Boston Terrier

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Bosotn Terrier dog

Boston Terrier

Breed: Boston Terrier
Temperament: Protective, lovable, boisterous
Lifespan: 12-13 years
Recommended for: Older people, families

This is one of the few breeds developed in the US, and consequently is their national dog. It is colloquially known as the ‘Little American Gentleman’.


Boston Terriers are small, smooth-coated dogs with a round head and short, flat muzzle. They come in shades of brindle, black and seal, marked with white on the chest, muzzle and blaze. They weigh around 7-11kg (15-25lb) and stand 28-38cm (11-15″). The tail is naturally short and never should be docked. They can have a drop tail, screw tail or one which is horizontal with its back. In the US the ears are cropped, however, this practice is illegal in Australia. The ears are normally erect.


Despite their name this breed doesn’t act like a terrier (indeed it is not a true terrier), preferring to sit in an armchair to digging in the backyard. Their affectionate nature suits many older people looking for a compact, easy-care breed eager to spend time together while still lively enough to make a good playmate for children. They are said to be protective and may compete with other pets for attention.


Cataracts at a young age – check pups before purchase
May need surgery if snoring becomes troublesome
Luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps) are known but are typically mild. Severe cases may need surgery to avoid arthritis problems later in life.


Caesarean deliveries are common and costly, due to the strong, square skull. Pups cost from $800-$3000.

Housepet potential and uses

The Boston Terrier is an ideal-sized housedog. While they can be lively they are small enough not to be a serious problem and most prefer to live inside more or less permanently. They may bark at strangers and are said to be a good watch dog. Their prime use nowadays is as a companion dog.

Space & exercise

While quite active, Boston Terriers suit a house or flat situation and require little formal exercise. Most will enjoy a regular run in the backyard.

Ideal owner

Longtime owners say Boston Terriers are small and adaptable enough to suit families as well as older people. Our roadtest showed many older adults with their pets; many said they could sit and cuddle these dogs while watching television. They didn’t cause unnecessary fuss or have extremes of behaviour.


The short coat requires minimal attention. A weekly wipe over with a brush will remove loose hairs. They can be bathed as required.


Basic training is necessary but may take some patience. While Boston Terriers are said to be intelligent, they may need more time and repetition than other breeds.


While being one of America’s favourite breeds, the Boston Terrier has never been popular in Australia. In terms of annual purebred registrations, they rank 92nd of 175 breeds.


Despite their name, the Boston Terrier is not a true terrier; they were not bred to ‘go to ground’ (that is hunt animals in burrows) and do not compete in the terrier classes in purebred shows. Instead their origins are from the fighting Bulldogs and Bull Terriers of the 19th century and the type was once known as the American Bull Terrier. The name was changed to reflect the breed’s city of origin, Boston.


National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409