Boston Terrier Temperament & Personality
The Boston terrier is a popular and fairly new dog breed that has quickly found its way out of the violence of dog fighting rings and into the loving homes of many Americans families. A century after they were bred for bloodsport, Boston terriers are now known to be some of the friendliest and most affectionate of all the dog breeds known to man.
A Boston terrier is a playful, energetic dog. They’re small in size, and can very easily adapt to living in apartments and most types of homes. These are not sensitive dogs, so they don’t mind noisy and busy households. They’re very friendly towards family members of all ages, and are most of the time even friendly towards people they don’t know.
Though these are purebred dogs, many of them still end up in pounds and rescue homes because of irresponsible, misinformed, under-prepared, or simply overwhelmed owners. Are you thinking about adopting, rescuing, or fostering a Boston terrier? This short read should help you decide if you’re ready to take care of this breed. It should also help prepare you,, your family, and your home for the arrival of your newest household member.
Boston Terrier Characteristics
|Are they sensitive?||●○○○○||Do they bark or howl?||●●●○○|
|Are they social?||●●●○○||Do they drool?||●○○○○|
|Are they friendly?||●●●●●||Do they need regular exercise?||●●●●○|
|Are they playful?||●●●●●||Do they need regular grooming?||●●●○○|
|Are they easy to train?||●●●●○||Do they have wanderlust?||●●●●●|
|Are they intelligent?||●●●●○||Are they great first time pets?||●●●●○|
|Are the sensitive to temperature?||●●●●●||Are they “mouthy” dogs?||●●●○○|
Boston terriers are resilient little dogs. They’re not sensitive so shouting at them won’t affect them much emotionally. They won’t mind living in chaotic households with lots of kids, loud noises, and busy feet. They’re highly adaptable and do well in apartment-living. They’re amazing first pets, and even those who have little to no experience will only need a bit of preparation and effort to take good care of Boston terriers.
However, this dog breed has what people call the brachycephalic heads. This and their short coats make them sensitive to extreme temperature changes. They have low to average tolerance for both overly hot and overly cold weathers. This distinctive head shape may also give them health problems.
Friendliness and Energy Levels
An owner who wants to take good care of their Boston terriers would need to match their energy levels, and this is where the challenge starts. Boston terriers will always be playful no matter how old they get. As long as they’re not sick, their energy levels will always be high, and their intensity doesn’t wane as they age. They’re always going to need plenty of playtime and physical stimulation.
One of the most adorable things about Boston terriers is their friendliness. They are very affectionate towards family, especially those that they’ve known from the very start. They’re friendly towards kids, and they can develop canine social skills with ease. As adults, it’s common for them to wag their trails and be friendly with strangers.
Related: Jack Russell Terrier Temperament & Personality [Full Guide]
Boston terriers have the tendency to be mouthy as puppies. They’ll play with other dogs and humans by nipping or playfully biting them. Commonly, they lose this mouthiness as they grow their adult teeth. But if they have carried this mouthiness trait into adulthood, training by positive distraction is the best way for them to overcome it.
They’re very easy to train, so novice owners need only a bit of time and patience to bring up and hone a wonderfully-trained Boston terrier. They’re also very intelligent dogs.
Health and Grooming
When it comes to grooming, Boston terriers are on the easier side of things. They don’t drool and shed much. They don’t need regular brushing as they have very short hairs. Like all other dogs though, Boston terriers may be more susceptible to developing certain diseases common to their breed.
Boston Terrier Size (Male & Female)
Boston terriers are considered medium-sized dogs, though some of them may have the height and weight of small-sized dogs. They’re small, compact dogs that sport short tails and prick ears.
Boston Terrier Height (Male & Female)
Measuring a male Boston terrier at his withers, he should be 17 inches at most. A female one should be 16 inches at most at her withers.
Boston Terrier Weight (Male & Female)
According to the American Kennel Club, there are three weight categories for Boston terriers: those that are less than 15 pounds; those that are between 15 to 20 pounds; and those that are more than 20 but not exceeding 25 pounds.
Males are usually heavier than females. The weight range for male Boston terriers is 15-25 pounds, while the weight range for the female is 10-20 pounds.
Boston Terrier Life Span (Male & Female)
These terriers live for 13 to 15 years on average.
Boston Terrier Personality
Taking care of a Boston terrier may be easy for most people , but learning a dog’s personality will definitely make taking care of them easier. Here are some Boston terrier characteristics that any aspiring owner should know:
They make lots of loud, different sounds. A brachycephalic head means a few things for dogs: their snouts are short, their nostrils are tiny, their palates are long, and their tracheas are narrow. In Boston terriers and similar breeds, this flat head shape means that they can loudly grunt, snort, wheeze, and snore. And while many may consider these adorable traits, some may see them as irritating traits and potential deal breakers.
This flat head shape is of course popular as it gives many dogs their distinctive look. However, it also means that they will need to exert more effort when breathing. They will be more comfortable breathing through their mouths than through their noses, and they may ultimately have other related health problems.
They can’t bear too much heat and too much cold. Boston terriers are prone to heat stress, and this is due to their short faces. Since their snouts are short and their nostrils are tiny, they can’t cool down the air enough before it reaches their lungs. They also don’t do too well in colder weather.
Their short coats don’t help much in trapping heat so they get cold easily. Because of their sensitivity to temperature, Boston terriers should be indoor pets. They’ll be stressed out if they’re kept outside for a long time, especially in uncomfortable temperatures.
They are intense, high-energy dogs. There are dogs that seem to be in a state of perpetual puppyhood, and a Boston terrier’s energy and playfulness definitely puts them into this category. They apply the same amount of intensity and energy in everything they do, including eating, playing, digging, exercising, and the likes.
Regular exercise does wonder for any high-energy dog, and the same goes for Boston terriers. Without regular exercise, they may misplace all that extra energy into biting, chewing, nipping, and eventually destroying things around them. They have large, prominent eyes. Many people love this facial feature, as a Boston terrier’s large, expressive eyes make for funny and sometimes moving photographs.
However, because their eyes are so prominent and protruded, they may be more prone to develop ulcers and other eye problems. Playtime with Boston terriers can be rough because of their intensity and high energy levels, so owners need to be cautious not to hurt or damage their eyes.
They’re extremely friendly. A Boston terrier’s friendliness knows no bounds as they’re normally friendly and curious dogs. They’re very affectionate towards people they know from puppyhood, and strangers don’t usually scare them at all. These are great dogs for households with children. They’re amazing with other dogs as they’re not violent or overly territorial. If raised together, Boston terriers can even live peacefully with cats and other smaller pets.
They can be really gassy. While this may also be due to a dog’s specific diet, many short-faced dog breeds have this digestive problem. Dogs like these tend to gulp air when they eat, which they will then get rid of eventually by passing gas. Flatulence in Boston terriers is always made worse by the wrong diet.
Boston Terrier Exercise
The energy levels of a Boston terrier would be a challenge to match. Fortunately, they’re perfectly content with a few minutes of fun exercises and prefer them over long, boring, and vigorous ones. They love running and playing fetch, though an hour of walking may sometimes be enough to calm their enthusiastic energy.
Physical exercise is a must every day, and should take about 30 minutes to an hour. They’re naturally active dogs, and they can sometimes misplace all that surplus energy into destructive behavior. Like humans, dogs tend to gain weight as they age due to changes in metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle could lead to obesity and more serious health conditions.
Fortunately, Boston terriers need only the slightest nudge and they will run off excitedly for a game of fetch even in their adulthood. They’re bouncy pets that always seem to have some extra energy stored somewhere in their small bodies.
Boston Terrier Training
Aside from basic dog tricks, many Boston terriers are trained for mouthiness, jumping, overeating, and proper walking. Boston terriers can be stubborn, and this is a trait that you wouldn’t want them to carry into adulthood. Like many other dog breeds, Boston terriers must be subject to early training, and training them should be regular, consistent, and persistent. While their main motivator may be food, Boston terrier owners will need to figure out a way for their pets to obey them even without a treat in hand.
Boston Terrier History
The Boston terrier breed is a fairly new breed whose existence came about in the 19th century. They’re said to come from a single dog named Judge. Judge was bred originally to fight in dog fighting pits. He was born in England, and he was the offspring of an English terrier (now extinct) and a bulldog.
Sometime after his birth, Judge was sold to an American named William O’Brien, who brought him to Boston and sold him to Robert C. Hooper. Judge, who was about 32 pounds by then, was bred with a 20-pound female bulldog named Gyp, who was owned by Edward Burnett. This led to the birth of a 28-pound pup named Eph, who took to his dad and got his distinctive square head shape, and dark brindle. He sported the same white stripe on his face too.
Boston terriers of today are smaller in weight and build than Judge and Eph due to a century and more of selective breeding. As they became much smaller and dog fighting rings became much more frowned upon, Boston terriers found their way into the homes of many Americans. By 1893, the Boston terrier breed was recognized by the AKC. In 1922, the Boston terrier became the official mascot of Boston University. By 2019, Boston terriers were one of the most popular dog breeds in the US.
Related: American Bulldog Temperament & Personality
Boston Terrier Health Problems
- Eye problems: A Boston terrier’s eyes are large and expressive. These protruding eyes are prone to ulcers, cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye injuries though. Boston terriers are very playful dogs, and it’s common for them to get too rough at play and cause injury to their own eyes. Pink eye, dry eye, scratched eyeballs, and corneal ulcers are somewhat common and can be very easy to treat. Cataracts, on the other hand, may sometimes require surgical removal. Cataracts and glaucoma are very serious and may cause blindness.
- Obesity: Obesity is a common problem with Boston terriers, but only if not given enough exercise. These happy-go-lucky dogs don’t shy away from physical activity, and lack of it can lead to weight gain, which can lead to obesity, heart diseases, back pain, and digestive problems.
- Hemivertebrae: This is a condition that is more common in Boston terriers than many other dog breeds. This condition affects the spinal column, which could subsequently damage their spinal cord, causing balance problems and even permanent disabilities. In Boston terriers, back problems are taken seriously, and tests are done to rule out other causes so vets can prescribe the right treatment.
Responsible breeders will take their time to look at the breeding partners’ genetic predisposition to certain health conditions, and will never proceed if they think that the breeding partners won’t be able to produce a healthy enough litter. Since Boston terriers don’t produce large litters, they are more expensive than other breeds.
An irresponsible breeder won’t take a litter’s long-term health into consideration. They just need them healthy enough to survive for them to make a sale. There is nothing wrong with dealing with a respected breeder and wanting a pet that isn’t inclined to develop severe health issues. However, there are many Boston terriers out there that have been abandoned and neglected.
They live in rescue facilities and foster homes, waiting for just the right owner to give them the chance at a forever loving home.
How to Care for a Boston Terrier
It isn’t too hard to take care of a healthy Boston terrier. This is why they’re perfect for beginner owners who haven’t had much experience in taking care of dogs in the past. Though they’re a very active breed, Boston terriers only need half an hour to an hour of light exercise daily and they’ll be on their merry way. Though they don’t like to be left alone, they tolerate it better than many other dog breeds. Owners just need to make sure they’re in a safe space and that their alone time doesn’t exceed 4 to 8 hours.
Boston terriers are unbelievably fast runners. They must be leashed when outdoors, especially if they’re in an unsecured and unfamiliar place.
Nutrition and Feeding for Boston Terrier
Since Boston terriers are prone to flatulence, high-fiber diets must be avoided. Training them to eat slower can also help prevent flatulence every time they eat. There are also some reports, though these have not been verified by experts, that the breed is susceptible to bad breath, and that wet foods can make the situation worse. Many owners prefer that their Boston terriers eat dry dog food because of this.
Boston terriers eat heavy, so leftover food shouldn’t be left out for them to go back to whenever they please. Proper eating can help them prevent weight gain, obesity, and all the other health conditions related to the two. Avoid giving them table scraps as well.
Coat Color and Grooming
According to AKC breed standards, a Boston terrier’s coat should be brindle, seal, or black. Furthermore, their coat should also be evenly white, short, and smooth. Their eyes should be dark, as blue-eyed Boston terriers are not recognized by the AKC. Their ears should be erect and their tails should be short.
Boston terriers don’t shed much. They’re low-maintenance pets that don’t often need baths, unless they’ve spent their playtime in mud puddles, or freshly cut grass. Boston terriers can go for as long as 4 to 6 weeks without the need for a bath. Other signs that it’s time for a bath are when a Boston terrier starts to smell, scratch too much, or develop dandruff.
Children and Other Pets
Boston terriers are amazing with children and other pets. They are very affectionate towards their human family and can bond with dogs, cats, and even other pets. Their friendly demeanor means they’re not the greatest watchdogs though, as they may be friendly with people they’ve met for the first time. As always, though, children mustn’t be left unsupervised with dogs to prevent accidents and any untoward incidents.
Boston terrier rescue groups help these fun-loving, energetic little dogs in many different ways – they provide food, shelter, and medical attention to the abandoned and neglected. If they’re lucky, the Boston terriers may even find their next family with the help of these rescue groups. Here are some of them:
- Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue – This rescue organization helps foster families find Boston terriers to take care of. Some of them may even end up adopting. They also make sure that each Boston terrier, within their shelter, is observed and given the care that they need to help them reach the adoptable status.
- Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue – This rescue group helps Boston terriers of all ages. They help the young ones find their forever homes, and they help the old, disease-stricken ones live out the rest of their lives in peace and happiness. They can even help underprepared and overwhelmed owners rehome their Boston terriers so they are better taken care of.
- Boston Terrier Rescue of North Carolina – BTRNC is a group that rescues, rehabilitates, and finds new homes for rescued Boston terriers. Their doors are always open for volunteers who can foster, adopt, or sponsor the dogs in their care.
- Boston Terrier Club of America – This club is recognized by, and is a member of, the American Kennel Club. It was founded in 1891. The members’ love and admiration for the loyal “All-American” dog is evident, with breed education and breeding standards at the core of their organization.
More About This Breed
- Finding out your Boston Terrier’s training style
- How to exercise your Boston Terrier
- Fun indoor activities for you and your Boston Terrier
- How to housetrain your Boston terrier pup
- Rehoming a Boston terrier