Are you thinking about buying your first Boston? Or do you want more information about the Boston you already own? You have come to the right place. Emily spent weeks researching the perfect dog to get before we bought Bella, our Boston Terrier. I hope this article shortens the search for you.
Let us begin…
Boston Terrier Breed Overview
The Boston Terrier is affectionately known as the “little American Gentleman,” and for a good reason. Dapper and devoted, this all-American breed is gentle and loving, a far cry from its origins as a breed developed to fight. Today, the Boston Terrier is a popular breed precisely for his lively nature and his unceasingly faithful companionship.
Highly intelligent, this terrier breed is known as much for his bursts of hyperactivity and stubbornness with his devotion to his family. As such, training a Boston Terrier as early as possible is recommended for an adequately socialized and friendly dog.
Despite his small size, the Boston Terrier is quite muscular and sturdy with black and white coloring that resembles a tuxedo; hence, the nickname “little American Gentleman.” This breed has distinctive ears that are large and are naturally erect and pointed. The large, brown eyes have a natural ability to charm and entrance.
Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed, meaning he has a short, broad, flat-nosed head, a short snout, a long palate, and a narrow trachea. A short upper jaw gives the breed the look of a “pushed-in” face. The breed’s noble presence is unmistakable with his slightly arched neck, sturdy appearance, and broad, powerful chest.
If you are considering bringing a Boston Terrier into your home, be prepared for a companion who sticks by your side, literally, and who is both energetic, playful, and at times, downright comedic. Ideal for families with children of any age, the Boston Terrier will keep kids entertained with silly antics and cuddle with them on the couch when tired.
With his small size, this breed is perfect for older owners and for people who live in apartments or condominiums. Is the Boston Terrier the right dog for you? This guide will give you everything you need to know to decide if a Boston Terrier fits into your lifestyle.
Check out my article on Are Boston Terriers Good Apartment Dogs?
Life Expectancy and Common Diseases and Conditions
In general, the Boston Terrier is a healthy breed who, with proper care, feeding, and veterinarian checkups, can live anywhere between 12 – 15 years. Therefore, it’s essential to know that bringing this breed into your life is a commitment of an extensive period.
That said, due to hereditary and genetic issues, Boston Terriers are prone to certain diseases and medical conditions. Not all Boston Terriers will develop these illnesses, but it is essential to be aware of the possible issues you might face as an owner of one of these delightful dogs.
Because most of the diseases a Boston Terrier can develop are genetic in nature, it is critically important that you know where and who you are buying your dog from. If you are purchasing a Boston Terrier puppy, do your research and work only with a reputable and trustworthy breeder. A breeder who cares about their dogs will have health clearances for the puppy’s parents available for you to see and inspect. This paperwork should prove that the sire and dam have both been tested and cleared of any genetic association with certain diseases. Here are some of the most common medical conditions that a Boston Terrier may develop.
Common Medical Conditions
Allergies are a medical condition that many Boston Terriers are prone to developing. The majority of these allergies are caused by inflammatory reactions to a particular allergen. Often, the reaction occurs because of environmental or contact conditions, food allergies, or inherited predisposition to an allergen.
If you see your Boston Terrier scratching, itching, or biting excessively at his face, ears, neck, legs, paws, stomach, sides, or hind end, he is likely suffering from an allergy. Speak to your veterinarian about diagnosing the allergy and finding its source.
There are many options available for managing your dog’s allergies, including prescribed medications like corticosteroids and over-the-counter topical applications. If your dog has a food-based allergy, completely change his diet with the assistance of your veterinarian or certified canine allergist.
Patellar luxation is a common injury in small dog breeds. Known as “slipped stifles,” patellar luxation occurs when the patella (kneecap) does not correctly line up with its other two parts, the femur (thigh) and the tibia (calf). The results are chronic lameness and an abnormal gait. Although this disease is present at a Boston Terrier’s birth, it may not manifest until much later in the dog’s life.
An additional consequence of this disease is arthritis as, over time, the rubbing between these areas of the leg can lead to this degenerative condition. There are four different levels of severity in patellar luxation, and corrective surgery is the only way to correct the situation.
Hip Dysplasia is a typical genetic condition wherein the Boston Terrier’s thigh bone does not fit entirely into the hip joint. This condition begins in puppyhood but generally does not impact the dog’s quality of life until adulthood. This degeneration leads to severe limping, lameness, hind end weakness, making it difficult for your dog to walk up and down stairs or for long periods.
A Boston Terrier with hip dysplasia will likely develop osteoarthritis, a painful condition that may make your dog reluctant to move due to significant discomfort. Hip dysplasia can be managed and treated with moderate non-impact exercises like water treadmills and swimming, weight management, and dietary supplements.
Cataracts occur when the eye lens has a progressively cloudy film over it. These cataracts cause blurred vision and when the entire lens is clouded over blindness. Boston Terriers can develop the juvenile or adult versions of cataracts. Juvenile cataracts typically happen between 8 weeks of age and 1 year.
As this is a hereditary condition, checking your puppy’s breeding paperwork for verification of eye health is essential. There is no way to reverse cataracts once they are present on the eye, although some Boston Terriers may be candidates for cataract surgery to remove them.
Brain tumors are unfortunately associated with several short-nosed (brachycephalic) dog breeds like the Boston Terrier. Gliomas and glioblastomas are the kinds of deadly, cancerous brain tumors that Boston Terriers are at an elevated risk for developing.
In cases where the tumor has progressed too far for surgery, the Boston Terrier will be treated with seizure medication and steroids to give the dog quality of life; most dogs have a survival rate of approximately two months. If caught early enough, some of these malignant brain tumors can be successfully removed via surgery.
Reverse sneezing can happen at any point in a Boston Terrier’s life, and it is usually prompted by your dog gulping his food too quickly, having an allergic reaction to pollen or grasses, or experiencing a state of overexcitement.
Essentially, secretions from the nose fall onto the soft palate, which then closes over the windpipe. Your Boston Terrier may be panicked and wheezing when this happens. Keep your dog calm while waiting for the episode to pass.
General Exercise and Care
Extreme Heat Concerns
The Boston Terrier is not a breed which requires lots of exercise, and part of that has to do with his physiology. Short-nosed dogs are unable to cool the air going into their lungs when they inhale as well as longer-nosed breeds, and they are highly susceptible to heat stress as a result. In worst case scenarios, a Boston Terrier can become overwhelmed by the heat and suffer from heatstroke, a potentially deadly event. As such, your Boston Terrier should never go outside your house on a hot day.
Heatstroke can happen when your dog’s temperature rises above the normal dog temperature of 101 – 102 °F and dehydration occurs. These first two symptoms may be quickly followed by increased salivation, heavy panting, and hyperventilation. If the dog is not taken immediately to a veterinarian, breathing difficulties can ensue, along with vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. In the final stages of heatstroke, a dog will have seizures or fall into a coma, which may lead to death. Because the Boston Terrier already has breathing challenges due to its short-nose, he should be kept out of extreme heat at all costs.
Cold Weather Concerns
When the weather becomes cold, the Boston Terrier has some difficulty managing the change in temperatures. Due to his thin and short coat, he cannot be outside in cold climates for very long without suffering from hypothermia. Wet, cold weather can quickly permeate your Boston Terrier’s fur. If he must go outdoors in freezing temperatures, it should be for as short a time as necessary. A water-repellent coat with fleece lining or a sweater can help keep your dog warm enough while he is outside during these brief periods. When you bring your Boston Terrier back inside, make sure to dry him off thoroughly with a soft, absorbent towel.
In general, the Boston Terrier needs a small amount of exercise. A short walk down the street or playing fetch in the backyard is an adequate exercise for this breed and typically enough exercise to work out any hyperactivity. More often than not, the Boston Terrier is content to sit by your side indoors. Because of the breed’s sensitivity to extreme hot and cold weather, a Boston Terrier should never be left outside or housed outside.
The Boston Terrier is quite intelligent, which can work for and against him when it comes to training. On the one hand, the breed’s sharp, bright mind makes him highly trainable; on the other hand, the breed’s capacity for intelligence also aids a stubborn, independent streak that can provide some significant challenges during the training process. Consistency and persistence, along with gentle, positive training techniques, can make any Boston Terrier, a true American gentleman.
Boston Terriers are sensitive dogs, particularly to their owner’s voice. Shouting, reprimands, yelling, and any kind of physical punishment will not result in a happy, trained dog. A Boston Terrier will simply shut down in response to this behavior. Instead, training should be motivational, upbeat, but also calm and even-keeled. With proper training methods, you can use your Boston Terrier’s lively personality and willingness to please to your advantage. This breed is far more open to learning and listening if they are taught with praise, treats, or a new toy.
Because of his intelligence, it’s best to keep your Boston Terrier as intellectually engaged as possible. Consider agility and obstacle course training to keep your dog guessing and excited about new courses and challenges. This breed is well known for being gifted in the performance ring, and the constant course changes keep the Boston Terrier on his toes; agility training can be quite invigorating for a dog owner, too. If you’d prefer to stick closer to home, purchase some food puzzles or games that will provide satisfactory mental stimulation.
Children and Other Pets
If you purchase or adopt a Boston Terrier puppy, start his training right away. Early socialization with both new people and new dogs is critical for a well-rounded, friendly dog. In this way, your puppy will learn how his world works, and he will be able to be around other people, children, and animals without concerns over fear, aggressiveness, or misbehaviors.
The Boston Terrier is well known as an ideal family dog. He is not too big to knock young children over, and he is not too small to be easily injured by kids. Children and Boston Terriers tend to get along quite well as they are both childlike and curious.
This dog loves to entertain his people and can be clever, cheeky, and amusing in his efforts to make his family laugh. The Boston Terrier can also get along well with other household pets. Especially if he has grown up around the other pets or has been socialized with them at an early age.
Coat and Grooming
The Boston Terrier can come in three different color coats: brindle, black, or seal (off black with reddish highlights). All three of these colors are matched with a white blaze on the face, a white muzzle, and a white chest. This gives the Boston Terrier his distinct coat looking similar to a tuxedo. This breed should not be solid in color, and any breeder who sells a solid-colored Boston Terrier as a “rare” color is not a legitimate and reputable breeder.
When it comes to coat care and grooming, the Boston Terrier is easy to care for. Use a firm bristle brush once a week and bathe the dog only when necessary. This breed is not hypoallergenic. However, they shed minimally. And what little shedding occurs can quickly be addressed through weekly grooming to avoid loose or dead hairs. The Boston Terrier makes for an excellent breed choice for families that include allergy sufferers because he sheds so little.
Aside from coat care, other essential maintenance for your Boston Terrier includes eye care, oral care, and ear care. Because of their large, prominent eyes, you should check your Boston Terrier’s eyes daily for signs of irritation, redness, or infection.
The dog’s teeth should be brushed at least two or three times a week for the prevention of tartar buildup and bacteria growth. Ideally, brush the teeth daily to prevent bad breath and gum disease.
Examine your dog’s ears weekly for any redness, dirt, or strong odor that may indicate the presence of an infection. Use a cotton ball dipped in a pH-balanced cleanser that is gentle on the ears to prevent infections. Carefully swab the ear, avoiding inserting anything into the ear canal.
The All-American Boston Terrier was established in the late-1800s in Boston, Massachusetts. The breed was developed from a combination of the English bulldog, French bulldog, and bull-and-terrier crossbreeds. All of the breeds used to create the lovely Boston Terrier were used for dog fighting and bull-baiting.
Robert C. Hopper is generally credited with creating the breed with his foundation Bulldog-White Terrier cross breed named Hooper’s Judge. It is believed that French bulldogs were then added to the mix to tone down the terrier temperament. As well as increase the gentle, lively companionable qualities that are so revered in the breed today.
First, the breed was named the Round-Headed Bull and Terrier, then the Boston Bull Terrier. Finally, in 1891, the name was shortened to the Boston Terrier. In 1893, the breed was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club. By 1915, the Boston Terrier had become the most popular dog in America. This title was held until the 1960s, and that popularity soon spread around the world.
In 1976, the Boston Terrier was designated the bicentennial dog of the United States. Three years later, the breed was named the official state dog of Massachusetts. Today, the Boston Terrier is a family favorite and a viral sensation on social media platforms.
Boston Terriers are wonderful family dogs who bond strongly with their owners. Their kind and gentle disposition, happy nature, and loving personality make them a companion dog with few equals. If you are looking for a loyal, affectionate canine companion, look no further than the Boston Terrier.