Boston Terrier

Table of Contents

boston terrier portrait
Say hello to the Boston Terrier, a small yet mighty bundle of pure joy! Often called the "American Gentleman" due to their elegant tuxedo-like markings, these adorable dogs are renowned for their lively personalities and loving nature.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

If you’re seeking a small, friendly companion with a big personality, the Boston Terrier is your perfect match. They’re great for individuals or families, city dwellers or suburbanites. Known as the “American Gentleman,” this breed brings a mix of playful antics and calm cuddles.


OTHER NAMESBoston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier, American Gentleman
ORIGINUnited States
BREED GROUPNon-Sporting Group
HEIGHT14-17 inches
WEIGHT12-25 lbs
LIFESPAN11-13 years
boston terrier jumping on grass
Photo: blueumbrellastudios/Getty Images


The Boston Terrier is a compact and well-proportioned dog breed, showcasing a perfect balance between elegance and athleticism. With a height ranging from 15 to 17 inches at the shoulder for males and 14 to 16 inches for females, these small yet sturdy dogs typically weigh between 12 and 25 pounds, depending on their specific size category (lightweight, middleweight, or heavyweight).

The breed’s body is characterized by a broad chest, straight back, and muscular limbs, showcasing their agility and strength. Their short, slightly arched neck gracefully connects the head to the shoulders, while a tapered waist highlights their athletic build. Boston Terriers possess a short, low-set tail that can be straight or screw-shaped, further accentuating their unique appearance.

One of the most striking features of the Boston Terrier is its short, square-shaped head adorned with large, round, and expressive dark eyes that exude intelligence and kindness. The breed’s distinctive bat-like ears stand erect, adding to their alert and curious expression. A short muzzle, black nose, and prominent jawline complete the Boston Terrier’s distinct facial features.

A hallmark feature of the Boston Terrier is their sleek, fine-textured coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The most iconic color combination is black and white, which gives them their “tuxedo” appearance and the nickname “American Gentleman.” However, they can also be found in brindle and white, seal and white, or even solid black, brindle, or seal without the white markings.

It’s important to note that the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes the black and white, brindle and white, and seal and white color combinations for conformation show purposes.

The Boston Terrier’s overall appearance exudes confidence, grace, and charm, making them an attractive and endearing breed. Their unique physical characteristics, combined with their friendly and affectionate temperament, have contributed to their enduring popularity as a beloved companion and family pet.

boston terrier's face with its tongue out
Photo: Juliana Vilas Boas/Getty Images


The Boston Terrier is renowned for its delightful temperament and amiable personality, making them a popular choice as a family pet and companion. These charming dogs are known for their intelligence, affection, and unwavering loyalty toward their owners, creating a strong bond that lasts a lifetime.

Boston Terriers are incredibly friendly and social by nature, which means they generally get along well with people of all ages, including children.

However, it’s essential to teach young children how to interact gently with these small yet sturdy dogs to avoid any unintentional harm. Their gentle and loving demeanor makes them excellent playmates for older kids who understand the importance of treating pets with care and respect.

When it comes to strangers, Boston Terriers are typically welcoming and sociable, although they can be somewhat reserved initially. Once they’ve had a chance to warm up, they usually become quite friendly and outgoing. This breed is not known for being overly aggressive or territorial, but they will still alert their owners to any unfamiliar noises or activity, making them reliable watchdogs.

Boston Terriers are also quite adaptable and can coexist peacefully with other pets, including dogs and cats. Early socialization is crucial in ensuring a harmonious relationship between your Boston Terrier and other animals in the household. Introducing them to a variety of people, pets, and environments during their formative months will help them grow into well-rounded, confident adults.

One unique personality perk of the Boston Terrier is their playful and entertaining nature. They’re often referred to as the “clowns” of the dog world due to their amusing antics and penchant for making their owners laugh.

These energetic dogs love engaging in interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war, as well as participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, and rally. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them highly trainable, responding best to positive reinforcement methods like praise, treats, and play.

Despite their lively disposition, Boston Terriers also enjoy cuddling and spending quality time with their human companions. They’re known to be sensitive to their owner’s emotions and often try to provide comfort and affection when needed, making them excellent emotional support animals.

It’s essential to be aware that Boston Terriers can also be quite stubborn at times, which may present some challenges during training sessions. Patience, consistency, and a gentle approach are key to overcoming this trait and ensuring a well-behaved and obedient pet.

Boston Terriers can sometimes develop separation anxiety due to their strong attachment to their owners. Providing them with mental and physical stimulation, along with gradually increasing the time spent apart, can help alleviate this issue and ensure a happy, well-adjusted dog.

boston terrier on the beach
Photo: G0d4ather/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Boston Terrier’s adaptable nature makes them well-suited for a variety of living environments and households. They can comfortably thrive in both urban apartments and suburban homes, as long as they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation.

Their compact size and moderate activity level make them an excellent choice for city dwellers who may have limited space but still want a loving canine companion.

Climate Adaptability

One essential aspect to consider when providing an ideal environment for your Boston Terrier is their sensitivity to extreme temperatures, particularly hot weather. The breed’s short muzzle makes them prone to overheating and breathing difficulties during hot and humid conditions.

It’s crucial to provide plenty of shade and fresh water during warm days and limit their outdoor activity to cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. Air-conditioned indoor spaces are also beneficial in maintaining their comfort and well-being during hot spells.

Similarly, Boston Terriers may struggle in cold climates due to their short coats and lack of insulation against frigid temperatures. To ensure their comfort and safety during winter months, consider providing them with a warm dog coat or sweater when venturing outside, and limit their exposure to freezing temperatures.

Always monitor your Boston Terrier for signs of discomfort or distress in extreme weather conditions and adjust their environment accordingly.

Ideal Owner & Other Pets

When it comes to pet parents, the breed is a great match for singles, couples, seniors, and families with older children who can handle them gently.

As mentioned previously, Boston Terriers usually get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats, provided they are properly socialized from a young age. This socialization process helps them develop a harmonious relationship with other animals in the household and ensures they feel comfortable in various situations.

boston terrier sitting on a sidewalk
Photo: Karla Martinez/Getty Images


The Boston Terrier’s grooming needs are relatively low-maintenance compared to many other dog breeds, thanks to their short, smooth coat. However, regular grooming is still essential to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

The breed’s fine-textured coat lies close to the body and sheds minimally, making it easier to manage. It’s recommended to brush your Boston Terrier’s coat once or twice a week using a soft-bristle brush or a grooming mitt. Regular brushing helps remove loose hair, dirt, and debris, while also distributing natural oils evenly throughout the coat, promoting a healthy shine.

Bathe your Boston Terrier as needed, which may be every 4-6 weeks or whenever they get particularly dirty or develop an unpleasant odor. Use a gentle dog shampoo specifically formulated for sensitive skin, as Boston Terriers can be prone to skin allergies. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any shampoo residue that could cause irritation.

Dental Care

Maintaining good dental hygiene is crucial for your Boston Terrier’s overall health. Aim to brush their teeth at least two or three times a week using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Regular brushing will help prevent plaque buildup, tartar formation, bad breath, and dental issues such as gum disease and tooth loss.

In addition to brushing, you can provide dental chews, toys, and treats designed to support oral health. Regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian are also essential to monitor and address any potential dental concerns.

Nail Care

Boston Terriers’ nails should be trimmed regularly, usually every 3-4 weeks, to prevent overgrowth and associated discomfort. Overgrown nails can cause pain, difficulty walking, and even lead to injuries or infections.

Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a nail grinder specifically designed for pets, and be cautious not to cut the quick, which is the blood vessel within the nail. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, consult a veterinarian or professional groomer for assistance.

Ear Care

Inspect and clean your Boston Terrier’s ears weekly to prevent infections and detect any potential issues early. Use a soft, damp cloth or cotton ball moistened with a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution to gently wipe the outer part of the ear.

Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this could cause damage and discomfort. Keep an eye out for signs of ear infections, such as redness, swelling, foul odor, or excessive scratching and head shaking.

Eye Care

Boston Terriers are prone to eye issues due to their prominent, large eyes. Regularly check their eyes for any signs of irritation, redness, or discharge. Gently clean the area around the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any debris or tear stains. If you notice any unusual symptoms or persistent issues, consult your veterinarian for guidance.

By following a consistent grooming routine and addressing your Boston Terrier’s coat, dental, nail, ear, and eye care needs, you’ll ensure a well-groomed, healthy, and happy pet. Regular grooming sessions also provide an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog and monitor their overall health and well-being.

boston terrier in black sweater indoors
Photo: JoeChristensen/Getty Images Signature


Boston Terriers have moderate exercise needs, making them well-suited for various lifestyles and living environments. Although they are energetic and playful, they don’t require an excessive amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Regular physical activity is essential to keep your Boston Terrier in good shape and prevent boredom or destructive behavior.

Exercise Amount & Types

A daily exercise routine for a Boston Terrier should ideally include two 20-30 minute walks, combined with play sessions and mental stimulation. These walks can be adjusted according to your dog’s age, fitness level, and individual needs.

In addition to walks, engaging your Boston Terrier in interactive games like fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek can provide mental stimulation and help strengthen the bond between you and your pet. These dogs also excel in canine sports such as agility, obedience, and rally, which can be a fun and rewarding way to channel their energy and intelligence.

Socialization is another essential aspect of your Boston Terrier’s exercise routine. Regular interaction with other dogs at dog parks or on walks can help develop their social skills and provide additional mental stimulation. However, always supervise these interactions to ensure safe and positive experiences for your pet.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Boston Terrier outdoors, it’s crucial to be mindful of their sensitivity to temperature extremes. In hot and humid conditions, limit their outdoor activities and opt for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. During winter months, consider providing your dog with a coat or sweater to keep them warm and comfortable.

boston terrier running on grass field on a sunny day
Photo: Serega/Getty Images Signature


Training a Boston Terrier can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, thanks to their intelligence, eagerness to please, and affectionate nature.

These dogs are generally quite trainable and excel in various canine sports and activities such as obedience, agility, and rally. However, it’s essential to approach training with patience, consistency, and a positive attitude, as these sensitive dogs may not respond well to harsh or negative training methods.

One of the key aspects of training a Boston Terrier is starting early and focusing on socialization. Exposing your puppy to a variety of people, pets, and environments during the first few months of their life will help them develop into confident and well-adjusted adults.

Puppy kindergarten classes or group obedience classes can be a great way to kickstart the training process while also providing valuable socialization opportunities.

When it comes to training sessions, keep them short, engaging, and fun to maintain your Boston Terrier’s interest and enthusiasm. Break down complex tasks into smaller steps and reward your dog with praise, treats, or play for each successful accomplishment. Positive reinforcement techniques are highly effective with this breed, as they thrive on encouragement and approval from their owners.

It’s worth noting that Boston Terriers can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak, which may present challenges during training. To overcome this trait, remain patient and consistent in your approach, ensuring that you clearly communicate your expectations and reinforce desired behaviors.

If necessary, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or enrolling in an obedience class to help you navigate any difficulties.

In addition to basic obedience commands, you can also teach your Boston Terrier fun tricks and games that provide mental stimulation and strengthen the bond between you both. Keep in mind that these dogs are sensitive to their owner’s emotions, so maintaining a positive and upbeat attitude during training sessions will contribute to their success and enjoyment.

boston terrier at home
Photo: MonikaBatich/Getty Images Signature

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

Providing a balanced diet and proper nutrition is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Boston Terrier.

It’s recommended to choose a high-quality dog food that meets the nutritional requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food contains all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for your dog’s optimal health.

There are various types of dog food available on the market, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw food diets. Each option has its benefits, and the choice will largely depend on your personal preference and your dog’s individual needs.

The amount of food your Boston Terrier requires will vary depending on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies typically need more frequent meals (3-4 times a day) to support their growth and development, while adult dogs generally do well with two meals per day.

It’s essential to follow the feeding guidelines provided on the dog food packaging or consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion sizes for your pet.


Treats can be a great tool for training and rewarding your Boston Terrier, but they should be given in moderation to avoid excess weight gain and potential health issues. Ensure that treats make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake and opt for healthy options such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Be sure to avoid foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.


Hydration is another vital aspect of your Boston Terrier’s diet and nutrition. Always provide fresh water for your dog, ensuring their water bowl is clean and filled throughout the day. Regularly check the water level and refill as needed, especially during hot weather or after periods of increased activity.

boston terrier walking outdoors
Photo: JoeChristensen/Getty Images Signature


Boston Terriers are generally considered a healthy breed, with a life expectancy of 11-13 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues that potential owners should be aware of. Regular veterinary check-ups and preventative care can help ensure your Boston Terrier remains in good health throughout their life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Boston Terrier breed:

Brachycephalic Syndrome: Due to their short muzzle and flat face, Boston Terriers are classified as a brachycephalic breed. This can lead to breathing difficulties, snoring, and overheating in hot weather. It’s essential to monitor your Boston Terrier during exercise and ensure they don’t become overly exhausted or overheat. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to address severe respiratory issues.

Eye Problems: The breed’s large, prominent eyes make them susceptible to various eye conditions, such as corneal ulcers, cataracts, and glaucoma. Regular eye check-ups and prompt attention to any signs of irritation or discomfort can help prevent or manage these issues.

Patellar Luxation: This is a common orthopedic issue in small dog breeds, where the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and mobility problems. Mild cases may be managed with medication and weight control, while severe cases may require surgery.

Allergies: Boston Terriers can be prone to skin allergies, which could be triggered by environmental factors, food, or flea bites. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and hair loss. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has an allergy, as they can help identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

Deafness: Some Boston Terriers may experience hereditary deafness, either in one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral). Regular hearing checks and early detection can help manage this condition and ensure a good quality of life for your pet.

In addition to knowing these common health issues, it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming for your Boston Terrier to support their overall well-being. By staying informed about potential health risks and providing your dog with appropriate care and attention, you can contribute to a long, happy, and healthy life for your Boston Terrier.

boston terrier walking in the grass
Photo: JZHunt/Getty Images


The Boston Terrier boasts a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. Originating in the United States, specifically in Boston, Massachusetts, this breed has become a beloved symbol of American culture and pride.

The story of the Boston Terrier begins with a dog named Judge, a cross between an English Bulldog and the now-extinct English White Terrier. Judge was imported from England to Boston in 1870 by a man named Robert C. Hooper.

Weighing around 32 pounds, Judge exhibited a compact, muscular build, a square head, and a brindle coat with a white blaze on his face. He was bred with a small, white female named Gyp (or Burnett’s Gyp), owned by Edward Burnett. The offspring of Judge and Gyp were the foundation of the Boston Terrier breed we know today.

Early Boston Terriers varied greatly in size, ranging from 15 to over 40 pounds, but selective breeding helped establish a more consistent appearance and size over time. These dogs were initially bred for pit fighting and ratting competitions; however, their friendly and affectionate nature soon made them popular companions and family pets.

In 1891, a group of Boston Terrier enthusiasts formed the American Bull Terrier Club, which later changed its name to the Boston Terrier Club of America (BTCA) to avoid confusion with the Bull Terrier breed. The club members worked together to refine the breed standard and promote the Boston Terrier as a distinct and unique breed.

The Boston Terrier’s popularity grew rapidly, and in 1893, they became the first American breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Over the years, the breed gained recognition and admiration across the United States, with Boston Terriers becoming popular mascots, show dogs, and cherished family pets.

In popular culture, the Boston Terrier has left a significant mark as well. The breed has been featured in various films, television shows, and advertisements, often portrayed as lovable, intelligent, and comical characters.

Notable examples include the 1941 film “Topper Returns,” where a Boston Terrier named Mr. Atlas played a ghost-detecting dog, and the 2008 Disney movie “Hotel for Dogs,” featuring a Boston Terrier named Georgia.

Boston Terriers have also been embraced as mascots by several educational institutions, including Boston University, Redlands University, and Wofford College. Their charming and spirited nature makes them a fitting symbol of school pride and sportsmanship.

Over the years, the Boston Terrier has become an iconic breed deeply ingrained in American history and popular culture. Their unique appearance, coupled with their affectionate and lively personalities, has made them a favorite among dog enthusiasts and families alike.

Today, the Boston Terrier consistently ranks among the top 25 most popular dog breeds in the United States, according to AKC registration statistics, reflecting their enduring appeal and widespread adoration.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Boston Terrier dog breed in the United States is the Boston Terrier Club of America (BTCA). Founded in 1891, the BTCA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the breed by educating the public about responsible ownership, providing resources for breeders, and organizing events and activities.

The club plays a vital role in maintaining the breed standard and ensuring the continued success and popularity of the Boston Terrier. You can visit their website here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Boston Terrier’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

boston terrier puppy
Photo: baumanstudio/Getty Images


Considering a Boston Terrier? Brace yourself for an exciting journey! Prepare a comfy bed, high-quality food, engaging toys, grooming essentials, and a reliable vet.

If buying is your choice, be sure to go with a reputable breeder to ensure you’re bringing home a healthy and happy pup. But, have you thought about rescue? There are many Boston Terriers in shelters longing for their forever homes. The American Kennel Club and the Boston Terrier Club of America can guide you through this rewarding experience.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re not just getting a pet. You’re welcoming an energetic, affectionate friend who’ll fill your life with joy and laughter. With a Boston Terrier, every day is a new, delightful adventure!


Are Boston Terriers good family dogs?

Yes, Boston Terriers are excellent family dogs due to their affectionate, friendly, and gentle nature. They are known to get along well with children and other pets, making them a suitable choice for families of all sizes. However, it’s essential to teach children how to interact safely and respectfully with dogs to ensure a positive experience for both the child and the dog.

Are Boston Terriers difficult dogs?

Boston Terriers are generally not considered difficult dogs. They are intelligent, eager to please, and relatively easy to train. However, they can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak, which may present challenges during training. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques, most owners find Boston Terriers to be manageable and rewarding companions.

Why are Boston Terriers expensive?

The cost of a Boston Terrier can vary depending on factors such as pedigree, breeder reputation, and location. The breed’s popularity and the expenses associated with responsible breeding practices, including health testing and proper care, can contribute to higher prices. It’s important to research and choose a reputable breeder to ensure you’re getting a healthy, well-bred puppy.

What are Boston Terriers famous for?

Boston Terriers are famous for their unique appearance, featuring a compact and muscular build, a short muzzle, and large, expressive eyes. They are often referred to as the “American Gentleman” due to their tuxedo-like markings and gentle, friendly disposition. Additionally, they are known for being the first American breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Do Boston Terriers require a lot of exercise?

Boston Terriers have moderate exercise needs, making them well-suited for various lifestyles and living environments. A daily exercise routine should ideally include two 20-30 minute walks, combined with play sessions and mental stimulation. Adjust the walks according to your dog’s age, fitness level, and individual needs.

Are Boston Terriers hypoallergenic?

No, Boston Terriers are not considered hypoallergenic. Although they have a short coat and minimal shedding, they still produce dander, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. However, regular grooming and proper home maintenance can help minimize allergens in the environment.

How do I care for my Boston Terrier’s health?

To care for your Boston Terrier’s health, provide a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming. Be aware of potential health issues common to the breed, such as brachycephalic syndrome, eye problems, and patellar luxation. Schedule regular veterinary check-ups and preventative care to ensure your Boston Terrier remains in good health throughout their life.

Table of Contents