Boston Terrier

Dog Breeds List » Dog Breeds » Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier Facts

  • Breed Type: Purebred
  • Size: Small
  • Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
  • Temperament: Friendly, Intelligent, Lively
  • Colors: Black and White, Brindle and White, Seal and White
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Related Dog Breeds:
    • French Bulldog
    • Boston Terrier
    • Pug

Boston Terrier drawing by Dog Breeds List

The name Boston Terrier is actually kind of deceiving. These pups aren’t classified as terriers at all, but instead are part of the non-sporting group. So you don’t have to worry about that terrorizing terrier temperament!

On the contrary, most Bostons are sweet, cuddly, and clownish. They’re also eager to please and are very adaptable to their owner’s lifestyle.

But beware:

The Boston is also noisy.

And I’m not referring to barking. Most dog breeds bark.

But the Boston Terrier does just a little bit more…


The Boston Terrier is a cross breed between a bulldog and Englih White Terrier (a breed which is now extinct).

The initial cross breeding event happened sometime in the 1860s. The result of this event was the first Boston Terrier, named Judge.

In 1870, Judge was sold to an American named William O’ Brien who brought him to Boston, MA where the dog was sold to another Bostonian named Robert C. Hooper.

Judge is the patriarch of all true Boston Terriers today.

The historical records of Judge show that he was a bulky fighter type dog. Judge was mated with a smaller white terrier named Gyp. It was from their offspring and years of cross breeding that spawned the gentle loving little gentlemen that we know and love today.

Since then, the Boston Terrier (like most purebred dogs) has been extremely inbred. 

The “American Bull Terrier” was the original name of the Boston Terrier.

The name of the dog was officially changed in 1891 in honor of the origin city of these wonderful dogs. The American Kennel Club followed up two year later in 1893 registered the first dog of this breed.

This dog became the official mascot of Boston University in 1922. 

As of 1979, the Boston Terrier became the official dog of the state of Massachusetts.

These little balls of energy are the pride of Boston and currently ranks around #20 in breed popularity, according to the AKC.

Are Boston Terriers Good Family Dogs?

Yes, most Boston Terriers are great family pets.

Boston Terriers have individual personalities, and each one is different.

Be sure if you are looking for a Boston Terrier that you take the time to meet them. Bring along all your family members to make sure that their personality will be the right one for your family.

If you have a family with young children a Boston Terrier that is a little more energetic might be a good idea. It will allow your kids to expend energy while giving your dog a positive outlet for energy.

If you are an older adult looking for a docile dog to sit on your lap, or cuddle with grandma, there are Boston Terriers with the demeanor you are looking for. 

And seriously, those big ol’ eyes, how can you resist?!  They are just asking for your love.


Each Boston Terrier has its own personality and its own set of physical limitations.

Boston Terriers are typically very low maintenance dogs.

With the exception of potty training!

…and some health issues common to Bostons.


The great things about Boston Terriers is they are small and do not require much food.

However, like all breeds, these dogs need quality food and exercise. This means investing in the best dog food for Boston Terriers based on their age.

You should always provide fresh clean water at all times for your dog.

Excessive amounts of treats may cause your dog to become overweight. Although they may be a good training tool, treats should be given in moderation.


Boston Terriers have a short single coat.

This is great for owners of this breed.

Now that I have your attention…here’s why:

Because single coat hair breeds like the Boston Terrier tend to shed little. This means less hair to clean up and lower maintenance for their owners. 

Weekly brushing with a rubber mitt or soft bristle brush is the key to keeping the Boston Terrier’s coat well maintained. Brushing helps to stimulate the hair follicles and spread the dog’s natural oils through its coat.

Bathing about once every month one or two months to keep him smelling fresh would be good for your dog. The only reason for more frequent brushing would be if you pup gets into something particularly smelly.

Like all dogs, Boston Terriers need to have their nails trimmed regularly. This will keep your dog free from unnecessary pain when walking or running.


Each Boston Terrier has different exercise needs. But on average:

One 30 minute walk per day will suffice for most Boston Terriers, then the rest of the day be your lap dog.

More energetic Bostons may need significantly more exercise including a few brisk walks and some games of fetch.

For those that need more exercise, these fun and challenging exercises are great ways to keep your pup’s energy in check:

  • Flyball
  • Rally
  • Agility 

Boston Terriers love to play and games like these and fetch will keep your pooch busy for hours.


Boston Terriers often take longer to potty train that other dog breeds.

These dogs however will be your best friend as long as you have patience in training them.

Let me repeat that:

Patience really is the key to training Boston Terriers.

They are eager to please, but they also have a sensitive side.

Training with treats can be a great tool.

But anytime you are training with treats, make sure to use them sparingly so as not to make your dog overweight.

Due to their sensitivity, gentle correction should be followed by lots of love and plenty of praise.

Boston Terrier Health Issues

Boston Terriers are prone to many health problems.

The three most common issues include eyes, breathing, and knee problems.

You can read the full statement on this breed from the Boston Terrier Club of America here.

Like all squishy faced dog breeds, Boston Terriers can experience breathing problems when exposed to excess heat and or humidity.

Common Boston Terrier health problems include:

  • Cataracts
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Glaucoma
  • Deafness
  • Patellar luxation

Things to Know About the Boston Terrier

1. Little Guys With Big Eyes

Despite their small size, the Boston Terrier has the largest eyes of any dog. 

Bruschi the Boston Terrier was crowned with the largest eyes by the Guiness Book of World Records in 2010. 

At four years old, Bruschi’s eyes measured 28mm in diameter. 

2. Great Dogs for Children

These little guys are the perfect dog for children and first time owners. They have an easy going nature that is perfect for both young and old.

Since these guys are eager to please, they are easily trainable. 

Some Boston Terriers have trained to ride skateboards, balance on their hind legs, and other advanced tricks.

3. They Can Have Three Different Tail Shapes

Despite their short tails which are typically less than two inches they can have three different tail types.  

Like most dogs they can have straight tails which are cute in themselves.

But they can also have a tail that is curly.

As if that was not enough, their cuteness could be only accentuated by their corkscrew type tails.

4. The Name is Deceiving 

So these guys are not really from Boston.

Their roots can be traced back to England. Yet, the breed was refined in Boston.

But also, Boston Terriers are not Terriers either. They are registered through the AKC as part of the Non-Sporting Group.

These dogs are closer to bulldogs than to any terrier breed.

5. They are Sensitive

Like some other breeds, Boston Terriers play off the emotions of their owners.

If your home has people who are consistently loud people your Boston may get use to it. But if there is someone that is overly emotional, someone that has constant mood swings. Expect your pooch to have swings in their emotions too.

Have hyper children, your baby Boston will likely be hyper too. 

Are you an older person who enjoys relaxing?

No Problem, the Boston Terrier can adhere to a relaxed lifestyle too.

6. Call me Droolio

The design of the Boston Terrier head sets up an ideal situation for drool.

Expect this dog to salivate at the site of food. Luckily the Boston Terrier is too small to create much of a mess.

Although their drools mess is smaller than most, they sometimes have a special talent with their drool. They can blow bubbles out of the side of their mouths.

Want to minimize their drool?

Keep and prepare their food out of sight.

This limits the amount of saliva that makes it on the floor and not digesting food.

In fact, anything that gets them excited can cause a drool response. So to limit drooling, limit the excitement.

7. They are Good Watchdogs

Although the Boston Terrier is not territorial, they do make good watch dogs.

Their large eyes make them able to see things other dogs may miss.

They will also bark when someone approaches your house alerting you to the situation.

Their bark is loud! How loud? 

Loud enough that people often think they are bigger than they really are before seeing them.

8. What’s That Smell?

Is it a skunk? Is it rotten trash? Stinky cheese?

No, that is your Boston Terrier. 

Regardless of what they eat, these little guys often have a flatulence problem.

They produce so much gas that our last Boston Terrier, Katie we nicknamed Poop.

9. Are You Talking to Me?

Boston Terriers regularly cock their heads when you talk to them.

Their look says, “Are you talking to me? What did you say?”

The cocked head is the Boston Terrier’s trademark look.

10. The American Gentleman

Between his appearance and his demeanor the Boston Terrier has been dubbed the American Gentleman.

These little guys have a coat that looks like a tuxedo and can come in three colors.  Black, Brindle, and Seal (Dark Brown). 

Coupled with their coat color, they are typically well behaved and get along with everyone.

This is why they are the “American Gentlemen”.

11. No, That is Not A Chainsaw

Are you a light sleeper? Ever known anyone with sleep apnea?

They sound like a chainsaw right?

Boston Terriers also snore while they are sleeping. So if you are expecting to be able to have one of these little buggers in your bed. Expect to be disturbed by the snoring caused by his cute squishy face.

12. Not Made for the Cold

Boston Terriers are small, their bodies are not made for the cold.

Their short single layered hair is not enough insulation to keep these little fellas warm outside during the winter.

These dogs should not be left in the cold for extended periods.

If you live in the northern regions where the temperatures get extremely cold, it would be a good idea to invest in some outside clothing for your little guy. Keeping him warm during the winter months is important.

13. They Want to Have Playmates

Boston Terriers love everyone and everything. To them having someone around to interact with is important.

These little balls of love get along with most humans and animals. 

Yes, this includes the cats from the crazy cat lady.

Got kids? Perfect!

Now give them a tug rope and let them wrestle with your pup to their heart’s content.

14. Easy is Our Middle Name

Boston Terriers are typically easy going. 

They are the calm before the storm… Until there is a storm.

Depending on your Boston’s personality, they may be great during a storm. But, if they are overly sensitive they may just hide during storms.

As a general rule Boston’s like to lounge as much as they play.

15. Squirrel!!!

Sure like we said before they love most all animals, but they also love to play. 

One of the original purposes of the Boston Terrier was as a small game hunting dog.

So when they see a squirrel, expect them to get a little excited.

Although typically easy going and having a lower prey drive than many other dogs, the Boston Terrier will still chase animals that they consider prey.

This is why it is important to keep them on a leash when you are out of a fenced in area.

16. Lap Dog What?

Despite their compact size, their personalities are larger than life.

As such some may make great lap dogs. While others are better off sitting next to you rather than on your lap.

If you do allow your Boston to become a lap dog at a young age, do not be surprised if they jump into your lap when you are not expecting.

17. Ball… Throw the Ball!

Like stated before, the exercise needs for each individual Boston Terrier will vary.

They may be easy going and relaxed, but they love playtime. They love balls, and chasing them.

Remember they were a small game hunting dog early in their history. The game of fetch simulates chasing small game and bringing it back to their master. 

This exercise stimulates the more primal part of their brain and allows them to remain more relaxed the rest of the day.

18. Heat And Humidity can be Dangerous

Due to the deformity of the squishy face, the heat and humidity can exacerbate breathing problems.

This dog should be treated as if it has asthma. Caution needs to be taken during times of high heat or humidity.

19. Boston Terriers are Beefy

This is not an ordinary fragile lap dog.

These little guys are durable and built like a bulldog.

 Their furthest back roots were in pit fighting and they still have the muscle to prove it.

But, despite their roots, they are one of the friendliest dog breeds.

Boston Terrier Fun Facts:

  • Helen Keller had a Boston Terrier named Phiz which was given to her by her college classmate at Radcliffe College.
  • One special mutt was promoted to Sergeant during WWI after finding and attacking a German Spy. He was only partially a Boston Terrier, but proved himself throughout the war by warning of gas attacks and finding wounded soldiers. A real American Gentleman and Hero, Sergeant Stubby.

Related Reading