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The Boston Terrier is a compact, sturdy, people-oriented dog with a lively disposition. The first native American breed to be recognised by the Australian National Kennel Club and is immediately recognisable for its “tuxedo” coats (earning it the nickname “The American Gentleman”) and expressive eyes. These well-dressed dogs haven’t just earned their popularity with their fashion sense: they are intelligence-filled, always-alert natural comedians that tend to bring smiles to their owners’ faces.

Physical Characteristics

Boston Terriers are compact, well-balanced dogs with smooth, "tuxedo" coats, and short heads and tails. Their trademark eyes are expressive and prominent, and their head tilt when investigating something new is as well-loved as their happy, sure-footed gait.

  • Brindle
  • Black & White
  • Black Brindle & White
  • Brindle & White
  • Seal & White
  • Seal Brindle & White
  • Medium to Large
  • Height: 38-44 cms
  • Weight: 5-11.4 kgs
  • Other Traits
  • Sporty, compact body
  • Sleek, fine-haired "tuxedo" jacket coat
  • Square head, with big, round eyes
  • Short tail
Life expectancy
  • Boston Terriers typically live between 13-15 years.

Boston Terrier


Boston Terriers originated in Boston in the late 1800s by crossing English Bulldogs and white English Terriers. They are often referred to as the national dog of the United States being one of the few truly all-American breeds.

Boston Terriers have been known by a variety of names such as Boston Bulls and American Bull Terriers, but Bulldog and Bull Terrier owners object so, in 1891, they officially become known as the Boston Terrier.

Other nickmaes through the years have been roundheads, bostons and, due to their lovely nature, the "American gentlemen" of dogs.

Boston Terriers were a common dog breed prior to the 1960s and then their popularity seemed to decline. Recently, due to their use in several television commercials, there has been renewed interest in the breed.

Personality and Temperament

Boston Terriers possess loving, friendly personalities that easily wins hearts. Their very stable temperaments are excellent for first-time dog owners and seasoned veterans alike, as well as families with children. Highly sociable, intelligent, and entertaining, Boston Terriers are very trainable – especially early in life.


While Boston Terriers shed infrequently, they do benefit from weekly brushings to remove hair from their sleek, fine coats. Occasional baths are recommended as well as regular nail trimmings to prevent movement issues and pain.

Boston Terrier Grooming


Everyday Illnesses and Injuries

Your Boston Terrier’s health concerns will change over the course of their life. A puppy might be more prone to eat something they shouldn’t, a 2-year-old terrier may be more likely to develop allergies, and a senior terrior is far more likely to develop arthritis as they age. Terriers also have personality and physical traits that may make them more prone to certain conditions - an active Boston Terrier that loves to run around the yard may be more prone to rupturing their knee ligament.

Boston Terrier Health

If you are ever concerned about your dog’s health, your local veterinarian is a great resource.

At any stage of life, there are some common injuries and illnesses you should be aware of when bringing home a Boston Terrier, whether a puppy or adopted older dog.

  • Eye Problems.
  • Brething Problems
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.
  • Joint Problems.
  • Allergies and skin problems.
  • Genetic Health Concerns.

Like many popular breeds, the Boston Terrier has its fair share of hereditary based issues, such as breathing problems. Most reputable breeders now have their breeding stock checked and scored by a vet for these hereditary ailments. You can request proof that the puppy you are purchasing comes from parents that have been checked for these issues.

Many other health issues are also hereditary, so we recommend you do some research on the ancestry of your puppy and any health issues of that particular breed.

Preparing Yourself

As a pet owner, you should expect to pay for basic veterinary care like vaccines, spay / neuter, and annual checkups. Many pet owners don’t consider the unexpected illnesses and injuries that can occur throughout a pet’s life and fail to prepare for them. Medical insurance can help a pet owner prepare and lessen unexpected bill in later life. As with most insurance you pay a monthly premium to be covered for eligible veterinary expenses. Every provider is different, offering varied coverage with different plans, pricing options and limitations. As you do your research, pay close attention to coverage, deductible options, ease of use, and if pre-existing conditions are covered.

Toilet Training

There are definite times when your puppy will need to toilet. Here we identify six critical times.

  • Immediately after eating or drinking
  • When they first wake up in the morning
  • After exuberant play
  • When woken during the night, such as the phone rings or you get up to use the bathroom.
  • When you arrive home and your dog greets you
  • If they get frightened or scared by something or someone

Take your puppy to a designated toilet area. Grass or dirt is best as we don’t want them associating their toilet with anything related to carpet or floors in general.

Toilet Training Aids

If you need to leave your puppy or dog for any length of time, it might be wise to provide an indoor toilet that you can eventually transition to the outdoors. Artificial grass products can be good and one that we would recommend if you can setup an indoor toileting area.


Boston Terriers typically have a stable temperament that enables them to get along well with both animals and humans. While they are not a breed that Bark Busters® receive a lot of calls for help with, one common issue seems to present itself, which is separation anxiety.

Boston Terrior

To understand separation anxiety, we must first understand how dogs think. Dogs are hardwired with a pack mentality. The corresponding hierarchy is determined using subtle, passive methods. We sometimes forget or are unaware of it, but we humans are included in the pack! The pack member who has greatest influence on the behaviour of others is the leader, and Boston Terriers can become leaders of their human pack quite easily – their likeability and silly antics mean they are often given leeway by their owners that they interpret as an acknowledgement of their leadership.

Dogs display what they believe to be leadership behaviour – often perceived as annoying or frustrating by humans – when they have determined they are in charge. This behaviour can be situational and might include barking at people or dogs passing outside, rushing the door when someone comes to visit, and even becoming destructive when humans are away. Separation anxiety is an outgrowth of leadership – dogs get upset when the subordinates in their pack leave because, in their mind, they are responsible for “taking care” of them. Bostons become worried; that worry can be expressed by barking, destructive behaviour, or toileting accidents.

Toby was one such Boston Terrier. He lives with his owner, Becky, in an apartment with thin walls. Toby would bark until exhausted as soon as Becky left for work each day – any noise he heard would set him off again, and the behaviour would continue throughout the day. Constant barking meant plenty of neighbour complaints, so Becky called Bark Busters® – after all, it’s our name!

Our trainer quickly observed the dynamics of the relationship and coached Becky on how to reassert her dominance as leader of the pack. Progress came quickly, and regular corrections meant it wasn’t very long before Toby was able to relax and nap until Becky got home.

If you have a Boston Terrier and need assistance resolving behavioural issues, call your local Bark Busters® trainer. The sooner you get help, the sooner you and your dog can enjoy a happy, relaxed relationship built on loyalty, love, and respect – not worry or stress.

Puppy Selection

If selecting your Boston Terrier puppy from a breeder, ensure you view both parents to determine the type of personality your puppy might grow up to have.

Don’t concern yourself too much if one of the parents is the type of dog that barks on your approach to the property, providing they are friendly once you have gained access.

Check out the hereditary history of the parents. Check whether any of the parents or grandparents had any genetic diseases. Check our health checks in this section.

Ensure that you know the type of personality you are looking for:

  • Family pet, that is good with children?
  • A dog that can go hiking with you?
  • A dog that is going to fit into your lifestyle?
  • An active dog to match your active life?
  • A dog that will be a good companion for you?
  • A dog that is easy to train?

Puppies inherit a lot from their parents and ancestors, including their personality, their genetics, and their characteristics and personality. If you spot a parent that has some signs of serious aggression or fear issues, this dog is more likely to produce offspring that will inherit some or all those traits.

Puppies also learn a lot from their parents in their environment, especially when they are with their mother. She guides their behaviour in the early weeks. If she is tolerant and outgoing, then the puppies will usually be the same. If they encounter kind and gentle humans, then they will be accustomed to humans and will feel good about them.

The right type of early puppy education from its mother and siblings is an important factor towards how well-adjusted your puppy will be and how it will behave in the future. For this reason, it is not wise to take possession of your puppy until at least 8 weeks of age, but 12 weeks is preferable. Experienced breeders will want to adhere to this as they know that the puppy gains a lot of education if it is allowed to stay in that environment a little longer.

Be wary of anyone who says that you can take your puppy away at the age of 4 to 5 weeks or you cannot see the parents. Your puppy is missing out on vital education from its mother, which will affect its behaviour in the future.

Boston Terrier Puppy

Select the puppy that suits your personality and lifestyle

When selecting a puppy, be sure to select the personality of puppy that suits your lifestyle.

You will need to give thought to the amount of time you have to devote to your puppy. Ensure that that you have the room needed to accommodate a lively breed and that you are confident in educating such an energetic breed of dog.

Think carefully about the amount of time that your new dog or puppy will have to spend alone. The Boston Terrier is not great on being left alone for long periods of time. You might need to budget for a dog walker or consider a doggy daycare.

Should We Adopt One Puppy or Two?

Bark Busters offer lots of advice to new dog and puppy parents and we have a huge resource of information on the needs of dogs, how to best manage them, and what works.

New dog parents often ask us whether they should adopt one or two puppies. Our answer is always the same. Only adopt two if you actually want two puppies.

Their concern is that their dog will be lonely when left alone and they are out at work of rover 8 hours. We have all seen the animated film 'The Secret Life of Pets’ and what dogs get up to when left alone. Although fiction, many of the things they depicted in that movie were based on fact.

Dogs do suffer separation anxiety and resort to, destructive behaviours such as chewing furniture, counter surfing and raiding the bin when left to their own devices. Not to mention 8 hours is a long time when you need to go to the toilet.

In that movie, one of the pet parents brought home another dog for her "Home Alone" dog and initially they did not hit it off. This again is based on fact because truthfully some dogs don’t. Even dogs from the same litter can suffer from sibling rivalry.

All puppies are adaptable if given the right environment and education in which to thrive. They soon look upon you as part of their pack, a two-legged dog, and they can fit right into that social structure with ease.

Some folks find it hard to fathom that a dog might look at them as they would another dog. However, many people will think of their dog as a little four-legged human!

A puppy and a kitten are a good option if you are not looking to add another addition to your family unit. However, if you are introducing a kitten to an older dog, this needs to be done with great care. If the puppy and kitten join your family from day one, then it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Boston Terrier Puppies

Some Things to Look for During a Dog or Puppy Selection

Most dogs will be good watchdogs in the appropriate circumstances, so be selective and avoid the obvious pit falls when selecting the dog with who you wish to share your life. However, we never recommend getting a dog as a watchdog because you really cannot expect your dog to bark at people at home and then not bark at people when out and about.

Although the Boston Terrier is generally a friendly, fun-loving breed, occasionally you will encounter that undesirable personality. So be selective and make sure you follow the Bark Busters’ check list on what to look for when selecting your new dog or puppy.

When searching for a dog or puppy be sure to check out your local animal shelter or rescue, even if you are looking for a puppy. Many of these dogs were surrendered just because of their over-exuberance and many had litters in the rescue.

Here is a checklist of things to look for when selecting your dog or puppy

  • Check out the way they walk, particularly their hind legs, to see if you can spot any weakness there. The dog's hocks (ankles) should be properly aligned and equal, not bending in or out.
  • Is the puppy or dog, you are thinking of selecting, friendly with an outgoing personality? Avoid the one that is running away or trying to hide.
  • Is it friendly towards strangers or standoffish? A timid type that avoids approaching you could be a sign of a personality problem. Any attempt at avoiding humans is a warning sign that the dog or puppy has issues with strangers, which could later manifest into aggression towards strangers.
  • Is the dog or puppy barking at you? This again is not a good sign, especially if you live in an apartment or gated community.
  • Is the puppy biting down hard onto your hands or feet? This can be an issue, especially if you have young children. Bark Busters are called upon to train many puppies who have biting problems.
Bringing a New Puppy Home

Always try to bring your new dog or puppy home early in the day. The reason behind this is that they will need time to become accustomed to their new home.

If you can bring something from their old home, like some bedding or a toy, this will help them to settle.

Ensure that you have pre-selected a designated area for your new dog or puppy, a place where they will rest and sleep, and then start to get them used to their new area. You can do this by feeding them in the new area during the day and spending time with them there. If you have selected a crate, place your dog in it well before bedtime, so you have time to see how they are going to react when you leave. Be sure to select a place for your dog to sleep that is practical. It should not be your bed unless you are determined to always have your dog sleep with you. Otherwise, you won’t break that habit easily.

If your dog or puppy begins barking or crying, don't rush back. That will only make the situation worse. Instead stay close by and address their concerns. This will calm them faster than rushing back each time they bark or cry out. If you rush back every time they cry or bark, they will soon believe that all they need to do is cry out and you will appear. Remember they did have a home before this one and they will need time to learn to adapt to their new home.

For Potential Dog Owners

  • Boston Terriers have lovely, expressive eyes that require special attention. It is recommended to check them daily for signs of redness or irritation.
  • Responsible breeders regularly screen their stock for other common issues, including deafness and patellar luxation.
  • As a flat-faced breed, Boston Terriers may have breathing issues in extreme heat.
  • Boston Terriers do well in cities; while they love activities, their compact size means they do not need a lot of space.

If you are thinking of purchasing a Boston Terrier, be sure to source from a responsible breeder who is breeding for not only looks, but health and temperament as well. Rescues are also great options for prospective Boston Terrier owners. Contact your local Bark Busters trainer today to learn about great breeders and rescue organisations near you!

Like any breed, Boston Terriers benefit from early socialisation and basic obedience training to establish patterns of good behaviour.
We are always available to help you develop a consistent, compassionate approach to good behaviour for your Boston Terrier. Learn more about our services and schedule an appointment with one of our trainers today!

Four Basic Needs

Your dog has four basic needs in life to keep it happy healthy and content.

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Safety
  • Entertainment

Let's examine those four basic needs and why your dog needs them to keep it healthy, balanced and content.

Food - diet / nutrition

We promote a diet that is grain free, low in carbohydrates and without any harmful e-numbers, colours and preservatives. Carbohydrates do add energy that the dog needs to burn off and can make an already hyperactive dog more active.

The right diet, grain free and filled with fruits, vegetables and raw meat will have advantages to how your dog will feel, look and act.

If you want to understand why grains can make a dog more energetic, you only need to think of racehorses and how their trainers give them grain to get highly energetic racehorses. Energy in, equals energy out.

Bark Busters dog trainers are not vets or dietitians, so we urge you to do your own research into the best diet for your dog. A diet that you will be comfortable with.

We do however have vast experience at how highly concentrated grain diets effect behaviour and can cause hyperactivity. This is very prominent in Japan, where most dogs are fed high levels of rice in their diet which can adversely affect concentration and focus.

Boston Terrier Food

Safety - through leadership and education

All dogs need strong leadership and to know where they fit into the family unit. If they know they have a leader that will make all the decisions, one who is fair and just, they will be happy and content.

On the other hand, if they have no structure in their life, they have inconsistency, and don’t know how things will be from one day to the next, then they will become stressed and may experience health ailments, skin and stomach issues and behaviour problems. Routine and respect must be established. With equal doses of love and structure your will feel safe and secure.

Shelter - a place to call their own

Dogs love nothing better than to curl up on the couch or in a place they can call their own, even when there is more than one dog. Most dogs are very sociable, and they will think nothing of all snuggling in together. Provide your dog with its own "den", a place where they can call home, and somewhere they can go to for a bit of peace and quiet. Just make sure their "den" is warm, easy to clean and maintain.

Entertainment - toys & games

A very important part of your dog's four basic needs is their need to have something to do. If we want to avoid our pets becoming bored and destructive, then they need a way to fill their day.

Dogs thrive with physical and mental exercise. Dogs are highly intelligent animals, and they need to keep their brains active as much as their bodies. Entertainment is an important part of their well-being and essential to your dog's overall mental health.

One great toy is the Bark Busters GameChanger® which helps to prevent boredom, stress, and separation anxiety. By filling it with small treats, your dog will have plenty of fun trying to get the treats to dispense. 

Bark Busters GameChanger

Games to Play

Try to play games that will enhance your dog’s behaviour, not increase its unwanted behaviour.

We recommend that you don't play wrestling, hand games or chasing games that encourage a dog to bite or run away. By playing these types of games you are teaching your dog bad habits, not good ones. These games encourage biting and running away, causing recall issues.

Tug of war games are fine as long as you control the game.

Boston Terrier Playing

Child’s Play

Due to their size and energy levels, you must give thought to how your dog and children will interact. Any play between dog and children must be monitored and controlled at all times. Children have a way of getting dogs excited and this can lead to the dog inadvertently hurting the child through their natural excitable, boisterous behaviour.

Make sure that you educate the children to play sensibly and instruct them to play games that are less likely to lead to over-exuberance, such as hide and seek games or fetch games, not the rough and tumble type of games.

Wrestling with a dog will cause over-excitement and to play-bite every time it sees the children, eventually causing your children to try to avoid the dog, because they fear getting hurt.

Adult Play

Any form of play by the adults in the house should be measured and not aimed at over-exciting your dog. When you do play, play games like fetch the ball and tug-of-war games and make sure the game ends with you taking control of the item. Once the game is over, take the item out of play, with a 'Finish' command and lots of praise.

In controlling the game and the item we show our dogs, in a subtle way, that you are the decision maker and that you control the game.

It is best not to play rough and tumble or play games where you thrust your hands into your dog’s mouth. These types of games only teach dogs to bite your hand. This can lead to a situation where your dog will bite your hand anytime it comes close to you.

Puzzle and Treat Dispensing Toys

The GameChanger® by Bark Busters is a great toy for Boston Terriers and one of the few toys that is a match for their strong powerful jaws.

This interactive toy gives dogs hours of entertainment, providing they are food or toy motivated. The GameChanger® is a sturdy educational toy that delivers a treat when the dog spins it the right way. You simply fill the toy with treats and allow your dog to do the rest. They will soon get to work and get the treats flowing. The flexibility of the toy gives persistent chewers the ability to bite down on the toy, giving them a workout. The GameChanger® is highly recommended to prevent destructive behaviour and will also assist in keeping dogs entertained and less bored.

Staffy & GameChanger

These toys can help your dog to direct his chewing efforts in a positive direction as opposed to chewing your shoes or precious items.

Many Boston Terriers go wild for this toy. Unlike hard plastic toys, this toy is very quiet and won’t damage your hardwood floors or furniture. It is flexible, BPA free, and won’t break teeth or hurt your dog’s mouth.

Dog Parks

Sylvia & Danny Wilson Bark Busters

Danny and Sylvia Wilson, Founders of Bark Busters


Taking Your Boston Terrier to Dog Parks

Dog Parks are one of the most misunderstood dog activities of the modern-day dog world. Some doggie parents love nothing more than to take their dog to a dog park. They have been told they need to socialise their dog and so off they go.

They love the fact that their dog has fun, they get to meet other dog lovers and watch the dog's romp around and play.

That is the upside, but the downside is there are those dog lovers whose dogs don't fit into this world at all. They are those dogs or puppies that were bullied, frightened on their first visit or whose personality does not fit the mould.

These folks agonise over the fact that their dog or puppy does not look forward to its trip there, it hides under the seat of the car, or it has to be carried or enticed into the park.

Many ask us why their dog acts like this and how they can fix it?

Bark Busters do have ways to assist these pet parents, but we do also explain why their dog might not like the dog park because of its personality.

It reminds us of a friend of ours who visited us regularly with her little dog, 'Harry'.

When they would arrive, Harry would walk up to each of us, sniff our legs and walk away.

She questioned us one day on why we never petted Harry when he came up to us.

We explained that this was not what Harry was doing, he was sniffing us, not requesting a pat. If he had been requesting to be petted, after sniffing us, he would have gestured to us to pet him. He did not do that, instead he walked away.

We told her that Harry was not a social dog and preferred not to be touched by anyone other than her and he avoided any interaction with our dogs too. He was a 'one person' dog that did not feel comfortable around others.

It was like a light had been turned on, our friend smiled and told us that this explained a lot to her. She further explained that every time she took Harry to the dog park, that he could not wait to get back to the car when it was time to leave, that he would stand away from the other dogs, never join in the play and snap at other dogs when they came near him.

He was telling her in every way he could that he did not fit into that dog park crowd, just like some humans hate parties!

Boston Terrier & Dog Parks

With today's dog owners having such busy lifestyles, more and more dog owners are turning to dog parks as a way of socialising and exercising their dogs. While this is great fun for most dogs and dog owners, not every dog will do well in this environment.

A breed like the Boston Terrier needs to be socialised with dogs of similar size and energy levels or they, or the other dogs, could become fearful, especially those larger than themselves, which could lead to 'dog aggression'.

Some high energy large breeds have little or no regard for little shy or reserved dogs and will think nothing about bowling them over and showing them who is boss of the doggie park.

If your dog doesn't enjoy this type of rough and tumble, or is traumatised by it, then you might have an issue the next time you try to visit the park.

The best way to prevent this behaviour is to see if there is an option at your dog park to match size, and possibly personality, away from the boisterous dogs. If that is not possible, try visiting the dog park in off peak hours and practice gaining focus from your dog before you allow them to run off and play.

Bark Busters Lifetime Support Guarantee

Bark Busters dog behaviour therapists and trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. The Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind to provide International dog training guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

This article is the copyright of Bark Busters® and is intended for information purposes only. Dog owners should fully research any problems that they may have with their dogs.


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