Boston Terrier

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Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Boston Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Boston Terrier

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #39 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Boston Terrier breed is also commonly known by the names Boston, Boston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier, American Gentlemen, Boxwood.
9 - 15 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Utility Group
Males 38 - 43 cm
Females 38 - 43 cm at the withers
Males 6.8 - 11.4 kg
Females 6.8 - 11.4 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£1,099 for KC Registered
£955 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Boston Terrier is often referred to as the "American Gentleman" and for good reason. These smart little dogs boast an interesting ancestry owing some of it to the British Bulldog. The breed first appeared on the scene in the States back in 1893 when various terrier and bull type dogs were crossed. The result saw the first pair of dogs being born and it was these dogs that were to form the foundation stock for the Boston Terrier breed that we know and love today.

From then onwards, Boston Terriers have found their way into the hearts and homes of many owners around the world thanks to their smart looks, and their dapper, eye catching appeal. These charming little dogs boast a personality that perfectly matches their good looks, they are always even tempered and a pleasure to have around.


It was in the 1800's that the Boston Terrier first appeared on the scene when an English White Terrier was crossed with an English Bulldog. However, over time many more crosses took place resulting in the breed we see today. Breeds used to create the Boston included English Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls and Boxers as well as many other terrier type breeds that were around at the time.

The original Boston Terrier was a much heavier dog, weighing in at 20 kg, but over the ensuing years these dogs were bred smaller and smaller which resulted in them being the size and weight we are familiar with today. By the turn of the century, the American Bull Terrier Club was established and Boston Terriers became a popular choice as pets and companion dogs throughout their native country. A breed standard was set early in the 20th century which included the Boston's extremely distinctive coat colours and markings. Today, the Boston Terrier is still as popular in the States as it ever was with many schools, universities and clubs having these unique and charming looking dogs as their mascots.


Height at the withers: Males 38 - 43 cm, Females 38 - 43 cm

Average weight: Males & Females as follows:

Lightweight: under 6.8 kg

Middleweight: 6.8 kg - 9.1 kg

Heavyweight: 9.1 kg - 11.4 kg

Known to be a small, affectionate and happy dog, the Boston Terrier can also be a little boisterous when the mood takes them. They boast smooth coats with very distinctive markings and colouring. The overall first impression these little dogs put across is one of grace and strength which is paired to a tremendous amount of style.

Their heads are quite square shaped in appearance and flat on top with dogs boasting a well-defined stop and brow. They have a shortish, square muzzle right to the tip of their nose. Their nose is black and boasts a very defined line in between their nostrils. Bostons also have nice square, broad, strong looking jaws. Their eyes are set wide apart and round in shape boasting a dark colour and these lively dogs always have an alert, yet kind expression in their eyes, but it's also one that shows just how intelligent they are.

Dogs carry their small, thin ears upright which are set wide apart on a dog’s head. Bostons have an even bite although their jaw can be slightly undershot which is acceptable as a breed standard. The length of a Boston's neck is in proportion to the rest of their body which these little dogs arch adding to their graceful and debonair appeal.

Their forequarters are strong with sloping shoulders and straight, well-muscled legs. The Boston has a muscular body with a nice width to their chest and deep, well sprung ribs. Their rump curves slightly giving the impression of a dog having a short body. Their hindquarters are strong looking with well-developed, muscular thighs. They boast small, round and very compact feet with well arched toes. Their tail is set low and quite short, being wider at the base before tapering to the tip. Dogs can either carry their tails straight or curled, but never above the level of their back.

When it comes to their coat, the Boston Terrier has a very distinctive one that's smooth and short with a natural lustre to it. The hair is fine to the touch, but it's their lovely colouring and markings that make the Boston stand out in a crowd with dogs boasting the following as a breed standard:

  • Brindle with white markings - the brindle has to be the distinct colour in a dog's coat
  • Black with white markings
  • Black bindle & white
  • Brindle
  • Brindle & white
  • Mahogany & white
  • Mahogany brindle
  • Mahogany brindle & white
  • Red & white
  • Seal & white
  • Seal brindle & white
  • Seal brindle & white

It is worth noting that brindle is the preferred breed colour although black is perfectly acceptable too. The ideal markings for a Boston should be as follows:

  • Dogs should have a white muzzle
  • Dogs should have an even white blaze covering their head, their collar, breast, all or part of their front legs and white below their hocks on their hind legs


Boston Terriers are known for their intelligent and lively personalities. They can be a little strong willed at times which can border on them being stubborn. This is why it's so important for these little dogs to be well socialised and correctly trained from a young age so they understand what is required of them. Early training also helps establish their place in "the pack" and who is alpha dog in a household reducing the chance of a Boston exhibiting any dominant behaviours.

Male Bostons tend to be a lot more protective and territorial than their female counterparts which is something worth knowing if you are planning to share your home with one of these attractive, lively dogs. With this said, the Boston Terrier is easy to train because they are so intelligent. The problem is that they tend to form a very strong bond with the person who trains them and this can lead to dogs suffering from separation anxiety which can become a real issue for people who go out to work during the day and who have to leave their pets on their own.

When left to their own devices for long periods of time, Boston Terriers can develop all sorts of behavioural problems and this includes excessive barking as well as being destructive around the house. They are a good choice for first time owners as long as they understand a Boston's need to be around people and the fact they thrive on human contact. These dogs are a good choice as a family pet as long as one member of the household is around during the day to keep them company.

They also have a tendency to be a little wary and suspicious of people they don't know, but this all changes once a Boston gets to know a person, it just takes these little dogs a bit of time to trust any strangers they encounter. With this said, early socialisation helps build up a dog’s confidence although Boston Terriers will still be a little standoffish until they know someone.

Intelligence / Trainability

Boston Terriers need to be well socialised from a young age for them to be confident adult dogs. Their training also needs to start as early as possible, but with this said, they are intelligent dogs and always eager and willing to please their owners which means if they are well handled with a firm, yet gentle hand, the Boston Terrier can be easy to train. The key to doing this successfully is to always be consistent and to reinforce the commands these terriers have been taught throughout their lives.

Children and Other Pets

Although small in stature, the Boston Terrier can be quite boisterous at times so although they generally get on well with children, it is always best for any interaction between the kids and a dog to be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm and nobody gets knocked over albeit by accident.

Bostons can be a little aggressive towards other dogs which is why it's so important for them to be well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many new situations, people and dogs from an early age too. However, they should not be trusted around cats and other small animals and pets commonly found in the home which is all due to the fact their "terrier" nature might just get the better of them which could end up being disastrous.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Boston Terrier is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Boston Terrier is known to be a healthy and robust little dog, but they are known to suffer from certain congenital and hereditary disorders which are worth knowing about if you are planning to share your home with one of these lively and often boisterous dogs. The health issues that most affect the breed include the following:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Early on-set cataracts - Tests available
  • Late on-set hereditary cataracts - Tests available
  • Hereditary heart defects
  • Deafness
  • Sinus issues
  • Incorrect vertebra development

Caring for a Boston Terrier

As with any other breed, Boston Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Boston Terriers are easy maintenance on the grooming front all thanks to their short, tight coats. However, a weekly groom is recommended not only to keep their coats and skin in good condition, but it also helps strengthen the bond between dog and owner. Boston Terriers love the one-to-one contact they get when they are being groomed. With this said, it's still important to teach puppies that being brushed and having their feet, ears and tails touched is a nice experience. This makes it that much easier to trim their nails when needed and to check their ears for any infections which should be done on a regular basis.


Boston Terriers are not high-energy dogs, but they are lively by nature and therefore they need to be given a minimum of 40 minutes exercise a day for them to stay happy and healthy in body and mind. They also enjoy playing lots of interactive games which is a great way of keeping these little dogs stimulated and to prevent boredom from setting in which can lead to all sorts of unwanted and often destructive behaviours around the home.

They are the perfect choice for people who lead more sedentary lives, but it's important to keep an eye on a Boston's weight because without enough daily exercise they are prone to plough on the pounds which can lead to dogs developing weight related health issues which could shorten their lives considerably.


If you get a Boston Terrier Puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets in the process and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters in fact quite the opposite is true with Bostons leaning towards eating just about anything that’s put down in front of them. However, this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Boston Terrier twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can, as previously mentioned, lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Boston Terrier

If you are looking to buy a Boston Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £700 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Boston Terrier in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £49.42 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Boston Terrier and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Boston Terrier would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Boston Terrier puppy.

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