Boston Terrier Breed Info: Temperament, Appearance, and More

 Tuesday Aug 17,2021
By  Lancaster Puppies

Boston Terriers are one of the most popular breeds in the United States due to their friendly disposition and adaptability. This compact breed is low maintenance and a great dog for any family. 

History of the Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier with a red leash

The first Boston Terrier was bred in Liverpool in the 1860s when a Bulldog was bred with the now-extinct White English Terrier. This dog was sold to William O’Brien, who traveled home to Boston with this new breed. O’Brien bred this dog with a small white female Terrier and continued to breed them with smaller dogs to get the traditional Boston Terrier look today. Despite their name, the Boston Terrier is not actually a Terrier but is categorized as a Non-Sporting Dog. 

Boston Terriers are now a point of hometown pride. They have been the official mascot of Boston University for over 100 years, and were named the official dog of Massachusetts in 1979. 

Boston Terrier Characteristics

Appearance and Coat

Boston Terriers are a small and sturdy breed. Boston Terrier size falls into three categories: under 15 pounds, 15 to 20 pounds, and 20 to 25 pounds. They stand approximately 17 inches at their withers or the area above their shoulder. 

They have broad chests, and their heads are square and flat on top. They have a defining short muzzle that is also square and broad. Their ears are small, erect, and are often compared to bat ears. Their coat is short and smooth, and either brindle with white markings or black with white markings. Boston Terriers do shed their coat, but it can be easily managed with regular brushings. Their colorings can make it look like they are wearing a tuxedo, which has earned them the nickname, “The American Gentleman.” 


Lancaster Puppies Boston Terrier breed spotlight infographic: easy to train, apartment friendly, pet-friendly, playful & active, good with kids

Boston Terriers are cheerful and happy-go-lucky and make gentle companions. They are easily trained and are eager to learn new tricks to please their owners. They have a tendency to be stubborn, so Boston Terrier puppies should be trained early. They are great with other pets, and because they are sturdier than most terriers they are very patient with small children. They are very protective of their family and can be aggressive to new pets and strangers. They tend to be quiet and only bark only when necessary. 


Boston Terriers’ are typically a healthy breed, but should be screened for certain issues, especially when it comes to their prominent eyes. Some health issues that Boston Terriers are susceptible to include:

  • Corneal Ulcers: Corneal Ulcers occur when layers of a dog’s eye erode through the layers of the eye and into the cornea. Fluid accumulates in the protective layer of the cornea, giving a cloudy appearance to the eye. They occur most commonly from some sort of trauma, like a scratch or contact with a sharp object. 
  • Roaching: Roaching is a curvature of the back that can be caused by kneecap problems with Boston Terrier’s rear legs. This curvature can cause the dog to lean forward onto its forelegs. Boston Terrier’s patellas should be screened regularly to prevent this from happening. 
  • Difficulty Breathing: Like most flat-faced dog breeds, Boston Terriers can have difficulty breathing and are prone to snoring. They can also be susceptible to reverse sneezing, which is a rapid and forced inhalation through the nose that can cause snorting or gagging to clear the palate of mucus. 

Just like all dog breeds, you should take your Boston Terrier to the vet for regular checkups and shot updates. The average Boston Terrier's lifespan is 10 to 14 years. 

Caring for a Boston Terrier

A Boston Terrier’s Ideal Home

Close up of a Boston TerrierBoston Terriers are very adaptable and do well in homes from large farms to apartments. Their compact size and low tendency to bark make them great options for city dwellers, and they do well when left alone while their owners are at work. 

They do well with all family sizes and make great companions for children. If you have other pets you should socialize your Boston Terrier with them early so their protective instincts don’t take over. 

Training a Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them very trainable. They do have a tendency to be stubborn, so training should be started ASAP. They do very well with rewards-based training because it shows that they are pleasing their owner, and being rewarded accordingly. 


Boston Terriers are energetic and love exercising and playing with their owners. Simply letting them out into the yard isn’t enough for a Boston Terrier. Brisk walks one to two times a day and engaging them with toys regularly is usually enough to get their energy out. If they are left alone for long periods of time they may develop undesirable behaviors.

Grooming and Hygiene 

A Boston Terrier’s fine coat sheds, but not as much as most breeds. Brushing their coat weekly removes loose hair and promotes a healthy coat. They are a clean breed and only need to be bathed occasionally unless they get into something messy. As with all breeds, their nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid problems walking and running. 

Are you ready to bring home a Boston Terrier puppy? Browse Lancaster Puppies to choose your new furry friend today!