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5 Important Pros and Cons of the Boston Terrier Breed


The proud parent of an adorably sweet Boston Terrier and an incredibly faithful white Boxer dog. Short-nosed dogs rule!

As of 2019, the Boston Terrier ranks #21 in popularity out of 190 pure dog breeds by the American Kennel Association. Known as the “American Gentleman,” the non-sporting dog’s bloodlines originated in the United States—an obvious fact because of the notoriety of its name. The Boston Terrier is well-known for its cheerful disposition, playfulness, good nature, and energetic companionship, making the breed a smart and solid family choice.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

Dogs got personality.

Personality goes a long way.

— Quentin Tarantino

A Short History of the Boston Terrier Breed

In 1870, a man from Boston, Massachusetts, by the name of Robert C. Cooper gained a dog suspected of having original Bull and Terrier or English Bulldog ancestry. Hooper’s Judge bred with a French Bulldog, downsizing the offspring and giving the ancestral base to the modern day Boston Terrier. By 1893, the original Bull Terrier Club of Boston changed their name to the Boston Terrier Club, legitimizing the breed’s namesake and the rest, as they say, is history.

The above depiction shows the difference in appearance between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog.  Both short-nosed breeds are easily mistaken for each other.

The above depiction shows the difference in appearance between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog. Both short-nosed breeds are easily mistaken for each other.

Physical Characteristics of the Boston Terrier

The typical Boston Terrier stands 12 to 17 inches tall when measured at the shoulder and weighs on an average from 15 to 25 pounds. Though smaller in stature, the build of the canine is well-balanced with a compact frame, sturdy chest, square head, and short muzzle. The breed’s most prominent features are large, round, expressive, seal-like eyes, pointed bat-like ears, and the usual black or brindle coat with white markings, showcasing physical qualities of an altogether handsome-looking dog.

An expressive and peaceful Boston Terrier.

An expressive and peaceful Boston Terrier.

The Five Important Pros

  1. Affinity for Children and the Elderly
  2. Charming Individualistic Personalities
  3. Quiet/Limited Tendency to Bark
  4. Energetic and Playful
  5. Simple Grooming/Low-Impact Shedding

The Boston enjoys the company of children, the elderly, other dogs, and even cats. Given their congenial behavior, it’s no wonder they are stranger-friendly. Charming to the core, each has their very own quirky disposition. Intelligent, gentle, mood-sensitive, polite, playful, and downright clownish—these are just some personality traits that define the adaptable breed. Often peaceful, they seldom yap or bark at other dogs or passing strangers, hence the reason this breed does not make the best guard dogs.

The breed is well-known as lovers—not fighters, despite the origins of their suspected pit-fighting history. Energetic and playful, the Boston finds himself the center of attention with lots of frivolity, hugs, and affectionate petting. In such a case, the owner is fortunate since Bostons are a low maintenance breed with minimal shedding or grooming needs.

Boston Terriers Make Wonderful Companions

Boston Terriers Make Wonderful Companions

The Five Important Cons

  1. Sensitive to Owner's Mood
  2. Sullenness and/or Stubbornness
  3. Slow to Routine Housebreaking
  4. Eye, Obesity, and Respiratory Health Issues
  5. Gluttonous Appetite and Flatulence

The Boston Terrier is a pleasant dog by nature, yet sensitive to an owner’s mood. The dog needs emotional stability to cope with their own nature. If given a harsh tone or shamed to enforce obedience, this may cause a bout of sullenness or stubbornness. Hence, another reason to take special care when training the animal during housebreaking. Their intelligence does not supersede their occasional need for insolent retribution.

Besides behavioral concerns, owners must keep in mind various health factors pertaining to eye and respiratory issues given their susceptibility to glaucoma and constant wheezing because of extreme heat or when pulled by the collar. Obesity is another health concern that comes into play. The breed comes with a voracious appetite with a tendency toward gluttony. Therefore, owners must be careful with diet and not hand over human table scraps or sugary foods, which often contributes to canine diabetes.

Despite the few cons that come along with the breed, if an owner avoids the pitfalls which go along with these negative traits, the Boston Terrier makes a wonderful pet. If you are a prospective owner and want a head-start on training your Boston: The Boston Terrier Handbook: The Essential Guide for New and Prospective Boston Terrier Owners by Linda Whitwam, delivers an excellent wealth of information and gives the reader a key insight on the breed personality and its traits and how to work with their varied behaviors, a definite keeper of those invaluable reads that I suggest from my pet library.

Eight-Week-Old Boston Terrier Puppy

Eight-Week-Old Boston Terrier Puppy

Beware of the Boston Terrier Teacup Ruse

There is no such thing as a Boston Terrier Teacup pup! Any breeder trying to pass off a Boston Terrier as a miniature teacup or mini sized breed is setting the buyer up with potential health problems, which might drain the bank in lieu of veterinarian care. These dogs are runts of the litter, bred to one another with a result of an even smaller runt born with faulty genetic traits. BUYER BEWARE!

An Owner and Writer's Perspective on the Boston Terrier

As an owner of a Boston Terrier, I can’t say enough on this wonderful breed. After losing my beloved Boxer, a few years passed before I adopted a female Boston. It so happened that my adopted dog had the same medical condition as my belated Boxer, a mass chain of cancerous tumors in the mammary.

Unlike my Boxer, my new dog was fortunate that she still had time for removal since she only had a low grade cancer. After two operations, we are now cancer free, and my dog is living a happy, healthy life thanks to the lesson learned with my Boxer, Fiona.

Do not wait! If you will not breed your Boston, the wisest choice one could make is to spay as soon as possible to avoid this predicament. I wouldn’t have had to spend a few thousand dollars if the previous owner of my Boston had done otherwise.

Cited Work and Resources

  • American Kennel Club Association: Most Popular Breeds 2017
  • Linda Whitwam. The Boston Terrier Handbook: The Essential Guide for New and Prospective Boston Terrier Owners, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 1, 2016)

© 2019 ziyena


Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on February 13, 2019:

Great article! I think it is great that you listed both the good and bad points. I think people get it in there head that they want a certain breed, but don't necessarily do their research to see if the breed is the right one for them or their family.