How to Select a Boston Terrier

Boston terriers should have a sturdy, alert appearance.
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The Boston terrier is a lively breed with a sturdy physique and a loyal personality. The breed was developed in Boston, Massachusetts, as a fighting dog, but over time it has evolved into a fine family companion dog that is easy to train and is good with children. This type of dog is often carelessly bred, however, so select your dog carefully to ensure you will have a dog with good structure, a healthy constitution and a friendly, clear-headed temperament.

Step 1

Look for a puppy at least 9 weeks of age. Boston terriers are weaned around 5 to 6 weeks of age. The few extra weeks with the litter helps the pups to bond with litter mates and overcome the stress of weaning, according to the Boston Terrier Club of America.

Step 2

Learn about the parents of the litter. Is this a carefully selected breeding of two excellent dogs that are free of known genetic problems, temperament problems and serious structural defects? Or is it a random breeding of two pet Boston terriers? When you select a purebred puppy of any breed, you want to reduce as many of the unknowns as you can. You will be living with this dog for a long time, you'll invest in him emotionally, and you will be paying the medical bills if he has problems. Similarly, if he turns out to be fearful or aggressive as an adult, you will have those issues to cope with during his lifetime. You can't look at a puppy with a 9-week-old brain and know much about what he will be temperamentally as a 1 year old dog. But you can look at the parents. Ask to see the mother dog and spend some time around her. Do the same with the sire, if he is available. If not, learn what you can about him. Do as much of your research as possible before you look at the litter.

Step 3

Take a dog expert with you when you go to look at the litter if possible, if you are not an expert yourself. An expert can pick up on things about the puppies and their environment that you might miss.

Step 4

Choose a puppy with the breed-standard coloring. The American Kennel Club recognizes the familiar black-and-white coloring as well as brindle and seal. Colors such as red, chocolate and fawn are available, but these are considered a separate breed by the AKC. Though colors outside the standard may disqualify dogs for showing, they are perfectly acceptable as pets. But if it's a Boston terrier you are looking for, you may prefer the black-and-white that most people recognize as the Boston terrier.

Step 5

Note the characteristics of the dog’s head. The eyes of the Boston terrier are among its most prominent characteristics. The expression should be alert yet kind. The eyes should be evenly spaced with no excessive bulging. The skull should be squared, with a slight flatness on top. The stop of the snout should be well-defined. The muzzle must be short, and the nose must be black. Notice that the ears are small and erect.

Step 6

Pay attention to the muscle structure of the dogs you're considering. Boston terriers should be strong and compact, with well-defined muscles in the legs and torso. A Boston terrier should have a sturdy stance, with even legs and no sloping of the back.

Step 7

Choose a dog with a friendly, outgoing temperament. Avoid dogs that seem nervous or shy of human contact. Such dogs may have temperament problems that cannot be overcome.

Step 8

Notice the overall health of the dog. Is he energetic and curious? Is there any discharge from the nose or eyes? If you have any doubts or questions at all about the dog, choose another puppy.

Step 9

Check to make certain that the dog you select has the correct documents. The pedigree certificate states the known ancestors of the dog back three generations and ensures that the dog is a registered purebred. Pedigree documents do not guarantee the show quality of a dog, only that its bloodline is known. The registration certificate shows that the dog has been properly registered with the AKC as a purebred animal.

Step 10

Ask for the vaccination record and deworming schedule for the Boston terrier you select. This record ensures that the dog has had basic veterinary care and should be in good health.

Step 11

Discuss with the breeder the contract or guarantee he will provide with the puppy, if you are buying a puppy from the breeder. You should at least obtain a written health guarantee that covers the incubation period of common puppy diseases. The breeder may also routinely guarantee that the puppy you buy will be free of certain common Boston terrier genetic diseases. Know what genetic problems you should be concerned about, ask what the breeder knows about the occurrence of those problems in the puppy's bloodlines, and make the absence or presence of a warranty part of your overall decision-making on puppy selection.


  • Avoid buying your Boston terrier from a pet shop. No responsible breeder would allow puppies from his breeding program to be sold in a pet shop. Many of these dogs come from puppy mills where random breeding produces unhealthy animals.


  • You will pay much more for a show-quality dog than for a pet-quality Boston terrier. Unless you intend to show your dog, a pet-quality pup is fine for most people. Pet quality or not, however, the puppy you choose still should be free of major structural faults and potential genetic or temperament problems.


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