With his charming looks and sweet personality, the Boston Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds in America and an ideal family dog. If you want to add a Boston Terrier puppy to your home, you’ll want to educate yourself about the breed. In addition to knowing where you can locate a respectable, trustworthy breeder.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of unethical individuals out there breeding Boston Terriers. These breeders do not care for the dog, the breed standards, the medical problems and bills that the new owner may face shortly, or the heartbreak associated with losing a sick dog. Our guide will give you everything you need to know to find the right puppy for you from an appropriate, safe source.
Know the Boston Terrier standard before you buy your puppy
Before you purchase or adopt any breed of dog, you should take the time to learn about the breed’s qualities and its standards. Sadly, many backyard breeders and puppy mills will sell dogs online or through newspaper advertisements claiming that the puppy they have is a purebred Boston Terrier. When in fact, he is a mixed breed that looks somewhat like the Boston Terrier.
If you don’t know the breed standard, you won’t know that the seller is lying to you. Therefore, you want a good idea of what the breed looks like and how he acts. Here’s what you need to know about your future pup.
A purebred Boston Terrier should be highly intelligent, lively, and moderately energetic. His coat should be smooth and short, and his body compact and muscular. The Boston Terrier is usually short with strong limbs and an overall sense of proportion to the frame. Short-tailed and balanced, this breed should be black, seal, or brindle colored with even white marks on the face, muzzle, and chest.
Size, Substance, and Proportion
A Boston Terrier should fit into one of three weight classes: under 15lbs., 15 to 20lbs., and 20 to 25lbs. The dog’s head is flat on top and square in shape, and the breed should have a kind yet alert expression on his face.
The ears are small and erect, and the eyes are large, round, and set far apart. The muzzle and snout should be square, short, and wide. The nose should be black and full, and the teeth and bite should be even with or slightly under the muzzle.
Neck and Topline
This breed should have a slightly arched neck, a level topline, and a deep chest.
Forequarters and Hindquarters
The front shoulders of the dog should be gently sloped and well-laid back. The feet and elbows should neither stand outward or inward. The dog’s thighs should be muscular and strong and bent at the stifles.
A properly bred Boston Terrier will be spirited, fun-loving, enthusiastic, and friendly. This breed is well-behaved, highly trainable, and incredibly bright.
Knowing the breed standards means you can’t be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous breeder. Any breeder can register a Boston Terrier puppy and then claim that the dog is purebred and registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Trustworthy breeders don’t just breed puppies to make money. The best kinds of breeders go the extra mile to breed dogs purposefully and make the breed better by maintaining its standards.
Why should you use a reputable breeder?
A responsible, reputable breeder does not breed Boston Terriers for profit. Instead, they breed Boston Terriers because they are dedicated to preserving and bettering the breed and because they genuinely love dogs.
Legitimate, proper breeding is not a business; anyone who is in dog breeding to make money for themselves is a breeder you should avoid doing business with. What are some other reasons to use a reputable Boston Terrier breeder? Here are some considerations:
Responsible breeders continue to learn about the breed.
Honest breeders should have a continual interest in learning about Boston Terriers, beyond the investment they have in their own dogs. This type of breeder will learn as much as possible about the breed, its standards, and its history. A reputable breeder will be an active member of local and national Boston Terrier breed clubs and organizations. Always striving to make sure his puppies have the correct qualities expected of the breed.
Honest breeders will spend the money necessary for a safe, healthy litter.
A clear sign of a breeder who cares about their Boston Terrier parents and puppies is the one who spends as much money as needed to keep the dogs safe and healthy. For example, a litter of six Boston Terrier puppies can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to breed once stud fees, dam shipping fees, birthing supplies, and whelping box, medical testing, food and supplements, worming and vaccinations, and AKC registrations are taken into account.
Additionally, the breeder will need to be on hand for the birthing process, meaning the breeder may bear the expense of having to take time off from work. Should any emergencies happen, such as the need for Cesarean section, the breeder will incur the veterinary costs.
The right kind of breeder will be demanding of potential buyers.
If a breeder is charging you a high price and asking you lots of questions about how you will care for your Boston Terrier puppy, chances are you’re working with a trustworthy breeder. Responsible breeders typically charge more for a puppy than backyard breeders, puppy mills, or pet stores.
The reason for the price difference is the breeder wants their puppy to go to a home where the owner is serious about the puppy’s well-being and happiness. The right kind of breeder will take complete responsibility for their puppies and be very demanding of potential buyers. If the breeder doesn’t feel that the buyer is a good match for the puppy, they should refuse to sell to the customer.
Trustworthy breeders will always take back a dog that they bred.
Good breeders will be willing to assist or take back any dogs they have bred who might be having or causing problems. These problems could include obedience or training issues in the owner’s home. The same goes for an issue occurring where the owner can no longer care for the dog.
Many breeders refer to this as a “Welcome Back” program. A responsible breeder will not want any of their dogs to end up abandoned in a shelter, shuffled from one strange home to another, or left homeless on the streets. A breeder who breeds properly loves the breed and their puppies, and will always do right by them, no matter the circumstance.
Good breeders include health guarantees with their puppies.
Boston Terrier breeders who care about their puppies will sell them with full disclosure health guarantees. Sires and dams should be pre-screened for any genetic faults to ensure puppies will not develop genetic disorders and diseases. However, if a Boston Terrier puppy does develop a medical issue, an honest breeder will make things right. Making things right could be done in several ways. They can help the owner with the problem, take back the puppy, provide a refund, or offer a new puppy.
Check out my article on 10 Common Health Problems found in Boston Terriers.
Orthopedic Foundation For Animals
As with any other dog breed, the Boston Terrier is prone to some common defects and diseases, especially eye problems, congenital deafness, allergies, cardiac issues, and luxating patella. Therefore, a respectable Boston Terrier breeder will supply any new owner with proof of the following puppy health certificates registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA):
- An OFA eye certificate (formerly called the Canine Eye Registry Exam, or CERF)
- An OFA orthopedic exam check for luxating patella, a common defect in smaller breed dogs like the Boston Terrier. Luxating patella occurs when a dog’s knee slips out of place.
- An OFA heart test to check for heart murmurs
- A Juvenile Hereditary Cataracts genetic test performed by a certified testing service or proof that neither parent carries the gene for this early form of blindness
- A BAER hearing test
- An OFA certified hip x-rays for hip dysplasia
The breeder should provide these puppy certifications for you without you needing to ask for them; in fact, they should have the parents’ paperwork on hand for you to see as well. If there is any hesitation in sharing this information on the breeder’s part, then you’re probably working with a breeder who is less than honest.
Spay or Neuter
Additionally, as a best practice, if the new owner is not planning to show and breed the Boston Terrier, most good breeders will require that the owner spay or neuter the puppy. These procedures are required as part of the purchaser’s contract as a reputable breeder’s way of preventing future backyard breeding operations and inappropriate breed standards.
Ethical breeders will raise their puppies in a clean, safe environment.
Responsible Boston Terrier breeders not only raise their puppies in the best environment possible, but they will never hesitate to show the puppies’ parents and their living conditions to the potential owner. Breeders who care about their dogs will have plenty of food, supplies, and equipment on hand, such as whelping boxes, grooming tables, crates, and puppy pens.
Kennels should be clean, sizeable, and airy. Reputable breeders should be eager to explain the breeding process to a potential owner thoroughly. Including explanations about why the parents were chosen for breeding, the qualities and standards they are attempting to achieve through breeding, and different variations of breeding.
The best breeders don’t over breed or sell puppies too early.
Boston Terrier breeders who care about their dogs won’t breed a female before she is two years old. They also won’t overproduce their females an excessive number of times. Multiple litters per year are too many and can cause the dam to suffer adverse health problems.
Also, good breeders won’t let their puppies go to new homes until after the puppies are eight weeks old. This step is critical for Boston Terrier puppies because they are a smaller breed and are still fragile due to their tiny size.
During weeks one through seven, the puppy is learning to socialize with his parents and littermates. A puppy who leaves his family before the eight-week mark is more likely to have behavioral problems as he grows up.
What about pets stores, backyard breeders, and rescues?
There are plenty of places where you can purchase a Boston Terrier puppy. But if it’s not from a reputable breeder, then you aren’t likely to get any of the valuable information listed in the previous section. In some situations, you may get far more than you bargained for by getting your Boston Terrier from one of these sources, and here are the reasons why:
Some pet stores may get their puppies from puppy mills. A puppy mill is a commercial facility that mass-produces puppies. The purpose is to breed as many as possible, send them out to pet stores, and make money as quickly as possible.
Puppies sold in these places tend to have more psychological and behavioral problems, and may also be sick or injured due to poor breeding practices and congenital health defects. Often, pet stores only offer a 48-hour health guarantee; after that, you and your suffering puppy are on your own.
To read more about the pros and cons of buying a Boston from a pet store, check out my article, The Pros, and Cons Of Buying A Dog From A Pet Store.
The backyard breeder is typically motivated by profit, and not the happiness or well-being of the sire, dam, or puppies. Some backyard breeders are good-intentioned at heart and earnestly care about their pets, but continuously breed them leading to future medical problems. Other backyard breeders may know little to nothing about the breed or how to breed responsibly.
Rescues are wonderful places to adopt dogs who need second chances and sound, stable homes. However, rescues often have little to no background information on a dog. So you don’t know what you’re getting into in terms of breeding, as well as potential health or behavioral issues. Additionally, rescues often don’t have the resources to provide to an owner that reputable breeders can offer, from money to history to environmental conditions.
While you can certainly purchase or adopt a purebred Boston Terrier from these locations, you will not have the guarantees and support provided by responsible breeders.
For a full list of Boston Terrier rescues in the United States and Canada check out my Boston Terrier Rescues page, Boston Rescues U.S. & Canada.
Why buy a purebred Boston Terrier if you don’t plan to show?
Many people think that there is little point in paying a high price for a purebred Boston Terrier if you have no plans to enter him competitively in shows. Even if you just want your puppy to be a family companion, you still want the best, and healthiest example of the breed possible.
To bring that kind of Boston Terrier into your home, you want to purchase your puppy from a responsible breeder. Better yet, choose a reputable breeder who shows their Boston Terriers as they will have puppies that reflect the highest standards of the breed. A breeder who shows their dogs competitively is showing the entire dog world the quality of the puppies they breed. So work with a breeder who has been showing Boston Terriers for a long time. However, these puppies will be costly.
If you get a chance, go see the Boston Terrier in action at a local dog show. Some shows offer agility competitions, an area that Boston Terriers excel in. Watch the breed in motion and at work, whether he’s strutting his stuff in the show ring or jumping over obstacles, weaving through poles and racing through tunnels on an agility course. Don’t be surprised if you and your family fall in love with this breed’s effort and heart.
If you need a better idea on Boston Terrier prices check out my article on, The Cost Of Boston Terriers. In this article, I researched 120 different puppies from multiple breeders to give you an idea of cost. In the section, you’ll find the best place to search for Boston’s at reasonable prices.
What are the essential questions to ask a breeder?
A trustworthy breeder will ask you plenty of questions before allowing you to purchase one of their puppies. But you should have your own set of questions ready to ask the breeder you meet with. Here are some vital questions to ask when you are screening a Boston Terrier breeder:
“How long have you been breeding Boston Terriers? Have you bred any other dog breeds?”
Choose a breeder who has extensive experience breeding and raising Boston Terriers. Avoid breeders who breed more than one kind of dog or who switch breeds frequently.
“What kind of health problems are common in this breed, and what health problems do you screen for?”
You can trust a breeder who knows the health problems associated with Boston Terriers and is upfront and honest about it. Any breeder who says the breed of their dogs are guaranteed healthy is lying to you.
“Do you offer a health guarantee for your puppies? Do you offer a Welcome Back program?”
A good breeder will at a minimum offer to show paperwork ensuring the puppy is in good health or guarantee the puppy against any debilitating, chronic congenital conditions. All reputable breeders should be willing to take back any dog they have bred for any reason, so their dog always has a good home.
“Where did you raise the puppies? Have they been socialized?”
The right breeder will answer these questions by explaining that the puppies have been raised in the house with their littermates and mother, and are accustomed to the noise, attention, and activities of people. A well-mannered, happy, friendly dog begins with proper socialization. A breeder who says they keep the puppies in a kennel or the garage may not have socialized the puppies at all.
“Are the parents on-site? May I meet them? What are their good and bad qualities?”
Some breeders own both parents of a litter; others only own the dam or sire. At the very least, the breeder should show you the mother along with any other dogs on site when you visit. Also, ask about the parents’ temperaments, both the excellent qualities and flaws.
If the parents are titled, ask the breeder about the title’s meaning — for example, Companion Dog (CD) or show champion. Any breeder who hesitates or refuses to provide answers to these questions or won’t allow you to see the mother is likely hiding something from you.
“How many litters do you have a year?”
An honest breeder will not have more than 2 – 3 litters per year. Their main concern should be advancing the breed’s standard, not producing as many puppies as possible to make a profit.
Excessive breeding not only harms the mother, but it makes the puppies more prone to medical conditions from birth. All puppies should be planned and prepared for; a breeder who is breeding litters “accidentally” is not a safe breeder to buy a puppy from.
“What organizations do you belong to?”
A knowledgeable Boston Terrier breeder will always strive to learn more about the breed to make their puppies the best standard Boston Terriers. Ask the breeder what organizations or clubs they are actively involved in and what activities they participate in with their Boston Terriers.
A good breeder will be current on breed standards and be involved in the support and protection of the breed.
“When can I bring my puppy home?”
Puppies should go to their new homes between eight and twelve weeks of age. This time frame allows the puppy to experience healthy development in the early stages of his life as well as become socialized with his littermates and with the people raising him.
Steer clear of any disreputable breeders who try to send you home with a tiny puppy as that dog is likely to have health and behavioral problems as he grows up.
Always Ask Questions
Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions of the breeder you are working with. A trustworthy breeder will go above and beyond to answer anything you ask of them. If they genuinely love their Boston Terriers and want to support the breed, they will want to make sure that you know what you are buying. This way, their puppy grows up in a loving, forever home.
Where can I find a reputable breeder?
Now you know the difference between a reputable breeder and a dishonest one. So, where do you find a responsible breeder? Here are a few different ways to find the right breeder for you.
Go to local or national dog shows.
Meet and talk with Boston Terrier breeders who are at and participating in dog shows. Even if you don’t wish to show your dog, a breeder who does take their craft seriously are far more likely to be quality breeders, familiar with the breed standard, and caring toward their dogs.
For a list of dog, shows check out Info Dog, Show Calendar Info Dog.
Join your local Boston Terrier Club.
By joining a local Boston Terrier Club, you can make contacts with regional and respected breeders. The Boston Terrier Club of America also has a breeder referral lookup and can answer questions that you may have about finding a breeder.
Visit reputable PuppyFinder sites.
Many reputable Boston Terrier breeders refuse to advertise in newspapers or online, preferring instead to establish face-to-face relationships with the future owners of their puppies. However, in the age of social media, some respected and recognized organizations and businesses are working with honest breeders to connect their puppies with loving owners and families.
Organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) have puppy finder sites with information about respected breeders, puppies for sale, and contact information.
Finding an honest breeder can be a challenging process, and this may mean waiting longer for your puppy. It will be well worth it to have a healthy, well-adjusted, and structurally sound Boston Terrier as a beloved part of your family.
- American Kennel Club – Boston Terrier Breed Standards
- r/BostonTerrier – A Guide To Finding Responsible Boston Terrier Breeders
- Wag Walking – Distinguishing Between A Responsible Breeder and A Backyard Breeder
- The Humane Society of the U.S. – Fact Sheet Puppy Mills and Pet Stores