Traits and Characteristics
The Boston Terrier is a compactly built, square-proportioned, short-backed, clean-cut dog. This breed conveys the impression of determination, strength, sturdiness, liveliness, and style, with a graceful carriage. The Boston retains many of the attributes of his Bulldog ancestors, but in a clean-cut package that makes a handy house companion. The short fine coat, with distinctive markings, adds to this breed’s dapper appearance.
Ready to see what dogs fit you best? Take our short quiz to find out!
Friendliness to Dogs
Friendliness to Other Pets
Friendliness to Strangers
Ease of Training
Disclaimer: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.
The Boston is devoted and sensitive to his family’s wishes and moods. This dog is well-mannered indoors but saucy and playful (especially enjoying ball chasing) whenever the chance arises. Somewhat stubborn, Bostons are nonetheless clever and learn readily. Thy are reserved with strangers, and some may be assertive toward strange dogs, and should be introduced carefully. Some bark a lot.
This is a lively dog that needs daily exercise and interaction with his family. They love games, and most of their exercise requirements can be met with a romp in the yard or a short walk on leash. Some Bostons wheeze and snore, and many don’t tolerate heat well. The coat requires only minimal care, an occasional brushing to remove dead hairs.
- Major concerns: none
- Minor concerns: patellar luxation, stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, allergies
- Occasionally seen: deafness, seizures, cataract, demodicosis
- Suggested tests: knee, eye, hearing
- Life span: 10–14 years
- Note: This breed does not tolerate the heat and is sensitive to anesthesia. Bostons are prone to corneal abrasions. Caesarean deliveries are commonly needed.
Unlike most breeds, the origin of the Boston Terrier is well documented. Around 1865, the coachmen employed by the wealthy people of Boston began to interbreed some of their employers’ fine dogs. One of these crosses, between an English Terrier and a Bulldog, resulted in a dog named Hooper’s Judge. He and his offspring provided the foundation for the Boston Terrier.
By 1889, the breed had become sufficiently popular in Boston that the American Bull Terrier Club was formed, but this proposed name for the breed was not well received by Bull Terrier fans. The breed’s nickname, roundheads, was similarly inappropriate. Shortly after, the breed was named the Boston Terrier, after its birthplace.
The Boston’s rise from nonexistence to AKC recognition was meteoric by modern standards, as the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1893, less than 20 years after the breed was born. Breeders continued to seek greater consistency. In early years, color and markings were not particularly important, but by the early 1900s, the breed’s distinctive markings had become an essential breed feature. The handsome little Boston Terrier quickly gained favor throughout America, ranking as one of the most popular breeds in the early to middle 1900s and retaining great popularity today.