Boston Terrier Dog Breed

The Boston Terrier is an intelligent, lively, and affectionate breed with distinctive tuxedo markings that have earned them the nickname of ‘American Gentlemen’. Originally bred as fighter dogs, these compact canines still carry a strong territorial streak that can present itself when they feel their territory is being threatened.

Despite their small size, Boston Terriers are muscular and sturdy, with sleek, straight coats. One of their most distinct characteristics is their large ears that stand erect. They also boast large, round eyes that just add to their strikingly adorable appearance.

Boston Terriers make great family pets because they thrive on the attention they get from children. They also love to entertain people of all ages with their comical antics and unique expressions.

In addition, Boston Terriers make wonderful canine companions for elderly and apartment dwelling citizens due to their gentle and even temperaments.

Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

Breed Information

38-43 cm
5.5-11 kg
Life Span:
13-15+ years
Intelligent, friendly, adaptable, affectionate, outgoing, playful
Black and white, black brindle and white, brindle and white, seal and white, seal brindle and white
Energy Level:
Country of Origin:
United States of America
Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws
  • Exercise Needed Daily: 1 hour 6/10
  • Training: Easy 2/10
  • Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
  • Shedding: Low 2/10
  • Hypoallergenic: Low 2/10
  • Watchdog Ability: Medium 6/10
  • Barking Level: Low 2/10
  • Environment: City & Countryside 6/10
  • Type of home: Apartment 2/10
  • Good with Children: With Supervision 6/10
  • Good with Other Animals: With Supervision 6/10


Experts agree that the Boston Terrier first appeared in the 1800s. However, the exact nature of this origin is unclear. One story is that a Bostonian, Robert C. Hooper, imported a Bulldog/English Terrier cross named Judge from England in 1865. An alternative account, is the coachmen of wealthy families crossed Bulldogs with the English White Terrier to create a new dog-fighting breed.

Whatever their origin, one thing is clear. All Boston Terriers can trace their lineage back to one English White Terrier/Bulldog cross named Judge, who was a well-built 14.5kg dog with an even temperament. Judge was only bred once in his life but out of this mating came a litter of puppies that were widely bred across the United Kingdom. These were then bred with French Bulldogs to form the Boston Terrier breed we know and love today.

The original Boston Terriers were especially popular in mining regions in the 1870s, thanks to their high intelligence and their reputation for being excellent ratters. They were also prized for their determination and tenacity as fighting dogs.

In 1888, the first-ever Boston Terrier was exhibited in a class for the “Round Headed Bull Terriers of any colour”. Because of this, they were known as the Boston Round Head, which is a name that would stay with the breed for some time.

In 1980, Charles Leland established the American Bull Terrier Club. He then formally applied for the breed to be awarded full recognition by the American Kennel Club the following year. However, there was significant opposition from other Bull Terrier Clubs which delayed his application.

Furthermore, The American Kennel ruled that the dog breed was not established enough and the dogs were not of a “common” Bull Terrier type. Because of this, breeders started keeping records of their breeding practices. It was either a Mr H Lacey or a Mr J. Watson who came up with the name “Boston Terrier”. This led to the establishment of The Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891.

The American Kennel Club finally awarded the Boston Terrier breed recognition a few years later. Ch Topsy became the very first Boston Terrier to win a Championship in 1896 and a breed standard was set in 1900.

The very first Boston Terrier, named Mr Smith’s Brindle Beauty, was registered in the United Kingdom in 1901. A second dog was registered four years later.

As the breeds popularity grew, the Countess of Essex established the Boston Terrier club, alongside other breed enthusiasts, in 1935.

Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

The Boston Terrier is a compact, short-tailed dog breed with a blockish square head that’s flat on top. Their muzzles are short and square, right to the tip of their nose, and they have a very defined line between their nostrils. Boston Terriers also have distinct large round eyes set wide apart on the head. These dogs have a kind, yet alert, expression which showcases their sharp intelligence.

Their small ears are thin, set wide apart, and carried upright. These dogs have an even bite though their jaw may be a little undershot, which is allowed as a breed standard.

The Boston Terrier’s forequarters are muscular and their shoulders slope slightly. They also have a muscular body with a curved rump. This gives the impression of a short body. The tail is set low and tapers to a tip at the end. The tail can be carried straight or curled but it should never sit above the level of the back.

The Boston Terrier’s coat is short, smooth and has a natural glossy sheen to it. But what makes the Boston Terrier really stand out from the crowd is their distinct markings that make them look like they’re wearing a smart tuxedo. The accepted colours of this breed are:

  • Black and white
  • Black and white brindle
  • Black brindle and white
  • Brindle
  • Brindle and white
  • Mahogany and white
  • Mahogany brindle
  • Mahogany brindle and white
  • Red and white
  • Seal and white
  • Seal brindle
  • Seal brindle and white.

The ideal markings of this breed are a white muzzle and an even white patch that covers the head, breast, collar, all or part of the front legs, and below the hocks on their hind legs.


Boston Terriers are known for their lively and intelligent natures. However, they are also strong-willed dogs that can border on being stubborn. For this reason, its essential that you properly train and socialise your Boston Terrier from puppyhood. Early education will also help them to establish their place in “the pack”, which will lessen the risk of dominant behaviors developing.

It’s worth noting that male Boston Terriers tend to be a lot more territorial and protective than their female counterparts. While they are easy to train, they form very strong bonds with their owners, which can lead to separation anxiety if they are left alone.

Boston Terriers can be a good choice for first-time owners who understand their need for companionship. They also make great family pets as long as someone is home for most of the day.

Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

Boston Terriers can be stubborn. So, consistency and persistence are key to successful training. Watch out for the tone of your voice because these friendly dogs are sensitive. Punishment and other harsh training methods can make Boston Terriers shut down. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement training methods using treats, fuss, or playtime as rewards for good behaviour.

Crate training is recommended while you housetrain your Boston Terrier but bear in mind that they can take up to 6 months to become fully housetrained.

Like many dog breeds, Boston Terriers require early socialization. Expose them to various situations, people, sights, and sounds during puppyhood. This will help them to grow into confident, well-rounded, and well-behaved adults.

Coat & Care

Boston Terriers are easy to maintain on the grooming front thanks to their short, close-lying coats. Weekly brushing is all that’s needed to keep their skin and coat in good condition. These dogs love one-to-one contact with their human companion. So, take this an opportunity to bond with your dog.

Check their ears regularly to make sure they remain dry and free of any dirt or foreign objects. Wipe them once a week with a damp cloth or cotton ball and a vet-approved ear cleaner. If you notice your Boston Terrier is frequently shaking their head or scratching their ears, you should seek veterinary advice because this can indicate an ear infection.

Furthermore, their nails need to be trimmed once or twice a month or so. While you do this, you can also check their paw pads to make sure they are free of any dirt or cuts.

Brushing their teeth every day is the best approach to prevent tooth and gum disease. However, twice a week brushing is acceptable to prevent tartar buildup.

Additionally, you should get into the habit of checking over your dog's whole body while grooming to see if there are any wounds, rashes, or other signs that may indicate a health condition. Examine their eyes, too. They must be clean and clear without any discharge present.

Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

A Boston Terrier’s average life expectancy is 13-15 years with proper care and handling. Always purchase puppies, regardless of breed, from a reputable and registered breeder because they will run DNA tests to determine if there are any underlying health conditions present.

These outgoing and playful dogs are known to be relatively healthy. However, they can suffer from certain medical conditions including:

  • Patellar Luxation – A congenital health condition that causes the patella to move out of its normal position.
  • Cataracts – Usually affecting older dogs, cataracts develop when proteins and water present in the eye begin to clump together to form a cloud-like substance over the lens. This can cause vision problems and blindness.
  • Deafness – This typically occurs during old age. There are many causes of deafness in dogs. However, many dogs lose their hearing due to chronic ear infections, a genetic abnormality, or degenerative changes in the nerves found inside the ears.

Children & Other Pets

Boston Terriers are cute and small but they can also be a little rowdy! They make great companions for children, but they are more suited to older children. Young children find it difficult to understand that dogs need gentle handling which can lead to injury or even aggression from your dog.

Boston Terriers are known to be quite aggressive towards other dogs, which is why it's vital for them to be socialized from an early age. Introduce these terriers to various situations, people, and other animals before they are fully mature. These dogs are also not suitable for households that have other small animals, especially cats, unless they have grown up with them. Their natural hunting instincts can kick in if there is a smaller animal running around the room!

When properly socialised, these dogs can make loving companions that will give you years of joy and companionship.

Boston Terrier Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

Available Boston Terrier Puppies