Breeding Standard of the Boston Terrier

The “American Gentleman” is an apt name for the charming and elegant Boston Terrier. This breed is endowed with a gentle disposition coupled with a friendly and outgoing personality making these dogs excellent house pets.

The following is a description of commonly held beliefs regarding the Boston Terrier standard. Do not be alarmed if your Boston does not meet the standard described on this page; most deviations are unlikely to have any negative affect on your boston's health or well being. 

The Boston Terrier is a non-sporting dog. It is a highly intelligent breed that often shows an impression of determination, activity, and strength.  It possesses timeless grace and easy carriage.  It has a smooth coat with typical color (brindle, seal or black) and white markings which is a distinctive feature of the breed.  In terms of balance, the head is definitely in proportion to its body size and it has strong limbs which are neatly turned. No physical feature is present that can give the Boston Terrier a poorly proportioned body. 

Boston Terriers can weigh from under 15 pounds to a high of 25 pounds - they usually do not exceed such weight. The prominent square appearance of the breed is brought about the by the balance between the length of the leg in relation to the length of the body.  Boston Terriers are sturdy dogs and should not appear weak-looking or coarse. Since the bone and muscles should be equally proportional, blocky or chunky Boston Terriers are considered to possess a flaw. Females can appear to have a more refined conformation compared to their male counterparts.

A Boston Terrier’s skull is square with a flat top, flat cheeks, and free from wrinkles.  Their large and round eyes are set wide apart and are usually dark in color. The high degree of intelligence, which is characteristic of the breed, is often manifested by an alert and gentle expression. Its small ears are erect, and can be cropped to keep it close to the corners of the skull. Ears which are not in proportion to the size of the head are sometimes viewed a fault. The boston's short, square muzzle is wide as it is deep and well-proportioned to the skull. The muzzle is devoid of wrinkles, and the length is shorter compared to its width or depth, however it should not exceed approximately one-third of the length of the skull. The entire length of the muzzle, that is, from the top to the end of the nose, should be parallel to the top of the skull. Boston Terriers have wide noses, with a distinct line in between the nostrils. A Dudley nose is considered a fault.  Pinched or wide nostrils are also perceived as head faults.  A Boston Terrier’s jaw is square as it is broad with an even undershot that create the square contour of the muzzle. The chops are not pendulous but are of good depth and completely cover the teeth when the mouth is closed. The tongue or teeth should not be visible when the mouth is closed.

The neck should be slightly arched and its length must carry the head gracefully to create an impression of overall balance to the Boston Terrier.  Its short back should be short enough to square the body. There should be a slight curve of its rumps particularly to the set-on of the tail. It has a deep, wide chest with ribs that are well-sprung and are carried well back to its loins. The short body should have a tail that is set low, fine, short, and tapering. The tail is not to be carried past the horizontal. A tail which appears straight or screw-like are acceptable, however, docked tails are not. Serious body faults of Boston Terriers include a tail that is gaily carried, a sway back, roach back, or slab-sided. 

The Boston Terrier’s stylish movement is brought about by its sloping and well-laid back shoulders. The elbows are in line and should be neither in nor out. Its forelegs should be on a line with the upper tip of its shoulder blades. Its forelegs are straight with pasterns which are short and strong. Its small feet are round and compact, with short nails and toes which are well-arched. The dewclaws may or may not be removed. Legs which are lacking in substance and splay feet are considered as faults. Hock joints are well-defined and the hocks are short to the feet. A Boston Terrier’s hindquarters are composed of strong and well-muscled thighs which are set true and bent at the stifles. A straight stifle is definitely a no-no when it comes to the standards set for Boston Terriers.

The Boston Terrier’s grace and power are attributed to their sure-footed, straight-gaits with the forelegs and hind legs moving straight ahead in perfect rhythm.   Gait faults include a hackney gait, rolling, padding, or weaving. Any front or rear crossing movement is considered a serious gait fault.

The desired markings of Boston Terriers should include a white band on the muzzle with an even white blaze over the head and between the eyes. It should also have a white forechest and collar, forelegs which are white on part or whole and hind legs with white below the hocks.