What Ailments Do Boston Terriers Have

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I understand that watching your dog suffer from some ailments is distressing. Some breeds of dogs are more likely susceptible to some health conditions than others — and Boston Terriers are one of them. So, what ailments do Boston Terriers have?

What Ailments Do Boston Terriers Have? 

Boston Terriers are more prone to diseases than other breeds of similar size. Some of these ailments include deafness, heart problems, and eye problems.

It’s important you monitor your Boston Terrier’s health in relation to these ailments to help them live normally despite their existing conditions.

3 Common Boston Terrier Health Issues

Common Ailments in Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are prone to certain illnesses and conditions that may affect them in living their normal lives. Below, I will discuss the most common ailments observed in this type of breed. 

Brachycephaly Syndrome 

Boston Terriers are naturally brachycephalic. It means they have flat faces, elongated palates and narrow air passage. Sometimes, extreme brachycephalic disrupts their normal respiratory functions like breathing. This condition makes them susceptible to weather changes like too much cold or heat. 

During activities such as running, your dog will have a hard time panting because of the narrow windpipe, trachea collapse and paralysis of the cartilage in the larynx.

These features also lead to other issues such as snoring, loud breathing and snorting. As they get older, the airways in their nose may inflame, and they may have difficulty in breathing. 

Severe cases of brachycephaly syndrome may require surgery to ease the obstruction in their airways.

Selective focus of black and white Boston terrier dog


Hemivertebrae refers to the bones in the spine that are abnormally shaped. The abnormal shape of each bone doesn’t allow them to align accordingly with each other. It deforms the spinal column and damages the spinal cord. 

This condition is painful and can lead to other issues like loss of the hind leg function and the control of urine and feces. Hemivertebrae is the result of selection for the screw tail – it means the genetic factor is responsible for the curly tail of your dog, which also affects the spines. 

A mild case only requires rest and anti-inflammatories to help your dogs. Severe cases require surgery to alleviate the compression on the spinal cord.


Boston Terriers are prone to deafness. Deafness characterizes unresponsiveness to any sound around them. This breed of dogs acquires deafness during their senior year brought by injuries. However, a gene commonly causes this deafness to this breed of dog. 

Dr. Bruce Cattanach, a canine geneticist at Oxford University and Dr. George Strain from World Authority on Canine Deafness came to the same conclusion that the gene causing white/blue eye deafness to the 60 canine breeds is the same gene that causes deafness to Boston Terrier.  

Caring for a deaf Boston Terrier requires patience. Although challenging, it’s possible to teach them sign languages. You need to make sure they don’t get startled. Also, make sure to watch that they don’t go on roads as there’s a risk of them not hearing the coming cars and might cause an accident.

Eye Problems

Boston Terriers have one of the most expressive eyes in all breeds of dogs. In fact, their eyes are one of their distinct features. Unfortunately, their eyes encounter different issues that you need to be aware of.

  • Cataracts: it involves cloudy eyes that decrease the clarity of vision. This condition is inherited and usually classified into two types; juvenile and late-onset. Juvenile cataract appears as early as 15 months and affects 2.4 percent of Boston Terriers. Late-on cataracts appear as the dog ages and affect nine percent of Boston Terriers.
  • Corneal Ulcer: trauma like scratches and damage to the eye cornea causes this problem. It’s usually hard to heal and might lead to eye loss. 
  • Cherry Eye: this eye problem is characterized by bulging out of the tear gland. It is estimated six percent of Boston Terriers suffer from this eye condition
  • Glaucoma: this happens when fluid builds up in the eye and causes blockage in the vision. Continuous pressure leads to damage to the optic nerve. It results in a more painful and bulging eye.
Boston terrier lying on grass

Eye problems can either exist on their own or inherited from the parents. It can also stem from existing diseases and injuries. Take note that many things can cause irritation to your dog’s eyes. If the eye irritation persists for a day or two, take your Boston Terrier to the vet.

Heart Ailments

Heart failure is one leading cause of Boston Terrier’s death. For example, heart valves function weakly. Instead of pumping blood all over the body, the blood flows back and strains the heart. 

One indication that your dog has a heart problem is when it has a heart murmur. A heart murmur is not an actual disease, but it can indicate a red flag. In this case, vets will perform a test. They do this test every year to monitor the condition. 

Early diagnosis of any heart problem will help prolong your dog’s life through medical prescriptions. Weight control, along with fatty acid supplementation and dental care can prevent heart disease.

Related Questions

Do All Boston Terriers Have Respiratory Problems?

Some Boston Terriers suffer from respiratory problems at some point. This is due to their facial structure composed of pushed-in faces with long palates and narrow airways that gives little passage of air to and from their lungs.

How Healthy Is a Boston Terrier?

Generally, Boston Terriers are healthy. However, due to their breed, they are susceptible to illnesses and conditions like other breeds of their size. One example is a cataract that may develop at the age of one year old. 

What are the 10 Most Common Boston Terrier Health Problems


In summary, Boston Terriers are more prone to different kinds of ailments than average dogs. As one of the responsible owners, it’s my responsibility to monitor my dog’s health and make sure I provide the assistance they need.

Doing my research before I get a Boston Terrier will help reduce future problems — especially on their health.