Boston Terriers Personality – What’s It Like to Own One?

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by Lily Ferreras


You are probably wondering what are Boston Terriers like, their temperament and personality… Basically, what’s it like to own one?!

They are referred to as the “American Gentleman” for a reason. 🙂 But before rushing into conclusions…

Let’s get familiar with Boston Terriers’ personality, temperament, and behaviour!


Boston Terrier Behaviour

Generally, physical traits are more predictable than behaviour – you have an idea of what to expect.

So, how can you determine a dog’s behaviour?

How a Boston Terrier behaves is influenced by a variety of factors. You can ensure good behaviour by considering:

  • Genetics: Dogs inherit part of their temperament. Reputable breeders will choose to breed Bostons with even temperament and good personality traits.
  • Personality: A Boston’s individual personality gets shaped by genetics and learning experiences whilst growing up. The first part can be addressed by picking a reputable breeder or knowing about the dog’s ancestry when adopting. The second part has to do with socialization, training, and the environment they are in.
  • Socialization: Appropriate socialization before 14 to 16 weeks of your puppy’s life helps in the positive development of your Boston’s personality. Socialization enables a dog to cope with new situations with confidence and is important to prevent possible aggression problems, anxieties and fears from developing.
  • Motivation: This also plays a role in your dog’s behaviour i.e. how important and attractive a particular activity or reward is to your dog.
  • Training: If you teach your pooch from an early age using positive reinforcement training, you will be able to prevent a huge list of unwanted traits.
  • Environment: Your Boston Terrier’s previous experiences and the environment will influence his behaviour too. Due to the fast-paced lifestyle we have, our dogs are more prone to having negative experiences. For instance, if a Boston is left alone for long hours, he’s likely to develop separation anxiety and other negative responses.

Boston Terrier Temperament

When looking at Boston Terriers’ temperament, I am referring to what they inherited genetically. And this will mostly depend on the breeders and which Bostons they selected to breed.

The ones who have selected positive traits like friendliness, easy-going attitude, gentle nature… will promote Boston Terriers with a good temperament.

Generally, Boston Terriers temperament is lively, friendly and smart. If you look at the AKC’s official breed standards, that’s also how they describe them.

Let’s go deeper into a Boston Terrier’s temperament:

Boston Terriers are Companion Dogs

Long gone are the days that they were bred for fighting. Selective breeding has developed this breed into a great companion dog.

These dogs are people-oriented.

Boston’s need to be around people and they thrive on human contact. Plus, they love to be the centre of attention.

Boston Terriers Are Affectionate and Cuddly

This breed constantly shows that they care. Bostons are very affectionate dogs that love to cuddle and snuggle next to you! So, forget about your personal space!

Their favourite places to nap are next to you preferably with their chin on you. 😉

Because Boston Terriers form very strong ties with their human family, they can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone frequently and for a long time.

This leads to behavioural problems, including excessive barking as well as being destructive around the house (mostly due to boredom).

Boston Terriers Are Smart and Intelligent

When you look at their expressive eyes, you get the impression that they are an intelligent breed.

Bostons are smart and eager to please their owners. As a result, they are easy to train! They are known to do well in Obedience Competitions and Dog Sports like Agility and FlyBall.

Boston Terriers Love to Play

Bostons are lively playful dogs. They remain very puppy-like well into their senior years.

They have a lot of energy and enjoy fun activities, dog sports, and interactive games.

Boston Terriers Adapt to Your Living Arrangement

Boston Terriers are adaptable dogs that are just as happy living in an apartment in town, as they are living in a house in the country.

The key is to provide enough mental stimulation and daily physical exercise to prevent boredom from setting in.

Boston Terriers Are Sensitive

Boston Terriers have an impressive level of emotional intelligence. They have a unique ability to relate to their owner’s emotions.

This means that they can sense your mood and provide a reaction that corresponds with that particular emotion.

For example, when you are upset, your pooch will try to cheer you up and comfort you with some cuddles.

However, this sensitivity goes both ways. Bostons don’t do well with harsh tones and punishment. Instead, use positive reinforcement training. Love, praise, and treats go a long way!


Boston Terrier Personality

Although their temperaments indicate a good disposition, remember the other factors that also shape their behaviour!

A Boston Terrier’s personality is still individual. This means that they have diverse personalities.

Here are common highlights on Boston Terriers’ personality, assuming that they had proper socialization, positive reinforcement training, and a loving environment.

Boston Terriers Hyper vs Calm

Although Boston Terriers typically have a gentle, even temperament… Some are more boisterous; they can easily engage in rough play if you don’t teach them otherwise.

In contrast to those who are hyperactive and high-spirited, others have a more calm and dignified attitude.

Boston Terriers Can Be Great Comedians

Bostons can also be funny and very entertaining. They remind me of Boxers, which have a “clown” personality.

Unofficially, they are known to be great comedians, which is likely a result of their sensitive temperament, as they seem to know what makes their owners laugh! 🙂

Boston Terriers Can Get Stubborn at Times

Bostons can be a little strong-willed or stubborn at times, so persistence and consistency help during training.

Also, like every dog, they need early socialization. Both training and socialization will help them understand what is required of them.

Boston Terriers Can Be Protective of You

Boston Terriers can be good watchdogs, this fact depends on your pooch and training.

Also, they can become very protective of their owners, which may result in aggressive and territorial behaviour toward other pets and strangers if not properly socialized.

Boston Terriers Are Generally Friendly

They are usually a gentle breed with a friendly personality. They are one of the dogs that enjoy being around people.

If properly socialized, they are good with children, but like every dog, should always be supervised. Also, teaching kids how to treat a dog is a good idea.

Again, Bostons get along with other dogs and pets if properly socialized. It’s not unusual to find a Boston napping with the family cat.


What’s It Like to Own a Boston Terrier?

Apart from their temperament and their individual personality, here are other facts that can help you visualize what’s like to own a Boston Terrier!

Boston Terriers Are a Good Choice for First-Time Owners

Due to their easy-going temperament and low maintenance, Boston Terriers are a good choice for first-time dog owners.

Boston Terriers Thrive with Canine Enrichment

For Boston Terriers to enjoy a better life and for you to benefit from a happier and healthier dog, consider the following:

Boston Terriers Overheat

Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed. Because of their physical features, the main concern during hot weather is that they don’t get overheated.

Since they struggle to naturally regulate their body heat, you shouldn’t exercise your pooch during hot weather or for long sessions. Also, take a doggy water bottle with you and have frequent breaks in the shade.

Insider Tip: Early morning and late evening walks work best for Boston Terriers during the summertime.

Read also: Boston Terrier Care in Summer – 8 Tips to Prevent Overheating.

Boston Terriers Need Extra Protection Against the Cold

Bostons don’t do well with extreme temperatures. Apart from being prone to overheating, they also get cold easily due to their single coat.

At home, this can easily be solved with a blanket. But during winter walks, a sweater or a hoodie might be necessary. Boston terriers do need sweaters, especially if it gets cold where you live.

Finally, these dogs are indoor dogs, so they should be kept inside the house as opposed to outside; i.e., they should sleep inside the house.

Read also: Boston Terrier Care in Winter – 8 Tips to Prevent Frostbite.

Boston Terriers Have Lost Some of Their Natural Instincts

Much of the Boston Terrier’s natural instincts were bred out in favour of a physically aesthetic dog that has a good temperament and makes a great companion dog.

They lost some of the Terriers ancestors’ instincts like digging and prey drive or, in some cases, they are simply tunned down.

Plus, they are not even considered Terriers by the American Kennel Club.

However, Bostons can still exhibit:

  • Guarding and protective instincts: They can get territorial (as mentioned before).
  • Digging instincts: Digging can be a common behaviour problem for Boston Terrier owners if appropriate outlets are not provided.
  • Prey drive: They will happily chase anything that moves if not taught differently.

Boston Terriers Can Be Gassy

Their shorter muzzle and their digestive system give Boston Terriers the reputation of being gassy.

What you feed your Boston makes a big difference in this aspect. Finding the diet plan will be key to stop running away every time your pooch farts.

Usually, grain and starch free meals help their digestions, preventing gasses. Also, single-ingredient treats are important.

Boston Terriers Don’t Bark Much

Boston Terriers have a low barking tendency, unlike other Terriers. However, certain situations might trigger a barking response from them.

Both females and males are generally quiet and bark only when necessary. They can bark when someone is at the door, or out of excitement, for example.

Boston Terriers Can Swim and Enjoy Water

You may not have guessed this one…

But, Boston Terriers can become great swimmers providing they are taught to swim.

Early introductions to water and swimming lessons are key for your Boston to enjoy the water. However, they cannot swim for great distances or a long time due to their brachycephalic features.

Read also: Are Boston Terriers Good Pets? 8 Reasons Why and Should I Get a Boston Terrier? Is It The Right Breed For Me? blog posts.

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