Boston terriers have a youthful spirit and a dignified appearance. Their black and white coats make it look like they’re always wearing a tuxedo, which contributed to their nickname, “the American Gentleman” (even though some of those gentlemen are actually gentle ladies). But, beyond being black-tie-ready, what else does the Boston’s coat have in store for its owners? Do Boston terriers shed?
Unfortunately, Boston terriers DO shed, and they shed in black and white, which means you’ll find black hair on your light upholstery and white hair on your dark upholstery. However, this breed sheds less than many other popular dog breeds, and there are steps that Boston terrier owners can take to minimize shedding around their house.
We’ll take a look at how much Boston terriers shed, whether this breed’s coat is good for allergy sufferers, and what Boston owners can do to minimize shedding and take care of their dog’s coat.
How Much Do Boston Terriers Shed?
Boston terriers shed a small amount of hair year-round. They have a smooth coat, which is one of the nine types of coats recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the AKC ranks this breed’s shedding level as a two on a scale of one to five. Boston terrier shedding is comparable to French bulldogs and boxers, which are also smooth-coated dogs.
Other smooth-coated breeds, including English bulldogs, bull terriers, Rottweilers, and pugs will shed slightly more than a Boston terrier. But all the smooth-coated breeds shed less than dog breeds with a double coat, like golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, Australian shepherds, and huskies.
Double-coated dogs shed a moderate amount of hair year-round with two heavy shedding periods when the seasons change in late fall and spring. During heavy shedding seasons, these breeds blow their undercoat, and pet owners will find large tufts of hair blowing around their house. Even with frequent brushing, double-coated dogs will leave large amounts of hair on clothes and furniture.
Fortunately, Boston terriers don’t have an undercoat. While you will still find occasional hairs on your clothes and furniture, it will only be a small amount, and it will be easier to manage with occasional brushing and vacuuming. And because Boston terriers have short coats, their shedding will be less noticeable than a fluffy dog like a golden retriever or German shepherd.
Are Boston Terriers Hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, Boston terriers are not hypoallergenic. While dog fur is not what triggers allergic reactions — dander is the main culprit, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) — shedding does spread allergens throughout your house.
The dander from dead skin cells attaches to the dog's hair follicles. When a dog sheds, it releases dander into the air and onto your clothes and furniture. For people with moderate to severe pet allergies, any amount of shedding can trigger an allergic reaction.
People with very mild pet allergies may do better with a low-shedding dog like a Boston terrier than they would with a heavy shedder like a Labrador retriever, but for most people with pet allergies, it’s better to choose a non-shedding breed.
If you love the Boston terrier's spunk and size, consider one of these allergy-friendly small dogs instead:
But, be warned, there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs. If you have allergies, you should try living short-term with a breed before you adopt. Consider fostering or pet-sitting the breed to decide if living with that breed will trigger an allergic reaction.
What Can You Do About Boston Terrier Shedding?
If you don’t have allergies but like to keep a tidy home, there are several steps you can take to manage Boston terrier shedding and reduce the hair in your environment.
- Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming at least once a week will help reduce the amount of hair around your house. If you let your pet on the furniture, don’t forget to vacuum your upholstery as part of the process.
- Invest in a robot vacuum: If vacuuming is not your idea of fun, use a robot vacuum to keep floors clean. With a robot vacuum, you can schedule a daily cleaning time, and the device will run automatically, sucking up dog hair as it goes. You will still need to use a hand vac to clean the upholstery if your pup spends time on the furniture.
- Train your Boston to stay off the furniture: You can also train your dog to stay off furniture, which will keep fur confined to the floor. Give your pup its own pet bed so it has an alternative place to lay down.
- Set room boundaries: Minimize the reach of dog fur by teaching your dog to stay out of certain rooms. The AAFA recommends training dogs to stay out of bedrooms. Because you spend one-third of your day in the bedroom, this will be one-third of the day that is fur-free.
- Keep lint rollers handy: With a lint roller by your door and one in your car, you can quickly clean dog fur off your clothes before you head out into the world.
How to Care for a Boston Terrier’s Coat
A healthy coat sheds less than an unhealthy one. To keep your Boston’s tuxedo coat at its best, try these techniques to support their overall skin and coat health and reduce shedding in the process.
- Feed a high-quality dog food: A healthy diet is the foundation of your dog’s health, including the health of their coat. Look for a complete-and-balanced diet that contains a whole, recognizable protein (like chicken, salmon, or beef) as the first ingredient. Also look for recipes with other whole food ingredients, like fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
- Wash your Boston monthly: Boston’s don’t need to be washed frequently, unless they get into something messy. Washing them too often can strip the coat of its natural oils. Aim to bathe your pup once a month, or when they start to feel dirty. When it is time for a bath, look for a gentle, natural dog shampoo to avoid removing too many of those oils.
- Brush your Boston weekly with a soft-bristle brush: Even though a Boston’s short hair doesn’t get tangled or matted, they still benefit from regular grooming. Brushing this pooch once a week will help remove loose hair and distribute their natural oils throughout their coat.
- Give your dog a fish oil supplement: An all-natural fish oil supplement is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which a review of multiple scientific studies found improved the health and appearance of dog’s coats.
When Boston terriers have a healthy coat, they should only shed lightly. If you notice excessive shedding that’s leaving bald or sparse patches where you can see your dog’s skin through their coat, talk to your vet. Excessive shedding can be a sign of fleas, mange, or another underlying health issue.
The Boston Terrier Is a Handsome, but Hairy Gentleman
Yes, Boston terriers shed, but this dog’s smooth, short coat sheds significantly less than breeds with a double coat, like Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and Pomeranians. If you bring home a Boston terrier, you can expect to see light shedding year-round.
For dog lovers who are concerned about shedding because they like to keep a tidy house, the American Gentleman can still make an excellent low-shedding choice. They’re easy to clean up after with occasional vacuuming, and their low-maintenance coats only need to be brushed once a week to remove dead hair and distribute the natural oils. Add a fish oil supplement to their haircare routine, and your little gentleman (or woman) will sport a sleek, shiny tuxedo coat.
But, if you’re an owner who needs a hypoallergenic dog, the Boston terrier is not an ideal choice for you. This dog’s shedding will still spread dander around your home, triggering your allergies. Instead look for a non-shedding dog breed, like a miniature poodle, bichon frise, miniature schnauzer, or Yorkshire terrier.
For more information on your favorite dog breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.