Meet the Breed: The Boston Terrier



  • Height: 15"- 17”
  • Weight: 10-25 pounds
  • Historical function: Originally bred for fighting as well as hunting rats in garment factories, but were soon bred down for companionship.
  • Modern function: Companion, therapy
  • AKC classification: Non-sporting group

Physical Characteristics:

The Boston Terrier is a compact, well-muscled dog with a round head, a short wrinkle-free muzzle, prominent eyes, erect ears, and a short tail. The coat is short and smooth, available in the following colors: black and white, brindle and white, seal, or brown and white. The Boston is often called the "American Gentleman" due to his classy tuxedo-style coloration and his well-mannered personality.

History of the Breed:

The Boston Terrier is truly an all-American dog as the first dog breed developed here and recognized by the AKC in 1893. All Boston Terriers owe their lineage to a dog named "Hooper's Judge" who was most likely a cross of the English Bulldog and the now-extinct English White Terrier. Hooper's Judge was over 30 pounds and his offspring were bred down by crossing them with French Bulldogs. While originally bred for pit fighting and vermin control, as the smaller-sized dogs became more popular as companions, the breed has mellowed in temperament. In fact, "terrier" is a misnomer with very little of the terrier characteristics left in the breed, and the AKC classifying them in the non-sporting group. 


The Boston Terrier is a gentle but active dog that is well-mannered and eager to please his owner. They are highly intelligent and excel at obedience with a patient trainer. Bred for companionship, these dogs want to be near their people and not relegated to the yard. Bostons are fairly quiet, usually only barking to alert about strangers, and some do not even do that. 

  • Best suited for: Families with children, apartment dwellers, and especially the elderly. Excellent travelling companions due to their small size and quiet nature.
  • Preferred living conditions: The Boston Terrier is an adaptable companion; as long as they get to be with their people, they are content. Watch for temperature extremes as short-muzzled breeds can have difficulty breathing in overly hot weather, and their short coats make them vulnerable to the cold.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care short coat requires occasional brushing and rare bathing. Moderate shedding.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk.
  • Life expectancy: 15+ years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to eye problems, heart murmurs, mast cell tumors, deafness, and patellar luxation. As a brachiocephalic breed (short muzzled) the Boston cannot tolerate temperature extremes and may snore. Puppies may have to be delivered by cesarean due to their large heads and the mother's narrow pelvis. Use a reputable breeder that tests for genetic problems. Some have a sensitive digestive system prone to flatulence.

Breed Club Links: The Boston Terrier Club of America Perfect Pairings: Sweaters for cold weather, The Honest Kitchen's Perfect Form Nutritional Pet Supplement (for pets with sensitive digestion issues), Swamp Cooler Dog Cooling Vest by RuffWear for hot weather. 

Have any stories about a Boston Terrier? Please share!

Photo courtesy of customer Zoey (The Booger) PruittSmith

This entry was posted by Mary.
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