Boston Terrier Breed Standard
The Boston Terrier is a lively, highly intelligent, smooth coated, short-headed, compactly built, short-tailed, well balanced dog, brindle, seal or black in color and evenly marked with white. The head is in proportion to the size of the dog and the expression indicates a high degree of intelligence.
The body is rather short and well knit, the limbs strong and neatly turned, the tail is short and no feature is so prominent that the dog appears badly proportioned. The dog conveys an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order; carriage easy and graceful. A proportionate combination of "Color and White Markings" is a particularly distinctive feature of a representative specimen.
"Balance, Expression, Color and White Markings" should be given particular consideration in determining the relative value of GENERAL APPEARANCE to other points.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight is divided by classes as follows: Under 15 pounds; 15 pounds and under 20 pounds; 20 pounds and not to exceed 25 pounds. The length of leg must balance with the length of body to give the Boston Terrier its striking square appearance. The Boston Terrier is a sturdy dog and must not appear to be either spindly or coarse. The bone and muscle must be in proportion as well as an enhancement to the dog's weight and structure. Fault: Blocky or chunky in appearance. Influence of Sex. In a comparison of specimens of each sex, the only evident difference is a slight refinement in the bitch's conformation.
The skull is square, flat on top, free from wrinkles, cheeks flat, brow abrupt and the stop well defined. The ideal Boston Terrier expression is alert and kind, indicating a high degree of intelligence. This is a most important characteristic of the breed. The eyes are wide apart, large and round and dark in color. The eyes are set square in the skull and the outside corners are on a line with the cheeks as viewed from the front.Disqualify: Eyes blue in color or any trace of blue. The ears are small, carried erect, either natural or cropped to conform to the shape of the head and situated as near to the corners of the skull as possible. The muzzle is short, square, wide and deep and in proportion to the skull. It is free from wrinkles, shorter in length than in width or depth; not exceeding in length approximately one-third of the length of the skull. The muzzle from stop to end of the nose is parallel to the top of the skull. The nose is black and wide, with a well defined line between the nostrils.Disqualify: Dudley nose. The jaw is broad and square with short regular teeth. The bite is even or sufficiently undershot to square the muzzle. The chops are of good depth, but not pendulous, completely covering the teeth when the mouth is closed. Serious Fault: Wry mouth. Head Faults: Eyes showing too much white or haw. Pinched or wide nostrils. Size of ears out of proportion to the size of the head. Serious Head Faults: Any showing of the tongue or teeth when the mouth is closed.
Neck, Topline and Body
The length of neck must display an image of balance to the total dog. It is slightly arched, carrying the head gracefully and setting neatly into the shoulders. The back is just short enough to square the body. The topline is level and the rump curves slightly to the set-on of the tail. The chest is deep with good width, ribs well sprung and carried well back to the loins. The body should appear short. The tail is set on low, short, fine and tapering, straight or screw and must not be carried above the horizontal. (Note: The preferred tail does not exceed in length more than one-quarter the distance from set-on to hock.) Disqualify: Docked tail. Body Faults: Gaily carried tail.Serious Body Faults: Roach back, sway back, slab-sided.
The shoulders are sloping and well laid back, which allows for the Boston Terrier's stylish movement. The elbows stand neither in nor out. The forelegs are set moderately wide apart and on a line with the upper tip of the shoulder blades. The forelegs are straight in bone with short, strong pasterns. The dewclaws may be removed. The feet are small, round and compact, turned neither in nor out, with well arched toes and short nails. Faults: Legs lacking in substance; splay feet.
The thighs are strong and well muscled, bent at the stifles and set true. The hocks are short to the feet, turning neither in nor out, with a well defined hock joint. The feet are small and compact with short nails. Fault: Straight in stifle.
The gait of the Boston Terrier is that of a sure footed, straight gaited dog, forelegs and hind legs moving straight ahead in line with perfect rhythm, each step indicating grace and power.Gait Faults: There will be no rolling, paddling, or weaving, when gaited. Hackney gait. Serious Gait Faults: Any crossing movement, either front or rear.
The coat is short, smooth, bright and fine in texture.
Color and Markings
Brindle, seal, or black with white markings. Brindle is preferred ONLY if all other qualities are equal. (Note: SEAL DEFINED. Seal appears black except it has a red cast when viewed in the sun or bright light.)
Disqualify: Solid black, solid brindle or solid seal without required white markings. Any color not described in the standard.
Required Markings: White muzzle band, white blaze between the eyes, white forechest.
Desired Markings: White muzzle band, even white blaze between the eyes and over the head, white collar, white forechest, white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs below the hocks. (Note: A representative specimen should not be penalized for not possessing "Desired Markings.") A dog with a preponderance of white on the head or body must possess sufficient merit otherwise to counteract its deficiencies.
The Boston Terrier is a friendly and lively dog. The breed has an excellent disposition and a high degree of intelligence, which makes the Boston Terrier an incomparable companion.
The clean-cut short backed body of the Boston Terrier coupled with the unique characteristics of his square head and jaw, and his striking markings have resulted in a most dapper and charming American original: The Boston Terrier.
Scale of Points
Head (Muzzle, Jaw, Bite, Skull & Stop)
Neck, Topline, Body & Tail
Color, Coat & Markings
Eyes blue in color or any trace of blue.
Solid black, solid brindle, or solid seal without required white markings. Any color not described in the standard.
Approved February 11, 2011
Effective March 30, 2011
Policy Regarding Use of the Boston Terrier Breed Standard
The Boston Terrier Club of America, Inc. was founded by those who originated the
breed and is the breed parent club for American Kennel Club, Inc. The Breed Standard
for Boston Terriers originated with BTCA and is the property of this Club. It is the policy
of BTCA that the Breed Standard and Illustrated Breed Standard may be copied and
used for educational purposes, including Internet websites, so long as the following
requirements are met.
- The Standard must be used in its entirety. It is acceptable to separate the
sections but all sections must be presented.
- Photographs and drawings from the official Club documents must be included. If
additional photographs or drawings are used they must be clearly marked to
indicate that they are additional materials and not part of the official Club
- The Standard may be translated into other languages. BTCA requires that the
English version of the Standard be included along with the translation.
• If a comparison of the BTCA Breed Standard and the Standard used by another
organization (FCI, etc.) is presented, the BTCA Breed Standard and its contents
must be clearly identified.
- Commentary must be clearly identified as such.
- Use of the Standard must include a citation stating that this Standard is the
property of The Boston Terrier Club of America, Inc. and is the Standard used by
The American Kennel Club, Inc.
Adopted October 14, 2014
Illustrated Breed Standard
A PICTORIAL AND ILLUSTRATED STANDARD