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No matter the kind of dog you’re considering, there are a few basic things you want to know before adopting. What kind of food they should eat, what kind of personality characteristics to expect, any specific care needs... the list goes on.

An important consideration to make is the dog’s average lifespan. You want to know the commitment you’re making with these dogs and how long you can expect to enjoy your new friend.

If you’re considering adopting a Boston terrier, you might be wondering: What is the typical Boston terrier lifespan?

Read on to learn more about how long these adorable little dogs live, what factors might affect the breed’s lifespan, and how you can keep your Boston terrier around for as long as possible.

How Long Do Boston Terriers Live?

Boston Terrier life span: Boston Terrier lying on the floor

Boston terriers hail from 19th-century England, where the first ancestor of the breed was born from crossing a bulldog with the now-extinct English terrier. Later, that dog was sold to an American who brought his pet home to Boston, hence the name. These dogs are even nicknamed “The American Gentleman” thanks to their dapper black-and-white tuxedo coats and agreeable personalities.

Boston terriers have been around for a long time — but how long do they live, exactly? According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average Boston terrier lifespan is between 11 and 13 years. This is fairly typical for a small dog; many large dogs like Great Danes and Mastiffs have shorter lifespans, so if you’re looking for a companion that will be around for some time, a Boston terrier is a great choice.

Of course, no two dogs are the same. Some Bostons live longer than the average, and some don’t. There are a variety of factors that could affect your Boston terrier’s lifespan, including health issues.

What Health Problems Are Common in Boston Terriers?

Boston Terrier life span: Boston Terrier at a park

The Boston terrier is prone to a few health conditions that, if left untreated, could affect the life expectancy. The list includes:

Patellar Luxation

Boston terriers are prone to patellar luxation, otherwise known as a slipped kneecap. The condition involves the patella (kneecap) popping out of its normal location, resulting in a skipping gait or lameness. Patellar luxation itself usually doesn’t cause your dog pain, but over time it will lead to arthritis — which will certainly lead to painful joint movement.

Boston terriers have a genetic predisposition for this condition, as do other small dogs like the Maltese, French bulldog, and pug.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

The Boston terrier breed is also prone to a variety of upper airway conditions, collectively called brachycephalic syndrome or brachycephalic airway syndrome. This is common in brachycephalic breeds like the Boston terrier — those with short, squashed faces and bulging eyes. Common abnormalities include:

  • Stenotic nares: Abnormally narrow nostrils make breathing more difficult.
  • Elongated soft palate: The soft palate is too long for the roof of the mouth, and the excess length at the back of the throat partially blocks the windpipe.
  • Laryngeal collapse: Pressure is placed on the cartilage of the larynx (voice box), eventually resulting in restricted airflow.

Because these issues can make breathing harder for your dog, they have the potential to affect the Boston terrier lifespan under certain circumstances.

Eye Problems

Brachycephalic breeds have large, bulging eyes. Cute as it may be, it also makes eye issues more likely, some of which could even affect the Boston terrier lifespan if left untreated. Common eye problems in Bostons include:

  • Glaucoma: Increased pressure in the eye causes damage to the optic nerve, the retina, and the optic disk.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts refers to an opacity of the lens of the eye, and often occurs in senior Boston terriers because of old age.
  • Corneal ulcers: These are caused by wounds or abrasions on the cornea, or the front surface of the eye, which could lead to bacterial infection, vision loss, and other issues without treatment.
  • Cherry eye: Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid gland prolapses, and it can lead to complications if left untreated. It occurs more often in Boston terrier puppies than adult dogs.

Heart Disease

Boston terriers also seem to be more prone to heart issues than other dogs, including heart murmurs, heart disease, and heart failure. According to the Boston Terrier Society, heart disease is the second-most common cause of death in Bostons behind cancer.

Tips for Lengthening the Boston Terrier Lifespan

Boston Terrier looking at the camera

We know the above list can seem a little frightening. But don’t despair. While these dapper canines are more prone to the above issues than other dog breeds, you can support your Boston terrier’s health by following a few easy steps.

1. Feed Your Boston Terrier Well

Did you know that something as simple as the dog food your pet eats contributes greatly to the lifespan of a Boston terrier? When your pooch gets the right nutrients from a high-quality diet, they get more support and nutrition. If you’re not sure whether your Boston’s current diet is cutting it, check with your veterinarian and upgrade if necessary.

Have you ever considered adding supplements to your dog’s diet to give their health an extra boost? Try Native Pet’s Bladder Chicken Chews to support healthy bladder function, or our Omega Oil to promote healthy skin and good heart function.

2. Exercise Properly

Even though Boston terriers are small dogs, they still need their exercise. Daily walks and play sessions are essential for keeping your canine companion in good shape and supporting your Boston terrier’s lifespan.

But remember: Boston terriers are brachycephalic, so they shouldn’t be over-exerted. If you notice your dog panting heavily or looking exhausted during walks or playtime, it’s time to call it quits. A half-hour walk should be more than enough for your Boston, and you might want to keep it even shorter during hot summer weather. Ask your vet for further details on your Boston’s exercise needs and how many walks they should get per day.

3. Schedule Regular Check-Ups

There’s no better way to ensure your Boston terrier’s health and long lifespan than by bringing your pup in regular check-ups. This way, your vet can monitor your dog’s health over time and catch any health problems early, making treatment easier and more effective.

During your regular appointments, your vet can make sure your Boston is up to date with essential vaccines and pest preventatives. They can also tell you about additional ways to lengthen your Boston terrier’s life expectancy and enjoy many more happy, healthy years with your beloved pet.

4. Adopt From Responsible Breeders

If you’ll be adopting your Boston terrier from a breeder, do your research to make sure they run a responsible operation. Responsible breeders won’t breed dogs from bloodlines that contain genetic predispositions to some of the conditions listed above, like heart disease and patellar luxation.

It can take time to find a breeder you’re comfortable with. Check out these tips from the Humane Society on finding a responsible breeder.

Give Your Boston Terrier’s Lifespan a Boost

Boston Terrier standing on a couch

There’s a reason The American Gentleman, better known as the Boston terrier, is so popular. These dogs are loyal, fun-loving, and downright adorable. And the Boston terrier lifespan is 11-13 years, so you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of quality time with your beloved dog.

Boston terriers are prone to a few health problems that dog owners should be aware of, including patellar luxation; brachycephalic syndrome; eye issues like glaucoma, cataracts, corneal ulcers, and cherry eye; and heart disease. And while some of these problems are genetic and might not be avoidable, taking great care of your Boston terrier is the best way to give your dog the best chance at a lifetime of great health. 

Enjoy many happy, healthy years with your Boston terrier dog by feeding them properly, keeping them well-exercised, visiting your vet on a regular basis, and adopting from a responsible breeder.

Want more advice on your dog’s health and wellness needs? Visit the Native Pet blog.

Further Reading on Boston Terriers:


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