5 Things to Know About Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers are fun, smart little dogs who love being around people and families. Find out more in our profile of “the American Gentleman.”

breed profile boston terrier
Boston Terriers are known as “the American Gentleman,” according to the American Kennel Club. Photo: iStock.com/Helioscribe
AKC GroupAKC Group
12-25 lbs.
15-17 in.
Life ExpectancyLife Span
13-15 years

1. Key Characteristics of Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers (a.k.a. Bostons) are small, muscular dogs with short, square appearances.

The head is square and flat with erect ears and large, round eyes. The tail is low and either straight or curled. The short coat comes in seal, brindle or black with white markings.

This small dog is super intelligent and has a great personality. The Boston Terrier is often called “the American Gentleman” for their appearance and disposition, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

2. Where Boston Terriers Came From

The Boston Terrier is one of the few breeds developed in the United States.

Sometime between 1865 and 1870, an English Bulldog and an English White Terrier were crossed. The offspring were mated with smaller dogs, and this continued until the breed reached the size and appearance we are familiar with today.

Boston Terriers were included in the formation of a new breed club called the American Bull Terrier Club of America. Objections rang from Bull Terrier and English Bulldog breed groups because the club name was too similar to those of their own breeds.

The Boston Terrier Club of America was formed in 1891, when the breed name was changed. The change involved adding the name of the city where the breed originated.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) added the breed to its register in 1893.

boston terrier
Boston Terriers are smart and agile. Photo: Pixabay

3. How Friendly Are Boston Terriers?

Bostons are very intelligent, and this quality makes them easy to train.

They can be difficult to house-train, but regular and consistent training will help avoid dominance and fighting with other dogs.

Bostons can be sensitive to a human’s tone of voice, so keep firm training without harshness in mind. They are generally good with other animals and are often used as therapy dogs.

These dogs are friendly to strangers, are great with children and the elderly, and love staying near their family. They are affectionate dogs who love to play and stay active.

Boston Terriers are considered a brachycephalic breed because of their breathing difficulties and may not be restricted from flying on certain airlines.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: A daily walk and free play is sufficient for this smaller breed. They are not as active indoors as other breeds and do fine with a small yard.

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Bostons can live in apartments — just make sure to provide yours with daily exercise.

Bostons are also sensitive to weather extremes, so keep this in mind when heading outdoors with your dog.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: The short, smooth coat sheds an average amount and is easy to groom with a weekly brushing. Bathe your dog as necessary.

Check the face, eyes and ears daily and clean as needed. Also, trim the nails and clean the dog’s teeth regularly.

Health Problems


HIGH: There are several health problems to watch for in Bostons. While your dog may not experience every problem on the following list, it’s important to know which problems may arise over time.

  • Eye problems: juvenile and senior cataracts, glaucoma, cornea problems and cherry eye
  • Deafness
  • Patellar luxation
  • Tumors (heart and skin)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Easily overheated
  • Snoring
  • Drooling
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Heart murmur
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin allergies

More Stats About Boston Terriers

Friendliness ★★★★★
Ease of Training ★★★★☆
Barking/Howling ★★★☆☆
Shedding ★★☆☆☆
Tolerate Being Alone ★★★☆☆
Very Good With Kids ★★★★★

Learn about life with 3 Boston Terriers in this video:

YouTube player

5. How to Adopt a Boston Terrier

Search for an available Boston Terrier using our free online pet search, or check local shelters and rescues. Purebred dogs can and do end up in many places, so it’s worth checking out these resources in case a Boston is already waiting for a home.

If you do choose to go through a breeder, make sure they are reputable and not running a puppy mill.