Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is also known as the "American Gentleman". Because of the Boston's lively, smart, affectionate, and even temperament, the nickname is well-earned. These handsome little dogs are a delight to have around. A Boston Terrier is a generally easy-going dog that will fit in to many types of households. While they are active and playful, they're also happy to snuggle and relax. They do require a decent amount of exercise, but that can easily be acheived with leash-walking, though a run-around off-leash is fun for this exuberant breed. The Boston Terrier is usually happy to meet new friends, though proper socialization for puppies is always important.

There are a few important considerations when taking your Boston on out and about adventures. First of all, Boston Terriers have very flat muzzles which cause them to be prone to heatstroke during hot weather. In addition to this breathing issue, Boston's are prone to respiratory issues that can be exacerbated by pulling on a collar or leash - leash training and using a harness are recommended. Finally, if you're taking your Boston out on a cold day, he may need a sweater or jacket. His short coat means he gets especially cold.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Boston Terrier breed is also commonly known by the names Boston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier, Boxwood, American Gentlemen.

Popularity: Popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 14 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Dogs (AKC), Utility Dogs (KC)

Size: Small

Male Female
Height 15 - 17 in 15 - 17 in
Weight 9 - 24 lbs 9 - 24 lbs


Colors: Black, Brown, White

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Not a heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Definitely

Good with other pets: Average

Intelligence / Trainability: High

Exercise needs: High

Tolerates being alone: Average

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Extremely sensitive

Good for novice owners: Yes

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very low

Barking: Average

General health: Good

Cost to keep: Average


The Boston Terrier is an American dog, originating in the United States. Sometime around 1870, Robert C. Hooper purchased a dog from Edward Burnett. The dog, known as "Judge", would later be called "Hooper's Judge" and would become the foundation of today's Boston Terrier.

Judge was considerably larger than today's breed - according to The Complete Dog Book, Judge was "a well-built, high-stationed dog" weighing about 32 pounds. He was a dark brindle color with a white blaze on his face and a square, blocky head. Judge is thought to be either directly related to the original Bull and Terrier breeds of the 19th and early 20th centuries, or the result of modern English Bulldogs being crossed into terriers in the 1860s for show purposes. These larger dogs were eventually bred down in size with dogs like the French Bulldog.

In the 1800s, the breed became fairly popular and the American Bull Terrier Club was formed. In the late 1800s, the name was changed to the Boston Terrier Club and was admitted into the American Kennel Club - with the distinction of being the first US breed to be recognized. It was also the first non-sporting breed bred in the US.


Boston Terriers are energetic, intelligent, sturdy, and handsome little dogs with an endearing personality.
Typical characteristics are:

  • A square head, prominent eyes, small, erect ears, and a short muzzle with a black nose.

  • Balanced, short, and strong body.

  • A straight or screwed tail, carried low.

  • A short, tapering tail is carried at or below horizontal.

  • A short, close, bright coat.

  • A variety of colors including: brindle, seal, or black with white markings. .



Boston Terriers are generally intelligent, and can quickly grasp basic commands. However, because of a stubborn streak, they can be a little difficult to train to train. Treats, play, and a kind and consistent hand will help encourage this fun-loving dog. Crate training is recommended to assist with housetraining.

As intelligent dogs, Boston Terriers will need an outlet for their intelligence and energy. Playtime and walks will help prevent your dog from acting out in undesirable ways like chewing, barking, etc.


For small dogs, Boston Terriers have a lot of energy. They are bright, fun-loving, and always ready for playtime or to go with you on an outing or adventure. However, it doesn't require a ton of daily exercise to tire them out. A walk around the block is generally enough.

Because of their short muzzles, Boston Terriers may have more difficulty breathing in extreme temperatures. Be very mindful when exercising your dog in hot or cold weather. They also have short coats and can get very cold in the winter. Protective outerwear may be required in cold weather.

Exercising your Boston Terrier puppy requires a few special considerations. Bostons have an increased risk of hip dysplasia. Avoid exercising on slippery surfaces and climbing stairs under the age of 3 months. Exercise is needed, however, as strong muscles will increase the stability of the hip joint. Outdoor exercise on soft, uneven grounds seems to have a lower risk. Try to avoid exercise that involves running, jumping and playing on hard surfaces until the age of two.


Though a Boston Terrier may tolerate short periods alone, they are friendly, social dogs and will enjoy as much time as possible with their owners. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own.


Boston Terriers are generally friendly and because of their small size, they are not well-suited as guard dogs. However, keep in mind that every puppy requires proper socialization to new people and animals.

Living Conditions

Boston Terriers are small dogs who are not especially prone to barking, are fairly calm indoors, and are generally friendly with neighbors (both human and animal). Therefore, they tend to make excellent apartment pets. Of course, they will be happy in a larger home, as well.

They do have flat muzzles, which means they snore and drool, and also means they will need a cool, air-conditioned place in the summer. With their short coats, they can also get cold in chilly weather. Boston Terriers are definitely indoor dogs.

Children and Other Pets

Frenchies do well with children, and unlike tinier dogs, it is safe to have them in a home with toddlers and small children.That said, extra care should be taken, especially with young children (under the age of 6).

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

No dog, regardless of breed, should be left unattended with young children.

In general, Boston Terriers get along very well with other dogs and pets, especially if they are properly socialized as puppies.Occasionally, they may become territorial with other dogs. Special care needs to be taken when introducing a new puppy to your other pets. It needs to be done slowly and very careful to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that it is a calm, positive experience for the puppy.


The average life expectancy of a Boston Terrier is between 10 - 14 years. Like all breeds, the Boston Terrier is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Boston Terrier is prone to these diseases:
  • Reverse sneezing (hereditary)
  • Megaesophagus (hereditary)
  • Allergies (hereditary)
  • Brain tumors (hereditary)
  • Hereditary deafness (hereditary)
  • Heart Murmurs (hereditary)
  • Patellar Luxation (hereditary) : Patellar luxation is a very common orthopedic disorder in dogs. A patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated or slips out of its normal position. More info»
  • Cherry eye (hereditary)
  • Cataracts (hereditary)


Boston Terriers don't require intensive grooming. They need to be brushed two to three times a week, to keep any shedding under control; with their short coat, it's very easy. Boston Terriers have large, prominent eyes that need to be washed carefully every day and checked for irritation and redness.

They don’t really need a bath too often, once a month should suffice. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs. Boston Terriers may not wear their nails down on their own. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.


1/2 to 1.5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Boston Terriers are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Special attention is needed when feeding puppies. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a burden but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

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