Boston Terrier Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 6, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.

Intro / Overview

Cute, compact, pointy-eared and wild-eyed. What’s not to love about a Boston Terrier? These dogs are sweet and smart, and with their small to-midsize frame, they’re great companions for spaces both large and small. Here’s a guide to the Boston Terrier, where you can learn all about their personality, trainability, quirks and more.

Also Known As…

Boston. Boston Bull. Boston Bull Terrier. Boxwood. The American Gentleman (because their black and white coats look like tuxedos). “That dog looks like a bug-eyed bat creature!” “Yeah…pretty cute, right?”


Perhaps unsurprisingly, these dogs have their origins in Boston. These terriers were bred in 1865, as a mix between an English Bulldog and an English Terrier. They were originally bred for dog fighting and bull baiting. Thankfully, these dogs are no longer used for this practice, and instead have found a home as humans’ companions, not fighters.


Boston Terriers are considered small dogs, although have a significant weight range for such pooches, coming in anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds. They’re generally 15 to 17 inches tall, definitely short and small enough to be happy and healthy in a small living environment. While small, they’re also known for their sturdy build and relatively broad chests, making them compact and strong for their size. They’re also known for their pointy, upright ears, short tails and large eyes.

Weight Range

Boston Terriers can weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds depending on weight class and age.


Boston Terriers are well known for their fun and silly nature, playful energy and gentle sweetness with their human companions. They’re highly adaptable and eager to learn, especially when that learning involves plenty of playtime. At the same time, once they’ve burned through their energy, they’re just as happy settling in for a nap with a member of their pack.

Intelligence / Trainability

Boston Terriers are smart and trainable, both great qualities in a dog. However, their intelligence can get make them stubborn if not trained properly, and combined with their high energy levels, that intelligence can lead to them getting into a bit of trouble every now and again. They’re not prone to property destruction, but any puppy may find their way into your shoe collection to take out their anxiety or simply to burn off energy, so keep that in mind.

Best Training Techniques For Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers are smart and eager to please their owners, so it may only take a few sessions to teach them basic commands such as “sit.” While every dog loves treats, training a Boston Terrier is more about the vocal repetition and hand movement than the reward. Keep the treats ready, but you won’t have to use treats for too long before your Boston Terrier begins responding to training sessions.

Ideal Environment

Because of their compact size, Boston Terriers are great for all sorts of environments, from apartments to homes with huge yards. Keep in mind that they do have playful energy levels, so even though they’re small, they’ll still need to get some of that energy out during regular walks and play.

They’re good indoor dogs due to both size and temperament, so being cooped up in the winter won’t too hard on them. Boston Terriers make good guard dogs, which means some may be prone to barking.  so Barking, though, is a trait that’s always different from dog to dog, so there’s no guarantee either way.

Good For Families And Kids?

Boston Terriers are friendly and playful, making them great family dogs. They’re good with children and tend not to be hostile with strangers, but can be reserved around those they’re not familiar with. Their size makes them easy for kids to be around, as these dogs won’t be able to knock them over with a simple nudge, which can happen with larger or more powerful breeds.

Average Lifespan

Boston Terriers generally have a lifespan of 13-15 years.


As with other flat-face dogs, Boston Terriers are prone to breathing difficulties that range from those as simple as light snoring to breathing problems that may need to be corrected via surgery, or be unable to be fixed at all.

Their flat faces also may cause eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma or corneal ulcers. Their tail shape – the signature corkscrew  – is also associated with spinal issues. Some dogs show no symptoms at all, while others may require surgery for spinal treatments.


Boston Terriers are playful and affectionate. They have mid-range energy levels, which means they’ll of course need regular walks and play time, but aren’t work dogs that require intensive exercise each day. Routine walks and some fetch should do it.

Friendly with…Dogs? (Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)

These dogs are often friendly with just about everyone – they’re good with kids, don’t usually display hostility to strangers, are social and cat friendly. They may take a bit of warming up with strangers, but they’re not keen to growl or threaten new friends, which is always nice.

Coat And Grooming

With their short, smooth coats and low rate of shedding, a weekly brushing and a bath every few months is plenty for the Boston Terrier. A weekly brushing should do it year round, even in prime shedding season each spring. They need nail care just like any other dog, so keep an eye out for when their nails get long and get them trimmed every few weeks.


Their flat faces make snoring a part of life with a Boston Terrier. It’s generally not disruptive, but varies from dog to dog and is something to keep in mind if you’re a light sleeper.

Toys Boston Terriers Would Like Best

These smart, gentle pups love a good challenge when it comes to their toys. Try out a Puzzle Toy or treat-dispensing to keep their quick minds moving and to satiate their love for anything tasty (although what kind of dog doesn’t love something tasty?).

To get out some of their energy before settling in for a cuddling session, you can also try a tennis ball for a nice game of fetch with a Boston Terrier. Watch their eyes bulge as they run back with a tennis ball or chew toy during a game of fetch and you’ll want  to keep playing too – it’s a sight to behold, and will have you laughing in no time.

If you’re looking for a more extensive list, check out the following post: What Are The Best Toys For Boston Terriers?

Recommended Diet Or Supplements

If your Boston is having joint issues, you may want to consider supplements for their diet. But as always, consult with your veterinarian first.

Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)

Glucosamine Supplement For Hip & Joints

This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Boston Terrier with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)

Recommended Products

The supplements will help your Boston get moving, but when they want to lie down and rest, they’ll need the right bed to support their tired bodies.

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Bed

This dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)

Notable Rescues To Find The Boston Terrier Of Your Dreams

Now that you know just how cute, sweet, playful and smart Boston Terriers are, you may be curious as to where exactly you can get one of your own. Here are a few prominent rescue organizations who are just as crazy about Boston Terriers as their owners.

  • American Boston Terrier Rescue: This organization is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating Boston Terriers. They’re located in Dallas and encourage potential owners to adopt older dogs, too.
  • Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue: Based in Michigan, this center is dedicated to rescuing Boston Terriers to help them find their forever home. They serve Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
  • Boston Terrier Rescue Net: This site provides resources to find and adopt Boston Terriers around the country. They focus on rehoming Boston Terriers that have been abandoned or abused, helping to raise money for Boston Terrier welfare and promoting fostering and adopting.

Notable Instagram Boston Terriers

Wide-eyed, playful, silly and sweet. If you can’t get enough of Boston Terriers and want to get a daily dose of cuteness, check out these Instagram accounts:


Jax is just straight up hilarious. Follow him already!


Instagram users send pictures of their Boston Terriers to this account, where they show off the cuteness and cuddliness from dog lovers around the world.


Looking for up close and personal pictures of a couple of Boston Terriers with plenty of personality? This may be the gram for you.


Bug eyes, personality and the occasional game of dress up. This Boston Terrier seems pretty content in life.

Pug Noodle BarkBox Knights Of The Hound Table

***Looking for a gift to blow your Boston Terrier’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 6, 2019