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So You Want a Boston Terrier?

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If you’re looking for a fun, lively, playful four-legged companion, a Boston terrier may be the right breed for you.

Wherever you go, his stylish tuxedo jacket coat will stand out. 

But you don’t need to go to an elegant event to have your dapper Boston accompany you. 

Boston Terrier mouth open

He’s a happy little guy who’s up for any new adventure.

So, if you’re a social butterfly, a Boston terrier can be a great addition to your family.

Keep reading. I’ll tell you the positive–and negative–traits of the breed to help you decide whether a Boston terrier fits into your life.

27 Facts About Boston Terriers:  What’s Good About Them and What’s Bad About Them

1. Bostons are in the AKC Nonsporting Dog, not Terrier, Group and Are Known as the “American Gentleman”

As a happy, outgoing dog who loves everyone, his impeccable manners have earned him the nickname of the “American Gentleman.” 

Bostons are gentle, charming dogs who have never met a stranger. 

They get along with people, well-behaved children, other friendly dogs, and dog-friendly cats.

They can have a protective nature, so make sure that you socialize them as a puppy and throughout their lives so that they are true to their welcoming nature.

So, if you want a friendly dog who will welcome everyone he meets, a Boston may be for you. 

2. They Don’t Require a Lot of Exercise

Two brisk walks a day and some indoor play will satisfy a Boston’s exercise needs. 

And don’t forget to play with them, as they require a lot of attention from their humans. 

Puzzle toys added into their daily routine will also help meet the exercise needs of these intelligent, playful little dogs. 

All dogs need enrichment activities. But if Bostons don’t have it, they can become bored and destructive.

Lucy taking a nap

3. Originally Bred from Fighting Dogs, Current Boston Terriers Are Lovers, Not Fighters

In the 19th Century, the popularity of blood sports led to the breeding of bull-type dogs with terriers to produce dogs who excelled at pit fighting and ratting contests.

In the late 1860s, a cross between a bulldog and the now-extinct white English terrier resulted in a dog named Judge, a muscular, tough dog weighing about 32 pounds. 

Eventually Judge was brought to Boston in 1870 and sold to Robert C. Hooper (becoming known as “Hooper’s Judge”).  

Over time, selective breeding led to a sweeter, smaller companion dog now known as the Boston terrier. 

4. Boston Terriers Were Named in Honor of the Town Where They Were Carefully Bred

The Boston Terrier Club of America was formed in 1891. Two years later, they became an AKC-registered breed.

5. Boston Terriers Require Little Coat Maintenance

A Boston’s short coat requires only weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush, rubber grooming mit, or hound glove to remove loose hair and stimulate his skin for optimal health. 

Bathe only as needed. 

They are light shedders.

6. The Many Shades of Bostons

There are many recognized colors to choose from:

  • Black and white
  • Black, brindle, and white
  • Brindle and white
  • Seal and white
  • Seal, brindle, and white

7. Boston Terriers’ Tough Look Belies Their Sweet Temperament

They are muscular, compact dogs with erect ears, a square head, and a slightly arched neck. 

Broad-chested with a short tail, Bostons can have a “tough-guy” appearance. 

But their temperament has been described as friendly, outgoing, silly, mischievous, and playful.

Properly bred and raised, a Boston terrier never met a stranger.

8. Bostons Are Great Travel Companions

Bostons are compact, portable, sturdy dogs who can adapt to many situations.

They weigh between 12 and 25 pounds and stand from 15 to 17 inches at the shoulder. 

They are comical, friendly dogs who are always up for a new adventure. 

So you can easily have your Boston walk with you to new places or even take him along in a carrier or carriage made for dogs.

With smaller dogs–especially short-muzzled ones–I recommend walking them in a harness.

9. They Come in Three Sizes

Boston terriers come in the following sizes: 

  • Under 15 pounds 
  • 15 pounds and under 20 pounds
  • 20 pounds and not to exceed 25 pounds 

10. Bostons Hit the Big-Time: Famous Boston Terriers

  • The Boston terrier has been the official mascot of Boston University for about 100 years
  • In 1979, the breed was named the official dog of the state of Massachusetts
  • Sergeant Stubby, who has been referred to as a Boston terrier or American bull terrier mix, was awarded a gold medal as a war dog of the United States’ 102nd Infantry in World War I–making him the first dog ever to earn a rank in the Army. 

He is credited with saving his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, and finding and comforting wounded soldiers. 

Stubby died in 1926, being revered as the United States’ greatest war dog.

  • In 2012, the Guiness Book of World Records recognized a Boston terrier named Bruschi as being the dog with the largest eyes, each eye being 1.1 inches, or 28 mm., in diameter.
  • In 2017, photos of Lennu, the Boston of Sauli Niinisto, the President of Finland, went viral as he accompanied Niinisto to less formal appearances.

11. Bostons Have Long Lives

If you’re looking to have a canine buddy who has a long life expectancy, a Boston can fit the bill. 

They have a life expectancy of 11 to 13 years.

12. Their Flat Faces Cause Them to Be Prone To Certain Problems

Boston Terrier, Lucy on the bed
Cute Lucy

Bostons are a brachycephalic breed, which means that their head is both broad and short, resulting in small nostrils, long palates, and a narrow trachea. 

This can lead to brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, which can result in severe respiratory distress. 

They are also at risk in extremes of temperature and humidity. 

So, if it’s too hot out, make sure that your Boston relaxes inside comfortably in the air conditioning. 

They also are prone to snoring, so get ear plugs if your Boston sleeps with you. 

As a short-muzzled breed, they are also prone to a reverse sneeze in which the dog snorts and gags for no more than a minute or two to clear mucus. 

Though not harmful, a reverse sneeze is frightening to hear. 

Because of his flat muzzle and large eyes, he is also prone to eye injuries.

13. They Have Other Potential Health Problems To Be Aware of

All breeds can have certain health problems. 

Make sure that you get your Boston from a reputable breeder or rescue group

But a Boston, because of his flat face, is prone to eye injuries such as corneal ulceration. 

They are also prone to cataracts and glaucoma. 

Congenital deafness occurs more in Bostons than in some other breeds. 

They are also prone to patellar luxation in which the kneecap slips out of place, often necessitating expensive surgery so that the dog doesn’t suffer.

14. Bostons Tend To Put on Excess Weight

They can be beggars. 

So don’t give in to their large puppy-dog eyes begging for food or they can easily become obese. 

15. They Tend To Have Dental Problems

As is true with many brachycephalic breeds, they are more likely than some breeds to experience dental problems. 

So regular teeth brushing and veterinary care can help prevent dental disease.

16. Check Their Eyes Regularly To Avoid Problems

Check your Boston terrier’s eyes for signs of redness or irritation. 

Because of their prominence, their eyes are prone to problems from dust, pollen, or low humidity.

17. They’re Popular

They’re the 24th most popular AKC breed out of 284 breeds.

18. They Make Great Therapy Dogs

Because of their friendly, stable, love-everyone temperament, a Boston can make a great therapy dog.

19. They Make Great Trick Dogs

They love to be with people and love to learn. So a Boston can be a great trick dog to show off to your friends.

20. They Need a Reliable Recall

Because of their innate friendliness and desire to greet everyone, it’s important to teach a Boston terrier a reliable recall should he become free.

21. Not Just Another Cute Face, Bostons Are Versatile

They can excel in agility, obedience, flyball, rally, weight pulling, barn hunt, tracking, and lure coursing. 

These activities can also help expel any excess energy.

22. Bostons Are More Expensive than Many Breeds to Breed

In addition to performing eye (CERF), hearing (BAER), and other genetic testing such as for normal patellas (knees) on the breeding stock, Bostons are expensive to breed. 

They often require C-sections for the puppies to be born, which requires a vet and is expensive.

23. They Can Develop Separation Anxiety

Although any breed can develop separation anxiety, Boston terriers are more prone to it than some breeds. 

They are very people-oriented and require a lot of time with their families in order to be happy and thrive.

24. Bostons Can Be Destructive If Left Alone Too Long

Because of their need to be with people, Bostons can become destructive if left alone too often or too long.

25. Socialize Them or They Can Develop Problems

Because they bond so much to their pet parents, if not properly socialized, a Boston can become protective of his owners. 

This can lead to aggressive and territorial behavior towards other people and animals. 

So make sure that you socialize the dog.

I trained a Boston named Lucy who had become too protective of one of her pet parents. 

She would go after people who tried to get near the owner. 

Unfortunately, she hadn’t been socialized and didn’t have limits set for her. 

Fortunately, Lucy was very young and her owner realized that she needed guidance. 

We worked with basic commands, impulse control exercises, and conditioning exercises to show that people were positive and not a threat. 

Success! Lucy happily lived with her pet parents for many years.

26. Bostons Require Training To Not Become Nippy

Boston terriers are active, friendly, playful dogs. 

And they tend to jump and belcome nippy in greeting and playing with people if not trained not to. 

So make sure that you teach your Boston basic commands, impulse control exercises, and how to properly greet people.

27. There Are Valuable Resources To Find a Great Boston Terrier

Lucy cuddling up on blanket
Lucy cuddling up on blanket

You may decide to get a Boston terrier from a breeder or rescue one.


I’m thinking about getting a Boston terrier but I live in an apartment. Would it be a good choice? 

Yes. As long as you give your Boston a couple of walks and some indoor play every day, you should meet his basic exercise needs.

And don’t forget training and enrichment with puzzle toys too because they are intelligent dogs who can become bored.

They are not a “barky” breed. Bostons shouldn’t be left alone for too long or they can develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.

As terriers, are Bostons aggressive? 

No. Although their history is that they were bred from various terriers, modern-day Bostons are in the nonsporting group and are bred to be companions.

A well-bred, socialized, and trained Boston should be very friendly to everyone.

We have three young children. Is a Boston a good family dog? 

Yes. A well-bred, socialized, and trained Boston can be a great family dog.

Bostons are friendly to people and very playful. So they make great companions to respectful children.

Final Thoughts

Boston terriers are small, friendly, lively dogs who don’t require a lot of exercise or grooming.

They aren’t noisy dogs and are adaptable, and can live in apartments or the suburbs. 

So if you want a portable travel buddy, a Boston can be a good choice.

Are you still thinking about getting a Boston?

Or have you decided a Boston terrier isn’t the right dog for you?

Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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So You Want A Boston Terrier? - Boston standing in dirt with tongue hanging out.

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