Boston Terrier illustration
Utility

Boston Terrier

The smallest of the bull breeds, named after the city of Boston, USA

Breed characteristics

Size
Small
Exercise
Up to 1 hour per day
Size of home
Flat/ Apartment
Grooming
Once a week
Coat length
Short
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Small/ medium garden

About this breed

Like many breeds the Boston Terrier takes his name from the area where he was developed – in this case the New England city of Boston USA. The first club was founded in the 1890s in Boston and membership was confined to Bostonians. However, its fame soon spread throughout America and by the 1950s it was the most popular breed in the USA.

The Boston is the smallest of the Bull breed i.e. containing Bulldog blood. The founding father of the breed is reputed to be a dog known as Hooper's Judge, born in Liverpool, a cross between a Bulldog and an English White Terrier and exported to America. He inherited the brindle markings from the Bulldog and white markings from the Terrier, with the smart brindle/white being the accepted colour of the breed to this day. The colour pattern of white on legs, chest, collar and head make the Boston a very 'Dandy' dog and the term 'Boston marked' is sometimes applied to other breeds with similar colour patterns e.g. Mantle Great Danes.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Utility breed group

This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle. The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.

 

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Black & White
  • Brindle & White
  • Mahogany Brindle & White
  • Seal & White
  • Seal Brindle & White

Non-breed-standard colours

  • Blue & White (NBS)
  • Red & White (NBS)
Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour, it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog. Health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed-standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registration process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Health issues in flat-faced dogs

Dogs with a flat, wide shaped head, are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Although the shape of these dogs’ heads can make them look very cute, dogs with a very flat face and short muzzle have a higher risk of developing certain health issues associated with their features, such as:

Breathing difficulties

The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). Some dogs may also have narrow nostrils making it even more difficult to breathe.

More information can be found on:

Skin problems

Some brachycephalic dogs may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face. These folds can make a warm, moist environment which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, possibly leading to infection and severe itching.

More information can be found in our article on skin problems in flat-faced dogs.

Teeth problems

Dogs with a shortened skull will often have a shortened jaw, but the number and size of teeth will stay the same. This can mean that the teeth become overcrowded and can cause dental and gum problems.

More information can be found on our advice page on how to take care of your dogs teeth.

Eye conditions

Some brachycephalic dogs may have shallow eye sockets, causing their eyes to become more prominent and at a higher risk of trauma, ulcers and increasing the chance of them becoming dry and painful (due to not being able to blink properly).

More information can be found in our article on eye problems in flat-faced dogs.

Want to buy a puppy responsibly?

Not all flat-faced dogs will have the health issues described, but it is important that if you are thinking of buying a puppy, that you take extra precautions

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Boston Terrier.

Breed watch

Category 2

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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