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Boston Terrier

General Description:

Originally bred for ratting and companionship, today’s Boston has settled into the role of companion and is now a devoted little dog who is eager to show that devotion. This “All American Gentleman” was born and bred in Beantown in the 1870’s from an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier and has been recognized by the AKC since 1893.
The Boston Terrier is a compact dog easily recognized in his dark coat with crisp white markings. He has a short head and tail, the muscular body typical of bull-and-terrier breeds, a short coat and a lively character. The Boston skull is square, his eyes round and wide apart and his ears pointed and carried erect at the corners of his skull. His nose is wide and black; his muzzle is short; and his jaw is broad and square with an even or slightly undershot bite.


There are no significant differences in the size of male and female Boston. The ideal Boston is 12-14 inches tall but can be lightweight (under 15 pounds); middleweight (15 – 20 pounds); or heavyweight (over 20 pounds).


While other colors do exist, AKC recognizes only the colors of black, brindle or seal with white markings, a white muzzle band, face blaze and white fore chest are required; a white collar and white markings on the legs are also desirable.

Energy Level:

Some experts contend that while healthy Bostons don’t need lots of exercise they do enjoy walks and games of fetch. However, most will find them to be usually active and playful and require daily exercise. Puppies, especially, are very high energy. Their friendly character makes them a favorite companion dog, especially for elderly owners and apartment dwellers. However, since they love games and children, they are a fine family pet as well.

Life expectancy:

Bostons usually live between 12 and 16 years.


As previously mentioned they make a good family pet. As with any animal young children need to be taught responsibility and should not be allowed to tease or harass.

Other animals:

The Boston is not quarrelsome, bold or domineering like many other terriers.


The intelligence of a Boston makes them ideal in obedience or agility competition but they may exhibit a stubborn streak so be patient. While they make great competitors an owner should be aware that since Bostons have respiratory problems caused by their shortened muzzles, trainers should avoid methods that rely on collar tugs to force the dog into position and instead use praise, toys and treats to guide the dog into position.


Bostons are indoor dogs. They do need an occasional bath and as with all dogs their nails should be kept trimmed. The Boston coat, with its low dander requires minimal care and shedding is at a minimum.


While the Boston doesn’t have any major health issues an owner should be aware that they are susceptible to some ailments or injuries common to dogs with short muzzles and prominent eyes and may have a genetic predisposition to several diseases and structural abnormalities. They wheeze and gulp air, so can develop intestinal gas and respiratory problems, especially in hot weather. Their eyes are easily infected or injured

Best with:

Anyone who has the time and love to give.

Not for:

Children who have not been taught responsibility and proper handling of small animals.


Bostons are loyal companions who enjoy snuggling as much as they do playing. Give this little dog a spot on your bed or your lap and you’ll be rewarded with Boston kisses. These dogs are equally as great for families or single persons. They are wonderful, loyal companions, full of energy when it’s required but a laid back lap dog when the situation requires it.


They have what may be considered a “reverse sneeze”. It’s not harmful but it may be scary the first time it’s heard by humans. Flatulence may also be a problem but may be lessoned with a daily spoonful of yogurt.

Further Information:

Boston Terrier by Alma Bettencourt
Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds by D. Caroline Coile.

Breed Details

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