot / Getty

Although their ancestors were fighters, modern English or British bulldogs are perfectly content to be lovers. 'You do you' is the bulldog's motto, and while these sweethearts aren't lazy, they're also not, um, ambitious. Got a couch? Great! House full of kids? No problem. Want to amble across the yard and back again? Daily exercise goals met. But like all good dogs, he responds best to positive reinforcement training, and might surprise you with a special trick or two.

Similarities and Differences Among the Pug vs. French Bulldog vs. English Bulldog

Now for the moment of truth: just how to tell these three delightful doggies apart. Fortunately, this chart might help. Take a peek!

pug vs English Bulldog vs French Bulldog Comparison infographic
Credit: Yeji Kim / GlobalP / ClarkandCompany / Svetography / Getty

Yeah, seeing them all together like this kinda makes ya go "awwww!" in a big way! Here are some additional pointers when you're comparing a pug vs. French bulldog or, if you're totally enamored with bullies, a French bulldog vs. English bulldog.

Size

One reason why these pooches are such family favorites is while they might sprawl all over you, they generally don't take up a lot of room. For example:

  • Pugs, while roly-poly, only weigh 14–18 pounds and are about 11–13 inches tall. They fit perfectly in adorable bike baskets where they can enjoy passing scenery.
  • French bulldogs are also 11–13 inches tall, but slightly heavier at 16–28 pounds. To have the best window view, they might need a car booster seat while cruising down the highway with you.
  • English bulldogs are more wide than tall, weighing 40–50 pounds and standing 14–15 inches high. He'd enjoy the farmers' market from the chill perspective inside a comfy stroller—as long as you feel like pushing him! (Oomph!)

Appearance

Pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs each look dashing, but here's how to tell the differences between them:

  • Pugs are double-coated dog breeds with tight curly tails, and have either apricot, fawn, tan, or silver coats with a black mask, or they're all black. They're a bit longer in the forelegs, too.
  • Frenchies are short-haired and nub-tailed, and flash multiple coat colors, such as white, cream, fawn, black, and black and white, plus a speck more flair with brindle, flecked, speckled, or ticked patterns.
  • English bulldogs are also short-haired breeds, sporting coat colors of white, fawn, and red. They also like to bust out a few stylish patterns, such as brindle, flecked, speckled, or ticked. This big boi has the broadest chest of the three and a suggestion of a tail.

Ears

When you see these three running hither and yon in the dog park, it's really easy to tell who's who:

  • Pugs' ears flop to the side like a rain-soaked blowout. Awwww!
  • French bulldogs have those famed bat ears—all the better to hear squirrels with, my dear!
  • The ears on bulldogs are somewhere in-between: floppy but slightly angled in the direction of a rattling treat bag.

Health

The snorts, snerks, and snores of pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs might be adorable to most fans of flat-faced pups, but you need to take great care with them. As brachycephalic breeds, they have shorter muzzles and skulls than other dogs, which creates narrow, restricted airways. This means they sometimes have trouble breathing, especially when it's hot and humid.

"Because these dogs have very limited sweating capabilities—primarily only through their paws—they rely on respiratory mechanisms to maintain their body temperature. This is what your dog is doing when panting," Mize says. "Dogs in general have a tendency to overheat but brachycephalic breeds in particular are at high risk of heatstroke."

Mize adds that unfortunately, there's a tradeoff for these irresistibly cute companions. "They're more prone to suffer from a plethora of health conditions including skin issues, eye problems and back problems," she says. "I cannot overemphasize the importance of acquiring these dogs from someone who is a true preserver of the breed, and doing your research when considering one of these dogs."

Do French bulldogs shed like pugs? Not by a long shot. Pugs definitely put your robot vacuum to the test! Oh, and watch out for the drool! Frenchies and English bulldogs have quite a bit of it.

Should You Get a Pug, French Bulldog, or English Bulldog as a Pet?

We think each of these mushy mugs deserve oodles of snugs, but it's essential to pick a pup that fits your lifestyle.

  • If you'd adore a spunky pup who goes the distance, pugs are one the longest living dog breeds (13–15 years!), and become fast pals with other dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets. 
  • Not to be outdone, French bulldogs will be by your side for 10–12 years, and slip into an apartment or urban living vibe rather easily because they don't need a yard or a lot of space to be content.
  • Easygoing English bulldogs will hang out just about anywhere for 8–10 years, especially if there are children in the house.

"I think all the breeds listed above are wonderful dogs. Great for families or those living alone seeking canine companionship," Mize says. "Dogs add so much value and enrichment to our lives, and we are so lucky to have them!"

Now that you're so savvy with these pups, test your eagle eye on these other canine look-alikes!