What Does a Boston Terrier Look Like?

Boston Terriers have captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. They are loyal, gentle, and not to mention, adorable!

The Boston Terrier is a highly intelligent dog breed that is eager to make its feelings known. They are energetic and love to be surrounded by people. They show affection through touch and are happy to snuggle with those they love and trust.

A great family pet, Boston Terriers will always show their affection for their owners and will never fail to put a smile on their faces. 


Boston Terriers originated in Boston around 1875, with the sire being an English Bulldog named “Judge” and the dam was an English Terrier named “Gyp”. By the end of the century, the breed was highly popular around Boston. They were also the first US breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

By the 1920’s Boston Terriers were the most popular dog breed in the US.

The Boston Terrier belongs to the Non-Sporting Group in the American Kennel Club. In the United Kingdom, the Boston belongs to the group of Utility dogs. This group classifies dogs that were bred from a non-sporting or non-working origin but bred for a specific purpose. 

Coat & Color

Boston Terriers have a smooth, sleek coat that is often shiny. For AKC registered dogs,  their coat is usually black and white with striking similarities to tuxedos. It is this distinctive look that has earned them the affectionate nickname of “American Gentleman”.

Boston Terriers can also have a brown brindle and white coat as the first Boston Terriers did. As with the now commonplace black and white coat, their coats are dominated by brindle color with distinctive white areas on their chest, legs, undercarriage, collar, and head.

Some Boston Terriers are classed as seal color. Their coats look black but will have a reddish tint in sunlight. Colors are heavily regulated by the AKC standards to ensure careful, responsible breeding.

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Overall, Boston Terriers have strong, well-proportioned builds. They are small and compact with small paws. The Boston Terrier has a sturdy build and is a muscular breed.

They are an extremely active breed that needs frequent exercise, which contributes to their muscle build-up and tone. They are prone to bouts of hyperactivity if they do not get sufficient exercise and they have a tendency to act out when they become restless. These bouts of energy are called Zoomies. To learn more and see videos of what zoomies are check out this article I wrote all about Boston Terrier zoomies here, Boston Zoomies.

Boston Terriers have broad chests and a proud stature. They have slightly arched and slightly thickset necks which are proportionate to their overall appearance. Their back is slightly elongated, making them look slightly larger than you may expect.

Over-curvature of their back can lead to excessive pressure on their knees. Boston Terriers have a slightly arched carriage and a boxy appearance. 


Boston Terriers are classed as a small breed of dog. Modern-day Boston Terriers are smaller than their ancestors who weighed around 40lbs.

The height of Boston Terriers nowadays ranges between 12 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. They weigh an average of 10 to 25lbs and their average lifespan is 13 to 15 years. 


Their large ears stand erect naturally and can give them quite a comical appearance at times. They have a shorter upper jaw despite their lower jaw being proportionate to their body.

They belong to the dog classification brachycephalic (from Greek origin), meaning short head. This classification includes bullmastiffs, boxers, pugs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa apsos, and bulldogs, among others. Dogs belonging to this classification have smaller nostrils, a narrow trachea, and a smooshed face look. Click here to learn more about the brachycephalic syndrome in Boston Terriers, Article Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Because of a Boston’s slightly squashed face appearance, they may also have a slight underbite but this is perfectly normal for the breed so long as it doesn’t cause the dog trouble with eating.

It is due to these shorter muzzles that Boston Terriers do not cope well with extremely hot or cold environments. If exposed to these environments for long periods, they may develop breathing problems and irritations. Their snouts are broad and flat without the wrinkles that you see on pugs. Learn more about how the heat and cold can affect your Boston Terrier in this YouTube video by Boston Terrier Society, How Hot Is Too Hot For A Boston.

Boston Terriers – Living in hot or cold temperatures YouTube Video

Boston Terriers are also prone to snoring. They have large, expressive eyes which are said to “shine” with their emotions. Due to these larger eyes, they can be prone to debris irritation from sand, dirt, and dust, etc. It is best to check their eyes daily for any redness and irritation to prevent more serious issues.

They can also be prone to cataracts, glaucoma, or corneal ulcers. Boston Terriers naturally have short tails but that does not stop them from wagging and showing their happiness! 

Learn more about these medical issues by reading these articles on the Boston Terrier Society written by veterinarian Dr. Reinhard, DVM:

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Similarities to Other Dogs

It is fair to say that several comparisons can be drawn between Boston Terriers and other dog breeds. Probably the most common similarities are drawn with French Bulldogs. Whilst the build and size are similar between these breeds, French Bulldogs can be heavier set and tend to have more wrinkles around their faces and snouts.

Boston Terriers tend to be more lean and muscular and can also be taller than French Bulldogs. The ears of French Bulldogs are slightly more bat-like and they have square heads, whereas Boston Terriers have pointed ears with rounded heads.

Part of the confusion surrounding these two dog breeds stems from the fact that they can have very similar color coats. Their coats are also similar in length and feel.

Another common comparison made by people is to Pugs. Pugs also have more wrinkles on their faces and have floppy ears that do not stand erect. They can be similar in size but are usually smaller than Boston Terriers.

Pugs also differ in color from Boston Terriers. Boston Terriers have similar face shapes to Boxers with differing proportions and ear positions.  

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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