How to Adopt a Boston Terrier and What to Look For

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by Lily Ferreras


Are you thinking of getting a Boston Terrier?

There are at least three safe options that you can consider for getting your dog:

You don’t want to buy a puppy from a pet store or a website because most of those puppies come from mass breeding facilities (puppy mills or farms). The conditions that the dams (puppy mothers) and their puppies are kept are usually very bad and deserving condemn.

Another reason to avoid them is also the financial risk of having to pay a huge veterinary bill because the puppy might be sick, has no vaccinations, hasn’t been dewormed or microchipped.

That being said, let’s talk about the Boston Terrier adoption process!

Boston Terrier Adoption

Adoption empowers you to give an unwanted Boston Terrier a new chance in life. There are many misconceptions about adopting dogs, so let’s clear the waters!

Why Boston Terriers End Up in Rescue Centres

Some people stay clear from rescues because they believe the dogs there aren’t “good” dogs. However…

  • Many dogs are surrendered because of a family’s change in circumstances: moving abroad, financial loss, illness or death, etc. and not because of the dog.
  • Some people don’t realize how much time and work puppies, and even adult dogs, require and become overwhelmed with the responsibility and they decide to give up.
  • Other owners are simply unable to provide for their dog’s welfare and they bring them to a rescue centre.
  • While many dogs are also surrendered for behaviour problems, the vast majority of those problems could have been prevented and can be treated with training, attention, and exercise.

What to Look for When Rescuing a Boston Terrier

It’s easy to let your heart guide you when you see an adorable Boston Terrier in need of a home.

But, alongside your good heart, it helps to rationalize the decision by looking at the following:

  • Health status.
  • Behaviour and personality.
  • Age.

#1 – Health Status

Boston Terriers which are up for adoption usually have already been spayed or neutered and microchipped.

Some rescue centres provide the dogs with parasite treatments (flea and worming) and make sure that they are up to date with their vaccinations (which shows how much they care and puts prospective dog owners at ease).

Also, you want to find out about the dog’s health history and make sure that the pooch looks healthy! No cuts, lesions, skin problems, etc.

Rescue centres don’t tend to put a dog for adoption if they are ill, need surgery or have serious behavioural problems.

#2 – Behaviour and Personality

It’s difficult to asses a Bostons behaviour if he’s been kept in a kennel when you visit. He’s probably scared and may appear shy. This behaviour can become even more pronounced in shelters.

So ask the staff about his behaviour.

If you are concerned about aggressive behaviour, voice your fears. Most rescue centres don’t place an aggressive dog for adoption in the first place. They work with dog trainers to improve a dog’s behaviour if needed.

Also, request the chance to see the dog in a private room or take him for a walk. During your one-on-one time, a dog might feel at ease and, with the sight of a toy or delicious treat, might show his true colours!

When I foster, people that seek to adopt come into my house and are able to see the dogs interact in a household, which gives them a more accurate perspective of their personality.

P.S. The rescue centres I believe in the benefits of a dog foster network where rescue dogs are placed in homes to acclimate and assess their personalities.

#3 – Age

All dog ages pose a challenge of their own. Adopting a puppy is different from adopting an adult or senior dog.

  • Puppies: They require a lot of work (house-training, including potty, crate, leash training, basic commands and socialization). The vet bill is expensive (vaccinations, spaying or neutering) until they grow; it’s like having a baby in the house, where they need constant attention. However, you don’t have to address previously acquired behaviours and fears.
  • Adults: Adult dogs are usually up-to-date on vaccines and already spayed or neutered by their shelter. They tend to have a grasp on basic commands and some house-training (although you should expect to refresh their memory). Depending on their past experiences, you may face unwanted behaviour and anxiety problems.
  • Seniors: Senior dogs tend to be more relaxed and used to humans. But their behaviours are deeply rooted. Their exercise needs are less extreme as puppies or adult dogs. However, they start to develop health issues. You will also have to be prepared for end-of-life care. They are a common choice for senior owners who want a loving pet with a manageable energy level.

Is a rescue Boston Terrier right for you?

Adopting a Boston Terrier is not for everyone.

Your personality, lifestyle and how you view responsibility play a huge role in determining if it’s the right choice for you.

It’s good to know what to expect before moving ahead with this option.

Rescue Boston Terriers may:

  • Come with a story and a personality (you can expect this from each individual dog).
  • Not be reliably housetrained.
  • Have behavioural issues such as separation anxiety.

“Rehoming a Boston that’s lived somewhere else before is not the quick, easy or cheap way to get a dog.

Adopting a Boston with a history can sometimes prove a lifelong challenge. Are you ready for that and prepared to put the work in?”

UK Boston Terrier Rescue.

How to Adopt a Boston Terrier

Adopting a Boston Terrier is all about ensuring you’re matched with the perfect pooch for you so that you and your Boston can have a fantastic life together.

This is how the Boston Terrier adoption process looks like:

#1 – Research the Boston Terrier Breed

If you haven’t done so, research the Boston Terrier breed and make sure they are suited for you and your lifestyle.

#2 – Search for a Rescue Centre

Search for the breed. While county shelters accept every dog breed, there are times when they have Boston Terriers.

However, there are rescue centres that specifically take care of rehoming Bostons.

Refer to the Boston Terrier Adoption Resources section below for more info.

#3 – Fill the Application Form

Once you’ve found a Boston that you are interested in, register your interest by submitting an application form.

The centre should get in touch with you. If they believe that both you and your chosen dog are a good match, then they will arrange for you to meet.

#4 – Meet Your Boston Terrier

It’s best for everyone from your household to meet the dog, spend some one-on-one time together and see how everyone feels.

#5 – Look for the Signs

While spending time with a particular Boston Terrier, look for the signs I mentioned above! You want to observe him or her closely.

#6 – Evaluate the Meeting

After looking at the signs (health, behaviour and age). Here’s what you can ask yourself to evaluate that first impression:

  • Does your chosen Boston Terrier seem like he or she is welcoming to you? What about everyone else?
  • Is the pooch licking your face with enthusiasm and enjoying the received attention?
  • Do you feel like the dog is friendly and will be a good addition to your family?

These are just a few questions that you can ask yourself before officially choosing the dog.

#7 – Start the Adoption Process

If you are happy with your chosen Boston Terrier (steps #5 and #6), and you think that your choice is a perfect fit for your lifestyle and family…

It’s time to start the adoption process and ask any last-minute questions.

While the process may be different at each rescue and shelter centres, generally you will need to fill out an application, and pay adoption fees (sometimes a deposit is required to begin the adoption process).

Each association sets its own adoption fees, these fees cover a lot of veterinary expenses – such as microchipping and neutering – that would usually add up after buying a dog.

During the application, they will ask you a list of questions to ensure that you are capable and prepared to care for the dog properly throughout his or her lifetime.

Be honest and truthful, the centre staff have experience in the matter and they are there ensure a successful match.

#8 – Arrange a Home Visit

In some centres, one of the adoption support volunteers will visit your home to assess that your home is safe and suitable for your new dog. And also advise you on how to help your dog settle down.

For example, leaving a t-shirt or blanket at the kennels gets them used to your smell, and gives them something familiar to travel home with.

#9 – Before Your Boston Terrier Arrives…

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Prepare your home and garden (i.e., make your home dog-friendly and ensure your garden is dog-friendly).
  2. Create a Dog Safe Zone.
  3. Shop for your Dog Essentials (or how I like to call it: first-time dog owner’s kit!)
  4. Get some good dog food: What Do Boston Terriers Eat?
  5. Also, some single-ingredient treats: High-Value Dog Treats: What Types of Reward to Give.
  6. Find some mentally stimulating toys.
  7. Finally, get dog insurance like Petplan, which can help you save on vet bills.

#10 – Pick Up Your Dog!

Finally, after the adoption process is complete and you have received their approval…

It’s time to head back to the centre to have your new family member officially signed over! Congratulations!

Read also: How Much Do Boston Terriers Cost? and What Is The Annual Cost of Owning a Boston Terrier? blog post for more info!


Boston Terrier Adoption Resources

Looking for a Boston Terrier shelter or rescue?

Shelters vs Rescue Centres

There are some differences between shelters and rescue centres which is beneficial to be aware of when you are looking to adopt a Boston Terrier.


Shelters keep dogs available for adoption, including strays.

Usually, they can be partially funded by the city or be completely dependent on private donations.

Depending on location and funds, the quality of shelters varies dramatically. Some shelters provide basic medical care, training, daily walks and spay/neutering surgeries.

Others are more like holding pens than shelters.

In a nutshell:

  • The population of available dogs usually changes quickly and regularly since some shelters euthanize animals when they get overcrowded. However, many no-kill shelters will only accept dogs believed to be adoptable (young, non-aggressive and healthy).
  • If you’re interested in a dog, make sure you ask how much longer they have at the shelter, and if the pooch hasn’t already been reserved.
  • Some shelters allow people to put a hold on dogs they want to adopt.
  • Depending on the shelter, you won’t get much info about the dog you are interested in.

Rescue Groups

Rescue groups are organizations that take dogs out of shelters, puppy mills, and abandoned dogs.

They keep them in foster homes, and sometimes private kennels until they get adopted.

Some rescues are breed-specific (which makes finding a Boston easier), while others take all types of dogs. Also, most of them tend to give the dogs more medical and behavioural care than many shelters.

Here are the highlights:

  • Dogs are happier in foster homes than in shelters, so it’s easier to assess their personalities. You will be able to see how your pooch acts in a real home setting.
  • You can get a good idea of the dog’s temperament and habits from the foster family since they live with the dog.
  • Foster families keep a dog as long as it takes to find him or her a family. It can be 2 weeks or 2 months (I experienced both extremes when I fostered).

Rescue Groups in the US

There are many Boston Terriers in need of adoption and/or fostering. Here are a few Boston Terrier rescue and shelter groups in the US:

P.S. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, check the national breed club or a local breed club. They should be able to point you toward a Boston Terrier rescue.

Rescue Groups in the UK

For the UK, I only know of two groups after consulting The Kennel Club:

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