What Does a Boston Terrier Look Like?

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Boston Terriers are friendly, energetic dogs known for their tuxedo-like coat. Based on popularity, they rank 21st on the list by the American Kennel Club. Yet, not many people know what they look like and tend to confuse them with other dog breeds. So, what does a Boston Terrier look like?

What Does a Boston Terrier Look Like?

A Boston Terrier looks like a bulldog yet with a sweeter face and white markings on the face, chest, and muzzle. It’s a muscular, short-tailed dog with square jaws, large eyes, and upright ears. While it generally has a short snout, a purebred Boston Terrier should have a black nose and brown eyes. 

Graphic image of a black and white Boston Terrier with a text describing what Boston Terriers look like

Boston Terriers have an amazing personality and a short, shiny coat that looks like a tuxedo. This gave them the nickname The American Gentleman. However, at present, the American Kennel Club only recognizes three standard colors for Bostons: black, seal, or brindle with white markings.

The Origin of Boston Terriers

Ever wondered why the Boston Terrier has some resemblance to the bulldog?

In 1870, Robert Hooper from Boston bought William O’Brien’s imported dog and named it Judge. Hooper’s Judge was a cross between two English dogs, a bulldog and a white terrier. Judge was a muscular dog at around 32 pounds. 

Hooper had a friend named Edward Burnett, who owned a white female dog named Gyp. Gyp’s origin was unknown and she was a small dog at only about 20 pounds, according to The Boston Terrier Club of America. Hooper’s Judge was bred to Burnett’s Gyp, thus became the sire and dam of all pure Boston Terriers known up to present.

As years went by and with the ongoing selective breeding methods, some of the characteristics of the Boston Terrier changed, including the size and temperament. Modern Boston Terriers do not weigh more than 25 pounds and they look more-friendly. The Boston Terrier’s fighting temperament was also replaced with a happy, playful personality — the reason they are now classified as non-sporting/companion dogs. 

Boston Terrier looking like he's about to cry

Important Facts About Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the AKC 2019 list. They were once known as pit-fighting dogs. However, because of their friendly personality and happy temperament, they were later considered great companion dogs. 

Although they are stubborn sometimes, Boston Terriers are intelligent dogs that are easy to train.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Boston Terrier?

The average lifespan of the Boston Terrier is 10 years. However, some can live for up to 15 years. Some health conditions common to Boston Terriers that could cause early death are cancer, infectious diseases, and heart disease.

Bostons have a short snout. Short-nosed dogs could suffer from breathing problems at some point in their lives. They are likely to overheat and may snore during sleep. 

How Big Does a Boston Terrier Get?

How big a Boston Terrier gets depends on several factors like its gender and genes. First, you should know that they are classified according to their weight.

There are three classifications for Boston Terriers according to weight. While they differ in size, their physical appearance looks the same except for the coat color. 

An adult Boston Terrier can fall anywhere under these three weight categories:

  • 15 pounds and below
  • more than 15 pounds but less than 20
  • 20 to 25 pounds
Close up of a Boston Terrier

It is normal for female Bostons to be smaller than their male counterparts. There is not much difference between their weights, though. Male Boston Terriers are usually taller, too. Their average height is 17 inches, while the females at 16 inches.

When Do Boston Terriers Stop Growing?

Boston Terriers stop growing once they reach full maturity. However, the amount of time the dog meets full maturity depends on its size. A bigger dog will need more time for its bones and joints to fully develop.

On average, it takes 14 months for a Boston Terrier to reach full development. Still, remember that the time it takes depends on other factors as well, including diet and genetics. Females also reach maturity faster than males. 

What Colors Do Boston Terriers Come In?

Boston Terriers only come in three colors, according to the American Kennel Club. These include the following colors:

  • black and white
  • seal and white
  • brindle and white

The black or seal and white colors are the most common coat colors of Bostons. However, a lot of people mistake black for seal. They look almost the same until a seal coat reveals a red or brown color when exposed to a light source.

On the other hand, a brindle and white Boston Terrier is often confused with a Boxer. Brindle is the term for tiger-striping patterns around the coat of a Boston Terrier. Looking at it closely, a brindle coat is a combination of brown base color with strands of black hair. 

Colors Not Recognized by the AKC

Boston Terriers that are solid black, solid brindle, or solid seal are not recognized by the AKC. The white markings on the face, chest, neck, and legs are an important indicator of pure breed Boston Terriers.

Boston Terrier being taken for a walk outdoors

Moving on, a lot of other colors are being introduced by dog breeders and label them as rare. Examples are the rare blue Boston Terrier and champagne. While it is tempting to have one in a unique color, know that these are not recognized by the AKC. 

Also, there is no chance that you could register a Boston Terrier with a color other than their set standards. You might also want to get a puppy from a reliable breeder to avoid fake, unhealthy Boston Terriers. 

Related Questions

Now, that I know what a Boston Terrier looks like, let’s answer a couple more questions about them.

Are Boston Terriers Good Dogs?

Boston Terriers are good dogs because they are friendly, sweet, and intelligent. They are playful and energetic which makes them a great choice if you want to have a cheerful companion around. They are easy to train and would go along well with people and even other pets.

What Are Boston Terriers Known for? 

Boston Terriers are known for their happy temperament and smart personality. Despite their ferocious appearance, Bostons love to play and cuddle. They can be extremely energetic that they should not be left alone outside.

Boston Terrier Dogs 101: Boston Terrier Facts and Information


Boston Terriers have the bulldog bloodline that explains their fierce, masculine appearance. However, with all the selective measures done in breeding, Bostons today are smaller and cuter, better matching their friendly and happy personality. 

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