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Boston Terrier

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The Boston Terrier was once a pit fighting dog but today is now a favored companion and sometime therapy dog. It excels in several dog sports and competitions including rally obedience, dog agility, flyball, barn hunt, weight pulling, tracking, obedience training, lure coursing and dock diving. It is favored for its versatility and its friendliness.

Here is the Boston Terrier at a Glance
Name Boston Terrier
Other Names Boston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier
Nicknames American gentleman, Boxwood
Origin U.S.A
Average size Small to medium
Average weight 10 to 25 pounds
Average height 15 to 17 inches
Life span 10 to 14 years
Coat type Smooth, shorthaired
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black & white, black & brindle & white, bindle & white, seal & white, seal & brindle & white
Popularity Very good – Ranked 22nd by the AKC
Intelligence Very good – It is a smart breed
Tolerance to heat Moderate – Not good in hot climates
Tolerance to cold Good – Does best in moderate climates
Shedding Low to moderate – Does not shed too much
Drooling Low to moderate – Not much drooling going on
Obesity Average – Some may overeat if it is not monitored but obesity is not a common issue
Grooming/brushing Easy to brush – Brush its coat two to three times a week
Barking Occasional – not too bad with barking but does make snuffling and grunting noises too
Exercise needs Fairly active – will need daily walks
Trainability Easy to train – Intelligent and eager to please
Friendliness Excellent – friendly and approachable
Good first dog Very good – first time owners will get on well with it
Good family pet Very good to excellent
Good with children Excellent – Gets on great with children
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization
Good with strangers Very good – does well with strangers
Good apartment dog Very good due to its size and calmness indoor but needs walking each day
Handles alone time well Moderate to good – Some handle it better than others though
Health issues Several some major and some minor including eye problems, heart problems, breathing problems and gas!
Medical expenses $460 a year including basic medical needs and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year for a license, training and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $820 a year as a starting guide
Cost to purchase $1000
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 2 Maimings: 0 Child victims: 0 Deaths: 1

The Boston Terrier's Beginnings

The Boston Terrier's beginnings start in 1870 when Robert Hooper from Boston bought a Bull and terrier dog whom he named Judge. Judge is thought to be the ancestor of Boston Terriers. From ancestors with a fighting history it was once almost twice the size it is now at 44 pounds being a cross between the English Bulldog and the English White Terrier (now extinct). Judge was bred with a female that was smaller and then a resulting male puppy was bred to an even smaller female. They also used the French Bulldog in the mix.

In 1870 it was shown at its first dog show and was well received. Admirers though did not like its name or Roundhead nickname. By the late 1880s it was popular in Boston and a club was formed called the American Bull Terrier Club who then changed the dogs name and their name to the Boston Terrier Club. In 1893 the AKC recognized it. The dog was the first US bred non-sporting dog to be recognized by the AKC. At first its markings and coloring were not considered important and there were many inconsistencies. But by the turn of the century a standard included them.

New Lease on Life

By 1915 the Boston Terrier had become the most popular dog in America and was number one again 1920 and 1930, and in the top ten according to the AKC right up until the 1960s. There have been famous owners over the years from Pola Negri to Louella Parsons and it is the official state dog of Massachusetts. It is also the mascot for Redlands High School, Ca, Wofford College, Sc, and Boston University. Over the years it has become a much more mellow dog and today is ranked 22nd most popular dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Boston Terrier is a small to medium sized dog weighing 10 to 25 pounds and standing 15 to 17 inches tall. It has a short coat that is smooth and fine. Colors are Black & white, black & brindle & white, bindle & white, seal & white, seal & brindle & white. Its body is sturdy with a wide chest and a short tail.

It has a squared head with erect ears and a short muzzle. It is a short dog and has large dark eyes and erect small ears. These can be left natural or in countries where it is still allowed they may be cropped.

The Inner Boston Terrier



The Boston Terrier is an enthusiastic dog, very smart and alert who can be a little high strung and over active on occasions if it does not get enough mental and physical stimulation. It is usually gentle natured though and and sensitive so does not respond well to scoldings or harsh treatment. It is friendly with strangers and loves to a part of the family doing whatever the family is doing.

It can be playful and tends to have its own unique personality with some being clown like, some being dignified, some being lively and some being calm. It is a dog that can have a stubborn side to it. It prefers to always have company and can bond more closely to one owner. It senses its owners moods and is dependable. It can act as a watchdog and is prone to making a lot of snuffling and snorting noises.

Living with a Boston Terrier

Training expectations

It is not a hard dog to train as it is intelligent and eager to please. However sometimes its stubborn side might slow things down a little. It is important to make it clear from the beginning that you are the leader of the pack. Be firm and consistent with it using positive techniques like treats, rewards and praise. Without strong leadership a Boston can become willful, bossy and may develop small dog syndrome.

Early socialization and training are key to a dog growing to become the best it can be, dependable and controlled. It will improve how it reacts to different places, events and people.

How active is the Boston Terrier?

Since it is not a hugely active dog when indoors and it is a small to medium size it is perfectly able to live in an apartment as long it gets daily walks outside. It also does not need a yard to play in though if there is one that is a bonus it will enjoy if it has company or something to do in it. When it is outside make sure you take care if it is hot as it does not do well in overly warm weather.

Boston Terriers need some daily walks but it is not excessive. About half an hour a day at a minimum, if it is still acting restless and hyperactive then it could mean it needs more. Make sure it also gets some mental stimulation. Some training and learning tricks or some good toys are a good option. Take it to a dog park regularly where it can socialize and run off leash safely and play doggy games with you.

Caring for the Boston Terrier

Grooming needs

The Boston Terrier is easy to groom using a firm bristled brush. It does shed an average amount so regular brushing, two to three times a week, will help keep on top of loose hair. It will also help in removing debris and moving the natural oils in its skin around its body giving it a healthy sheen. It should only have a bath as it needs one as those important oils can be damaged when it is washed too frequently. As it has large eyes you should wipe its face down with a damp cloth daily and check its eyes for infection signs.

Its ears should be checked for infection and wiped clean once a week. Its nails should be trimmed if they grow too long and it does not wear them down naturally. Dog nails have nerves and blood vessels in them so it can cause bleeding and pain if you cut too low down. If you do not want to risk it have a professional groomer do them for you. Its teeth will need to be cleaned regularly, brush them at least two to three times a week.

Feeding time

It will need to be fed ½ to 1½ cups of good quality dry dog food a day, split into two meals a day at least. How much exactly it needs will depend on its size, its metabolism, its activity levels and its age. Keep in mind that Boston Terriers can be gluttonous, they will over eat if allowed to and that can have several repercussions. Eating too much too quickly can lead to Bloat and it can lead to obesity. Boston Terriers can be gassy and that can be linked to their diet.

Children and other animals

The Boston is usually good with children and can get on well with other pets. With socialization and training and when raised with them this is especially so. However around other dogs there can be dominance issues especially with dogs of the same sex. Usually the show of aggression is just that, a show, but some will challenge males will challenge other makes if they feel their territory has been invaded.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

One of main health issues the Boston Terrier can suffer from are varying eye issues like juvenile cataracts, entropion, late-onset cataracts, distichiasis, glaucoma, corneal ulcers, corneal dystrophy, eye injuries and dry eyes. It can also have breathing problems that can include snoring, drooling, reverse sneezing, snuffling, snorting and overheating. Other health issues include patellar luxation, deafness, cancer, allergies, heart problems and complications with general anesthesia. They can also be prone to having sensitive digestive systems and flatulence can be a result.

Biting Statistics


Looking at reports of dog attacks on people over the last 34 years the Boston Terrier can be found to be involved in 2 attacks which lead to one death. This means there is no need to be concerned over whether this is an aggressive dog, it is very unlikely to attack, keep in mind this is over a 34 year period after all.

It is important when you are looking for a dog to get one you can look after properly. Any dog can become aggressive given certain circumstances no matter their size or history. Make sure you can stimulate it mentally and physically, that you can train and socialize it and that you can feed it and groom it and love it into adult hood.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Boston Terrier is going to cost about $1000 if buying from a decent breeder. Should you want to use the top breeders or are looking for a show dog you can expect that to go up even more. If you are happy to have an adult dog and are interested in re-homing a dog from a shelter or kennel it can cost significantly less at $500 to $200. That would also cover initial medical procedures too.

If those procedures have not been covered for you they will cost around $270 which will include spaying or neutering, micro chipping, an examination, inoculations, deworming and blood tests. Other initial costs for things like collar and leash, crate and carrier will start at $185.

Annual costs for basic medical needs like flea prevention, vaccinations, check ups and health insurance start at $460. Non medical needs like food, training, treats, toys, license and miscellaneous costs come to $360 or more.

In total you can expect yearly costs in owning a Boston Terrier will start at $820.


Looking for a Boston Terrier Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Boston Terrier or the American Gentleman is an all American dog from the late eighteen hundreds. It has very distinguishing marks, it is a small but strong and compact breed and it could be a great companion for most people looking for a dog of this size. It gets along with everyone, it is smart and easy to train. But it will need early socialization and training to help with its aggression or territorial instincts when around same sex dogs and it can be stubborn sometimes.

It is not a quiet dog either. It will fart, slobber, drool, snort, snuffle, snore, wheeze and occasionally bark. Be prepared for that and you and it can have a wonderful 10 to 14 years together.

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