By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 18th October 2022

Boston Terrier


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

Boston Terrier, aka the American Gentleman, nicknamed because of its lively, gentle, and humorous demeanor, is an American companion breed originating not before the 19th century. Its black and white tuxedo jacket, closely fitting into its body like a uniform, helps one easily distinguish the Boston terrier.

Other prominent physical features include their square head, short, square muzzle, small erect ears, low and large, dark, round eyes bubbling with curiosity and mischief. Interestingly, the Boston terrier has unusually short tails because of their genetic mutation, giving the appearance as if it is docked. The low set tail could either be straight or screwed.

Their short snout gives them a flat-faced appearance, making the Bostons closely replicate their other brachycephalic cousins like the pug and French bulldog.

Having a Boston at home means continued entertainment and fun for the affectionate and loveable dogs that they are. Yes, take care of the socialization and obedience part right from the start, and you will have a perfect dog at your disposition – intelligent and loving, curious, and alert.

Boston Terrier Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesBoxwood, Boston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier
NicknamesAmerican Gentleman 
CoatShort, smooth, fine
ColorBlack and white; black brindle and white; brindle and white; seal and white; seal brindle and white  
Breed  TypePurebred
Lifespan11-13 years ; the longest living Boston terrier survived till 15 years of age
Height 15-17 inches  
Weight12-25 pounds  
Litter Size3-4 puppies
PersonalityLively, humorous, affectionate, friendly
Good with ChildrenYes
Barking TendencyLow; only upon sensing a threat or if agonized  
Climate CompatibilityCannot withstand extreme heat or cold  
Apartment CompatibilityHigh
Do they shedLow to moderate  
Are they HypoallergenicNo
TrainabilityModerately easy
Average Cost$1000- $2000; but may go up to $4500  
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationAKC, FCI
CountryUnited States

History and Origin

The Boston terrier developed in 1875, with the breeds of the present time owing to their lineage to Judge, a bulldog-white English terrier cross. Judge was well built, muscular, and pretty big enough, weighing as much as 32 pounds. He even had a square, blocky head that the Boston terrier perfectly replicates. Developed from two prominent fighting dogs, it was pretty evident that Judge would inherit the aggression and power of its parents.

The original owner of Judge gave him away to one William O’ Brien, and the latter again sold him to Edward C. Hooper of Boston. Upon acquiring Judge, Hooper took a step forward by crossing him with Gyp, a miniature white female dog owned by Edward Burnett of Massachusetts. Gyp, too was about 20 pounds, stocky and robust, with a blocky head like Judge.

This breeding led to a new generation of dogs from, which evolved into the Boston terrier of the present times. Yes, to achieve that attractive companion dog look as opposed to the fighting dog traits that Judge possessed, the breed went through several selective breeding processes. The initial Boston breeds weighed about 45 pounds, finally downsized to about 25 pounds, the breed’s current weight.

The selective breeding process even helped mellow down the Boston terriers temperamentally, eliminating or reducing the aggression and developing them into even-tempered dogs. The purpose of creating them was perhaps to continue the fighting legacy of their ancestors and even to hunt rodents in factories. Over the years, their uses changed, and the admirable Boston terrier became an out-and-out companion dog.

 The Boston terriers appeared for the first time in 1870 in Boston for the first time. Its gained popularity by 1889 in Boston, also named after its place of origin. Boston Terrier Club of America developed in 1891, while the AKC registered the first Boston Terrier in 1893. The breed also holds credit as the United State’s first non-sporting breed. Its popularity has remained consistent then and even now, with the Boston terrier ranking 21st in the American Kennel Club’s list of Most Popular Dogs.

Like the Boston terrier itself, mixes of this breed also stand out because of their elegant appearance and desirable temperament.

Temperament and Personality

Think of one of the gentlest breeds, and the Boston terrier would be the first to come to your mind, especially if you have been acquainted with them before. Happy-go-lucky friendly and affectionate are the adjectives most owners and fanciers associate with the Boston terrier. They are even funny dogs renowned for their humorous traits, ensuring to entertain their family to the tee.

They might be sweet to you and your family but not to someone they see for the first time. Boston terriers are wary of strangers and would emit a sharp, clear bark to intimate their family of the intruder’s presence. Having said this, it is even essential to know that Bostons are primarily quiet and don’t bark just like that, a trait that makes them well suited for apartment life.

These dogs do well with children and even dogs of the family. They might get after a cat, but that is purely in pursuit of prey and not triggered by any prey drive.



Overall, they are a moderately active breed, with the exercise need varying from one individual to the other. They would need one 30-minute or two 15-minute walks a day teamed with sufficient outdoor and indoor playtime. Don’t just leave it out or at home to exercise for itself. It would do nothing and be waiting for you when left to itself. Instead, engage him in fun play, like perhaps a ball game or even a tug of war in which it would participate enthusiastically. Remember, a bored Boston terrier often resorts to destructive activities like barking without a cause and digging.

Also, make it participate in dog sports like agility, flyball, obedience, and rally to make good use of its energy. Don’t take them out in extremes of temperature. The Boston terrier doesn’t do well when it is excessively hot or too cold outside.


They have a short, smooth, fine coat, which means that the Boston terriers aren’t heavy shedders. Brush these dogs every week using a brush with soft bristles to keep their coat in good shape. Additionally, use a hound glove or a rubber grooming mitt tool for removing the dead hair. Bathe it only when it gets messy, as frequent bathing could take away the oils from its skin. Remember to trim its nails at least once a month or earlier if they get long. Relatively long nails could hurt their feet, making walking and running difficult. Also, take utmost care of their oral health by brushing the Boston terrier’s teeth three or four times a week.

Health Problems

Like the Pug and French bulldog, the Boston terriers are brachycephalic dogs because of their short head and muzzle. This puts them at the risk of respiratory disorders alongside other complications. Besides this, they may also be prone to several eye problems like cherry eyes and cataracts. So checking their eyes daily for infections is indeed a mandate. While taking them out, carrying a vet-approved eye drop would be an excellent way to flush out the dust or debris that might accumulate inside. Other conditions they may suffer from including patellar luxation, deafness, and digestive disorders.

Another problem seen in the Boston terrier is related to their tails. Those with a screwed or curled tail are more likely to suffer spinal deformities and tail infections.


Boston terriers are intelligent dogs, though ranked as averagely intelligent as per Stanley Coren’s ratings in IQ and obedience. Yet, they are known for their tremendous communication skill and an increased ability to adapt to any surroundings. So if you apply the correct method, i.e., a firm, tactful approach teamed with positive reinforcement techniques.

Socialization: True, your Boston terrier has an admirable personality. Yet, socialization is needed since his puppy days to help him develop into a well-mannered adult. When exposed to different people and situations since their puppyhood, the Boston terrier would learn to differentiate between the good and the bad and not perceive every stranger as a threat. They would even know to mingle well with other dogs, mainly those they see outside, and not display a territorial behavior.

Obedience: They aren’t aggressive like their ancestors, yet, a lack of proper training on manners and discipline could turn a calm dog aggressive in no time. Hence, teach your Boston terrier to follow commands, some of the basic ones first like ‘Stop’ and ‘Stay,’ to help it grow into a well-mannered dog.


Feed the Boston terrier good quality dry dog food containing adequate protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Do not pamper them with too many treats as in this way; you would be doing more harm than good. They are brachycephalic breeds, and obesity is one of the triggers that could result in breathing difficulties. Hence, giving these dogs a nutritious but measured diet is essential.

Interesting Facts

  • Bruschi a Boston terrier holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the canine with the largest eyes, reaching 28 mm. The entry was submitted by her owner Victoria Reed in 2012, a high school student then.
  • Rhett, the Boston terrier, is Boston University’s official mascot from 1922 onwards.
  • It has also been Massachusetts’ Official State Dog since 1979.
  • Helen Keller owned a Boston terrier named Phiz Keller, gifted to her by one of her classmates during her Radcliffe College days. Phiz was her most trusted companion attending lectures with her and patiently waiting in college to get back home with Keller.
  • The Boston Terrier Museum housed in Floydada, Texas, founded in 2007, has a unique collection of over 3000 artifacts of this breed.


Q. How do the Boston terrier and a French bulldog differ from each other?

Both these brachycephalic breeds could look closely similar because of their flat face. Yet both have noticeable physical differences. The Boston terrier appears taller and leaner than the short and stocky-statured French bulldog. The Boston terriers are easier to pick than the Frenchies.

Q. What is the purpose of a Boston terrier?

Though bred as working and fighting dogs in the past, they gradually developed into companion breeds.

Q. Is there a miniature or teacup Boston terrier?

The miniature or teacup Boston terrier is the downsized counterpart of the standard breed. They weigh below 10 pounds and measure about 12-15 inches. Though breeders developed such mini dogs for popularity, the miniaturization process has resulted in several health problems in the miniature Boston terriers.

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