The Boston terrier is the dog breed most commonly confused with the French bulldog, although owners of a dog of either breed and those experienced with dogs in general will quickly tell you that they have more apart than in common!
This small, unique-looking little dog from the Kennel Club’s utility dog grouping is a very popular breed in its own right, and one that serves as a viable alternative for many prospective Frenchie owners, as well as dog lovers in general who are looking for a small, affectionate companion dog breed.
However, the Boston terrier is not the right choice of dog for everyone, and anyone considering buying a dog of the breed needs to ensure that they know exactly what they’re getting into, and do plenty of research before going ahead with a purchase.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Boston terrier, before you go ahead and buy one. Read on to learn more.
First of all, the Boston terrier’s appearance is quite unusual, with their fine legs and fairly muscular bodies, very short curled tails and of course, those flat faces and big pointed ears!
However, whilst the Boston terrier’s conformation is what draws many people to the breed in the first place, this is objectively not a naturally healthy conformation for a dog. The breed’s narrow hips mean that they’re often unable to mate or deliver their young on their own, their curled tails indicate a spinal malformation, and those flat faces mean their soft palate and muzzle are abnormally short too.
This short, flat-faced trait is known as brachycephaly, and is shared with a number of other breeds. The degree of flatness of the face can be very variable from dog to dog too. Many buyers prefer a very flat-faced appearance, but this is in fact potentially very harmful to the dog’s health.
A brachycephalic face means that Boston terriers are prone to having narrowed nostrils and a short soft palate, and may struggle to get enough air, particularly in hot weather or when exercising.
How acute the impact of this is depends on the degree of flatness of the face – and dogs whose noses protrude from the dog’s face and whose nostrils are open are healthier, whilst those with very flat faces more likely to suffer from breathing problems that are limiting, uncomfortable, distressing and potentially dangerous for the dog.
Whilst the Boston terrier is a popular companion and many people assume that they’re toy dogs or lapdogs, this is not in fact the case. The Boston terrier is included within the Kennel club’s utility dog grouping, which reflects dogs with a historical working role that doesn’t fall within one of the other designated working groups.
For the Boston, this was work as both a ratter and in some cases, as a fighting dog, although this was way back in their history before such “sports” became rightly outlawed.
Boston terriers are petite and highly personable and as such, make for terrible guard dogs – but they are in fact generally very good watchdogs. They are naturally alert and interested in things going on around them, and will soon bark to alert you if somebody approaches the home.
However, this does mean that they will often be quite vocal dogs in general, and tend to sound rather yappy.
Boston terriers need at least a couple of 30-45 minute walks per day at a minimum, but they’re not overly challenging to exercise and tend to be quiet and well behaved in the home the rest of the time.
However, because brachycephalic dogs can easily overheat when exercising or in hot weather, you need to be watchful and careful when walking them to ensure that they don’t overexert themselves when playing and running around.
Boston terriers can be quite expensive to buy, with the average asking price for pedigree dogs of the breed being around the £1,000 and even non-pedigree Bostons changing hands for around £800 each.
As small dogs they don’t tend to be hugely expensive to feed and keep, but because the breed’s health can be challenging, they may cost more in vets fees than most, and in reflection of this, are often more expensive to insure too.
Boston terriers are ranked in 103rd place out of 138 different dog breeds on the Coren ranking scale of canine intelligence by breed, and so they’re not the smartest breed of all.
However, they should be able to learn all of the essential commands a dog should follow, although they often take a little longer to learn them and may not comply reliably in all situations.
Boston terriers are real people-pleasers, and they will work hard to impress their owners and earn some praise and a reward. They are very affectionate and personable, loving the company of their owners, and being gentle, soulful dogs that are excellent companions for an evening on the sofa watching a film!
On the flipside, Boston terriers very much appreciate company and will not thrive if left on their own at home for very long. They commonly suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, and so they’re not a good choice of pet if you won’t be able to spend most of the day with your dog.
Boston terriers don’t shed a lot, don’t need much grooming, aren’t overly challenging to walk and aren’t prone to dominance or other complex personality challenges, and so they are widely considered to be a reasonably good choice of dog for the first-time dog owner.
However, it is really important to do plenty of research into any prospective dog breed you might be thinking about buying, and ensure that you learn about the specific challenges that can accompany brachycephalic dogs before you choose a Boston terrier as your next pet and companion.