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Boston Terrier

A small dog with a short, square muzzle and erect ears, the Boston Terrier is strong and well-muscled with eyes which are fairly large, round and wide apart. Originally bred as fighting dogs, this unusual looking breed soon found its place in the hearts and homes of people across the world. Boston Terrier is a naturally bobbed, short-tailed breed.

13–15 years
Short-coated, the Boston Terrier comes in various colours, including brindle and white, and black with white markings
Kennel Club group
The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Needs under an hour of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can happily live in the city
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Boston Terrier breed is classified as brachycephalic; problems associated with the condition include;
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise, or even severe respiratory distress.
- Skin inflammation/infection: brachycephalic breeds have a short nose and a normal amount of facial tissue. This means there is often excess skin around their face which leads to skin folds. The skin inside these folds can become sore and infections are prone to develop. 
- Eye ulcers: ulcers are painful erosions on the surface of the eye. They are more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their conformation, as their eyes tend to be more bulbous.

The breed is also prone to: 
- Patellar luxation. 
- Hemivertebrae¹ which is a problem where dogs are born with spine deformities. 
- Cushing's syndrome, which is where too much natural steroid hormone is produced which can lead to symptoms such as excessive drinking and tiredness. 
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness. 
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) which is a painful condition where the tear gland stops working properly. 
- Cherry eye which is where a gland within the third eyelid pops up in the corner of the eye. 

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye screening scheme 
- DNA testing for hereditary cataracts which tests whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by this condition.

 ¹E. Schlensker and O. Distal,  'Prevalence, grading and genetics of hemivertebrae in dogs' 2013, European Journal of Companion Animal Practice.


The Boston Terrier is a lively, happy dog that can be quite determined and strong willed. They are usually good with children and love to play, but they can be boisterous and care must be taken that games are not too rough, as they can be prone to injury, especially their eyes. They love human company and make affectionate pets and are outgoing and social to all. While they are called a ‘terrier’ they are not in the terrier group and neither do they behave like one, being far happier at home with their owner than getting into the usual mischief!

The Boston Terrier would suit an owner who enjoys their unconventional appearance and who wants a fun, affectionate companion that doesn’t need much exercise but does want to join in with everything that is going on.

Did you know?

  • The Boston Terrier is also known by the nickname ‘the American Gentleman’ due to their tuxedo like markings.
  • The most successful and unexplained dog clairvoyant was a Boston Terrier called Missie from Denver in the United States. Missie stunned her owner and experts alike by predicting the results of sports events, the next US president, the sex and weight of babies, and even the date and time of her own death. She could also tell people’s phone numbers. She did this either by barking or by touching cards.
  • Helen Keller had a Boston Terrier called ‘Phiz’.
  • This breed is great at tricks and a Border Terrier called Dexter has even mastered the skateboard.
  • These dogs are big snorers because of the size and shape of their muzzles!
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