Finding a Reputable Boston Terrier Breeder & 16 Questions to Ask

how-to-find-a-reputable-boston-terrier-breeder

Boston Terrier puppies are adorable, and they are also a handful – but hey, what puppy isn’t?!

If you have decided that you have the time, resources and patience to care for a Boston Terrier puppy… then the next thing is to find a breeder!

Unfortunately, not everyone can be trusted.

There are many breeders that sell sick puppies online or keep their puppies in very bad conditions.

The situation is so bad that some dog rescue associations go to non-trustworthy breeders (puppy mills) to rescue puppies before they are “sacrificed” because they cannot sell them! Just the thought of it makes me shiver. I volunteer in one of those rescues and it’s very upsetting to hear about and see those pups.

That’s why it is important to find a reputable breeder that has accreditation, follows animal welfare laws and that you can trust.

Alternatively, you can adopt a Boston.

(Sadly) There are so many looking for a new family and rescue groups can tell you about their personality and health.

If you are set on a pup, with a bit of patience you might be able to find BT puppies looking for a home! 🙂 You can find out more about adoption in the How to Adopt a Boston Terrier and What to Look For guide.

How to Find a Reputable Boston Terrier Breeder

Without further ado, I will guide you through the details of finding a reputable breeder and how to get a healthy Boston Terrier puppy home!

#1 – Learn About Breed Standards

Before finding a breeder, get familiar with the breed standards.

Why? If you don’t know them, you will be at a loss when examining puppies. You want to be able to identify a purebred Boston Terrier from a crossbred.

Plus, a shady and unethical breeder might try and take advantage of you. Breeders can register their Boston Terriers claiming that they are purebred when they might not be.

boston-terrier-purebred-standards

According to the AKC, the official Boston Terrier breed standards state the following:

General Appearance

A purebred Boston Terrier is:

  • Lively, highly intelligent and active.
  • Smooth-coated, short-headed, and short-tailed.
  • Bridle, seal or black in colour and evenly marked with white.
  • Compactly built and proportioned, the body is rather short and muscular. The head is in proportion to the size of the dog.

Size, Proportion, Substance

A Boston Terrier belongs to one of three weight classes:

  • Under 15 pounds.
  • 15 to 20 pounds.
  • 20 to 25 pounds.

In terms of proportion:

  • The length of the legs is in balance with the length of the body.
  • Although a sturdy dog, it’s not a chunky dog. Bone and muscles are proportioned to the dog’s weight and height.
  • The only difference between male and female Boston Terriers is a slight refinement in the bitch’s conformation.

Head

  • The skull is flat on the top and square in shape.
  • Boston Terriers should have an alert and kind expression in their face indicating a high degree of intelligence.
  • The eyes are large, round and situated wide apart. Eyes are dark in colour; blue eyes or any trace of blue is enough to disqualify them.
  • The ears are small and stand erect.
  • The muzzle and snout are short, square, and wide.
  • The nose is black and wide.
  • The teeth are short and the bite is even or slightly under the muzzle.

Neck, Topline and Tail

A Boston Terrier should have:

  • A slightly arched neck.
  • A level topline.
  • A deep chest.
  • The tail is set on low (not carried above the horizontal), short, and fine. The shape of the tail can be straight or screw.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

  • The shoulders are sloping and well laid back.
  • The elbows and the feet stand neither in nor out.
  • The thighs are strong, muscular and bent at the stifles.

Coat, Color and Markings

  • The coat is short, smooth, and fine in texture.
  • A Boston Terrier can have a brindle, seal (black with a red cast in direct sunlight), or black coat with white markings.
  • Required markings: White muzzle band, white blaze between the eyes, and white forechest.

Temperament

The Boston Terrier is:

  • Friendly.
  • Lively.
  • Intelligent.
boston-terrier-breed-standards

#2 – Understand What BTs are Bred For

The key question here is: Why the breeder is breeding dogs? And if their breeding practice is safe for the dogs.

Dogs are primarily bred for dog shows, work, or sports. Since Bostons aren’t a working breed, they are bred for:

  • Dog shows.
  • Sports like agility, barn hunt, flyball, rally, and obedience.
  • Ideally, for both!

But if I just want a pet, not a show or sports dog… Well, it’s still worth looking for breeders who participate in those events for many reasons.

Show dogs are judged (by an impartial third party) for their structure, temperament, and fitness for breeding. Winners, apart from being good dogs, also are good examples of a Boston Terrier and have all of the traits of the breed.

Sports dogs, on the other hand, prove that a dog is more than just physically healthy. They also demonstrate being versatile and the ability to compete in sports beyond shows.

However, there’s nothing wrong with Boston Terrier breeders that don’t compete in shows and sports.

The important fact is that you find a reputable breeder that is trustworthy and looks out for the breed’s welfare.

Getting a purebred Boston Terrier from a reputable breeder assures that your pooch has a good temperament, good health and follows the breed standards.

#3 – Finding a Reputable Dog Breeder

You want to stay away from pet shops and online dog sales since those pups come from “puppy mills.”

This means that moms and pups are kept in very bad conditions, with little regard to their wellbeing or welfare needs.

Insider Tip: As a prospect owner, using a shady breeder means you will likely bring home a Boston that has health or/and behaviour issues due to irresponsible breeding practices. This will lead to large medical bills and in some cases, the early death of your pooch (sadly, it’s not an exaggeration).

So, where can I find a Boston Terrier breeder?

My first stop will be to visit the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme website for Boston Terriers:

  • For the US: The American Kennel Club database. They don’t endorse, license or recommend breeders, but they list breeders in your local vicinity. Keep in mind that “AKC Registration” doesn’t mean a BT puppy is healthy and a qualified Boston Terrier (meets the breed standards). It just means that the breeder registered the litter with AKC.
  • For the UK: The Kennel Club registered Boston Terrier breeders. They only list registered breeders that follow the club’s assured breeding practices.

You can also:

  • Look at the National Boston Terrier Club website for breeders.
  • Visit Boston Terrier shows (refer to #4 – Go and Meet The Breeders below).
  • Ask your veterinarian (if you already have/had dogs).
  • Ask another Boston Terrier owner.
  • Contact local Boston Terrier Clubs.

Finding a reputable breeder can take time and patience since you also need to wait for puppies to be born!

Unlike larger breeds, Boston Terriers have small litters, from 1 to 4 pup and some moms need to have a cesarian to deliver the puppies.

#4 – Go and Meet The Breeders

Most reputable breeders don’t have an online presence. They allocate their litters on a relationship-basis during dog shows, sports competitions, clubs or referrals. So, most puppies are spoken for or have a long waiting list.

You can either meet breeders at their facility or at dog events like conformations (dog shows) and sports competitions.

Eventually, you will want to inspect their breeding facility.

Insider Tip: Just asking the breeder about their dogs and breeding practices is not enough to determine their reputation. All trustworthy breeders will be happy to show you around.

For dog shows and sports competitions, you can have a look at the AKC dog events calendar.

boston-terrier-breeder

#5 – Evaluate if The Breeder is Trustworthy

How do I know if the breeder is trustworthy?

Pay Attention To How The Breeder Is Treating their Boston Terriers

Reputable breeders will keep their dogs healthy and cared for. They will show you the Boston Terrier litter with the pup’s mother (dam) being present (on-site).

However, it’s totally normal for the father (stud) not to be present.

This is because the breeder will want to choose a male that best complements the female and that often means using a male from a different kennel.

Female dogs should not be bred before they are two years old and should have a limited amount of pregnancies (around 4 for Bostons Terriers). Consistently breeding a female dog has adverse health effects on her.

Also, reputable breeders won’t allow puppies to be taken home before 8 weeks. Depending on the breeder, they may wait until they are 12 weeks old.

This is due to the importance of growing healthy and the need to be with the dam and littermates when they are young (critical socialization time). Depriving pups of that time can have negative effects on the dog’s behaviour as they grow up.

Finally, most reputable dog breeders focus on one or two breeds.

The main reasons being that each dog breed needs very specific and personalized care. It’s an expensive practice and to guarantee safe and healthy breeding they cannot, and should not, cut corners.

Evaluate the Dog’s Behaviour and Breed Standards

Apart from assessing the facility (clean and safe area in their home), pay attention to the dogs.

The Boston Terriers should look lively, happy, healthy and energetic. This indicates that they are being well taken care of.

Also, you want to make sure that the breeder follows breed standards mentioned above (#1 – Learn About Breed Standards). Remember that breeding for colour instead of temperament, health, or structure is not responsible.

Does the colour matter for long term health?

Usually no. However, if a breeder is selling “grey/lavender” coat Boston Terriers… You should ask yourself this:

Why is the breeder producing dogs that are ineligible to compete in dog shows?”

Often, breeders do this because those colours are popular with puppy buyers, disregarding the breed’s health, temperament, etc.

Confirm The Breeder’s Credentials

Always ask to see the breeder’s credentials – whether they are registered with the AKC, their documentation on the pups’ lineages and breeds, their records for vet visits, etc.

Look them up online and offline, and try to find as much information as you can.

Ask for References

Most reputable dog breeders will have a reference book or records of their clients’ opinions and feedback. Ask to check them out as they can give you an insight on if you would want to deal with this breeder.

Contracts and Health Guarantees

Lastly, never work with a dog breeder that doesn’t offer you:

  • A written contract.
  • Health certificates for the pup they are selling you.
  • Genetic testing records of their dogs. The sire and dam of the litter should be pre-screened to rule out genetically inherited diseases.

Boston Terriers are prone to a number of health issues, including eye problems, allergies, cardiac issues, luxating patella, and congenital deafness.

So a reputable owner should provide the new owner appropriate health certifications registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

At a minimum, Boston Terrier breeders should provide:

  • An OFA eye examination (certificate: Companion Animal Eye Registry or CAER exam).
  • An OFA orthopaedic exam to check for a condition called the luxating patella, where the knee slips out of place.
  • An OFA cardiac exam to check for heart murmurs.
  • A BAER hearing test.
  • A genetic test for the gene for Juvenile Hereditary Cataracts (JHC) by a certified testing service or genetic testing records that neither parents are carriers of this gene that causes to go blind early in life.

“A vet check or a promise from the breeder that their dogs are healthy is not a sufficient substitute for OFA exams”. 

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

Bear in mind that these health tests cannot be completed before a dog is two years old. So don’t buy from someone that is breeding their dog before she’s two years old.

Finally, to verify the results of these tests, check the OFA website here, then select the breed and type in the breeder’s kennel name. The results on all their dogs should come up.

Boston Terrier Reputable Breeder Checklist

According to the Blue Cross, a reputable breeder should tick all these boxes:

❐ Gives lots of information in an advert for selling the puppies.
❐ Has a waiting list for puppies.
❐ Encourages you to meet your puppy several times before taking them home.
❐ Has a clean and safe area in their home for puppies and their mum.
❐ Puppies and mum are obviously clean, happy and healthy where they are kept in at the breeder’s home.
❐ Will ask you lots of questions about why you want a puppy.
❐ Will want you to ask lots of questions about them and their puppies.
❐ Gives you their vet’s details so you can ask the vet questions about the litter and parents.
❐ Sells puppies with a contract that promises to take the puppy back if there are any problems (the Welcome Back Program).
❐ The puppies are microchipped before you can take them home (it is a legal requirement for all dog breeders).
❐ Won’t let you take the puppy home until they’re old enough to leave mum, at least eight weeks. Some wait until the pup is 10 to 12 weeks old.
❐ Encourages you to meet other members of the litter’s family so you can be sure about temperament.
❐ Can tell you all about the socialisation they’ve been doing, eg. taking them in the car, meeting lots of people of all ages, meeting other animals, playing, etc.
❐ Has started housetraining the pups by the time they are old enough to leave.
❐ Gives evidence of relevant health testing records, including OFA health certifications and genetic testing.
❐ Provides pet insurance for the first few weeks to cover illness.
❐ If you’re looking for two puppies, reputable breeders will not let you take two littermate puppies home to avoid littermate syndrome.
boston-terrier-litter-with-mom

#6 – Questions to Ask Boston Terrier Breeders

What should I ask a Boston Terrier breeder?

When you are evaluating prospective breeders, here are some questions you should ask:

Questions About their Dogs

  • How long have you been in the Boston Terrier breed? What others have you bred? Remember that more than 2 breeds is cause for suspicion (puppy-mill or disreputable breeder).
  • Can I meet the parents? What are they like? At least the dam should be on-site and they should be able to tell you about both their temperaments.
  • What titles do the parents have? (Dog shows and competitions). The breeder should explain what titles they hold and what they mean. For instance, the Companion Dog (CD) title shows that a dog won an obedience competition.
  • Can you explain their pedigree? At least, they should be able to provide you with a 4 generation pedigree and be able to tell you about the dogs. 
  • Do you have the dam on-site? How old is she? How many litters has she had? The dam should always be present with her litter. Also, mothers should be at least two years old and they probably shouldn’t have more than one litter a year to ensure health and well-being. Their pregnancies are planned and expected.
  • Have the parents been tested for genetic/hereditary problems and are the results/certificates available? (The ones I mentioned above).
  • Do you offer the Welcome Back Program guarantee? This means the breeder will take the puppy back and refund your money if there are any problems.
  • Is the puppy registered in the American Kennel Club (AKC)? If so, make sure you are given the registration certificate and pedigree when you pick up your puppy. You should also get some free health insurance for the first few weeks.

Questions About the Puppy

  • When can I take the puppy home? They must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mum. Puppies usually go to their new home between 9 and 12 weeks.
  • Are the puppies weaned? At seven weeks they should be fully weaned. If they are not, they could be younger than what the breeder claims. P.S: Weaning is a key growth stage, & process, where a puppy starts eating food other than their mother’s milk.
  • Have the puppies been wormed? All puppies have worms at birth. Worming should start with the breeder at about two weeks old, be repeated every two weeks and be continued by you.
  • Have the puppies had any vaccinations? If so, when is the next dose due? Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks of age and then again at 10-12 weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You will need to do this if the breeder has not.
  • What should I feed my puppy? A good breeder will give you enough food to continue exactly the same diet for a couple of days. They should also give you a diet sheet that shows how feeding should change as your puppy grows.
  • What sort of socialisation or experiences has my puppy had so far? Socialization is so important to getting a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog. Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through the traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialisation training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet. If puppies have already met other dogs, domestic animals and people, they will have more confidence than those that have not.
  • What is the puppy’s energy level?
  • What is his/her personality like?

Questions The Breeder Will Ask You

Reputable breeders will want to know as much about you as you do about them and their dogs!

  • Why do you want a Boston Terrier?
  • What do you know about Boston’s and their needs?
  • Do you have other dogs at home? If so how many, what breed/s and what ages?
  • Do you live in a house or flat?
  • Do you have a fenced or secure garden?
  • Where will the dog sleep?
  • How long will your puppy be left during the day? If you work, what will happen to the dog during the day?
  • How much time and energy will you devote to playing and training your Boston?
  • Do you think you want a show dog or a pet?
  • Male or Female?
boston-terrier-breeder-questions

Boston Terrier Care Essentials

Once you have selected your puppy and made arrangements with the breeder, the fun part starts!

Before your Boston Terrier pup 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 as I like to call it: First-time dog owner’s kit!)
  4. Get some good dog food: Learn more in 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. Snuggle Puppy, a plush toy with a heartbeat and a heat source to mimic being part of the litter. 
  8. Finally, get dog insurance, which can help you save on vet bills.
boston-terrier-care-essentials

How Much Do Boston Terriers Cost?

Purebred Boston Terriers can be expensive and you may find yourself paying anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 USD to get a purebred Boston Terrier puppy.

Check How Much Do Boston Terriers Cost? and What Is The Annual Cost of Owning a Boston Terrier? blog posts for more info!

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