The Boston Terrier

A Complete Breed Guide


This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Jackie Tenni, BVSc.

Dubbed the American Gentlemen due to his characteristic tuxedo markings, the Boston Terrier is an affectionate and lively family pet.

At a glance
Common health problems
Further reading

Top toy recommendations for Boston Terriers

At a glance


Breed size:

Place of origin:

Other names:



Boston, Boston Bull Terrier, American Gentleman

Breed group:

Energy level:

Weight range:



6.8 - 11.5 kg

Life expectancy:

Tendency to bark:

Height range:

11 - 13 years


28 - 38 cm at shoulder

Drool factor:

Social needs:

Coat length:


High - Boston Terriers are very social dogs that love to be included into family as much as possible


Shedding factor:

Overall grooming needs:




Tuxedo pattern coat of brindle and white, black and white, reddish black and white



The Boston Terrier, as the name suggests, first originated in the City of Boston, USA. To this day the Boston Terrier represents the University of Boston as its Mascot.

The founding sire of the Boston Terriers was a dog called 'Judge'. He was English Bulldog crossed with the now extinct breed the English Terrier. He was imported from Liverpool, England in the 1870s. Judge was bred to a smaller white female called 'Gyp'. Over the next few decades, the progeny of Judge and Gyp was refined from bulky, fighting dogs to the smaller, happy-go-lucky companion dogs we know today.

The Boston Terrier breed was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1893. It is the first official breed to have been created in America.



The Boston Terrier much prefers to be snuggled up on the couch rather than to dig in the garden like other terrier breeds. They are affectionate, intelligent, comical dogs that are compact and easy to care for.

Bostons are suited to older owners but still robust enough to keep up with young children. They form a close bond with their family and can be protective of them. They can be jealous of other pets in the household. Boston Terriers can also be stubborn so consistency during training at an early age is important!



Bostons don't have any specific nutritional requirements. However, keeping in mind their tendency for allergic skin disease, a diet high in omega fatty acids will help to support healthy skin barrier function. They can also have sensitive stomachs and be prone to upsets - so it's recommended to avoid sudden diet changes.

Top food recommendations for Boston Terrier Puppies

Top food recommendations for adult Boston Terriers

Common Health Problems


Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Boston Terriers are a Brachycephalic ('flat faced') breed which can lead to obstructive airway syndrome in certain individuals. Affected animals can vary in severity from noisy or laboured breathing to complete collapse of the airway. This condition is worsened by heat and exercise therefore extreme caution is advised when exercising and playing in the heat.

Patellar Luxation

A common condition in smaller breed dogs where the kneecap slips out of place. This results in a sudden skipping gait which may resolve just as quickly once the kneecap slips back in place. The severity of patella luxation can vary and some need surgery to correct the condition. Left untreated it can result in painful arthritis.


This is a condition which affects some Bostons is thought to be related to the selection of Boston’s with curly 'screw tails'. Essentially a hemi vertebrae is a wedge shaped 'half vertebrae', which causes a twist when it occurs in the lowest, tail part of the spine. Unfortunately sometimes these hemi vertebrae can turn up further up the spinal cord in the lumbar or thoracic area causing compression of the spinal cord which worsens as the dog grows, resulting in symptoms including chronic pain, weakness in the hind limbs, wobbliness and incontinence.

Eye Conditions

That 'bulgy eyed' Boston look sure is heart melting, but it does leave their eyes more exposed to sustaining traumatic injury, including proptosis (popped out eyeball) and corneal ulcers (sores on the surface of the eye). As a breed, Bostons also have a predisposition to other eye conditions which may be inherited including keratoconjunctivitis sicca ('dry eye'), cataracts (clouding of the lens in the eye leading to blindness) and glaucoma (excessive pressure inside the eye).


Boston terriers can suffer from various types of allergies. Atopic Dermatitis can result in itching, hair loss and red, inflamed skin. Often affected dogs may lick their paws excessively and have recurrent ear infections. Contact allergies can cause similar symptoms in dogs however the reaction is limited to areas where the dog has come into direct contact with the allergen (usually plants). Diagnosis of allergic skin disease in dogs can take some time as the underlying cause needs to be discovered, usually through a process of elimination.

Top health and supplement recommendations for Boston Terriers



Boston Terriers are generally even-tempered, loyal dogs. Their activity levels vary from hyperactive and clownish to couch potatoes - so if you are getting a puppy be prepared for either end of the spectrum! They enjoy interactive games such as fetch to keep busy as well as lots of family time.

Bostons are fiercely protective of their families and can get a little jealous if they are not the centre of attention. They can suffer from separation anxiety if left on their own so consider giving them a treat dispenser or other interactive toys if left on their own during the day.

Further Reading

Premium Pet Food: Is it Worth it?

New Puppy Guide

Brachycephalic airway syndrome in dogs

How To Choose A Dog Breed That's Right For You

Managing Separation Anxiety in Pets