Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier dog breed portrait


Originally bred during America’s early boom times of the late 1800s, Boston Terriers are the type of dog that immediately feels like it’s been part of your family all along; despite originally being bred as a fighting dog, Boston Terriers are excellent with children & respectful of strangers.

As a new owner of a Boston Terrier, you’ll mainly want to ensure that you’re exercising your dog adequately – these dogs get restless without 1-2 hours of walking, on top of normal backyard play.


With a rich American history, dating back to the 1800s in (you guessed it) Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Terriers are reported to have come from Bulldogs and the now defunct English White Terrier. 

It’s tough to sniff out the details on how this breed was originally bred. The classic story is that a Bostonian dog enthusiast, named Robert C. Hooper, fell in love with a cross between a Bulldog & an English White Terrier which was in England; a 32 pound, “well-built, high stationed dog”. After arranging for the pup to sail across the Atlantic, it’s believed that he named the dog “Judge”, and that most Boston Terriers today descend from Judge.


Just a couple decades after Judge stepped onto American soil, his offspring began to proliferate under the title of “Boston Bull Terrier”. By the early 1890s, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed, and it only took a few years after that for the breed’s unique characteristics (like the dual-colored coat) to become standardized. 

It’s very fortunate that, today, Boston Terriers don’t have to do what they were originally bred to do; namely, they were originally bred in the 1800s for fighting other dogs.

As some context about dog fighting, this activity was actually once accepted as “blood sport” of the American 1700s and 1800s (though it was a global phenomenon); in fact, the United Kennel Club actually participated dog fighting, forming rules & training dog fight referees in its early days. Thankfully, with organizations such as the ASPCA, dog fighting has become heavily outlawed, since legislation banning dog fighting first began pushing through in the late 1800s.

As dog fighting became heavily prohibited, it seems that prospective pup owners began to realize that these “American Gentleman” (a nickname because of its “tuxedo”-like coat) are even more loving than fierce, and began to welcome them into their homes as family.

the little farm vintage: Almost Wordless Wednesday - Vintage Boston Terriers

Being among the first of America’s own breeds, Boston Terriers have claimed the total of most popular breed in the US in 1915, 1920, and 1930. Still today, Boston Terriers are a heavy favorite among dog owners around the world.


Despite being small, they have a sturdy and muscular body. The coat of a roundhead is sleek and shiny, with patterns looking like a tuxedo. It has a square head with erect ears and a slightly arched neck. Bostons have a very flat nose and cute big eyes which makes their appearance stand out. The breed has a short tail that curls or can be straight. The tail does not exceed two inches.\

Boston Terrier Dog Breed Information

In short, Boston Terriers are the breed which resemble James Bond the most; with their tuxedo-like darker coat, coupled with the button-down-like white underbelly, Boston Terriers would strike quite a pose on the red carpet.


For those who are only familiar with smaller-sized Boston Terriers, you might be wondering how this breed could’ve ever been a fighting dog. 

Well, it makes more sense upon realizing that Boston Terriers come in 3 different sizes: small (less than 15 pounds), medium (15 to 19 pounds), and large (20 to 25 pounds). Their height is typically between 12” to 18”. 

With that being the case, you can choose a Boston Terrier weight class based on how active you anticipate you’ll be with your dog, and how large your living space is going to be.


Popularly known as the American Gentleman, it is an intelligent and lively breed though it has temperament. When training your dog, it is essential to expose them to as many dogs, people and places as possible. Both males and females can serve as great companions around children, the elderly, and other pets if properly exposed. However, they can prove stubborn during training, they may not want to obey when you want them too. Boston Terriers commonly exhibit the following behaviours:

– Snoring
– Digging (The word Terrier comes from the French word “Terre”, which means Earth)
– Chewing (Divert their attention by giving them dog toys to chew instead).

How to Train Your Small Dog

Like many other breeds, Boston Terriers are quite intelligent, active, and loving; with that being said, they’re also stubborn. Therefore, don’t be fooled by the adorable face of your Boston Terrier if he or she misbehaves; positive reinforcement, patience, and firmness (alongside a strategy for training) are essential during puppyhood.

Alongside training, socialization of your Boston Terrier (allowing them to see the world, interact with new people, meet other dogs) will be vital in making sure your Boston Terrier is cool, calm, and collected for the years to come.


Like every normal dog, Boston Terrier do experience some common health issues, some of which being genetic. Obesity is a common problem in Bostons and leads to joint issues, digestive issues, and heart disease, so be mindful of the food you choose to feed your Boston Terrier. Their large eyes make the breed susceptible to eye disorders, including cataracts, corneal ulcers, and glaucoma.

Their prominent eyes are very sensitive to sand, dust, debris, or sharp objects. Some of these infections can even lead to blindness. The breed is also more susceptible to respiratory problems, as their shortened muzzles affect their airway, the result can be a Boston Terrier that frequently snores snuffles.


This is a condition of a cloudy film which forms over the eye lens. As adults or seniors, Boston Terriers are susceptible to cataracts, and it can be helpful to ask if your pup’s parents have suffered from cataracts at all.

Heart Murmers

When the heart valves aren’t opening and closing to allow proper circulation, veterinarians hear this as a “murmur” with their detection tools. This means your pup’s heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently, and various treatments exist to mitigate this.


Unfortunately, Boston Terriers often experience deafness at some stage of their lives. This can affect one or both of your pup’s ears. For treatment or risk mitigation, it’s best to speak with your personal veterinarian.

Reverse Sneezing

Have you ever heard dogs make an odd wheezing sound, as if they’re trying to clear their nasal passages? You’re probably hearing a “reverse sneeze”, which happens when your dog eats a tad too quickly, breathes in pollen, or is just way too zoomy. Actually, this is because nasal fluids fell on your pup’s soft palate (where their mouth reaches their throat). Most likely, your dog is just trying to remove this discomfort by wheezing, but it’s nothing terribly serious.


Like humans, allergies can affect dogs just as much. If you notice any lesions of redness, lots of licking or nipping (which might indicate itchiness or discomfort), or face rubbing, then your dog might be having an allergic reaction. For guidance with this, it’s best to have a veterinarian examine your dog on a one-on-one basis.

Exercise Requirements

When it comes to exercise requirements, this breed requires at least 1-hour of daily exercise, but don’t forget to add some mental stimulation. Taking your Boston Terrier for a walk helps stimulate their mind with the sights, smell and sounds they encounter. It’s recommended that you take your Boston Terrier for two walks per day, between 45-60 minutes each. The breed is very agile when it comes to dog sports and free play with toys is a great source of supplementary exercise. Some recommended free play ideas for the Boston breed are flirt pole, jolly ball, spring pole, and fetch.

How Much Exercise Do Boston Terriers Need? Age-Specific

With Spot, walks are all private and on-leash to ensure your Boston Terrier is always receiving the one-on-one attention they deserve. Dog walks are also conveniently available on your schedule, on-demand walkers are available with as little as 90-minutes notice, while a Spot recurring walker will provide consistency and can be booked on a weekly ongoing basis. So whether you need a dog walker every month or every day, Spot is always just a few clicks away.

Training and Care

Boston Terriers make great companions if they are properly trained, well exercised, and provided a healthy diet. From the moment you bring your Boston Terrier puppy home, potty training starts immediately. Fortunately, this breed is not difficult to train, with consistency they should pickup on things quickly. You can start with teaching your Boston Terrier puppy how to use potty pads. Create a spot for the puppy and guide the puppy to the spot after every meal. As you keep doing this, the puppy gets familiar with the spot and makes it a habit.

As far as feeding goes for full-grown Bostons, 0.5 or 1.5 cups of kibble is usually a good amount. This can be broken up into 2 or 3 servings, spread throughout the day.

Much like humans, the amount of food that dogs need can vary quite a bit. For example, if it's summertime and you’re going on lots of nature walks, there’s no doubt that your Boston’s appetite will be higher. On the other hand, if your dog’s sleeping most of the day as you watch Lost, then you don’t need to feel pressured if your dog wants extra servings.

As some precautions, Boston Terriers are prone to getting fat, so try to keep a close eye on your pup’s eating habits, otherwise you might wind up with an equally fat vet bill in a few years. Treat your dog with healthy foods & a stable feeding regime, and your Boston should be quite healthy.


Because the Boston Terrier has a short coat, they do not require a great deal of grooming. A weekly brush and a bath as needed should be sufficient. Trim their nails at least once per month, and clean their face and ears with regularity. Finally, like all dogs, it’s best to brush their teeth as often as possible, 2-3 times per week if you can manage.

Frequent tooth brushing not only keeps their breath smelling great, but also prevents tartar build-up and removes any bacteria that may cause infection.


Thank you for pawing your way through this article, learning more about the Boston Terrier breed, including their history, health, care, and appearance. If you’re considering a Boston Terrier as your new pet, know that you’ll be getting a lively pup with a rich American heritage.