Boston Terrier Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: Samantha Erb

August 10, 2022

A big-eyed beauty with a happy-go-lucky attitude, the Boston Terrier is known for its gentle demeanor and entertaining antics. Looking for a companion dog that doubles as a comedian? Don’t let this Boston Terrier puppy’s seriously sharp tuxedo-style coat fool you. The affable Boston Terrier is happy to join you in any environment—from the cafe to the countryside—so long as you’re ready for endless laughs (and belly rubs).

With a compact build and short, smiley snout, this small dog is cute, cuddly, and ready for whatever you throw at it (treats and frisbees included). The Boston Terrier is more than just a pretty face; this dog breed is smart enough to take on complex commands and even play a few tricks on their favorite people. All in the name of good fun—precisely what the Boston excels in.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 15–17 inches
  • Weight: 12–25 lbs
  • Lifespan: 11–13 years
  • Breed Size: Small
  • Colors: Brindle & white, black & white, seal & white
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats
  • Temperament: Eager, loving, dependable

Also Known As…

Boston Bull, Boston Bull Terrier, Boxwood, or, our favorite, The American Gentleman—not just for its dapper ‘do, but also for its impeccable table manners. A Boston Bull Terrier always knows the soup spoon from the dessert spoon, just sayin’.

What Is The History Of The Boston Terrier?

Don’t let the name lead you astray—the story of the Boston Terrier doesn’t begin in Massachusetts. The handsome hound’s ancestry can be traced to 19th century England, where a bulldog and a white English Terrier were bred to create a sturdy, strong-bodied dog called Judge.

Purchased by the American William O’Brien and later brought to Boston and sold to Robert C. Hooper, the stocky 32-pound Judge became the progenitor of the Boston dog breed. The breed became smaller and more affectionate with each generation, resembling the trusty companions and beloved family dogs we know today. 

It’s no wonder that, when the Boston Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club just before the turn of the 20th century, the dog quickly rose in the ranks as one of the most popular American dog breeds. In the years that followed, the Boston Terrier has earned even more acclaim as the official dog of Massachusetts, the mascot of Boston University, and the first dog ever to be awarded a gold medal for service by the US Army.2 

How Big Do Boston Terriers Get?

Height: 15–17 inches

Weight: 12–25 pounds

How Long Do Boston Terriers (Generally) Live?

You’re in it for the long haul with this small dog. Boston Terriers typically live 11 to 13 years.

What Is A Boston Terrier’s Temperament & Personality Like?

One look into those big, beautiful eyes and you’ll know you’ve found a friend. Your Boston Terrier puppy will be a buddy, a pal, a confidant, and a dependable companion dog at all times. This breed is all about cheering you up when you’re down and doubling up on a good time. 

As people-first pups, Boston Terriers are eager to join you on daily errands, vacations, and general outings. Because they’re generally friendly to everyone they meet, you shouldn’t have any problem introducing them to your friends, family, or anyone at the dog park.

Are Boston Terriers Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Boston Terriers can be profoundly gentle around children and usually game for anything—especially, yep, games. There’s pretty much nothing cuter than watching your little Boston and your little one play, so long as your Boston is well-socialized and your tot knows how to handle this gentle pup.  

Do you have a feline friend? Say meow to a truly cat-friendly dog. Several dog breeds such as the Greyhound or the Shih Tzu are typically a no-go when it comes to canine-feline friendship, but the Boston Terrier is a whole different story. Because Boston Terriers devote most of their energy to playing, snuggling, and goofing around, they’re not prone to giving cats a hard time. 

The same is true for dogs. Your Boston Terrier will want to make friends with almost any mammal they meet, so do them a favor and help them make the introductions. Sometimes young Boston Terriers can be a little overeager during a first meeting, but given some time and supervision, you can expect all your pets to form a big, happy family.

Are Boston Terriers High Energy? 

In general, Boston Terrier’s energy levels fall right in the sweet spot between lively and low-key. Typically 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily will keep your Boston Terrier fit and jolly. That could include a rousing round of fetch, a run through the park, or a trek downtown to pick up a pastry and a puppacino.

Are Boston Terriers Hard To Train?

Sweet, sensitive, and wicked smaht, Boston Terriers shouldn’t put up too much of a fight regarding training. After all, with a nickname like The American Gentleman, it’s probably not a surprise that Boston’s take well to etiquette lessons. 

Train early and often to avoid any stubbornness or disinterest, and pay close attention to how you talk to your Terrier. This breed can be particularly sensitive to verbal cues, so maximize your positive encouragement (and throw in a few treats) to make training a great experience for everyone involved.

Do Boston Terriers Have Health Issues?

As an exceptionally hardy and solid breed, Boston Terriers are generally healthy. That said, it’s worthwhile to consider a few of the more common health problems associated with the breed, including:3

  • Breathing problems – Due to their short snouts, Boston Terriers are susceptible to brachycephalic syndrome. Other small dog breeds like Pugs may have this health problem as well. This condition can cause breathing obstructions, particularly during exercise, and may be dangerous. There are surgical treatments for brachycephalic syndrome, and this genetic issue may be completely avoided if you adopt your dog from a reputable source.
  • Slipping knees – Some Boston Terriers may experience patellar luxation, a physical condition caused by knee caps slipping out of their proper groove. While this condition can lead to inflammation and pain if untreated, serious cases can be managed with surgical intervention.
  • Spinal and nerve issues – Some Boston Terriers have a misshapen vertebrae attached near the end of their trademark corkscrew tail, which can cause them to develop various spinal issues including nerve damage and paralysis. 

Don’t get too worried about your pooch’s potential for health problems. With regular veterinary checkups and thorough screenings, you can help ensure their long-term safety.

Do Boston Terriers Need To Be Groomed?

The American Gentleman’s sleek, sophisticated tuxedo coat is deceptively low maintenance. While the fine short coat will never get shaggy, matted, or rumpled, it does benefit from a nice brushing once and a while to maximize shine (and minimize shedding).

Besides the occasional jaunt in the tub, you’ll want to keep up with your pup’s ear, eye, and teeth cleaning. If they had thumbs, we like to think that the well-mannered Boston would happily attend to their own self-care regimen. But because their precious paws can only do so much, the responsibility is on you.

Do Boston Terriers Shed?

With a single, short layer of fur, you can expect minor to moderate shedding from your Boston Terrier. That said, with regular brushing, bathing, and a healthy diet, you might not even notice the occasional dog hair.  

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Boston Terrier?

After adopting your tuxedo-coated pup, you’ll want to keep your wallet out. The average yearly cost of caring for a Boston Terrier can range anywhere from $800 to $1500

Don’t let the sticker shock scare you away from welcoming a Boston Terrier into your home. You’re likely to spend more during your first year of ownership, and there are a few cost-effective options to explore regarding canine care.


A small Boston Terrier may eat as little as 1 cup of dog food per day, while larger pups could consume double that amount. All and all, you’re likely looking at $30 to $60 per month for food, depending on what brand you choose to buy.

How about a meal designed especially for your Boston Terrier? BARK Eats is the ultimate dog food delivery service, bringing food formulated by veterinary nutritionists, based on the needs of your Boston. It’s high-quality, perfectly portioned, and dogs can’t get enough. Explore BARK Eats today and get 50% off your first month!

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

A standard vet trip should cost around $50, before treatments, testing, and procedures. Fortunately, you may avoid some major health concerns—and bring down costs—by keeping a close eye on your dog’s health and visiting the vet at least once a year for an exam.

Preventative Medications For Boston Terriers

For a dog under 25 pounds, you can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per year on heartworm, flea, and tick prevention. Boston Terriers may be squeaky-clean, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to parasites and other health risks.

Boston Terrier Grooming

Skip the professional groomer and take care of your Boston Terrier’s grooming needs at home. As long as you have a tub (or sink) big enough for a doggy bath and the patience to scrub them down, it should be easy to keep your pup clean.

Pick up shampoo ($10–$40), brushes ($5–$30), and nail clippers ($5–$15), and you’ll be ready to get to work keeping your Terrier looking sharp. 

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

Would your Terrier look absolutely fabulous in a doggy hoodie? Hoping to pick up some food bowls that match your kitchen tile? When it comes to dog accessories, the world is your oyster. Just don’t forget to pick up key items like collars ($10–$50), a doggy bed ($20–$50), and a small crate ($50).

Treat your Boston Terrier to a BarkBox and watch their big eyes get even bigger every time the mail arrives. This monthly subscription offers 2 toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and a tasty chew for $23/month. Does your Terrier have a jaw of steel? Try the Super Chewer subscription for 2 fluff-free, durable toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and 2 meaty chews for only $29/month. Now, double your first order for free!

Don’t forget about budgeting for additional services, including:

  • Microchipping ($50)
  • Spaying/Neutering ($200–$300)
  • Doggy Training ($100–$200)


American Kennel Club. Boston Terrier.

Connecticut Military Department. Stubby.

Boston Terrier Society. 10 Common Boston Terrier Health Problems.

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Written by: Samantha Erb

August 10, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.