Boston Terrier Dogs
History, Characteristics, Personality and More

The beauty of owning Boston terrier dogs is that no two specimens are alike; they all seem to have their own distinct personality. Will you own a high-spirited and clownish fur ball or a calm, dignified companion? It all boils down to individual temperaments.

Also known as Boston bull, Boston Bull terrier and Boxwood, this breed is generally a charming little fellow that loves to chase balls and entertain others with its own little antics.

Because of his gentle disposition and dapper appearance, the Boston has been nicknamed "the American Gentleman"!

Whether you are thinking about buying a puppy or adopting an adult dog and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, I hope this article will help you find the answers to your questions.

Breed History

This is an all-American breed that dates back to 1870 when Robert C. Hooper of Boston purchased a dog named "Judge". That dog, a cross between the English bulldog and a white English terrier, became known as "Hooper's Judge".

Crossing Judge's offspring with the French bulldog and other bulldog / terrier crosses brought the breed down in size and provided the foundation for the Boston terrier breed. Most of the modern Boston Terriers today are descendents of Hooper's Judge.

Early representatives of this breed were known as Bull Terriers or Round Heads but those names didn't stick because of opposition from Bull Terrier and Bulldog fanciers. They complained that while the breed didn't look like their own, the name was too similar. The breed got its modern name in 1891 when the Boston Terrier Club of America was formed.

Having evolved from the pit-fighting dogs of the bull and terrier types, the Boston Terrier was bred down in size from around 45 lbs to its modern size.

A famous Boston terrier mix named "Sergeant Stubby" became a decorated American WWI hero and the only dog promoted to sergeant! This amazing dog warned American soldiers of imminent enemy attacks and the presence of poisonous gas.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1893 under the non-sporting group. In 1979 the Boston Terrier was named the official dog of the state of Massachusetts.

This breed was owned by two former presidents: Warren G. Harding and Gerald R. Ford.

Boston Terrier Puppy

Physical Characteristics of Boston Terrier Dogs

This breed presents as a compact and well-balanced dog with a distinct expression denoting a high degree of intelligence.

The body of a Boston terrier has a distinct short and square appearance. The neck is proportionate so to give the appearance of balance to the rest of the body. The chest is deep and boasts well-sprung ribs. The back is short. The tail is set low and is naturally short.

The Boston's shoulders are typically sloped so to allow for the stylish movement that this breed is known for. The front legs are straight. The elbows are normal, neither in nor out. The thighs are well-muscled and strong. The feet are small with short nails.

The head is square-shaped. Eyes are wide apart, dark and large. The ears are erect. Nose is black. The bite is either even or undershot. The most distinctive feature of the head is the overall expression, which must be alert and kind.

Boston terrier dogs feature a short, single-layered coat that is smooth and fine. Acceptable colors are seal, brindle and black with white markings. Solid black, seal or brindle without white markings are not acceptable. Required markings include a white muzzle band, white blaze between the eyes and white forechest.

    Height Weight
  Male 15 to 17 inches Under 15 to 25 pounds *
  Female 15 to 17 inches Under 15 to 25 pounds *

      * Weight is divided by classes as follows: Under 15 lbs, 15 - 20 lbs and 20 - up to 25 lbs.

While there is only one type of Boston terrier, the one depicted by the AKC standard, some "breeders" specializing in designer dogs may cross Boston terrier dogs with other purebred dogs to create some unique looking specimens. The Boston terrier pug mix, for instance, is obtained by crossing Boston terriers with Pugs. The end results are litters of puppies affectionately known as "Bugs".

Some breeders may try to "downsize" the standard size of Boston terriers so to obtain the miniature Boston terrier and the teacup Boston terrier. These dogs are not recognized by any dog registry due to their size. A good example of such downsizing is a Boston Terrier Chihuahua mix.

Some breeders may also selectively breed for specific coat colors. The brindle Boston terrier and red Boston terrier are some examples.


As I had mentioned earlier, Boston terrier dogs are blessed with individual characters, which is why owning them can be quite a unique experience! The American Kennel Club standard defines them as friendly and lively dogs.

This is a breed that thrives on companionship. If you were to ask this dog what he desires the most in life, it would be to stay with his family. When a Boston terrier bonds with his owner, he quickly becomes quite sensitive to his master's moods. Some say this dog is a one-person dog that develops a strong affinity with one person.

Sitting Boston Terrier

Boston terrier dogs also make excellent watchdogs; most of them will alert when somebody is by the door. Good socialization during puppyhood will help him become more accepting of strangers. Generally, this breed does fine with other pets, but they can show a bit of an attitude when they notice a larger dog down the street.

House training may be a bit of a slow process with this breed. It may take up to 6 months of consistent crate training before Boston terrier puppies can be declared to be close to housebroken.

Because this breed is a bit on the stubborn side, you may see a bit of a "make me" attitude when you ask for a specific behavior. Boston terrier training requires consistency so you can demonstrate that you mean what you say. Food is a great incentive, but be careful -- too much food may lead to an obese Boston terrier that only listens when he sees a cookie.

Because Boston terrier dogs are more solidly built compared to some other small breeds, they may "survive" the clumsiness of small children; however, despite being generally accepting of children, supervision is always a must.

Best Owner and Living Conditions

The best owner for this breed is a person who does not mind a "Velcro" dog that loves to live underfoot. This dog will attentively listen to you and even cock his head sideways in an attempt to decipher your thoughts.

Because this is an easy-going breed with a charming disposition, first-time dog owners and the elderly may find this breed to be a great choice. This is definitely a dog that thrives living indoors so he can be involved with his family.

Standing Boston Terrier

Activity and Exercise

This breed generally boasts mild activity levels. If you are a couch potato, you may be happy to learn that most Boston terrier dogs are more than happy with a daily walk and a play session with a favorite toy or a ball. These activities will provide physical and mental stimulation that is required to keep this breed happy and fit.


Don't be tricked by this breed's single-layer coat: these dogs are average shedders, which can be a problem for allergic fellows and those who dislike finding stray hairs on their clothes, upholstery and carpet.

On a positive note, this breed's sleek coat is very easy to take care of. Comb and brush several times per week to remove loose hair. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary.

It's also a good idea to wash and dry this breed's facial skin folds after meals.

Brindle Boston Terrier

Health Concerns

That pretty, expressive face with a short muzzle comes with a price: a delicate respiratory system. This breed snorts, snuffles, snores and sneezes. A short muzzle also means your Boston will ingest air as he eats. This results in annoying flatulence, and unlike Sergeant Stubby, your Boston terrier will not announce the presence of any gasses!

Invest in a harness rather than a collar because it puts less pressure on a windpipe.

Don't expose your Boston to hot weather as these dogs overheat easily. Also, protect your Boston terrier from pollen, cigarette smoke and chemicals.

Boston Terrier dogs are also prone to several hereditary and non-hereditary health concerns. Cataracts, cherry eye, luxating patellas, deafness, heart murmurs and allergies are just a few. Purchasing your puppy from a conscientious Boston terrier breeder who health tests the breeding stock will help reduce the chances for congenital disorders.

Visit dog health problems to learn more about dog diseases and health care.

Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for healthy Boston Terrier dogs is between 13 and 16 years.

Final Thoughts...

There is little doubt about the fact that not many dog breeds have the great disposition of a Boston terrier. If you are a first-time dog owner or want an easygoing dog that is easy to care for, Boston terrier dogs may be the ideal breed for you.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Boston Terrier dog rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? If you answered "YES", then check this Boston Terrier Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.


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Boston Terrier Dogs » Dog Breeds

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