Boston terriers are named for their city of origin. Their background is English bulldog and terrier crosses intended for fighting, but breeders selected for small size and gentle dispositions to create a favorite household pet. Boston terriers want to be near their owners and families. They are good with children, and pair well with other pets. They usually weigh from 17 to 25 pounds, and they seldom bark disruptively. Boston terriers are not outdoor dogs. Potential health issues differentiate their care needs from those of many other breeds. With care suited to their needs, Boston terriers usually live from 11 to 13 years, but some live to 15.
Familiarize yourself with the common medical issues that affect Boston terriers. The breed suffers from a number of potentially fatal problems, termed Brachycephalic syndrome, that result from the shortened structure of the head, nasal passages, throat and palate. Dogs with such "pushed in" faces can easily suffer severe breathing and heat stress problems. Have your veterinarian evaluate your Boston terrier if he snores or has labored breathing, if he chokes and gasps for breath occasionally, or becomes winded or overheated easily. Other health issues affecting Boston terriers include skin problems, including as demodectic mange, patellar luxation, heart and thyroid issues, sensorineural deafness, allergies, tumors, genetic diseases of the eye, including glaucoma and early-onset cataracts; and hemivertebrae, a malformation of the vertebrae.
Protect your Boston terrier against health hazards when he is outdoors. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, as his eyes are vulnerable, and he can become overheated. The Boston Terrier Club of America's website recommends that owners get sun visors for their dogs. Both hot and cold air can cause breathing difficulties for a Boston terrier, so never leave your dog in a car without supervision. Ensure that your pet’s indoor and outdoor areas are free of sharp objects and thorny plants, particularly at eye level. Accidental contact may cause eye damage.
Prepare and carry a canine first-aid kit. Include a veterinarian-approved eye wash or eye drops, in case your dog gets debris in his eyes. Because a Boston terrier's eyes protrude, they are more likely to become dry and are less protected against dust and dirt. Also include basic first-aid supplies, medicines to address any known health issues, and your veterinarian’s phone number in case of emergency. Outfit your Boston terrier with a harness rather than a collar or choker chain. Collars and other items that fit around the neck can block your pet’s airway and worsen breathing issues.
Train your Boston terrier early. His understanding of basic commands will make his life and yours easier. Obedience training also will help meet your dog’s need for attention, which is greater in this breed than in many others. Know your pet’s personality and temperament. Some Boston terriers exhibit bulldog stubbornness or the aggressive behaviors of a terrier, but most are easygoing. Training makes activities such as play go more smoothly and opens the door to activities beyond simple exercise. For example, Boston terriers often make excellent therapy dogs.
Provide your Boston terrier with moderate amounts of exercise. Obedience and agility training are forms of exercise well-suited to the breed. Monitor him closely. You may need to step in and stop your Boston terrier's activity to prevent a health problem. Avoid allowing him to get out of breath and overheated, as these two factors can trigger a health crisis.
Brush your Boston terrier weekly. His short coat requires minimal grooming. Use a rubber palm brush, grooming mitt or an all-purpose dog brush. The breed does shed, but not heavily.