The Boston Terrier Dog Breed

Written By: Lindsay Giguiere

Editor: Julie Zawadzki

Dog Breeds
felicitails breed guide about the boston terrier dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere

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The Boston Terrier, affectionately known as the "American Gentleman," is a breed that perfectly embodies charm, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty. As one of the rare dog breeds with its origins in the United States, the Boston Terrier has solidified its place as a cherished companion animal, renowned for its striking looks and amiable character.

Did You Know these Facts about the Boston Terrier?

  • The Boston Terrier is a true-blue American breed, originating from the city of Boston, Massachusetts, in the late 19th century. They are often referred to as the "American Gentleman" due to their tuxedo-like black and white coat.


  • Boston Terriers are known for their versatility. They excel in various roles, from being a loving family companion to participating in dog sports like agility and obedience. Their adaptability is one of their standout traits.


  • Boston Terriers boast a striking coat pattern with a white face and a distinct "tuxedo" design. Each Boston's unique facial markings are like a fingerprint, making them easily recognizable.


  • Despite their small stature, Boston Terriers are full of energy. They're playful and love engaging in activities with their families. Daily walks and interactive playtime are a must to keep them happy and healthy.


  • Boston Terriers are renowned for their affectionate nature. They thrive on human interaction and form strong bonds with their owners. They are excellent with children and can be a great addition to any family.

Boston Terriers have been capturing hearts across the United States for quite some time. In fact, they rank #24 in the American Kennel Club's (AKC) list of most popular breeds. Their charming personalities and adaptability make them a beloved choice among dog owners.

Traits of the Boston Terrier Breed

Overall Personality. Boston Terriers are known for their friendly and gentle disposition. They're affectionate and thrive on human companionship. Their intelligence and willingness to please their owners make them relatively easy to train. They can be a bit stubborn at times but with patience and positive reinforcement, they become obedient and loyal.

Family Life. Boston Terriers are fantastic family dogs. They adore children and are usually good with other pets, especially when properly socialized from a young age. Their small size makes them suitable for apartment living, but they do need daily exercise and playtime to stay happy.

Physical Appearance. Boston Terriers are small, compact dogs with a sleek, muscular build. They typically stand about 15 to 17 inches tall and weigh between 12 to 25 pounds. Their distinctive coat is short, smooth, and shiny, with a color combination of white and either black, brindle, or seal. Their prominent eyes give them an expressive and endearing look.

Sociability. Boston Terriers are sociable dogs. They enjoy being around people and are often called "people dogs." They form strong bonds with their families and can be protective, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they're not overly aggressive and tend to get along well with strangers once properly introduced.

Average Sizes & Life Expectancy

  • Height: 15 to 17 inches tall (38 to 43 cm)
  • Weight: 12 to 25 pounds (5.5 to 11.3 kg)
  • Life Expectancy: Around 11 to 13 years

Detailed Description of the Boston Terrier Breed

The Boston Terrier, often referred to as the "American Gentleman," is a breed that embodies charm, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty. As one of the few dog breeds originating in the United States, the Boston Terrier has established itself as a beloved companion animal, known for its striking appearance and friendly personality.

Physical Appearance. Boston Terriers are small, muscular dogs with a tuxedo-like coat that sets them apart. Their most recognizable feature is their short, sleek coat, which is predominantly white with black, brindle, or seal-colored markings. This unique coat pattern gives them the appearance of wearing a formal suit, earning them their "American Gentleman" nickname. Their expressive eyes are large, round, and dark, exuding an endearing and often inquisitive look. Their ears are small and naturally erect, adding to their alert and attentive expression. With a square, compact body, Boston Terriers exhibit an ideal balance between muscularity and agility. They typically stand between 15 to 17 inches tall and weigh 12 to 25 pounds.

Temperament and Personality. One of the Boston Terrier's most notable traits is its friendly and affectionate nature. These dogs are renowned for forming strong bonds with their human families, often displaying a deep desire to please their owners. Their intelligence and willingness to learn make them relatively easy to train. While they may exhibit a touch of stubbornness at times, positive reinforcement and patience go a long way in teaching them obedience. Boston Terriers have a lively and spirited disposition, making them excellent playmates and companions. They are well-suited for families, particularly those with children, as they adore youngsters and enjoy engaging in interactive play. Their protective instincts, while not aggressive, make them effective watchdogs.

Adaptability. The Boston Terrier's adaptability is one of its standout features. Despite their energetic nature, these dogs are equally content in small living spaces, such as apartments, provided they receive daily exercise and mental stimulation. Their adaptability extends to various living arrangements, making them versatile pets for individuals, couples, or families. Their suitability for different homes is further underscored by their good-natured temperament. They get along well with other pets when introduced properly, making them an excellent choice for multi-pet households. Early socialization is crucial to ensure harmonious interactions.

Care Guidelines. Boston Terriers thrive on human interaction and companionship. They require daily exercise in the form of walks, playtime, and mentally stimulating activities. While they have moderate energy levels, regular exercise helps prevent weight gain, which can be a concern due to their small size. Grooming Boston Terriers is relatively low-maintenance due to their short coats. Brushing them once a week helps remove loose hair and keep their coat healthy. Their facial wrinkles should be cleaned regularly to prevent skin irritation.

Training Strategies. Training should focus on positive reinforcement techniques, as Boston Terriers respond well to praise and rewards. Early socialization is essential to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and friendly adults. With proper training, they can excel in obedience and even participate in dog sports.

Notable in History and Pop Culture. The Boston Terrier's roots trace back to the late 19th century in Boston, Massachusetts. They are a crossbreed between the now-extinct White English Terrier and the English Bulldog. Initially bred for ratting and pit fighting, their lineage evolved to produce the amiable and affectionate companion we know today.

In pop culture, Boston Terriers have made appearances in various films, television shows, and advertisements. Their distinctive appearance and charming personality have made them a popular choice for both the silver screen and print media. Famous Boston Terriers have graced the big screen in movies like "Hugo," "Hotel for Dogs," and "The Back-Up Plan."

In conclusion, the Boston Terrier stands as a testament to American ingenuity, possessing a unique appearance, endearing personality, and adaptability that have earned it a special place in the hearts of dog lovers. Whether as a lively family companion or a loyal partner to individuals, this breed continues to bring joy and companionship to countless homes across the nation.

What to expect when living with the Boston Terrier Breed

Personality. Boston Terriers are renowned for their friendly and good-natured disposition. They thrive on human interaction and become deeply attached to their families. Expect a dog that is both affectionate and eager to please. Their intelligence makes them responsive to training, although a touch of stubbornness may surface at times. They have an even temperament, which makes them great companions for families with children.

Ideal Environment. Boston Terriers are adaptable and thrive in various environments. They are well-suited for urban living, including apartments, as they don't require a large yard. Their moderate exercise needs can be met with daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation. However, it's crucial to remember that they are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so provide shelter and appropriate protection in very hot or cold weather.

Maintenance Level. Boston Terriers are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their short coats require minimal brushing, typically once a week, to remove loose hair. Pay special attention to cleaning their facial wrinkles, as moisture and debris can accumulate in these areas. Regular eye cleaning is essential, as they are prone to eye issues. Overall, they are a clean breed with minimal odor.

Overall Health Expectations and best Health Tests for the Boston Terrier Breed

Health Considerations. Boston Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to specific health issues. Being aware of these potential problems can help you provide the best care for your pet.

Some of the common health issues seen in Boston Terriers include brachycephalic syndrome due to their flat faces, patellar luxation (kneecap dislocation), hip dysplasia, and cataracts. They are also prone to certain allergies and skin conditions. It's crucial to work with a reputable breeder who screens their breeding dogs for these conditions.

Recommended Health Tests. 

  • Eye Examinations. Regular eye examinations can detect early signs of cataracts and other eye conditions common in Boston Terriers

  • Hip Evaluation. A hip evaluation helps assess the risk of hip dysplasia. An orthopedic foundation can perform these evaluations.

  • Patellar Evaluation.  Patellar luxation, a common issue in Boston Terriers, can be evaluated by a veterinarian.

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome Assessment. This assessment ensures that your Boston Terrier can breathe comfortably, as brachycephalic breeds are prone to respiratory issues.

While these health concerns may sound concerning, it's essential to note that responsible breeding practices and regular veterinary check-ups can help manage and mitigate many of these issues. By providing a loving home, proper care, and regular vet visits, your Boston Terrier can enjoy a long and healthy life by your side.

Best Nutrition, Diet & Supplements for the Boston Terrier Breed

Nutrition and Diet. Boston Terriers thrive on a balanced diet that includes high-quality commercial dog food or homemade meals. Opt for food that meets their specific life stage and size requirements. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your Boston Terrier's individual needs. Ensure that your Boston Terrier's diet contains an adequate amount of high-quality protein. Protein is essential for muscle development and overall health. Look for dog food with real meat as the primary ingredient. Boston Terriers can be prone to obesity, so it's crucial to monitor their fat intake. Choose dog food with a moderate fat content to help maintain a healthy weight. Avoid excessive treats and table scraps, which can contribute to weight gain. Carbohydrates, such as grains and vegetables, provide energy for your Boston Terrier. Look for dog food that includes healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, or peas.

Hydration is Key. Ensure your Boston Terrier always has access to fresh, clean water. Proper hydration is vital for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall vitality.

Supplements. While a well-balanced diet should provide most of the necessary nutrients, some Boston Terriers may benefit from supplements. Discuss with your veterinarian whether supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, or probiotics are suitable for your pet's specific needs.

Foods to Avoid. Steer clear of dog foods that contain fillers, artificial additives, and excessive preservatives. These ingredients can be harmful and may lead to allergies or digestive issues. Boston Terriers are prone to obesity, so portion control is essential. Follow the feeding guidelines on the dog food packaging and monitor your dog's weight regularly. Be cautious with treats and avoid overindulgence.

Grooming Requirements for the Boston Terrier Breed

Coat Maintenance and Shedding. Boston Terriers have a short, fine coat that doesn't require extensive grooming. They are known for their distinctive "tuxedo" appearance, which consists of a black coat with white markings. Some Boston Terriers also have a seal coat (a dark brownish-black color). Brush your Boston Terrier's coat once or twice a week to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils. This will help keep their coat shiny and healthy. Boston Terriers are considered a low-shedding breed, making them suitable for individuals with allergies. While they shed minimally, regular brushing will further reduce loose hair around your home.

Paw Care and Hygiene. Check your Boston Terrier's paws regularly for signs of injury, infection, or overgrown nails. Trim their nails as needed to prevent discomfort while walking.

Wrinkly Care. Boston Terriers have adorable facial wrinkles that need attention. Gently clean and dry their wrinkles regularly to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to skin infections.

Bathing Frequency. Boston Terriers don't need frequent baths unless they get particularly dirty. Bathing every few months or when necessary is typically sufficient. Use a mild dog shampoo to avoid skin irritation.

Exercise Required for the Boston Terrier Breed

Boston Terriers are energetic dogs that enjoy staying active. Providing them with adequate exercise is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. Boston Terriers thrive on playtime with their owners. Engage in interactive play sessions, such as fetch or tug-of-war, to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. Take your Boston Terrier for daily walks to satisfy their exercise requirements. Aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour of walking each day. They enjoy exploring their surroundings and will benefit from regular outdoor adventures.

Boston Terriers are intelligent dogs, so mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and obedience training can keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom. They are sociable and enjoy the company of their human family members. They also get along well with other dogs. Arrange playdates or visits to the dog park to allow them to socialize.

Training Tips for the Boston Terrier Breed

Training Boston Terriers can be a rewarding experience, but it requires patience and consistency. 


  • Begin training your Boston Terrier from a young age to establish good behavior habits.
  • Reward-based training with treats, praise, and affection works well for Boston Terriers. They respond positively to positive reinforcement.
  • Boston Terriers have a shorter attention span, so keep training sessions brief and engaging.


  • Use harsh training methods or punishment. Boston Terriers are sensitive and will respond better to gentle correction.

  • Skip socialization. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and friendly dogs.
  • Over do it with treats. While treats are useful for training, be mindful of the quantity. Overfeeding treats can lead to weight gain.

The Boston Terrier Breed is Suitable For

Boston Terriers are well-suited for apartment living due to their small to medium size. They don't require a large yard and can get their exercise through daily walks. Their calm and well-mannered demeanor indoors makes them excellent companions for urban dwellers.

These dogs are known for their affectionate and gentle nature, making them great family dogs. They are particularly good with children and can be a source of joy and playfulness for kids. However, as with any dog, it's essential to supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

Boston Terriers are equally suitable for singles and seniors looking for a loyal and loving companion. Their manageable size, low exercise needs, and friendly disposition make them excellent choices for individuals or retirees who want a devoted furry friend. These dogs typically get along well with other pets, including cats and dogs, especially if they are properly socialized from an early age. Their amiable nature can help foster a harmonious environment in multi-pet households.

While Boston Terriers don't have extremely high exercise requirements, they do enjoy playtime and outdoor activities. They can be wonderful companions for active individuals who enjoy walks, hikes, or jogging.

The Boston Terrier Breed is Not Suitable For

Boston Terriers have short coats and are sensitive to extreme temperatures. They are not suited for living outdoors and should be indoor dogs. Extreme cold or heat can pose health risks to them. They thrive on human companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. They are not the best choice for homes where they would be left alone for most of the day.

Boston Terriers have a friendly disposition, but they may not do well in homes with aggressive or dominant dogs. It's essential to ensure a harmonious pack dynamic if you have multiple dogs. While they don't require extensive exercise, Boston Terriers still need daily walks and playtime. If you're looking for a very low-energy dog, this breed might not be the best fit.

Famous Boston Terrier Owners

Helen Keller - The renowned author and activist Helen Keller owned a Boston Terrier named Sir Thomas. Keller's love for her loyal companion showcased the breed's intelligence and adaptability.

Billie Whitelaw -  The talented British actress Billie Whitelaw had a Boston Terrier named Duffy. Duffy was often seen accompanying her to various events and interviews, emphasizing the breed's affectionate and well-behaved nature.

Louis Armstrong -  The legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong had a Boston Terrier named General. General was known to travel with Armstrong on tour, and their bond was celebrated as a heartwarming example of the human-dog connection.

Accomplishments of the Boston Terrier Breed

The Boston Terrier serves as the official mascot for Boston University. Rhett the Terrier, named after Rhett Butler from "Gone with the Wind," represents the university's spirit and sports teams.

Boston Terriers have made appearances in popular culture, including movies like "Men in Black" and "Hotel for Dogs." Their charming and comical presence on screen has endeared them to many viewers.

They are often used as therapy dogs due to their friendly and empathetic nature. They bring comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Additionally, they excel as emotional support animals and service dogs for those with disabilities.

Overall, Boston Terriers have made a significant impact on the world through their companionship, loyalty, and versatility in various roles, from cherished pets to therapy dogs and mascots.

The History of the Boston Terrier Breed

Creation and Purpose. The Boston Terrier's creation can be traced back to the 1860s when dog fanciers in Boston began crossing the now-extinct White English Terrier (a breed with terrier and bulldog ancestry) with smaller, more refined breeds like the French Bulldog and the Boxer. This intentional crossbreeding aimed to develop a new breed with specific characteristics, combining the tenacity and spirit of terriers with the elegance and gentle nature of the bulldog-type dogs.

The initial goal was to create a small, compact breed suitable for dog fighting, a popular and cruel form of entertainment at the time. However, as attitudes towards dog fighting changed and the breed developed, it was clear that this new dog possessed a different temperament and disposition.

Early Roles and Evolution. As the Boston Terrier breed continued to evolve, it underwent significant changes to its appearance and temperament. The crossbreeding efforts led to a dog with a distinctive tuxedo-like coat pattern, featuring black coats with white markings. This unique appearance made the Boston Terrier stand out and earned it the nickname "American Gentleman."

Temperament-wise, Boston Terriers developed into affectionate, sociable, and intelligent dogs with a gentle disposition. They became known for their friendly nature and excellent compatibility with families. This shift in temperament led to their popularity as companion animals rather than fighters.

In 1893, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Boston Terrier as a breed. It became one of the first American breeds to gain AKC recognition. Since then, the breed's popularity has steadily grown, and Boston Terriers have become cherished pets for families across the United States and beyond.

Changes and Modern Impact. Today, Boston Terriers are renowned for their adaptability, making them suitable for various living environments, from city apartments to suburban homes. They excel in various roles, including being beloved pets, therapy dogs, and even service dogs for those in need.

The Boston Terrier Breed Standard

The Boston Terrier belongs to the Non-Sporting Group according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). This group includes a diverse range of breeds, each with its unique characteristics. The Boston Terrier's classification here reflects its distinctive traits that set it apart from other breeds.

The formal Breed Standard for Boston Terriers, as established by the American Kennel Club (AKC), provides a detailed description of the ideal Boston Terrier. According to this standard, Boston Terriers are compact, well-proportioned dogs with a distinctive tuxedo-like black and white coat. Their head is square and expressive, and they possess a friendly and intelligent demeanor. This breed standard serves as a guideline for breeders and judges in dog shows to assess Boston Terriers accurately.

The National Boston Terrier Club (NBTC) is the primary organization dedicated to this breed in the United States. You can find a wealth of information about Boston Terriers, including breed history, health guidelines, and responsible breeding practices, on their official website at NBTC Website.

General Appearance

Head, Muzzle, Nose. The Boston Terrier's head is distinctive, characterized by its square shape and well-defined features. The skull is flat on top, with a pronounced stop. The eyes are round, dark, and set wide apart, giving the Boston Terrier its intelligent and expressive gaze. Ears are small, erect, and can be cropped or left natural. They stand alert, adding to the breed's keen expression. The muzzle is short and square, contributing to the Boston Terrier's brachycephalic appearance. Their nose is broad and black, with well-opened nostrils. This distinctive nose coloration contrasts beautifully with the white facial markings, which often form a "blaze" or "star" on the forehead.

Teeth. Boston Terriers have a strong scissor bite, where the upper incisors neatly overlap the lower ones. Their teeth should be even and well-aligned. Dental care is essential to maintain healthy teeth, as dental issues can be more prevalent in brachycephalic breeds.

Neck. The Boston Terrier boasts a slightly arched neck that flows gracefully into their well-constructed shoulders. The neck is muscular and of moderate length, providing a balanced appearance.

Body. Boston Terriers have a compact, muscular body. They have a deep chest, well-sprung ribs, and a short, strong back. Their body is well-proportioned, conveying both strength and agility. The breed's square-shaped body aligns with its square head.

Tail. The Boston Terrier's tail is short and ideally set low on the rump. It may be straight or slightly curved but never docked. The tail is carried low and is in harmony with the overall body proportions.

Coat. Boston Terriers boast a smooth, short coat that requires minimal grooming. Their coat color is unique and iconic: a combination of black and white, often resembling a tuxedo. The white coat covers most of the body, while black markings, including a mask-like face and evenly distributed patches, give them their signature appearance.

Size. Boston Terriers are a small breed with a sturdy build. They typically stand around 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 cm) in height at the withers and weigh between 12 to 25 pounds (5.4 to 11.3 kg). Females tend to be slightly smaller than males.

Gait. Boston Terriers have a distinctive and lively gait. Their movement is free and graceful, reflecting their agile and spirited nature. They have good reach in the front and strong drive in the rear, allowing for efficient and balanced locomotion.

Reputable Breeders

For those seeking a well-bred Borzoi there are reputable breeders who prioritize health, temperament, and the breed's standard. Here are a few notable breeders:

  1. T-Bo’s Boston Terriers

  2. Buster’s Boston Babes

  3. Lytle’s Boston Terriers

  4. Little Bit of Heaven Boston Terriers

Top Shelters for Adoption

Adopting a dog can be a rewarding experience. Here are five shelters where you might find a Borzoi in need of a loving home:

  1. Arizona Boston Terrier Rescue

  2. Old Dominion Boston Terrier Rescue

  3. Southern Cross Boston Terrier Rescue

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the Boston Terrier Breed

What is the Boston Terrier's average lifespan?

Boston Terriers typically live for 11 to 13 years, although some can live longer with proper care.

Are Boston Terriers good with children?

Yes, Boston Terriers are known for their friendly and gentle nature, making them great companions for children.

Do Boston Terriers shed a lot?

Boston Terriers have a short coat that doesn't shed excessively. Regular grooming can help manage their shedding.

Are Boston Terriers prone to any specific health issues?

Boston Terriers can be prone to brachycephalic syndrome and certain genetic conditions. Responsible breeding and regular vet check-ups can help manage these risks.

Are Boston Terriers easy to train?

Yes, Boston Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, making them generally responsive to training. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key.

A Final Tip for Bringing a Boston Terrier into Your Life

Bringing a Boston Terrier into your life is like gaining a loyal, affectionate, and charming friend. These "American Gentlemen" thrive in loving homes where they receive attention and care. Their adaptable nature makes them suitable for various living situations, from apartments to houses with yards. 

Valuable Resources for Your Journey to Parenting a Boston Terrier

At Felicitails you will find many wonderful services, supplies and guides for your life ahead with a loving pup at your side.

Hope You Enjoyed The Read!

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Hello, I’m Lindsay!

A warm welcome from Lindsay & Huck (my English Pointer). Hope you enjoy the read and find just what you are looking for when it comes to living your best life with your loved pets.

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