Boston Terrier: appearance, character, training, health

A well-mannered, affectionate, playful dog and in need of little care

Guide to the Boston terrier : physical characteristics, temperament and history of the breed of this dog, born in the city of Boston.

The Boston terrier is a small companion dog suitable for guarding. Despite its strong and confident appearance, it turns out to be a good life partner.

This breed is highly appreciated by Americans, so much so that in 1979 it was honoured with the official status dog recognition by the Massachusetts government.

The Boston terrier breed is a “made in America”. There it is known as “American gentelman”. This is due to its white spots on a black background, which are reminiscent of a suit and because of its friendly character. With very special characteristics, this animal is very popular. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Boston terrier.

History of the Boston Terrier

The history of the Boston terrier dates back to 1800. Initially the goal was to create fighting dogs, for this reason the English Bulldog and small terrier dogs were crossed.

The first lineage of the Boston terrier as we know it today is due to Robert C. Cooper of the city of Boston. Its progenitor was Judge, who was subsequently crossed with other dogs starting in 1865.

In the following years the main characteristics of the Boston Terrier began to emerge, albeit with a good degree of approximation.

Even the name Boston Terrier was not assigned immediately, but only after several years and following numerous other names (American Gentleman, American terrier and Boston bulldog among others).

In 1889, about thirty owners of Boston Bull Terriers formed the American Bull Terrier Club and named them Round Heads or Bull Terriers. In the last decade of the 1800s, however, the name Boston Terrier became established, in honour of the breed’s hometown.

It will have to wait until 1893 for its recognition by the American Kennel Club. Following this recognition, other details will be defined which will lead to changes in the standards.

The Boston Terrier quickly became popular in the United States. By 1915, Boston Terriers were the most popular breed in the United States, remaining in the top ten most popular breeds until the 1960s.

Another important date is 1976, the year of the bicentenary of the declaration of independence of the United States of America, when the Boston Terrier was chosen as the symbol of the event.

In 1979 it was later designated as the Official Dog of the State of Massachusetts . But its popularity in the United States is also seen in its being the mascot of countless colleges and their sports teams.

Characteristics of the Boston Terrier breed

Considered a true American dog, the Boston terrier has become a national symbol of the United States.

It was originally developed as a fighting dog in the stables of Massachusetts after the Civil War ended. But, its friendly, cheerful and funny character has turned them into an excellent companion animal. Determined, strong and active, it seems that this dog is the result of a cross between bulldogs and old white terriers. Although at first it was baptized as a round-headed bull terrier, today it is known all over the planet by the name of the city where Hooper’s Judge was born in 1870, considered the first specimen of the breed.

It is a dog with a compact, robust constitution and harmonious proportions. It conveys an image of determination, great intelligence, strength and activity with great class and style.

We are going to know in more detail its character and its physical characteristics :

Character of the Boston Terrier

This little dog is a very intelligent, alert, fun dog with a great disposition to undertake any activity that is proposed to them.

Enthusiastic and full of life, it quickly becomes the center of attention in the house where it lives.

And despite its appearance and size, it is not a simple dog of luxury and companionship, but rather an athlete, strong and agile, who needs to exercise a lot and receive adequate mental stimulation so as not to become a bored, brooding and headstrong dog.

One of its best qualities is that it learns at an astonishing speed, since it has extraordinary intuition and it captures with great sensitivity any nuance of voice that is used to give them different orders. Therefore, it is a breed that is very easy to work with. It can be a very suitable choice for owners who have little experience in keeping dogs, or even for those who lack it completely.

Even so, when dealing with this breed it is very important to make it clear to them who occupies the highest place in the hierarchical pyramid of the house and not to allow them to ever transgress this hierarchy of power.

If the Boston terrier comes to consider that it is it who is above any of the people in the family, it shows it by trying to impose its will and transforming themselves into an animal difficult to handle.

As with other breeds that are taken as simple companion animals and which are given too humanized treatment, this one is also prone to suffering from the so-called small dog syndrome, with the behavioural disorders that this entails, that is, selfish, possessive, disobedient and even aggressive attitudes.

  • Energy: high. Energetic, active, vivacious and enthusiastic, you need to burn off your excess energy by doing some activity or sport.
  • Temperament: the Boston Terrier has the character and behaviour of an alert, lively and very intelligent dog, it has an excellent disposition for work and to carry out any activity that is entrusted to it. Sociable, friendly and affectionate, it is an excellent companion animal.
  • Adaptability: high. It has no problem living in any environment. You need, yes, to be able to do some exercise regularly and the presence of your family.
  • Sociability: very high. She adores her family, loves to play with children, whom she protects and shows an affinity with strangers. Its relationship with other dogs is very good.
  • Health: normal. You may have respiratory, eye, or joint problems.
  • Longevity: high. Live between 12 and 15 years, or even exceed this age.
  • Utility: company. It emerged as a fighting dog and is a good guardian, but fundamentally it is a companion dog.
  • Use: companion dog.
  • Other names: Boston Terrier.

Physical characteristics of the Boston terrier

This breed of dog has a very peculiar physical appearance due to its origin. Originally from the United States, the Boston terrier was formed from the cross between bulldogs and old white terriers in the search for a good fighting dog.

When these confrontations were prohibited, its friendly, funny and cheerful character allowed them to become a companion dog.

  • General appearance: it is a robust, compact, very well proportioned dog with a short body. Its bearing is natural and elegant.
  • Size: small.
  • Height at the withers: between 25 and 40 cm for males and between 23 and 39 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 7 and 11 kg for males and between 6 and 11 kg for females.
  • Origin: United States.
  • Body: This dog of American origin has a short and small body, but robust and of strong constitution. With a square and well proportioned body structure, the Boston terrier has powerful legs and elegant angles, as well as a short, compact and square head. and a short tail.
  • Head: compact and robust, it has a square and flat skull on the upper part, a short, wide and thick muzzle, and square jaws with a slight undershot.
  • Skull: square and flat at the top, it has a steep forehead and no wrinkles.
  • Muzzle: it is short in proportion to the skull, measuring approximately one third of its length. Wide and square, it is thick and has no wrinkles. The muzzle is straight and parallel to the upper line of the skull.
  • Nose: black and broad, with a well-defined groove between the nostrils.
  • Eyes: they are well separated from each other, they are large, round, dark and lively. Its expression is alert but affectionate, denoting a high degree of intelligence and insight.
  • Ears: they are implanted in the upper part of the skull and almost at the edges, thereby increasing the appearance of a square head. They are triangular and not very big and they are presented. In some countries they are amputated.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is well defined.
  • Jaws: the maxillae are wide and square, with a considerable undershot and regular bite. The teeth are short and regular.
  • Neck: it is slightly arched and holds the head elegantly, uniting it at the shoulders in a neat and elegant way. The length of the neck gives an image of balance and proportion to the whole body.
  • Chest: it is deep and wide. The ribs are tight fitting and extend all the way to the loin.
  • Back: short, gives the body a certain square shape. The rump slopes towards the birth of the tail, drawing a slight curve.
  • Forelimbs: they are somewhat separated from each other and have straight bones. Sometimes they have dewclaws, which in some countries are amputated. The shoulders are sloping and well extended back, allowing the animal to move gracefully. The forearms and arms are vertical and firm. Its elbows straight, they do not deviate inwards or outwards.
  • Hind limbs: they have strong bones. The legs are strong and muscular. The knees are well angulated and the hocks are straight and at very sharp angles.
  • Feet: both the front and rear are small, round and compact. They have well-curved fingers and short nails. Straight, they do not drift inwards or outwards.
  • Tail: set low, it is short (usually not more than 1/4 of the total distance between its implant point and the hock) and thin, gradually tapering towards the tip. It can go straight or in the shape of a corkscrew, but not raised above the back.
  • Skin: smooth and close to the body.
  • Hair: their fur is short, fine, smooth and shiny, it is brindle in color, black with white markings or seal color, that is, black with a certain reddish tinge.
  • Color: the specimens of this breed may have a brindle coat, colored ¬ęseal * (black with a certain reddish tinge if observed in sunlight), or black with white spots, but whatever color they are, they always usually present a list white between the eyes that goes down from the skull and reaches the muzzle, and a large white mark on the front of the chest.
  • Movement: The Boston terrier advances with a confident stride. The front and rear limbs move forward in a straight line and with perfect rhythm, so that each step denotes grace and power.
  • FCI classification: FCI No. 140 group 9: companion dogs. Section 11 Molossian of small stature.

Boston Terrier puppy

If you are thinking of buying a Boston Terrier puppy, or better yet adopting it, there are a number of things that you should take into account.

It is a pet that with proper education is ideal to be with the whole family, especially with children.

In fact, rather than being outdoors all the time, this dog prefers to spend the day indoors, with its family, a situation in which it is very calm and happy, since it is a bit chilly.

Even so, although life as an urban dog is ideal for them , it also needs to complement it with some exercise, since its excess energy and vitality must find an outlet so that it does not stress or suffer from anxiety.

This breed enjoys performing sports activities such as agility, flyball or obedience. Therefore, you must be sure that you can facilitate regular exercise.

Education and training of the “American Gentelman”

It is unforgivable to lose the noble and funny temperament of the Boston terrier.

The only thing that the breed needs to be mentally balanced and behave like an educated and sociable pet is to have a good human reference. A leader who knows how to exercise the leadership of the pack in a natural and calm way, without ever using force or violence but simply applying logic and a consistent and constant way of acting.

If it has been trained correctly and has been subjected to a good socialization process, this dog becomes a perfect accomplice for children, as it is very affectionate with them, very playful and even defends the little ones against children. anger of their parents.

The only precaution that must be taken when children are allowed to handle this pet is to teach them beforehand how they should treat it so as not to harm it, making them understand that it is a living being that deserves to be respected, cared for and loved.

The Boston terrier usually maintains a more than cordial relationship with other dogs as well as with pets of different species.

There are no known generalized cases of aggression. In fact, as it is not an excessively dominant dog, this greatly facilitates the social relationship it maintains with its peers.

On the other hand, with strangers it also tends to be affable and confident, although there are specimens that can act as good guardians and perfectly warn of the presence of strange people or noises.

Despite the fact that, as has been pointed out, it knows how to warn of dangers, in general the Boston terrier cannot be described as a noisy breed and it adapts very well to living anywhere, both in the countryside and in a fully urban environment.

Another of the tasks in which the Boston terrier has been used a lot, especially in the United States, is that of a therapy dog, given the great and well-known affinity that this dog establishes with people. And, likewise, this is also a good hunting dog, especially for rodent control, although it is being used less and less for these purposes.

Feeding the “American Gentelman”

The Boston terrier is very prone to obesity. Therefore, special care must be taken not to overfeed it, providing it with a diet rich in nutrients that keep its muscles in shape and with the correct level of fats necessary for its skin, hair, eyes, etc., but without an extra contribution or unnecessary calories.

The fundamental thing is to avoid, as far as possible, that the animal falls into obesity, especially in the puppy stages and in old age.

Periods in which a state of overweight can be the trigger for other more serious and painful cardiovascular and joint diseases.

Boston Terrier health and diseases

When dedicating this dog to an activity that involves a high level of exercise or physical effort, it is necessary to take into account its limitations or possible respiratory problems.

It is quite common in breeds like this one, which have a wide and very short muzzle. These breathing difficulties are also increased if the animal lives in very hot areas.

However, the Boston terrier is usually described as a healthy animal and a good example of this is its high longevity, located on average above 15 years, in addition to the fact that cases of specimens that far exceed this age are very common.

In fact, most of the health problems that this breed usually suffers are closely related to its peculiar physical conformation, as is the case with the well-known respiratory difficulties.Also their particular eyes, large, bulging and round, are predisposed to the appearance of different eye conditions, such as cataracts, entropion, glaucoma, dystrophy, etc.

Many of which are hereditary, so it is essential to eliminate the affected reproducers or carriers of them from the breeding, since in this way they will be eradicated little by little.

Deafness, knee dislocation, heart disease and skin tumors are other diseases that sometimes appear in this breed, although the truth is that they occur to a much lesser extent.

Also, since it is a breed with a fairly large head and a narrow pelvis, in many cases deliveries are difficult, so it is very likely that most cases end in cesarean section.

Another of the “drawbacks”, more than a condition, that its owners sometimes complain about, is that this dog shows a great tendency to snore while sleeping, something that can sometimes be very annoying.

But in reality the biggest health problem of the Boston terrier is obesity , since this breed gains weight very easily.

Thus, in addition to subjecting it to regular doses of exercise, you need to be in good physical shape and burn excess energy.

The best way to control the health of this dog is, as it happens with practically all canine breeds, to act preventively, that is, by going to the veterinary office regularly .

There, the routines that must be followed are established to strengthen the health of the animal and detect any possible problem that appears.

First of all, the relevant vaccination programs and annual revaccinations against the most common diseases or against others of a seasonal nature (such as kennel cough ), linked to the circumstances of the animal (such as herpesvirus for pregnant females) must be completed. ) or required by law (such as rabies).

Likewise, every vaccination program must be complemented by another for internal and external deworming that acts against parasitic infestations.

Already, these can serve as vectors of very serious diseases or can lead to the ineffectiveness of the administered vaccines by reducing the response of the immune system to them.

On the other hand, the veterinarian also has to be in charge of checking the state of the animal’s mouth and skin , as well as the ears, especially since the practice of ear cropping is becoming less and less common, since there are already many countries where it is even legally prohibited.

The control of the development and the weight of the dog are other tasks that the veterinarian must carry out, to avoid the much dreaded obesity, as well as to carry out an exhaustive, constant and deep surveillance of the care of the eyes , something necessary since this is, as has been seen, one of the weakest points of the breed .

Here are the main diseases of Boston Terriors:


Boston Terriers are prone to developing cataracts, both juvenile and adult. Juvenile cataracts develop between eight weeks of age and one year.

Sometimes juvenile cataracts can be seen, but other times they can only be detected by a veterinary eye doctor. It is therefore not a bad idea, when buying a Boston Terrier puppy, to ask the breeder if the puppy has been tested for juvenile cataracts.


Boston Terriers can suffer from a variety of allergies , ranging from contact allergies to food allergies.

If your Boston is used to licking its paws or rubbing its face frequently, it may have an allergy. Allergies must be diagnosed by the vet.

Cherry eye

It is a prolapse of the third eyelid gland. It is believed to be of genetic origin. It frequently occurs in dogs less than one year of age.

In the vast majority of cases, the prolapsed gland of the third eyelid must be surgically repositioned . Only a few vets remove it completely.

Megaesophagus syndrome

This is a defect in the structure of the esophagus that causes a dog to regurgitate undigested food.

The causes can be congenital or external in nature and the surgical solution is not always possible.

Dislocation of the patella

Another common problem in small dogs. It is a disease already present at birth, even if the actual dislocation can manifest itself much later.

There is no genetic test that can identify this problem, and severe cases of patella dislocation require surgical treatment.

Murmurs and heart murmurs:

This can be a condition that your Boston Terrier lives with all its life without problems, but it can also lead to more serious heart disease. This is something to keep in mind in your dog’s regular veterinary check-ups.

Deafness :

Boston Terriers have a fairly high incidence of deafness in one or both ears. This is an aspect that must be carefully monitored by breeders. Empirical studies link this pathology to white coat: Boston Terriers that are white on more than a third of their head and / or body tend to produce more deaf puppies.

Specific care of the Boston Terrier breed

In reference to the aesthetic care of this dog , the actions that must be carried out are very easy and simple.

Thanks to its short and smooth coat, it hardly needs more than brushing once a week. This with the help of a natural bristle brush and a chamois.

Likewise, it is advisable to bathe it only when it is really dirty , always taking care to dry it very well. It should not be left wet in the open, as it is quite cold.

It is interesting to take advantage of this moment of the bath to check the state of the nails . And, if necessary, trim them carefully, without ever reaching the fleshy part.

Therefore, there is very little care that the possession of this breed requires , which, in return, offers many compensations and joys.

It is a very vital and fun animal, affectionate to the point of empathy and very balanced. It will delight the little ones in the house and it will become the perfect pet. With it you can go out to practice exercises in the field, or play in the park or garden.

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