Boston Terrier Temperament. Everything You Need To Know

The breed can trace its origins back to England, where it was developed from a cross between a Terrier and a Bulldog. Sadly, originally bred as a fighting dog, and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the breed started getting bred down in size to be a more suitable companion dog.

In 1891, the Boston Terrier was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, making it one of the oldest dog breeds in the United States. Today, the Boston Terrier is a popular pet, thanks to its friendly nature and its compact size. 

The breed is also known for its distinctive black-and-white coloration, which earned it the nickname “American Gentleman.” 

The Temperament Of A Boston Terrier 

Boston Terriers are happy-go-lucky sweetie pies that will happily become your new best friend. They are highly attached to their owners, making them ideal for folks that don’t like to be left alone.

Don’t be surprised if you go to the bathroom and your Boston tags along right there with you!

A Boston’s gregarious, lovable personality often wins over other dogs and humans, making them popular playmates that can get along with most other animals and people.

They have larger-than-life personalities in stocky, petite bodies and can have moderate to high energy levels with loads of vigor. 

They are strongly attached to their humans, and be warned; they won’t leave you alone! Their energetic demeanor can be a little intimidating to shy or sensitive dogs, and early socialization is critical. 

Sensitive by nature

Because the Boston Terrier is a sensitive breed, his owner must use caution when speaking to him. If yelled at or corrected too harshly, the Boston Terrier can shut down and become stubborn or aloof. 

It’s crucial to socialize a Boston Terrier while maintaining his sensitive spirit by employing motivated, positive training tactics and a low-key tone of speech.

This social dog breed gets along with other animals or pets in the house, particularly if they have been socialized at an early age.


The Boston Terrier is the quintessential family dog, a natural partner and a beloved companion. Boston’s make excellent pets for anyone, whether they are single or have a large family. 

The Boston Terrier is a versatile, adaptable dog breed that can adapt to any situation, whether you live on a farm or in a small city apartment.

The Boston Terrier is a happy, comical dog that will keep you and your family entertained whenever you need it. These active dogs will just as happily go for a hike with you or snuggle on the couch. 

Although the Boston Terrier does not want your attention all of the time, he can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

Bostons will do well in a family environment where a family member is around most of the time. 

Moderate energy levels 

While Boston Terriers do not require extensive exercise, a daily walk would never hurt. They love high-intensity activities like a vigorous game of fetch, but their stamina usually dictates that it might be a reasonably short session! 


Boston Terriers can be tough to house train because of their Terrier personalities. While they enjoy pleasing their humans, they do not live to please like some other breeds. 

Good thing they are super food motivated! 

Are Boston Terriers Aggressive?

Boston Terriers were bred over centuries to make ideal companion dogs. They enjoy the company of other people, are good with strangers, and don’t have many aggressive tendencies.

However, like all dogs, or animals for that matter, they can be reactive, especially when they are threatened, fearful, or in pain.

Despite their ancient origins as fighting Bulldogs, Boston Terriers lack the aggressive genes of their forefathers. They are now genetically programmed to be playful, friendly dogs that rarely show true aggression. 

What Are the Common Reasons for Aggression in Boston Terriers?

Like all dogs, even the affable Boston Terrier can turn aggressive with the right reason. Before it escalates into a full-blown bite, other body languages that can indicate an imminent bite include:

  • Stiffening body
  • Rising hackles
  • Ears pinned back
  • Growling and snarling
  • Baring the teeth
  • And finally, bites of varying intensities

Many dog bites happen because of the owner’s lack of knowledge or training, which is not quite the dog’s fault. Some of the reasons dogs may bite include: 

  • Illness or pain
  • Anxiety or frustration
  • Medical conditions like hyperthyroidism
  • Fear
  • Possessiveness
  • Surprise and shock 
  • Dominance 

Illness or Injury

Like humans, when a dog is unwell or in pain, it can become agitated and prone to mood swings.

When a dog is sick or hurt, they are understandably more anxious and irritable and may not be as patient when dealing with an unwelcome behavior from another dog or human.

Anxiety or Frustration 

Anxiety is a common problem in dogs, and it can manifest itself in many different ways. One of the most noticeable signs of anxiety is aggression, and this can often result in bites. In many cases, an anxious dog will bite out of fear or insecurity. 

They may also bite in response to a perceived threat, such as another dog or a stranger. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that bites are often the result of anxiety and not malice. 

Suppose your dog is showing signs of anxiety. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to find the best way to help them deal with their fears and reduce the risk of it escalating into behavior that will be difficult to correct. 

With a bit of love and patience, even the most anxious dog can learn to trust again.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect a dog’s mental state, like hyperthyroidism which will make your dog’s brain chemically more prone to mood swings and irritability.

Even if your dog isn’t showing any behavioral or medical symptoms, a regular vet visit isn’t a bad idea, just so a professional can take a look at your dog and rule out any potential problems. 


Another factor that contributes to a Boston Terrier’s aggression is fear. When a dog senses that he or his family is in danger, he has the instinct to defend himself. 

Like any animal, there is a flight or fight instinct with all things that trigger fear. Your Boston Terrier might have chosen the latter! 


All dogs will protect their belongings, and that includes you, the owner. Even the Boston Terrier, which is known for its affection, can become aggressive if it is afraid of losing its valuables.

Boston Terriers might want to guard their food, toys, and people, and might exhibit some warning behavior like barking or growling if they perceive a threat. Depending on how highly a dog values an object, the level of hostility can be severe. The higher the value, the more aggressive the dog may become.

This is definitely undesirable behavior and should be stopped immediately. 


Another behavior that has to be nipped in the bud, so to speak, is biting out of dominance. They are telling you that they are the boss.

While dominance with other dogs is natural and your Boston Terrier might likely choose to strut his stuff and proclaim himself king of the world. At some point, this behavior is unacceptable with humans. 

You Might Also Like: Are French Bulldogs Agressive?

Difference Between Male and Female Boston Terrier Personality and Traits

Male Boston Terriers are active, friendly dogs that can take longer to learn new commands than their female counterparts. They are often more motivated by food, and they mature physically faster yet mentally slower than females.

They can go through a rebellious adolescence and show signs of stubbornness and defiance, but this stage should pass with some patience and consistent training.

Female Boston Terriers can be more affectionate, although of course, there are exceptions to every rule. They are just as gregarious and entertaining and love being the center of attention.

They aim to please their humans and are likely to be more easily trained than males. 

Male vs Female Aggression

While it is true that all dogs are individuals, there are some noticeable differences between male and female dogs. For one thing, males tend to be larger and heavier than females. 

They also tend to be more aggressive and territorial, although there are always exceptions to this rule. An adolescent male is also more likely to challenge another dog or human, especially if they are unneutered.  

Females, on the other hand, are typically smaller and more gentle than males. They tend to exhibit less aggressive behaviors and are not prone to dominant problems. They also tend to be more affectionate and attached to their owners. 

Of course, these are generalizations, and there will always be individual dogs who don’t fit neatly into either category. But in general, these are some of the most noticeable differences between male and female dogs. 

Importance Of Early Socialization for Boston Terriers

The Boston Terrier, like all dogs, requires early socialization, which includes exposure to a variety of sights, noises, and situations. The more stimuli your dog experiences, the calmer and less reactive he or she will be.

Experienced vets and dog trainers alike urge that your dog be socialized as early as possible to learn how to react to their surroundings in a calm, relaxed way. 

Having a socialized pet means fewer unpleasant visits to the groomer or veterinarian, more enjoyable outings to the dog park, and the opportunity to take your dog for walks without fear of him snapping at other dogs or humans, chasing things, or being an all-around unruly nuisance. 

Dealing With Aggression in Boston Terriers

The Boston Terrier is an intelligent dog. However, they will need thorough training to maintain calm and consistent conduct. To manage dog aggression, it’s also critical that your pet recognizes you as the pack leader.

If your Boston Terrier is showing early signs of aggression, act immediately and prevent the problem from degenerating into a condition that is difficult to fix. Here are a few things you can look at if you are dealing with an aggressive dog.

Identify the Source

Most dog bites don’t happen because of an aggressive dog. There are a multitide of reasons why a dog might show aggression. Once you have nailed down what is causing your Boston to react, then you can take steps to rectify the situation by removing the stimuli or addressing a medical concern.

However, two reasons for aggression might require a more thorough approach – possessiveness, and dominance. 

Proper training

Proper training is the key to managing dog aggression. Training a canine does not happen overnight; it takes time and effort. 

To have an obedient dog, you must teach the dog to recognize you as the pack leader. To be the pack leader, you must enforce your rules, and your dog must understand that some behaviors are simply unacceptable. 

Getting Professional Help

If you feel that the situation is out of control, you might want to seek professional help. An improperly trained and raised dog can be difficult to correct once severe behaviors are present, and a professional dog training facility might be needed. 

There are also numerous partnerships with offenders in correctional facilities that you might be able to enlist help from to train your dog. 

Dog training programs with offenders in corrective facilities have been showing much success across the nation, with inmates enjoy quality time and a sense of accomplishment, while your dog makes a new friend and ends up a well-behaved, balanced pooch. 

Final Thoughts

Boston Terriers are friendly, versatile dogs with lovable personalities. They typically get along well with other pets and children and they make excellent companions.

Boston Terriers are also known for their intelligence and sociability, and they excel in obedience training. 

However, they can be stubborn and headstrong at times, and they may require a bit of patience when learning new tricks.

Overall, Boston Terriers are affectionate, good-natured dogs that make great additions to any family.

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