- AKC recognized in 1893
- Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
- Size: Small
- Energy: Medium
- Recommended Crate Size: 24” dog crate*
Return to main Dog Crate Size Breed Chart.
The Boston Terrier is a small dog breed which was the 21st most popular dog in 2016. It is so popular that many famous people own or have owned ones like Hellen Keller, Louis Armstrong, and Brendon Urie.
This dog is actually the very first breed originating from the United States. Back in 1870, Robert C. Hooper from Boston bought a dog named Judge.
Judge, a mix between an English Bulldog and English Terrier, is known to be the ancestor of almost all modern Boston Terriers.
The Boston Terrier was bred to a female dog named Gyp, and they had a puppy called Eph. Eph and his offspring are the original ancestors of this type of breed.
Due to its birthplace in Massachusetts, the Boston Terrier became the official dog of the State. This is unique as not every State in the US has an official dog breed, since only a few breeds originate from America.
In the past, this breed was used in dogfights. At that time, the body posture was larger and heavier (weighed up to 44 pounds).
Once this fighting became illegal, the size of the dog breed shrunk into the smaller ones we see today.
Most Boston Terrier puppies have to be delivered through C-section. This is because they have a larger head, which can make it impossible for the mother to give birth naturally.
The American Kennel Club formally recognized the Boston Terrier in 1893. These medium energy dogs are known as friendly, lovable, and gentle.
They are amazing companions for families and always love to spend time together with their owners. They may even seem miserable when no one pays attention to them.
This dog breed is an excellent choice as a guard dog. They are very protective toward their family despite their small-sized body.
They will bark very loudly whenever they feel danger coming toward their territory or companions. The Boston Terrier is also known to possess high intelligence. This allows them to learn things quickly.
The Boston Terrier has such a well-proportioned body. They have a square-shaped head with straight pointy ears and a short wrinkle-free muzzle. What makes this dog unique is the markings on their coat.
They seem like they are wearing a tux, which is the reason behind their nickname as the “American Gentleman”.
This dog generally comes in white markings with a black, seal, or brindle-colored coat. The Boston Terrier can weigh up to 25 pounds with a height of 15 – 17 inches.
It is recommended to provide feed formulated to small-sized breeds. It is highly recommended to discuss your dog’s feed with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure health, long life. It is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.
The Boston Terrier only requires minimal grooming thanks to their short coat. Owners should use a short soft-bristled brush or a soft glove brush, which will help remove dirt or loose hair.
Some owners also use eye drops to keep their eyes clear and clean. Regular brushing of teeth and trimming of its nails is also recommended. Finally, be sure to check its ears for debris or a build up of wax that may lead to an infection.
It is a great idea to go outside with them and play things like Frisbee or even hop on a skateboard (if you can).
Daily walks, jogs in the dog park or at the beach will make them incredibly happy. This medium energy dog needs regular exercise in order to keep them healthy.
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Pet Crate Size
Pet Crates Direct recommends 24” dog crates* for most adult Boston Terriers.
* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.
Boston Terrier- A Gentleman and a Scholar
The Boston Terrier was endearingly deemed “The Little American Gentleman” back in the 19th century and is still just as charming, polite and courteous as he was then.
Intelligent and loving, the Boston Terrier is a small size dog but don’t tell him that. He is sure he’s six foot something.
A Deeper Look
The appearance of the Boston Terrier is unmistakable. He sports a built-in tuxedo (and what proper gentleman doesn’t?). His coat is usually Seal colored or black with a reddish tint to it in the sunlight.
They can be brindle too. Their white blazed face, chest, and muzzle look as if he is wearing a tux. True Bostons are never solid without the tuxedo markings so don’t be fooled by a breeder who tells you an unmarked Boston Terrier puppy is a “rare find”.
Short and stocky with strong muscles and a sure and confident stance, the Boston has big, round eyes that he certainly knows how to use for his benefit. His face is broad, his nose, flat.
The breed is in a class called “brachycephalic” dogs which have lower jaws and short upper jaws which tend to make their faces appear to be pushed in.
Bostons generally stand anywhere from 12 to 17 inches, regardless of their weight. There are three classes of weight 15 pounds and under, 15-19 pounds and the 20 to 25-pound class.
You might think they are larger though because their carriage (and their attitudes) go well beyond their size.
They have a short tail that is not to be docked and a low-set bottom. Their necks are slightly arched, their chests are broad and their neckline is very sturdy which all adds up to a boxy overall appearance.
Boston Terriers are often mistaken for French Bulldogs. The French Bulldog’s build is different in that it slightly falls right behind the shoulders, then curves again before his tail.
There are no distinct details in AKC standards while the Boston Terrier does. The Boston has a sloping shoulder that gives him “that” walk he is so famous for. His forelegs are straight while the French Bulldog’s is narrower.
Of course, the Boston Terrier’s tuxedo markings usually set him apart but it is not unheard of for a Frenchie to have markings that could be mistaken for a nice tux. While both breeds are similar in character and appearance, they each deserve their own special place under the spotlight.
History of the Boston Terrier
The history of the Boston Terrier is a bit sketchy. While there are different versions of their beginnings, it is fairly unanimous that their roots originated in Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1800s.
One theory has it that wealthy families in the area crossed Bulldogs with English White Terriers (now extinct) in order to create a new breed of dog fighters.
Other adamantly believe that Robert C. Hooper, a Bostonian, imported an English Terrier - Bulldog mix dog named Judge from England in 1865 which begat the breed.
The story goes even further to say that he did so because he was attempting to replicate a beloved dog he had as a child. Yet another possibility is said to be that Hooper actually purchased Judge in 1870 from a fellow Bostonian named William O’Brian.
According to the historical accounts, Judge really did exist, no matter how the beginning went. He was a high-stationed, very well-built dog who weighed in at 32 pounds.
He sported a blocky, square head and had a white blaze gracing his face against his otherwise brindle coloring.
Judge was only bred one time and that was to a white dog topping in at all of 20-pounds. Her name was Kate although she was also known as Burnette’s Gyp.
One lone pup resulted from the breeding, a male who was named Well’s Eph. Although he wasn’t the most attractive dog, he did have admirable characteristics and thus was bred extensively.
Well’s Eph was mated with Tobin’s Kate, a 20-pound brindle female with a short head and a three-quarter length tail. It is suspected that their offspring were bred with French Bulldogs and the line of Boston Terriers truly began.
They were not called Boston Terriers back then though. Instead, they were called “Boston Bull Terriers”, “American Terriers”, “Boston Bulldogs” and even “Bullet Heads” and “Round Heads”.
Regardless of the specifics, Bostons came into our lives, quite possibly for the purpose of being ferocious fighting dogs.
That would not be how the story came to be, fortunately. Or, perhaps the breed began with the efforts of one man trying to replace a childhood companion dog. We may never fully know.
It was in the year 1889 that a group of Boston Bull Terrier owners formed the American Bull Terrier Club. At that time, the breed name was narrowed down to “Bull Terriers” or “Round Heads”.
Both names were frowned upon by Bulldog and Bull Terrier fans so the club name was changed to the Boston Terrier Club and the dogs were endearingly referred to as “Boston Bulls”.
Four years later, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed and named them “Boston Terriers”. They were among the first of the non-sporting dogs to be inducted into the AKC who were bred in the United States.
They were also in the first 10 breeds recognized by the AKC that were bred on American soil.
Oddly, the markings and color of the Boston Terrier were not considered to be very relevant. That changed, however.
After years of methodical breeding, distinctive color and markings were established for the breed in the 1900s.
Boston Terriers are loaded with personality. They can leave you stunned, wondering if it is your imagination or if they really are as intelligent as they seem.
They are super smart, so there is no need to doubt their intelligence. Sometimes, they are perhaps too smart for their own good.
Bostons have a lively and loving nature. They tend to be extremely affectionate and excellent with children. Showing off is part of their attention-loving personality.
They can also be very strong-willed and stubborn with tons of attitude and can lean on the hyper side too.
The more you involve your Boston in family activities, the better. They thrive on human companionship so they generally fit right into functions whether it’s a nice ride in the car or a day at the park.
Fetch is a favorite game so don’t forget to grab a ball or stick. They are also quite good at fly ball and are much more agile than many people realize.
Some say that Boston Terrier puppies are lazy but others would argue quite the contrary.
Bostons are known for their bounding energy level as a rule but the answer may lie in what breed you are comparing them to. Their energy level can depend on how much exercise he is getting too.
If you walk your pup in the morning, he’ll be less likely to have exceeding energy all day which is a positive thing.
The weather condition is something you will want to consider when exercising your Boston Terrier. If it is too hot or too cold outdoors, it is best to let him run and romp inside to get his exercise.
You may also try to accommodate his sensitivities by walking him in the cool of the day during the summer time and in the warmer hours in the winter. Be sure he doesn’t get too winded while walking, no matter what temperature the weather is.
Popularity of the Boston Terrier
In 1915, Boston Terriers were the most popular breed in America. Three years later, there were already 60 Bostons competing in a single all-breed show.
They were the most loved breed again in 1920 and in 1930 too. They managed to stay within the top ten until the 1960s.
When the silent movies came to the screen, Bostons were there. Pola Vegri, who was actor Rudolph Valentino’s girlfriend, took her Boston Terrier everywhere she went.
When one restaurant refused to let her dog, Patsy, in so she protested, “No Patsy, no Pola. Goodbye forever!” Pola wasn’t the only famous person with a Boston named Patsy. The well-known gossip columnist, Louella Parsons, had one too.
When 1976 rolled around, it just seemed fitting that the Boston Terrier was chosen to be the United States’ bicentennial dog. After all, he was the best-dressed canine in the nation.
Then, the Boston was elected as Massachusetts’ official state pooch. Boston University picked a Boston Terrier named Rhett as their mascot and Redlands High School of California and South Carolina’s Wofford College took Bostons as their mascots too.
A good number of celebrities are wild about their Bostons like Helen Keller, Louis Armstrong, Famke Janssen, actress and reality show host Allison Sweeny, and director, actress and singer Rose McGowen.
Former U.S. Presidents Warren Harding had one who he named Hub. Gerald R. Ford actually had two, Spot and Fleck. The late comedian Joan Rivers had one as well.
Not only have celebrities owned Bostons, but some are also famous in their own right. The character dog, Toto, in the series “Oz” is believed to be a Boston Terrier.
Even his traits and looks are true to the breed so although it was never stated that he was a Boston, it is fairly evident by the description.
Chopper, the motorcycle riding dog is a Boston. Although he looks tough as nails, he is said to have a heart of gold.
He often travels around helping the needy. He’s also a therapy dog with papers to prove it. He was even nominated for the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
One of the main health issues that are known to occur in the breed is heat stress. Because they are short-nosed dogs, they are not able to cool the air that goes into their lungs as longer-nosed canines can.
That makes them more likely to suffer from heat stress. Their short noses also can cause them to drool, snore and snort.
Because they are very short-haired dogs, they aren’t fit for very cold weather either. Bostons are prone to have respiratory conditions.
For that reason, it is a good idea to avoid any pulling on his collar and to avoid having him out in frigid weather for an extended length of time.
There are some rather peculiar health conditions Bostons can get. One is megaesophagus which is a defect in his esophagus structure which leads to regurgitating his undigested food.
It is similar to vomiting but does not activate an advanced warning and there is no visible effort put out on his part during the process. It just happens without notice and is not as controlled.
Reverse sneezing is another interesting phenomenon a Boston may experience. Often taking place when he is very excited if pollen is bothering him or if he gulps his food too rapidly, his soft palate will actually close up over his windpipe due to nasal secretions dropping onto it.
You can try soothing him through talking to him and staying calm yourself. Relaxing will help him greatly. You might also try pinching his nostrils closed or placing your hand over his nose in order to force him to breathe through his mouth.
Do not do this for an extended period of time. Your vet will assist in teaching how to manage this condition.
Boston Terriers are given to eye issues too. Due to the large size of his eye and the way they protrude, corneal ulcers are common.
You should be cautious when you are walking him or playing with him so his eyes don’t bulge out too far.
Cataracts, a cloudy film over the eye lens, aren’t unusual to see in Bostons. The condition can be juvenile or adult onset. Cherry eye is another eye problem, believed to be genetic in nature, your Boston may encounter.
It is a prolapse of the third eyelid gland. Typically, the issue is seen in pups younger than one year of age. Surgery can usually correct cherry eye.
Another issue you may face with owning a Boston is flatulence. He can get a bit gassy so, be forewarned. Bostons are passionate about their food as a rule and can easily be overeaters if allowed to be. Controlling his diet can be a lifesaver in this area, literally.
Since the breed tends to have a head that is large in proportion to his body, giving birth can be challenging. It is not unusual for a Boston to require a cesarean section. The litters are usually quite small, with one or two pups as the norm.
Patellar Luxation, or slipped stifle, is pretty common in little dogs such as the Boston Terrier breed. The condition is caused when the patella consists of three parts which are not lined up correctly.
Lameness or an abnormal gait are symptoms of the disease. It can lead to other problems as well as degenerative joint disease and arthritis.
Deafness is more common in Bostons than in many other breeds. It may occur in one or in both ears. A BAER test will help determine if a Boston Terrier puppy has good hearing prior to purchase.
Incidentally, deaf puppies are more frequently produced from Bostons with more than one-third white coloring on their bodies or heads.
Allergies run rampant in Bostons. They suffer from both food and contact allergies oftentimes. If you notice yours is licking his paws excessively or rubbing his face, he very well may have allergies. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat him.
Unfortunately, Boston Terriers are somewhat prone to heart murmurs which is a loud or soft, harsh sound of the heart due to a backflow of blood that is going into the left atrium.
Due to this condition, his heart is not able to hold up as a normal heart does. A diet that is low in sodium may be recommended for treatment. Exercise may be limited and medication may be prescribed.
While the number of conditions that may possibly affect your Boston seem overwhelming, it is helpful to select one that is from a reputable breeder and is certified as healthy.
Doing so will help raise the chance you will end up with a healthy dog and after all, that’s what it’s all about.
Boston Terriers are not high maintenance when it comes to grooming but they do have some requirements. They have smooth coats so you will want to bath him regularly, even as often as once a week.
Doing so will keep his skin and fur healthy. It’s not a good idea to go longer than six weeks without giving him a bath.
How often he bathes will most likely depend upon his lifestyle like how often he goes outside and what he does when he’s out there. A powder shampoo can be used as an optional bath in between full-fledged ones.
Brushing your pup prior to bathing him is ideal. Or, you can even use a high-velocity hair dryer to loosen the dirt and dander off his skin and the dander too.
Doing so will also help to hasten the shedding process, especially in the spring and fall months when they tend to shed more.
The facial area of the Boston needs special tender loving care. You can use a human facial cleanser to get dirt and grime out, focusing on the spots in between the wrinkles since that area tends to be susceptible to bacteria build up. You can even use a facial scrub occasionally.
Just because Boston’s have short hair doesn’t mean they don’t shed at all. They won’t shed as much if they are brushed twice a week and bathed every week or two. If you suffer from allergies, you’ll be delighted to know the breed is a hypoallergenic one.
Be sure to attend to the needs of your Boston’s eye area. Watch carefully for any signs of infection such as redness, swelling, tenderness, discharge or irritation. Brushing his teeth two to three times per week is wise to keep tartar from building up and to promote healthy gums and good breath.
Toenails are another issue. Trim them once or twice a month, especially if he’s not outside a lot or where he naturally wears them down. Be careful not to cut the nails into the quick.
Dog’s nails actually have blood vessels in them. If you cut down too far once, you’ll likely have trouble getting his cooperation to trim them again.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Boston Terrier to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth.
Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet.
Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Keep your Boston’s ears clean and dry. Check them when you brush or bathe him to be sure they aren’t red or swollen. If he paws at them, have them checked by a veterinarian.
Training Your Boston
Since Bostons can be on the stubborn side, training them can be a bit of a challenge. But since they are extremely intelligent, it certainly can be done. You will need patience though.
One thing that is very true about the breed is that they are ultra-sensitive to the tone of your voice. With that in mind, you will want to train them in a soft and loving voice or you’ll get nowhere with them. When their feelings are hurt, Boston’s tend to respond rebelliously. Praise training is recommended.
While they do well with treat training too, you’ll want to be sure to keep their caloric intake at a minimum because Boston’s love to indulge. Boston Terriers tend to take quite well to crate training.
Do remember that if he only obeys if you give him a treat, he is running the show. Positive-only training where he is rewarded for affection or play time is optimal as is respect training where your dog obediently minds you because you are the one in charge, the leader of the pack.
As early on as possible, train your Boston Terrier to socialize. Take him around new people, places and things. Expose him to different noises too.
Of course, you’ll want to house train him, first and foremost. It’s a good idea to have an area he can be in so that he is not free to roam the entire house during training time, especially when he is home alone.
A laundry or mudroom is fantastic or you can even crate potty train him, taking him out at regular intervals to relieve himself. In addition, be sure to take him to the spot he can “go” every hour or so when possible. Provide an alternative for times he can’t go out such as a litter box or newspaper.
Leash training usually goes over quite well with Boston Terriers. Once you show him who is in control and what it is you expect out of him, you’ll probably have a nice little walker on your hands.
Sitting, begging and even playing dead are among the tricks a Boston can usually pick up fairly quickly. He’s a smart dog so as long as you get his attention and interest, the rest should be smooth sailing. He loves to be the center of attention so use that to your benefit and training will be a breeze.
Boston Qualms and Calms
Fortunately, Boston Terriers aren’t too bad about barking without a cause. They do, however, love to dig so watch your flower garden and never leave him unattended in a backyard where he could dig an escape route.
He may be a small dog but he doesn’t see things that way. The breed can be very territorial and are not afraid to put a large dog in its place or to try, at least. So nip that bad habit in the bud and you will see that he gets along quite well with humans and other animals alike.
It has been said that Boston Terriers cannot swim. That’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of Bostons who are fantastic swimmers and many who are not so do be sure to find out and if he can’t swim but has interest, by all means...teach him to.
Bostons make good guard dogs in that they will usually alert you if someone is coming up. Some will even yelp relentlessly when a stranger enters the home but others see new people as a good audience for the latest trick or a new set of hands to pet them.
Since Boston Terriers are such people loving dogs, they are often chosen as companions for the elderly. Even though they are energetic and enthusiastic, they can be calming as well.
Bostons have found a place in many older peoples’ hearts and seem to just be a perfect fit there. They are good with young children too as long as they don’t get too excited and accidentally knock them over. As such, supervision is advised.
Exercising Your Boston Terrier
A good Boston Terrier is a well-exercised Boston Terrier. Although they are small enough to do superbly in smaller living spaces, Bostons do need ample exercise as they are full of energy. Thirty or more minutes a day of walking and some heavy duty play time is advisable so your Boston stays out of trouble (like releasing his anxiety by chewing your new shoes up).
Properly exercising your Boston isn’t just to keep him out of trouble. It is vital to his health. Without adequate exercise, he will be prone to heart conditions, obesity and even bone and muscle problems.
Mental exercise is important for your Boston too. He’s very smart so you will want to keep him challenged. There are some great dog brain games* you can engage with him in. You can find intellectual game instructions and ideas in books and online and you can find fun smart toys at pet stores too.
Walking and playing time isn’t a chore though. Your Boston will enjoy the time you spend with him which will make it pleasurable for you as well.
Is a Boston Right for Your Family?
Before you bring a Boston Terrier puppy, or adult, into your life, for his sake and your own, make sure he’s a good fit for you and your family.
One big thing to consider is the slobbering and breathing issues. Can you handle a little drool and perhaps some backward sneezing? Oh, and your Boston may pass gas, snore and wheeze a bit too.
If you can deal with the little inconveniences, a Boston Terrier makes an awesome addition to most any family and is also ideal for a single person or the elderly. The breed is fabulous for first-time pet owners too.
If you are looking for a dog that can live in an apartment or smaller space with you...bingo! He doesn’t even have to have a yard as long as you walk him religiously. The Boston Terrier is one of the most adaptable breeds you will find.
Whether you want a sidekick to walk the block with or a mound of fur to snuggle beside you, you’ll find a Boston fits the bill for both. So if you are in the market for a lovable companion and lively lap dog that’s dressed for success, why not give a Boston Terrier a try?