Boston Terrier

AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Boston Terrier is an American breed developed in Boston from crosses involving English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and some terrier breeds. The breed became popular in Boston, where it was initially called the American Bull Terrier. The name was soon changed to Boston Terrier, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1893. Today’s Boston Terrier is primarily a house pet and companion dog.


The Boston Terrier is a small, dark-brindle-and-white or black-and-white dog with a smooth, unwrinkled broad head that looks somewhat like a Boxer’s. The muzzle is short, topped with a full black nose. The body is slender with well-defined lines, with a build more like a terrier than like a bulldog. The expressive, wide-set eyes are very large, dark and rounded. The ears are small and erect, and may be cropped or uncropped. The tail is short and either straight or screw, carried low. The short coat does not shed.

Key Facts

  • Height: Averages 15 to 17 in.
  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 15 to 25 lbs.
  • Availability: Widely available
  • Talents: Watchdog, obedience competition, agility, and tricks


Can be difficult to housebreak. Might wheeze, snore, and drool. Needs some regular exercise, but can overheat if pushed too far. Sensitive to temperature extremes, and might be sensitive to anesthesia. Basically odorless. An easy-care breed and outstanding pet companion. Some Boston Terrier puppies may develop hydrocephalus, which can affect their mental abilities. Because of the size and breadth of the head, puppies often must be delivered by Caesarean section. Because the eyes protrude, they may be easily damaged. Males who live together might fight.


The Boston Terrier is a gentle, well-mannered, very affectionate indoor dog. He is receptive to patient, kindly training, though somewhat willful. Fine with children. Especially good with elderly people. Lively but gentlemanly. A good watchdog.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Dominance: Low
  • Independence: Moderately dependent on people
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
  • Barking: Likes to bark
  • Indoors: Moderately active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Very little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Short coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Docking: The ears may be cropped or natural
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments: Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
  • Climate: Does not do well in extreme climates, especially hot weather
  • Longevity: Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® Boston Terrier Breed Standard

Boston Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier Gifts