Boston Terrier: Your Complete Dog Breed Information Guide

portrait of Boston Terrier dog close up dark background

The Boston Terrier is a breed that embodies a true American gentleman in the canine world. Recognizable by their tuxedo-like black and white coat, this breed’s roots lie deep in the history of the United States. They were first developed in Boston, Massachusetts, which is where they get their name. Affectionately known as “The American Gentleman,” Boston Terriers are small, muscular dogs with a smooth coat, a short, square face, and a cheerful demeanor.

Owning a Boston Terrier means having a lively and highly intelligent companion. With their friendly disposition and expressive eyes, they have won the hearts of many dog lovers. They typically show a balanced temperament, being neither too aggressive nor overly shy. Their strong build and energetic nature make them excellent playmates and family pets. Additionally, they are adaptable to both spacious homes with yards and cozy apartments, given the appropriate amount of exercise. When it comes to training, their intelligence and eagerness to please make them quite receptive to learning new commands and tricks.

So, What Is A Boston Terrier? Dog Breed Overview

Boston Terriers are a breed known for their distinctive tuxedo-like black and white coat, giving them a dapper appearance. You might recognize these dogs by their compact size and friendly, spunky demeanor. Originating in the United States, Boston Terriers have a rich breed history which includes a blend of English Bulldog and White English Terrier ancestry.

This combination has resulted in a breed that’s both athletic and sociable. Their flat faces and large, round eyes make Boston Terriers easily recognizable and endearing to many. These dogs are often described as highly intelligent and eager to please, which can make training a rewarding experience. Although they love to play and be active, their moderate energy levels mean they’re also content to lounge around with you.

Healthwise, they are known to be a sturdy breed, but potential owners should be aware of common issues associated with brachycephalic breeds, such as respiratory problems. It’s also noteworthy that Boston Terriers can be susceptible to certain eye conditions, so regular veterinary check-ups are a must to maintain their well-being.

If you’re looking for a loyal companion with a charming personality, the Boston Terrier may be the perfect fit. They’re well-suited to a variety of living situations, from apartment life to homes with yards, proving their adaptability. Just be prepared for a friend who demands your affection and is always ready to entertain you with their playful antics.

Boston Terrier Origin and History

Black and white Boston Terrier and trotting on grass

While the Boston Terrier is often confused with the French Bulldog, they are really their own unique and very different breed.

Ancestral Breeds:

What breeds make a Boston Terrier dog? The Boston Terrier, often referred to as the “American Gentleman” due to its tuxedo-like coat, emerged in the United States. This charming dog is a product of crossbreeding between the English Bulldog (or the original Boston Bulldog that has been recreated as the Olde Boston Bulldogge) and the now-extinct White English Terrier. The objective was to create a breed that retained the strength of the bulldog and the liveliness of the terrier.

Historical Significance

The history of the Boston Terrier begins with a dog named Judge, owned by Robert C. Hooper, who is often credited for the breed’s inception. Judge’s offspring, through selective breeding, laid the foundation for the Boston Terrier breed we know today. Unlike their ancestors known for dog-fighting, Boston Terriers were bred to be companions, marking a significant shift in their role within society.

The Breed Today

Boston Terriers have evolved from their pit-fighting origins to become affectionate family pets. Known for their friendly nature, they are compact, well-muscled dogs with a smooth coat, a short head, and a balanced body.

Kennel Club Recognition

In 1893, the American Kennel Club (AKC) formally recognized the Boston Terrier as a breed. This recognition helped stabilize the breed’s standards and increased their popularity across the United States.

Your Boston Terrier may no longer be a fighter but a loving companion, reflecting a rich history shaped by a blend of breed influences and cultural shifts. Meanwhile, for enthusiasts interested in mixes of Boston Terriers with other breeds, the French Bulldog Boston Terrier Mix provides insights into the delightful Frenchton, a blend that inherits traits from both parent breeds.

Physical Characteristics

black and white Boston Terrier puppy

The Boston Terrier is a charming and intelligent breed with a distinct, dapper appearance. Let’s take a closer look.

Size and Build

Boston Terriers are strong, compact dogs with a balanced physique that gives them a square appearance. They come in three weight classes:

Weight ClassWeight in PoundsWeight in Kilograms
Under 15 poundsUnder 15 lbsUnder 6.8 kg
15 to 20 pounds15-20 lbs6.8-9.1 kg
20 to 25 pounds20-25 lbs9.1-11.3 kg

Boston Terriers should look sturdy, neither fragile nor coarse, with muscle and bone mass that contribute to a well-structured form.


Your Boston Terrier’s head is in proportion to its body, reflecting its intelligence. Its expression is alert and kind. The ears are small and erect, contributing to the breed’s attentive look. Correct proportion of body length to leg length is crucial to achieve the breed’s signature square profile, making them neither too leggy nor too low to the ground.

Coat and Colors

The short coat of the Boston Terrier is smooth, bright, and fine in texture. When talking about their coat, a range of colors comes into play: brindle, seal, or black, all tastefully accompanied by white markings which include a white muzzle band, a blaze between the eyes, and a white forechest. A well-marked Boston Terrier might remind you of wearing a tuxedo jacket due to the white collar and the elegant placement of white on the legs. The brindle coat pattern is particularly striking, often sought after for its playful stripes. Keep in mind that a dog with a solid black, solid brindle, or solid seal coat without the required white markings would be a disqualification in breed standards.

Temperament and Personality

When you think about adding a Boston Terrier to your family, it’s important to understand their unique temperament and personality traits. These dogs are known for being friendly, affectionate, and quite lively, which makes them excellent companions.

General Disposition

Boston Terriers are often described as gentle and friendly. You’ll find that they have a happy disposition that is both outgoing and playful. Their spirited nature is balanced with a sense of affection towards their family members, making them well-suited for a loving home environment.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

If you have kids or other pets, you’ll be pleased to know that Boston Terriers are generally very gentle with children and can be quite playful, making them a joyful addition to a household with kids. As for other pets, they can be sociable and are typically good at making friends with other furry family members, given proper introductions and socialization.

Common Behavioral Traits

While Boston Terriers are usually friendly with family, they can sometimes be a bit stubborn. This means you’ll need some patience when training them. It’s good to note their sensitivity; they respond well to positive reinforcement and can become valued companions. They may initially be reserved around strangers, but they warm up quickly. Their behavior around the house tends to be lively yet manageable, as they dearly love playtime and quality moments with their humans.

Health and Care

When considering a Boston Terrier as a pet, understanding their specific health and care requirements is essential to ensure a happy, healthy life.

Average Lifespan

Boston Terriers typically live between 11 to 13 years. Your care, along with regular veterinary check-ups, can contribute greatly to reaching this full lifespan potential.

Common Health Issues

Boston Terriers are brachycephalic, meaning they have short noses and flat faces, which can lead to breathing issues. This trait also predisposes them to Brachycephalic Syndrome, which might require medical intervention. Glaucoma is another concern within the breed, as it can lead to blindness if unaddressed. Similarly, Cherry Eye and Cataracts can also afflict these dogs, potentially affecting their eyesight. Always watch for signs of Hemivertebrae, spinal issues that can cause severe pain or even paralysis.

Other health issues like Patellar Luxation, where the kneecap dislocates, Entropion, the rolling in of the eyelids, and Ear Infections are also common. Special attention should be given to signs of Deafness, as Boston Terriers can be prone to hearing problems. Regular ear checks are vital to prevent complications from ear infections that could lead to hearing loss.

Preventative Care Tips

To maintain your Boston Terrier’s health, provide them with daily exercise suited to their energy levels. Although they are lively, avoid overexertion to prevent breathing difficulties. Grooming is relatively straightforward; a bath when necessary, nail trimming, and regular brushing to manage shedding will suffice.

Diet plays a crucial role in preventing health problems. Ensure your Boston Terrier eats high-quality dog food appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. Additionally, dental care is critical, so incorporate teeth cleaning into their routine.

Regular visits to your veterinarian for check-ups and vaccinations are a cornerstone of preventive care and will help catch any potential health problems early. Keeping a close eye on your Boston Terrier’s health and promptly addressing issues as they arise can lead to a long, fulfilling life together.

Exercise and Housing Needs

Exercising Boston Terrier dog

So, what do you need to know about Boston care and maintenance?

Daily Exercise Requirements

You’ll want to give your Boston Terrier a good amount of exercise each day. They need at least one brisk walk daily but will be happier with two. Playtime helps, so throw in a game of fetch or tug-of-war to keep them active and engaged. Despite their small size, remember they can be quite energetic and benefit from both mental and physical stimulation.

Space Requirements

Boston Terriers are adaptable and don’t require a huge backyard. They are just fine living in an apartment as long as they get their regular exercise. Don’t make the mistake of leaving them cooped up all day, though. And when inside, they need room to play and explore, so enough space for toys and movement is essential for their well-being.

Suitable Living Conditions

Your Boston Terrier will be happiest in a home where they can spend a lot of time with you. They are social animals and thrive on companionship. Moderate temperatures are ideal since they don’t do well in extreme heat or cold due to their short noses — an important point to consider in maintaining their health. If your home is too warm or too cold, it may impact your pup more than you think. Keep their living area comfortable, safe, and filled with love to ensure they’re the happy, healthy dogs they’re meant to be.

Training and Socialization

Now, are Boston Terriers smart?


Boston Terriers are known for their high intelligence and eager-to-please attitude, making them highly trainable. Your Boston Terrier’s sharp brain needs both mental stimulation and regular physical exercise to stay sharp.

  • Start with simple commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.”
  • Use positive reinforcement; treats work well!
  • Keep training sessions short but consistent.

Socialization Needs

Early socialization helps mold a well-behaved companion. Introduce your Boston Terrier to a variety of people, animals, and situations.

  • Plan playdates with other dogs.
  • Visit new environments often.
  • Expose them to different sights and sounds.

Behavioral Training Tips

Avoiding behavior issues involves obedience and agility training to keep their minds and bodies active.

  1. Obedience: Stick to regular training routines.
  2. Agility: Consider courses to challenge their athleticism.
  3. Advice: Always be patient and consistent with your training.

Regular training and rich socialization experiences are key to a happy and well-adjusted Boston Terrier.

Diet and Nutrition

Dietary Needs

Your Boston Terrier’s diet is a cornerstone of their health. These dogs are energetic and need a balanced diet rich in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to maintain their energy. Look for dog foods with high-quality animal proteins as the first ingredient to support muscle health.

  • Proteins: Essential for muscle and tissue growth.
  • Fats: Needed for energy and to absorb certain vitamins.
  • Carbohydrates: Provide fiber and help keep your dog full.

Feeding Schedule

Younger Boston Terriers need to eat more frequently. Puppies should have 3 to 4 small meals per day. As your dog ages, this can shift to twice a day. Consistency is key, so try to feed your dog at the same times every day.

Typical feeding times might be:

  • Morning: 7 AM
  • Evening: 6 PM

Special Dietary Considerations

Boston Terriers can have sensitive stomachs. If your dog is experiencing digestive issues, consider feeding a diet formulated for sensitive stomachs, which may include novel proteins. It’s important to avoid foods that may cause allergies or intolerances, which sometimes include common proteins like chicken or beef.

  • Avoid excess table scraps and high-fat treats.
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s weight to prevent obesity.

Remember, your vet is a great resource if you need help tailoring a diet to your Boston Terrier’s specific needs.

Grooming Needs

Red and white Boston Terrier in harness

What do you need to know about this dog’s grooming requirements? Even though the Boston’s grooming requirements are quite low, they still need some regular care.

Grooming Frequency

You should brush your Boston Terrier at least once a week to keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding. Their short hair can still shed quite a bit, so regular brushing will help keep your home fur-free.

Grooming Tools

For your Boston Terrier, you’ll need a few basic things:

  • Brush: A soft bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt is perfect for their short fur.
  • Nail clippers: Keep your pup’s nails trimmed to avoid overgrowth and splitting.
  • Ear cleaner: Regular ear checks and cleaning will prevent wax buildup and infections.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Dental care is crucial, so brush their teeth regularly.

Grooming Tips

  • Skin wrinkles: Wipe the face daily to keep it clean, focusing on the skin folds to prevent infections.
  • Bathing: Bathe your Boston Terrier once a month or as needed. Use a gentle dog shampoo that won’t dry out their skin.
  • Eyes: Their prominent eyes can gather dirt, gently wipe around them with a damp cloth to keep clean.
  • Nail clipping: Frequent nail trims are important. If you hear clicking on the floor, it’s time to trim.
  • Positive reinforcement: Treats and praise during grooming can make it a positive experience for your Boston Terrier.

Cost of Ownership

Initial Cost (Boston Terrier Puppy Price)

When you decide to welcome a Boston Terrier into your life, the initial price for a puppy can vary widely. Depending on the breeder, location, and lineage, you might find prices ranging from around $600 to over $1,200. If you’re considering adoption, costs may be lower, and you might just find a brindle-coated cutie waiting for you. Adoption fees can be considerably less and usually cover some initial veterinary expenses.

Ongoing Costs

Once your Boston Terrier is home, be ready for ongoing costs. These are some of the expenses you’ll need to plan for:

  • Food: Expect to spend $20–$40 per month on high-quality dog food.
  • Routine Vet Visits: Yearly checkups are typically about $50–$100.
  • Pet Insurance: Monthly premiums can be $30–$50 but can save you from unforeseen vet expenses.
  • Grooming: Boston Terriers are low-maintenance, so grooming may be under $30 each visit.
  • Toys and Accessories: Toys, bed, leash, and collar can start at $50 and go up from there.

Remember, unexpected costs may pop up, especially if your Boston Terrier runs into health issues. It’s always wise to set aside some funds for emergencies.

A note on healthcare: Some Boston Terriers have specific needs due to their breed characteristics. For instance, cesarean sections are fairly common in Boston Terriers, which can add to the cost of breeding and potential health care for your dog.

Be prepared and budget accordingly to ensure a happy, healthy life for your furry friend!

Adoption and Buying Tips

So where can I buy a Boston Terrier puppy?

Where to Adopt/Buy

When you’re looking to bring a Boston Terrier into your home, you’ve got two main paths: adoption or purchase. If you’re leaning towards adoption, animal shelters and rescue organizations are great places to start. By adopting, you could offer a second chance to a dog in need. Consider visiting websites like the Boston Terrier Society or the Boston Terrier Club of America, which might guide you on adoption.

When it comes to buying a puppy, choosing a reputable breeder is crucial. Websites such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) showcase certified breeders who prioritize the dogs’ health.

What to Look for in a Breeder

An ethical breeder is transparent about their breeding practices and prioritizes the well-being of their Boston Terriers. They should provide health clearances and allow you to visit their facility. It’s a good sign when breeders are knowledgeable about the breed and can discuss the joys and challenges of raising a Boston Terrier.

Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog

When selecting a Boston Terrier, consider the dog’s temperament, which should be friendly and approachable. Have a look for clear eyes, a clean coat, and observe their interaction with siblings and people.

Ethical breeding practices It’s vital to support breeders who abide by ethical practices. This means they should be focused on improving the breed, avoiding inhumane conditions, and providing proper health care. An ethical breeder will not shy away from discussing how they raise their dogs and manage genetic issues specific to Boston Terriers.

By following these tips, you’ll be on the right track to finding a Boston Terrier that suits your lifestyle and supports responsible dog ownership.

Breed-Specific Considerations

Where to Adopt/Buy

When looking to welcome a Boston Terrier into your life, it’s important to find a reputable place, whether it’s a shelter or a breeder. Shelters may have Boston Terriers in need of a loving home. By adopting, you could offer a second chance to a dog that could become an affectionate companion.

What to Look for in a Breeder

If you decide to buy a Boston Terrier from a breeder, make sure they follow ethical breeding practices. A good breeder will prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs. They should be open to answering your questions, show transparency about their breeding practices, and provide health clearances for the puppies. This ensures you get a healthy, well-socialized puppy accustomed to family life.

Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog

Boston Terriers are small, friendly, and affectionate dogs, ideal for families including those with kids. When selecting your pup, look for signs of good health and an easygoing temperament. This makes integrating into your family smooth and provides companionship and playfulness. You might want a more energetic one or maybe a calm lapdog; spend time with the puppies to see who matches your lifestyle best.

Ethical Breeding Practices

Ethical breeders will screen for common health issues in the breed, such as BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome), which can be a concern for Boston Terriers. Discussing the welfare of the breed, a breeder should be well-versed in breed-specific health considerations and work towards reducing such problems in their litters.

Remember, Boston Terriers are non-sporting and family-oriented dogs. They are inherently friendly and make excellent companions and watchdogs. Despite their small size, they’re full of personality and eager to become an integral part of your home.

50 Best Names For A Boston Terrier

Choosing the perfect name for your Boston Terrier is a fun process! Here’s a list that’ll fit their unique personalities:

Classic Names

  • Baxter
  • Daisy
  • Gus
  • Bella
  • Oscar

Sporty Names

  • Sprinter
  • Champ
  • Ace
  • Jersey
  • Blitz

Elegant Names

  • Winston
  • Duchess
  • Bentley
  • Pearl
  • Sterling

Funny Names

  • Biscuit
  • Waffles
  • Pickles
  • Tater
  • Muffin

Inspired by Boston

  • Harvard
  • Fenway
  • Quincy
  • Liberty
  • Beacon

Cool Names

  • Luna
  • Zoey
  • Harley
  • Ivy
  • Rocco

Names That Scream “Cute”

  • Peanut
  • Button
  • Pippin
  • Bubbles
  • Tinkerbell

Loyal Companion Names

  • Shadow
  • Buddy
  • Duke
  • Fido
  • Faith

Names That Emulate Personality

  • Sparky
  • Jolly
  • Mischief
  • Dynamo
  • Jester

Color-Themed Names

  • Cocoa
  • Tux
  • Peppercorn
  • Snowball
  • Ember

Your Boston Terrier’s name can reflect its character, appearance, or heritage. Have fun picking out one that suits your furry friend the best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Boston Terriers are a popular breed, and you might have a lot of questions about them. This section aims to answer some of the most common inquiries to help you get to know these energetic and affectionate dogs.

What kind of personality can I expect from a Boston Terrier?

You can expect a Boston Terrier to be lively, intelligent, and friendly. They are known for their affectionate nature and love of play, making them great companions.

How much do Boston Terriers usually cost?

The cost of a Boston Terrier typically ranges from $600 to $1,200 but can vary based on factors like location, breeder reputation, and lineage. Sometimes medical expenses and initial supplies can add to this cost.

What are the main pros and cons of owning a Boston Terrier?

Pros: Boston Terriers are adaptable, suitable for apartment living, and have a friendly disposition.

Cons: They can be prone to certain health issues like brachycephalic syndrome and require regular socialization to prevent overly territorial behavior.

How big do Boston Terriers get when fully grown?

Boston Terriers generally weigh between 10 to 25 pounds and stand about 15 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder when fully grown.

What colors do Boston Terriers come in?

Boston Terriers come in a variety of colors, including brindle, black and white, and seal with white markings.

Are Boston Terriers known to be good with families?

Yes, Boston Terriers are known to be good with families. They typically get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized, making them a lovable addition to many homes.

Final Thoughts

When you’re considering bringing a Boston Terrier into your life, you’re looking at a companion who is as dapper as they are devoted. This breed is known for its tuxedo-like coat and friendly demeanor. Your Boston Terrier might not be a fan of vigorous exercise, but they’ll happily join you for moderate walks.


  • Social: You’ll find that your Boston Terrier loves being around people. They’re great for families!
  • Adaptable: Whether you live in an apartment or a house with a yard, your dog will be comfortable.
  • Unique: From the unleashing the charm of a unique coat pattern, each Boston Terrier brings their own flair to your life.

Remember, like all breeds, Boston Terriers have their specific needs. Pay attention to their eyes, as they can be prone to health issues. However, there’s no need to worry excessively — regular check-ups with a vet will help keep your Boston Terrier in tip-top shape.

Lastly, your Boston Terrier may not be the descendant of pit fighters as they were once used in the past; today’s Boston Terriers are a far cry from those origins. Instead, you’ll find a gentle and loving friend. It’s important that you give them lots of love, attention, and the occasional treat. In return, you’ll receive unquestioning loyalty and companionship. Isn’t that something to look forward to?

Dr. Sara Kim, DVM

Dr. Sarah Kim combines her veterinary expertise with her passion for Boston Terriers in a warm, engaging manner. Alongside her own Boston Terrier, she offers heartfelt advice and insights drawn from personal experience. In her book, she welcomes readers into the Boston Terrier Hub world, sharing her professional knowledge with the warmth of a friend to both pets and their owners.

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