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Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy: Everything You Need To Know

  • June 15, 2020
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Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

The photos featured in this article are copyrighted to Giovanna Arantes of Ob-La-Di Bostons

Are you in the market for a new Boston Terrier puppy? If you are like many people you are excited about the prospect of a new puppy but anxious about the puppy buying process.

As a Boston Terrier breed advocate I present to you the everything you need to be when buying a Boston Terrier Puppy.

Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

1. Do Not Buy The First Boston Terrier You See

I get it! Puppies are the cutest things on the planet.  But this isn’t like you are buying something on Amazon Prime.

Make sure you’re using your head and not just your heart because you’re buying a puppy for the length of their life and you want to make sure you make the best decision possible.

2. Make Sure A Boston Terrier is the Right Breed For Your Lifestyle

Before you start looking for a Boston Terrier Puppy, be clear on what they are like to live with, their temperament and if that matches your lifestyle.

Be honest with yourself with how much time and money you can invest in this breed.

Many people make the mistake in buying a dog that is too much for them or doesn’t deliver on what they thought the dog should be able to do.

Boston Terriers are bred to be companion dogs. They LOVE being with you and doing things with you.

They are smart, eager to please and love to be mentally stimulated so commit to training sessions from day ONE.

These dogs are robust and energetic.  Boston Terrier owners will say “think of a big dog like a boxer squeezed into a small dog under 20 pounds”.

If you are an active person that likes to go on thirty minute to two hour long walks, this breed is perfect for you.

They cannot run long distances in extreme heat. So if you’re a distance runner looking for a dog to run 15 miles with, you might want to look at a different breed like a Vizla.

Most don’t like to swim. Labradors are better suited for that.

But they can do most dog sports like agility, fly ball, obedience and rally.

They love hikes. My two can easily walk and hike for 4 to 6 miles a day.

They love city walks too and can easily power down to snuggle on the sofa.

But they do need daily exercise and stimulation and couch potatoes they are not.  If they don’t get both mental and physical exercise they can get into mischief.

A tired dog is a good and happy dog.

To learn more about what Boston Terriers are like read this article:
What is it like to have a Boston Terrier?

Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

3. HEALTH TESTING: Decide How Important Knowing Your Boston Terrier Puppy’s Health History Is To You.

There are three kinds of buyers:

a. Not knowing to ask about the puppy’s health history

I bought my first Boston Terrier from the internet. I bought her with my heart and not my head.

And I didn’t know much about her health history.  I didn’t know what I was doing.

I have friends who bought a similar route and there are a lot of sad stories within this group. When you buy health history unseen you’re taking a gamble.

And the cost in this gamble manifests later on in life through vet bills you rack up trying to fix or get your Boston Terrier puppy on the pathway to a healthier life.

It’s taken me several puppies before I understood how important it was to know about not only the puppy’s health but any known issues in the line.

b. Knows About Potential Health Problems – Buys Dog Anyway

A reputable breeder should be able to disclose all the known health issues with you.

If the breeder says to you “the puppy is healthy the parents are healthy” and doesn’t provide you evidence through health test certificates, that’s a BIG RED FLAG.

But some might say – there are some allergy issues in the line. Or … they might say … there are some (insert health problem here) in the line.

And since this is disclosed to you and you are willing to pay for any potential vet visits, you buy the dog anyway.

c. Only Buys With Health Tests

Your Boston Terrier puppy’s parents should come with all the required health tests which are:The CERF exam is performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. The eye is examined for a variety of hereditary eye diseases. This should be done annually.

The BAER exam is performed once in a lifetime. It is performed by a veterinary neurologist. BAER stands for Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response. The test can be done as young as 8 weeks. If the BAER test is performed earlier than 8 weeks, the results may not be valid.

The patella exam can be performed by a regular veterinarian. It is done by physically manipulating the knee joint to see if it can dislocate or luxate.

A dog must be 12 months old for patella results to be registered with OFA. The first formal test can be done at 12 months. It is recommended that the knees be rechecked/recertified every two years.

If you buy a dog whose parents are health tested does it mean that the dog will develop health problems later on in life?

If the dogs in a breeding program are not health tested, then the breeder has no way of determining whether or not there are genetic problems being transferred.

Health testing helps a breeder make decisions about selection of a stud dog and female to breed. Without health testing, this information is not available to the breeder and the likelihood of hereditary genetic problems increases.

I will only buy a puppy from a breeder that tests their dogs.

Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

4. WHERE TO BUY: Puppy Mills to Preservation Breeding and Everything In-Between

Just like you can buy a car many different ways, the same goes for puppies.

Puppy Mills and Online Breeders on something like Puppyfind(dot)com

You’ve seen these websites. You do a search for a Boston Terrier puppy and you get 200+ options.

They have a few photos, and a price and maybe a description.

I personally would NEVER buy from these kind of online puppy stores.

These puppies either come from puppy mills or back yard breeders.


They probably won’t be able to:

  • Give you any health history on the parents, grand parents, grand grand parents etc.
  • Provide you any health certificates
  • Although they might claim “AKC” registration the puppies listed on these sites typically are not bred to standard
  • The owner/seller doesn’t have any interest in becoming your friend for the life of the puppy (more on that later)
  • The owner/seller won’t be available to you to help you as you raise the puppy
  • The owners/sellers are motivated to sell puppies but not motivated to better the breed


  • Fast transaction. You can buy a puppy the same day you see it listed.

First Time Breeders

I always like to ask – how many litters have you had?

If they say – this is my first litter … I would then ask them why did they get into breeding?

Some wrong answers from people that DO NOT SHOW their Boston Terrier Puppies:

  • I think my dog is the cutest and I want her to have puppies
  • A friend has a Boston Terrier and we wanted to have puppies
  • This litter is an accident.

II might also ask them how many Bostons they have had and if they say only one then personally would not buy from a first time owner breeder.

Some acceptable answers:

  • I have been showing and this is now the next step in being a breed advocate
  • I am breeding with the intention in producing a show prospect

Hobby Breeders or Breeders of H.E.A.R.T.

There are people who breed because they love the breed, and want to learn now to raise a good puppy and do all the right things like health testing but the only difference is they do not show their Boston Terrier.

But they might register with AKC’s H.E.A.R.T Program which you can read about: AKC Bred With H.E.A.R.T. Program – American Kennel Club

These breeders pledge to uphold the following principles:

  • HEALTH: They certify that their breeding stock is health tested in accordance with the recommendations of their breed’s AKC Breed Parent Club. Visit our  [Health Testing Requirements](  page to see the requirements.
  • EDUCATION: Promising that they will pursue AKC-provided or AKC-approved continuing breeder education so that they stay educated on the best breeding practices, including advances in canine health.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: Agreeing to comply with the AKC Care and Conditions Policy, including inspections by the AKC, and promising to share health testing and continuing education documentation with AKC.
  • RESPONSIBILITY: Accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of the puppies they produce and for complying with all laws regarding the ownership and maintenance of dogs.
  • TRADITION: Upholding the AKC’s tradition of breeding purebred dogs that are happy and healthy.


PRESERVATION Breeders or Show Breeders

Preservation breeders respect the Breed Standard.

They not only want healthy and happy dogs, they breed to protect and preserve the breed for future generations.

Purebred dogs have been created to perform a specific function and each breed has a unique history.

The preservation breeder honors this history by trying to produce the best specimen of the breed and in this sense, “improving it”, but also trying to maintain steady the qualities that make the breed recognizable, able to perform its purpose, and steadfast in appearance and character.

So, in improving the breed, the goal is the more perfect example, not to change the look, function or temperament or to create something new or different, but rather to preserve that unique set of qualities that sets the breed apart as a distinct breed of dog.

Preservation breeders typically show their dogs. They are always striving to produce the puppy that most closely represents the breed standard.


Just because you don’t plan to show doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a dog from a preservation breeder.

Preservation breeders are typically breeding to show and improve their breeding program.

In a litter of four they might only have one or two show prospects that they keep while the rest are consider “pet” or “companion” puppies who are placed in homes that the breeder selects for them.

So talk to them.  Form a relationship because they are always looking for good homes to place their non show prospects in.

I feel very strongly about buying from breeders who protect the standard because they are the stewards of our Boston Terriers.

If you join any of the casual Facebook Groups on Boston Terriers you will find a lot of dogs that do not look like what a Boston Terrier is supposed to look like.  This is because people don’t carefully select the dam and sire when they breed them.  And what you end us with is a dog that kinda of looks like a Boston Terrier, might even have DNA tests that say they are a Boston Terrier but they are now so far removed from standard that they no longer look close to what they should look like.

If you want your house to be built with a plan and blue prints.  Then you want the same for your dog.  The “standard” are the breed’s blueprints for what future generations should look like.

Signs Of a GREAT Responsible and Ethical Preservation Breeder

  • They know their pedigree. A great preservation breeder can trace their puppy’s line 3 to 5 generations back.
  • Ability to discloses what issues are in the line
  • A responsible and ethical breeder will ask you as many questions about you because they consider their puppies family and they want to make sure they are placing the puppy in the best home possible.
  • A responsible and ethical breeder will give you lifetime support in the way of being accessible to you when you have questions about the puppy or the breed.
  • A responsible and ethical breeder health tests their dogs
  • They can talk to you and show you the puppy’s parents
  • They title their dogs (show their dogs)
  • They are breeding to standard
  • They are breeding for temperament
  • They will talk to you about what age to spay or neuter your puppy. Most will ask for a delayed spay or delayed neuter so that the puppy’s bones can fully develop and grow.
  • A responsible and ethical breeder will talk to you about how often they breed their dogs and let their dogs rest in between heat cycles.
  • A responsible and ethical breeder will not send their puppy home until they are at least 10 weeks old.
  • A responsible and ethical breeder who talks to you about puppy training
Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I have tried and trust. Maggielovesorbit, Ilovebostons is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

6. Research the Breed Standard

You need to know what Boston Terriers are supposed to look like.

I didn’t know this until Maggie and Orbit. I didn’t know where to look.

You can learn all about the breed standard on the Boston Terrier Club of America’s website: The Boston Terrier Club Of America

Your can also purchase the following books:

The Boston Terrier by JV Motts

The Boston Terrier (Terra-Nova)

The Boston Terrier and All about It: A Practical, Scientific, and Up to Date Guide to the Breeding of the American Dog (Vintage Dog Books Breed Classic)

Some Red Flags to Watch Out For

I have an older article that talks about how to find a reputable Boston Terrier Breeder.  In it is a full list of red flags but I’ve put some below.

  • Bloated bellies on puppies – indicating a possible worm infection
  • Incorrect head shape
  • Eyes that are easty westy (eyes that are not centered and looking at different walls)
  • Blue eyes
  • Long noses
  • Long tails
  • Ears like jackrabbits
  • Nails that are long and sharp (indicating the breeder is neglecting nail care)
Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

7. Know How To Find a Reputable Preservation Breeder.

If you have decided to get a Boston Terrier Puppy from a reputable preservation breeder:

First stop will be the Club’s website: The Boston Terrier Club Of America
And the Member Links

I also found a few AKC HEART certified breeders here: Boston Terrier Puppies For Sale from Certified Breeders Nationwide | Good Dog

8. Familiarize Yourself With Known Boston Terrier Health Issues

As a puppy owner you have to prepare yourself for the worst scenario and be able to financially cover vet visits that might come up.  Some articles to get you started:



(From the Boston Terrier Club of America’s Website):

The Purdue Database which collects data from all the veterinary schools in the United States lists Glaucoma as the 7th most common problem in the Boston Terrier. To put this in perspective, the database lists Cataracts (all kinds) at 190 reported cases in a 5 year period (and this makes cataracts the top problem in our breed). and Corneal Ulcers 52 cases.
(There are more than 20 different eye diseases that can affect Boston Terriers. Juvenile Cataracts and Cataracts of old age are the most common problems.)

Then there were Mitral valve 42 cases, Heart Murmer 36 cases, Epilepsy 33 cases, Allergic dermatitis 29 cases, and Glaucoma 24 cases with most cases being diagnosed in dogs over 7 years of age.

The Following are articles or website links about genetic and/or general health problems that can effect Boston Terriers.

Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

9. Understand Ongoing Annual Expenses

Your Boston Terrier’s expenses can be as under $1,000 year and upwards of just under $20,000 per year.

The difference is how much you spend on food, accessories, travel, and training.

And if you have any expensive vet bills.

I wrote an article about what a Boston Terrier’s annual expense are which you can read about:

Can I Afford My Boston Terrier? How Much Will I Spend Each Year?

10.  AVOID: Designer Dog or Fad Breeders

There are unscrupulous breeders that breed for fad colors or patterns.

You should never ever buy a MERLE Boston Terrier.

There is no such thing as merleBoston. Merle is dominant so it can’t be hidden and suddenly just pop up. There is always some other breed mixed along the way to get merle “Boston”.

Taken from a breeder’s comment about Merls on from Facebook:

The dog’s coat pattern known as ‘merle’ is sometimes referred to as a color, but is in fact due to a gene that alters the way pigment appears in the dog’s coat. The merle coat pattern is popular because it is unusual and very unique, with each merle dog having a different coat pattern.

Many breeders in the breeds that have Merle as a coat pattern will not breed them. Why? Besides the color pattern, the merle gene is known to cause a number of health problems, mostly deafness and blindness, and also sun sensitivity and skin cancer.

Unfortunately, these health problems associated with the merle mutation and the risk of these problems occurring increases when two merle coated dogs are bred together. In certain clubs and countries such as the UK, it is banned to breed two Merles together.

A double Merle, when both parents are Merle is called the white ghost and is a lethal gene combination. Some of the severely affected puppies, if they live are often surrendered to rescue or place in homes with lots of care. Double merles are highly likely to suffer from eye or ear deformities (in some cases both), which at the most extreme can result in complete blindness right to the point of having very deformed eyeballs and deafness.

Many sites are popping up with Rare Color Dogs that includes Merle color patterns. Some of these puppies are selling for more than a well bred, health tested puppy.

In order for them to look more like a particular breed, these breeders are out crossing a Bitch to a Merle dog of a different breed. Then taking those offspring and breeding them together.

As you just read, this is breeding two Merle’s together and creating a lethal gene combination.

So if they are willing to do this, I assure you none of the parents, or grandparents have cardiac, eye, DNA or any other health testing being done.

Buying a Boston Terrier Puppy:  Everything You Need To Know

11. Get On A Wait List

If you’ve made it this far … and you’re set on a Boston Terrier then you need to get a breeder’s wait list.

A wait list is an indication that the breeder has established a reputation for their breeding program and that you should stick around.

GREAT responsible and ethical preservation breeders do not breed that often. They rest their dogs between heat cycles.

Most preservation breeders to not charge a deposit or down payment.

What if I Want Rescue Puppies

Reputable breeders can also be a good source for rescue Boston Terriers. Be sure to bring this up if you’re looking to bring a rescue home and the breeder you are speaking to might know of a rescue that is available for adoption.

Additional Resources

Puppy Culture: is a complete program of over 50 lessons from whelping box to new home that is scientifically proven to greatly improve outcomes for *puppies*! From early neurological stimulation, to aggression prevention, to potty training and leash walking.  A digital magazine dedicated to our breed.

Preservationist Breeders Facebook Group

Boston Terrier Lovers Facebook Group

Find Us on Instagram

Ob-La-Di Bostons. The photos featured belong to Giovanna Arantes of Ob-La-Di Bostons.  I want to thank her for giving me the honor in showcasing her beautiful puppies.  Please visit her site if you want to learn more about her.  She did not sponsor this post or have any input in it.  I am a breed advocate that wanted to feature what a well bred puppy from a preservation breeder looked like which is why I reached out for photos.

Want to read more about Boston Terriers?  Click on this link to see all of my articles about this amazing breed.

Final thoughts

Buying a Boston Terrier puppy can be overwhelming and exciting.  Go slowly and methodically to learn all that you can about the breed, understand what you’re getting into and then buy from the best breeder you can find.

Remember you’re buying a puppy that will live with you for 13 to 16 years. You want to make sure you know as much about the puppy as possible and you’re buying responsibly.


Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello my name is Hannah and I dance with my dogs.  A self proclaimed Boston Terrier addict, (aka breed advocate) I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is my sensitive flower.  Blow on her skin wrong (ok I might be exaggerating) and she breaks out in a rash.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.    Read more about us. 

By, June 15, 2020
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