boston terrier puppy


Boston Terrier

A Complete Breed Guide for Boston Terrier Dogs

LAST UPDATED December 2023

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.

Boston Terrier Facts
Common health problems
Related Breeds
Further reading

Boston Terrier Facts


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

How big do Boston Terriers get?

The average adult weight of a Boston Terrier is from 6.5-11.5kg. Their height ranges from 28 - 38 cm at shoulder. The best way to estimate your dog's expected adult weight is to have a look at their mother and father.

How much does a Boston Terrier cost?

Boston Terrier pups in Australia cost approximately $3000 - $6000. Caesarean deliveries are common and costly, due to the strong, square skull, and increase the price to the buyer. Of course, as with any breed, it is cheaper to adopt an adult dog from a rescue.

Do Boston Terriers shed hair?

Boston Terriers do shed a little hair, but they are not considered heavy shedders. Boston Terriers don't shed excessively because of their short coat and small size. Shedding fur is generally easily controlled with regular brushing (once a week is sufficient) with a general plastic bristle brush or a grooming glove.

Are Boston Terriers good pets?

Boston Terriers make excellent pets! They are great couch potatoes and equally good playmates. They are affectionate, intelligent, funny dogs and compact to care for. They are also energetic, playful, and great companions. As with any dog, it is recommended that your child is always supervised when interacting with your Boston Terrier to keep both the child and dog safe.

How much exercise do Boston Terriers need?

While quite active, Boston Terriers suit a house or apartment setting and require less exercise than some other breeds. A daily 30-60 min walk or run around a dog park is enough. Care should be taken exercising a Boston Terrier in during hot times of the day as their brachycephalic face means they are prone to heat stroke.

How long do Boston Terriers live?

The Boston Terrier lifespan is 11-13 years on average. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you take good care of them, never let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

How do I choose a Boston Terrier breeder?

When looking for a Boston Terrier, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and select for healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Do Boston Terriers bark much?

Boston Terriers are terriers, after all, so they are eager to let their family know about intrusion, potential danger, or just give them a happy greeting. That said, they are not known to be yappy. As with any dog, they can be discouraged from barking as frequently with proper training and exercise. To reduce your Boston Terrier's barking, ensure you train with positive reinforcement from a young age and reduce problem behaviours before they begin!

Boston Terrier History

boston terrier panting


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.

Boston Terrier Personality

boston terrier with santa hat


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, so socialisation with other people and animals is important. 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!

Top toy recommendations for Boston Terriers

Boston Terrier Diet and Nutrition

boston terrier with baby dummy in mouth


Boston Terrier puppies

When adopting a Boston Terrier puppy into your home, it's important to have a few things in order:

Adult Boston Terriers don't have any specific nutritional requirements. Our Vet Squad recommends a premium, small breed dog food to keep Boston Terriers in top health and condition.

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 and introduce new foods gradually .

Top food recommendations for Boston Terrier Puppies

Boston Terrier puppies need to eat a premium, small breed diet that is nutritionally formulated to meet AAFCO Guidelines until they are 12 months of age. You may consider a Rotation Diet to provide exposure to different proteins and reduce the risk of food sensitivities.

Raw diets for Boston Terriers? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for Boston Terrier puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination and upsetting their tummies. Plus, an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

Top food recommendations for adult Boston Terriers

It's important to feed your Boston Terrier a suitable diet that is age appropriate and meets all of their nutritional needs. Most Premium Small Breed Adult Dog Foods have smaller kibble to suit small and toy breed mouths. These diets also contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing.

Common Boston Terrier 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

Luxating patellas are 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 prone to allergies - particularly those leading to itchy skin and ear infections. The following products are perfect for Boston Terriers because they help manage their common breed conditions.

Boston Terrier Behaviour


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 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.

Related Breeds

From left: The French Bulldog, the English Bulldog, and the Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is classified in the 'Utility' breed group - this group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dogs of a non-sporting purpose, including the British Bulldog, Dalmatian, and Poodle. The Boston Terrier is the smallest of the Bull breeds - ie, those containing Bulldog blood. While they are not technically classed as 'Bulldogs' in the American Kennel Club, the closest 'related breeds' tend to be Bulldog varieties due to the origins of Bostons. These include...

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog's most prominent distinguishing feature is of course their prominent, raised 'bat ears'. While they may at first appear similar to the Boston Terrier, the Frenchies have a more muscular build and heavy bone structure compared to the leggier Boston. The Boston terrier is leaner and taller, standing up to 38cm, whereas the Frenchie is stockier and shorter at about 30cm.

English Bulldog

The English Bulldog is a thick-set, stocky, well-muscled dog with a pronounced brachycephalic face. Known for being docile, loyal companions, these dogs are great family dogs but aren't well suited to hot Aussie climates due to their respiratory anatomy. They can grow to be a lot taller than the Boston Terrier, with an average adult height of 40cm, and an average weight of 23-25kg.

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