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  • Temperament: Friendly, Bright, Amusing
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 21 of 194
  • Height: 15-17 inches
  • Weight: 12-25 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Boston Terrier lying sideways facing forward
Boston Terrier head and shoulders facing left
Boston Terrier standing in three-quarter view
Boston Terrier coat detail
Boston Terrier puppy

Find a Puppy: Boston Terrier

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Boston Terrier is a lively, highly intelligent, smooth coated, short-headed, compactly built, short-tailed, well balanced dog, brindle, seal or black in color and evenly marked with white. The head is in proportion to the size of the dog and the expression indicates a high degree of intelligence.
The body is rather short and well knit, the limbs strong and neatly turned, the tail is short and no feature is so prominent that the dog appears badly proportioned. The dog conveys an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order; carriage easy and graceful.

HEAD

The skull is square, flat on top, free from wrinkles, cheeks flat, brow abrupt and the stop well defined. The ideal Boston Terrier expression is alert and kind, indicating a high degree of intelligence. This is a most important characteristic of the breed. The eyes are wide apart, large and round and dark in color. The eyes are set square in the skull and the outside corners are on a line with the cheeks as viewed from the front. Disqualify – Eyes blue in color or any trace of blue. The ears are small, carried erect, either natural or cropped to conform to the shape of the head and situated as near to the corners of the skull as possible.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The length of neck must display an image of balance to the total dog. It is slightly arched, carrying the head gracefully and setting neatly into the shoulders. The back is just short enough to square the body. The topline is level and the rump curves slightly to the set-on of the tail. The chest is deep with good width, ribs well sprung and carried well back to the loins. The body should appear short. The tail is set on low, short, fine and tapering, straight or screw and must not be carried above the horizontal. (Note: The preferred tail does not exceed in length more than one-quarter the distance from set-on to hock.) Disqualify – Docked tail. Body Faults – Gaily carried tail. Serious Body Faults – Roach back, sway back, slab-sided.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are sloping and well laid back, which allows for the Boston Terrier’s stylish movement. The elbows stand neither in nor out. The forelegs are set moderately wide apart and on a line with the upper tip of the shoulder blades. The forelegs are straight in bone with short, strong pasterns. The dewclaws may be removed. The feet are small, round and compact, turned neither in nor out, with well arched toes and short nails. Faults – Legs lacking in substance; splay feet.

HINDQUARTERS

The thighs are strong and well muscled, bent at the stifles and set true. The hocks are short to the feet, turning neither in nor out, with a well defined hock joint. The feet are small and compact with short nails. Fault – Straight in stifle.

COAT

The coat is short, smooth, bright and fine in texture.

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About the Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are compact, short-tailed, well-balanced little dogs weighing no more than 25 pounds. The stylish “tuxedo” coat can be white and either black, brindle, or seal (dark brown). The head is square, the muzzle is short, and the large, round eyes can shine with kindness, curiosity, or mischief. Ever alert to their surroundings, Bostons move with a jaunty, rhythmic step.

It’s a safe bet that a breed named for a city—the Havanese or Brussels Griffon, for instance—will make an excellent urban pet. Bostons are no exception: they are sturdy but portable, people-oriented, and always up for a brisk walk to the park or outdoor cafe. A bright dog with a natural gift for comedy, the dapper Bostonian is a steady source of smiles.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Boston Terrier puppy

Find a Puppy: Boston Terrier

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Boston Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Boston Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Boston’s sleek, fine coat does shed somewhat, though not a lot. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will help to remove the loose hair. A good brushing also promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to help keep it healthy. Bostons need to be bathed only occasionally, unless they get into something messy. As with all breeds, the Boston’s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Infrequent

EXERCISE

The Boston’s need for exercise varies from individual to individual. For some, a brisk walk once or twice a day will be enough. Others will need more time to run and play every day and let off steam. Simply letting a Boston out into the backyard doesn’t count as exercise—he’ll probably just sit at the door waiting to be let back in. Left alone for long periods of time, a Boston will tend to become frustrated and develop undesirable behaviors. Throw him a ball or a toy, however, and he’ll be more than happy to play with you. Participation in canine sports such as agility, obedience, flyball, and rally is an enjoyable way to channel the breed’s energy.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Socialization—gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations—will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. Treats make a great training incentive. Many Bostons are quite sensitive; for them, gentle corrections should be followed by warmth and praise.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Outgoing

HEALTH

Protecting the Boston Terrier’s beautiful but prominent eyes is of special importance. The eyes should be checked daily for redness or irritation. Some owners carry saline eye drops to flush out dust or debris. Responsible breeders screen their stock for eye problems such as cataracts, corneal ulcers, and glaucoma, as well as deafness and patellar luxation (comparable to a “trick knee” in humans). Like all flat-faced breeds, Bostons can experience difficulty breathing when not given adequate shelter from excessive heat or humidity.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • BAER Testing

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier

History

The popularity of blood sports in 19th-century England led to a mania for crossing terriers and bull-type breeds to produce dogs who could excel at pit fighting and ratting contests. In Liverpool, sometime in the late 1860s, a cross between a Bulldog and the now-extinct white English Terrier resulted in a tough, muscular dog named Judge.

Judge’s owner sold him to an American named William O’Brien, who brought his new dog home to Boston. In 1870, O’Brien sold Judge to a fellow Bostonian, Robert C. Hooper. Judge, from then on known in breed histories as “Hooper’s Judge,” became the patriarch of the Boston Terrier breed and the common ancestor of almost all true Bostons.

A breed historian describes Judge as a “strongly built, high stationed dog of about thirty-two pounds weight. In color he was a dark brindle, with a white stripe in the face. His head was square and blocky, and he resembled the present Boston Terrier in that he had a nearly even mouth.”

Hooper bred Judge to a small white female named Burnett’s Gyp, owned by Edward Burnett, of Southboro, Massachusetts. And, in the genealogy so familiar to Boston Terrier fanciers, Judge and Gyp begot Well’s Eph, who begot Tobin’s Kate, and on through the seminal generations of the Boston’s U.S. history. During the breed’s formative decades, selective breeding transformed the bulky fighter of Judge’s time into a smaller, sweeter, and more attractive companion dog, originally called the Round Head by its partisans.

In honor of the city where these happy-go-lucky dogs were so painstakingly developed, the breed name was changed to Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier Club of America was formed in 1891, and two years later the AKC registered its first dog of the breed.

To this day, Boston Terriers are a point of hometown pride. The Boston Terrier has been the official mascot of Boston University for nearly 100 years, and in 1979 the state legislature named the “American Gentleman” the official dog of Massachusetts.

Did You Know?

The Boston Terrier is a native American breed.
In the year 1889, fanciers formed the American Bull Terrier Club (the former name of Boston Terriers), but upon meeting opposition from both Bulldog and Bull Terrier fanciers, changed the name in 1891.
Much of the progress in the Boston Terrier breeding program has been made in the 20th century; it is a relatively new breed.
The Boston Terrier is the result of a cross between an English Bulldog and a White English Terrier, later considerably inbred.
The AKC admitted the Boston Terrier in 1893.
The original sire and dam of the Boston Terrier breed (the Bulldog and English Terrier that were bred) were named "Judge" and "GYP".

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Boston Terrier is a lively, highly intelligent, smooth coated, short-headed, compactly built, short-tailed, well balanced dog, brindle, seal or black in color and evenly marked with white. The head is in proportion to the size of the dog and the expression indicates a high degree of intelligence.
The body is rather short and well knit, the limbs strong and neatly turned, the tail is short and no feature is so prominent that the dog appears badly proportioned. The dog conveys an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order; carriage easy and graceful.

HEAD

The skull is square, flat on top, free from wrinkles, cheeks flat, brow abrupt and the stop well defined. The ideal Boston Terrier expression is alert and kind, indicating a high degree of intelligence. This is a most important characteristic of the breed. The eyes are wide apart, large and round and dark in color. The eyes are set square in the skull and the outside corners are on a line with the cheeks as viewed from the front. Disqualify – Eyes blue in color or any trace of blue. The ears are small, carried erect, either natural or cropped to conform to the shape of the head and situated as near to the corners of the skull as possible.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The length of neck must display an image of balance to the total dog. It is slightly arched, carrying the head gracefully and setting neatly into the shoulders. The back is just short enough to square the body. The topline is level and the rump curves slightly to the set-on of the tail. The chest is deep with good width, ribs well sprung and carried well back to the loins. The body should appear short. The tail is set on low, short, fine and tapering, straight or screw and must not be carried above the horizontal. (Note: The preferred tail does not exceed in length more than one-quarter the distance from set-on to hock.) Disqualify – Docked tail. Body Faults – Gaily carried tail. Serious Body Faults – Roach back, sway back, slab-sided.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are sloping and well laid back, which allows for the Boston Terrier’s stylish movement. The elbows stand neither in nor out. The forelegs are set moderately wide apart and on a line with the upper tip of the shoulder blades. The forelegs are straight in bone with short, strong pasterns. The dewclaws may be removed. The feet are small, round and compact, turned neither in nor out, with well arched toes and short nails. Faults – Legs lacking in substance; splay feet.

HINDQUARTERS

The thighs are strong and well muscled, bent at the stifles and set true. The hocks are short to the feet, turning neither in nor out, with a well defined hock joint. The feet are small and compact with short nails. Fault – Straight in stifle.

COAT

The coat is short, smooth, bright and fine in texture.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
BLACK BRINDLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 021
BRINDLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 059
SEAL & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 170
SEAL BRINDLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 172

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