The Boston Terrier is a dog breed that originated in the United States in the late 19th century. They should be brindle, black, or seal with white markings when meeting the breed standard from the American Kennel Club. These dogs are easy to train with their intelligence, but that can also make them very stubborn at times. Most of them live between 11-13 years, although it is not unusual to see some individuals reach the high teens.
The AKC ranked the Boston Terrier as being the 21st most popular breed in the United States for 2019.
Hooper’s Judge is the dog that would become the foundation of this breed. The animal was purchased from Edward Burnett, and it was a Terrier and Bull type of dog from that era. The parents of this pup are listed by the AKC as being the ancestor of all modern Boston Terriers.
These are the pros and cons of Boston Terriers that you’ll want to consider before bringing one home as a pet.
List of the Pros of Boston Terriers
1. Boston Terriers are one of the most social dogs you can bring home.
The Boston Terrier loves to be around people. They are gentle dogs, which makes them a good option for homes with children or senior citizens. These pups don’t mind being around other dogs, and most of them get along with cats. They tend to be very friendly with strangers, so be prepared to have social exchanges with others when you go for a walk. Each one has its own quirky disposition.
There are several personality traits that define this breed, with many of them being polite, playful, and funny. It would be fair to say that this dog is a lover, not a fighter, even though some breeders in the past tried to make them that way.
2. This breed stays relatively quiet when you are at home.
All dogs will bark at stimulating circumstances, such as when a squirrel runs in front and their prey drive kicks into full gear. The Boston Terrier doesn’t bark or yap at most things unless they have a direct interaction with it that spooks them. That means your pup is going to stay quiet most of the time, even when the two of you are playing.
Their quiet nature also means that Boston Terriers are terrible guard dogs. They won’t bark at the stranger who comes to your front door. If anything, they’ll greet that person with a wiggly body and a desire to be petted instead of alerting you to a potentially dangerous situation.
3. You don’t need to do much grooming with a Boston Terrier.
The Boston Terrier is a low-maintenance breed that requires minimal grooming. Their short coat will shed during the seasonal changes, but there are few issues that you need to worry about in those circumstances. You will need to give the dog an occasional bath, especially if they discover something smelly outside. A simple brush can usually take away what little issues there are to manage with a couple of strokes.
As with all dog breeds, you’ll want to take care of their nails periodically to reduce the risk of self-injury. It also helps to brush their teeth a couple of times per week, especially if you feed your dog wet food instead of dry options.
4. Boston Terriers are sensitive to the moods of their owners.
A Boston Terrier pup is a pleasant dog by nature. They are also emotionally intelligent. These dogs need a home where there is some level of mood stability so that they can thrive. If you give your dog a harsh tone or try to shame them into obedience, then you are going to see a lot of stubbornness come from your new friend. Housetraining does require some patience, but you’ll get there fairly quickly.
The Boston Terrier is not the kind of dog that will take what they perceive to be a bad situation lying down. You can expect that some retribution will come your way if they feel like you’re being unfair to them.
5. The Boston Terrier listens to the alpha “dog” in the house.
If you are not willing to be the pack leader in your home, then the Boston Terrier is going to take over that role. It can be helpful to crate train this breed when they are puppies to begin the process of developing positive behaviors. These dogs like to have a spot that feels safe and a place to call their own, so this can be positive if you’re willing to be the leader.
If you don’t do crate training or enforce discipline, there’s a good chance that your Boston Terrier will become possessive over the most comfortable place in your home. That usually means your bed, the couch, or some other place that you don’t want them to be.
6. These dogs remain on the small side.
When you have a fully grown Boston Terrier, then your dog is going to remain a manageable size for the average person. They’ll reach a height of about 17 inches as an adult, with the maximum “normal” weight for the dog at 25 pounds. Their size is one of the factors that make them sensitive to changing temperatures, and their short coat won’t provide a lot of insulation from the cold.
7. Boston Terriers are an affordable breed to own.
If you want to purchase a puppy from a championship bloodline, then you’re going to pay several thousand dollars for the privilege of ownership. That’s the way it is with any dog breed, especially in the United States. If your goal is to have a pup that is a full Boston Terrier instead without regard to the heritage, then you can usually find a new friend for about $500 or less. Some rescue clubs will even charge less if your home is deemed to be suitable for adoption.
You’ll want to purchase some clothing items for your Boston Terrier to help them manage the cold, but the attention they receive in their cute sweaters makes up for the minimal investment. Since they like short walks around the block or chasing a ball in the backyard, you can usually manage your expenses without much difficulty.
List of the Cons of Boston Terriers
1. Roaching is a serious issue that can impact Boston Terriers.
All dogs have a risk of health issues that can develop over time. One of the severe problems that are somewhat unique to Boston Terriers is a condition called “roaching.” This outcome occurs because there are patella issues with the rear legs. It causes the dog to lean forward onto their forelegs, which makes the back develop an unnatural curvature that severely impacts the quality of life for the pup.
2. Boston Terriers don’t tolerate exercise well.
Boston Terriers have shortened muzzles when compared to most other dog breeds. That means many of them are unable to tolerate demanding exercise because they don’t have an adequate way to dispel heat. You can train these pups in the agility ring because of their intelligence, but the individuals from this breed are not going to be accomplished long-distance runners. This disadvantage also means that periods of extreme heat or cold can cause them harm.
A simple tug on the collar can be enough to trigger wheezing or an injury when walking with a Boston Terrier. You’ll want to avoid this issue by having the pup wear a harness with a leash that connects to the center of the body instead.
3. These dogs have a sensitive digestive system.
You’ll need to feed your Boston Terrier a specialized diet because their gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive. These dogs experience high levels of flatulence when their nutritional needs are not being met in some way. Even if you choose to feed them human-quality food, this issue is going to be present. It can take some trial-and-error before you get the right combination of nutrients in place, so be patient with the process. A trip to the vet can help you to get some suggestions on how much to offer and when if you’re struggling with this disadvantage.
4. Boston Terriers have a higher risk of eye injury.
One of the most notable features of the Boston Terrier is the large and prominent eyes. The structure of their eyesight makes the dog more susceptible to corneal ulcers over time when compared to other breeds. When you add in the shorter muzzle with their facial features, these pups tend to be more prone to suffering injuries when making contact with plants, thorns, or other forms of natural debris. Scratching of the cornea can occur from a simple run at the beach or in a dusty backyard.
5. Most births are through cesarean section.
Female Boston Terriers struggle to give birth the natural way, so this expense is something to consider if you’re thinking about breeding your pup one day. A survey of UK Kennel Club owners with this breed indicated that 90% of the litters required a high level of veterinarian assistance. Pregnancies are prone to complications in this breed, and it is also notable that there can be complications when the dog is under general anesthesia because of their long palates and narrow trachea.
6. Boston Terriers will eat everything and anything that comes their way.
Because of the specialized dietary concerns that are present with Boston Terriers, you will need to be careful about the treats that you give your dog. Handing over human food table scraps is a bad idea, even if you’re using those foods as an essential part of their nutrition. These pups tend to take a gluttonous approach to life, so they will eat anything that they can find. Their size and love of sugary foods put them at a higher risk of developing canine diabetes in the future.
If you feel like they need to have a treat, then offer a small dog bone or something fibrous as a snack instead. Then make sure the foods are out of their reach in your kitchen, garage, or other storage areas. Boston Terriers are smart enough to figure out how to open cabinets and pry lids off of containers.
7. This breed is a high-energy dog.
You are going to need to provide your Boston Terrier with a high level of mental stimulation to keep them active and physical. If these dogs get bored, then they are going to become destructive. Since keeping them outside isn’t an option for most people because of the physical needs of the breed, you’ll quickly discover that these dogs know how to get what they want because of their intelligence.
Your dog is going to want to play when you get home, and they’re not going to take “no” for an answer. It helps to have someone at your house, condo, or apartment throughout the day to reduce the problems that can happen in this area. If that isn’t a possibility, then try to come home on your lunch break to play with your pup a little.
8. Boston Terriers have a rough style of play.
These dogs really love to please, which means you will find them full of licks and kisses when they want some snuggles. The Boston Terriers also tend to be fairly mouthy when it is time to play, so that can be problematic with young children or guests who don’t expect the dog to come jumping at them. Their traits in this area are similar to that of a boxer, so you’re going to find a big pup waiting for you in a little dog’s body.
You can work on training these behaviors out of your Boston Terrier with some time and patience. Even if you are successful, a moment of uncontrolled excitement will have the dog jumping at someone once again. It’s a tough habit to eventually break.
Some elements of high-maintenance exist when you decide to bring a Boston Terrier home as a pet. You might not have the same grooming needs as you would with other dogs, but there are nutritional guidelines you must follow to the letter. Then you must take care of their eye health and manage their walks appropriately to reduce the risk of an injury.
If you can give your Boston Terrier a healthy lifestyle and figure out a beneficial nutritional plan, then you can maximize the life expectancy of the dog.
The pros and cons of Boston Terriers balance the social needs of the dog with their unique physical requirements. If you want a pup who will love everyone, then this is the breed to consider. When your needs are more about protection than companionship, then a different dog is going to be a better option.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.