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16 Boston Terrier Health Issues to Look Out For

Boston Terriers experience more health issues than other same-sized breeds. This is caused by their anatomy and genetics. Common medical problems include variations of eye, skin, and bone illnesses.

Boston Terriers are small and affectionate dogs. They are well-known for their unique appearance and playful personality.

This “American Gentleman” is prone to several health conditions because of its place in the brachycephalic dog class. 

This makes them more susceptible to low and high temperatures. It can also lead to respiratory problems.

In this article, we’ll cover the most common medical problems that Boston Terriers develop, and common solutions to these illnesses.

Boston Terrier Eye Problems

Boston Terriers are prone to several eye problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, and entropion. They have large and prominent eyes, a result of their brachycephaly. Because of this their eyes easily get scratched and damaged.

While this prominent eye feature makes Boston Terriers easy to recognize, it also leads to multiple possible eye issues[1]:

  1. Cataracts
  2. Entropion
  3. Distichiasis
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Corneal dystrophy
  6. Corneal ulcers
  7. Cherry eye
  8. Dry eyes

1. Cataracts

Boston Terrier Cataracts
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Boston Terriers can inherit cataracts from their parents. Cataracts are either juvenile or late-onset. It is manifested through the formation of an opaque, cloudy spot on the cornea. This stops the light from reaching the retina.

Dogs with cataracts lose their sight. Vets treat this medical condition with surgical intervention.

2. Entropion

Boston Terrier Entropion
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Entropion occurs when the lower eyelid and eyelashes turn inward, towards the eye[2]. This causes discomfort for your Boston Terrier and can lead to scratching the cornea.

There are two types of entropion:

  • Spastic entropion
  • Anatomic entropion

Spastic Entropion

Spastic entropion is caused by painful eye conditions. When Boston Terriers experience pain, their eyes retreat into the socket. 

Identify and address what causes eye pain. The entropion will heal by itself after treatment.

Anatomic Entropion

Anatomic entropion is a result of abnormal-sized eyelids. The best way to cure this condition is through surgery. Some mild cases can be healed by applying a special ointment. 

Ask your vet what is the perfect option for your Boston Terrier.

3. Distichiasis

Distichiasis is a common health problem in Boston Terriers. It is manifested by the growth of multiple eyelashes in abnormal locations. Instead of emerging from the eyelid’s skin, hairs grow from the eyelid margin. 

While some eyelashes are thin and harmless, others are stiff and irritating.

The growth direction and texture leads to damage to the cornea in worse cases. Each distichiasis case must be treated individually. Electrolysis, cryosurgery, and surgical excision are some of the most effective ways to treat this condition.[3]

4. Glaucoma

Boston Terrier Glaucoma
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Glaucoma is a consequence of a rise in ocular pressure. This condition is painful for dogs and leads to blindness. 

Boston Terriers are prone to primary glaucoma. This condition is genetically inherited.[4]

Some signs of glaucoma are conjunctival blood vessel congestion and dilated pupils. If it’s discovered in time, glaucoma can be treated before blindness occurs. This is possible through the reduction of intraocular pressure and immediate medical treatment.[5]

5. Corneal Dystrophy

Boston Terrier with Corneal Dystrophy
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Corneal dystrophy is an inherited health issue. This condition manifests through a cloudy spot in the middle of the cornea. It doesn’t affect Boston Terriers’ vision much. It also doesn’t require any treatment.[6]

6. Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcer is caused by severe cases of entropion and distichiasis. It also occurs because of serious eye trauma. 

This medical issue is painful for your Boston Terrier. If you see your dog tearing excessively or keeping its eye slightly closed, check its eyes for corneal ulcers.[7]

Take your Boston Terrier to the vet for professional advice. Antibiotics, lubricants, and pain relief pills are parts of the recommended corneal ulcer treatment. 

This disease must be checked by a veterinarian every 2-3 days to be sure that the healing process is constant.

7. Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a condition where the third eyelid is swollen and sore. The condition is visible in the corner of the dog’s eye. It usually occurs in the puppy stage and can be corrected with surgery.

8. Dry Eyes (Keratitis Sicca)

Boston Terrier with Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are also known as Keratoconjunctivitis or Keratitis Sicca. This health issue occurs when Boston Terriers don’t produce enough tears to keep their eyes wet. Dry eyes can lead to infections, soreness, or itchiness.

This is a chronic condition. It needs constant treatment. Consult your vet on the problem and decide which medication is best for your dog. 

Eye drops and ointments are some of the most common medicines administrated for this disease.

Boston Terrier Skin Diseases

Boston Terriers are prone to several skin diseases and infections, including mange and hair loss. These are genetically inherited. Treating skin diseases on Boston Terriers is a long-term and complicated procedure.

Boston Terriers’ skin is more sensitive compared to other small breeds[8]. This makes them susceptible to multiple skin problems:

  1. Atopy
  2. Hair loss
  3. Mange
  4. Cushing’s Disease

1. Atopy (Allergies)

Boston Terrier Atopy

Dogs experience allergic reactions to different elements, such as mold, dust, pollen, and even food[9]. These allergies are also called “atopy”. 

Skin allergies start manifesting between the ages of one and three and can get worse with time.

Atopy causes skin itchiness and smelly or red skin patches. The most affected areas in a Boston Terrier are their feet, belly, folds of the skin, and ears. Luckily, there are multiple treatments that your veterinarian can recommend for your dog’s allergies.

2. Hair Loss

Boston Terriers are predisposed to hair loss because of their genetics. This occurs in both males and females. 

Hair loss can have multiple causes, such as hypothyroidism or baldness. In balding male Boston Terriers, the hair doesn’t ever grow back.

Hair loss usually manifests through pattern baldness. Boston Terriers first lose their hair on the throat, chest, belly, and the insides of the legs. 

Hormones and supplements can slow down hair loss.

3. Mange

Boston Terrier Mange
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Mange disease is caused by an abundance of mites on your Boston Terrier’s skin. While most dogs’ immune systems can easily fight mites, this breed can develop an abundance of these microscopic organisms.

This health condition can manifest through mild irritations that heal after a few days. They can also aggravate and lead to skin infections. 

If you see red spots on your Boston Terrier’s skin, take it to the vet for a check-up. Your vet will administer the proper medication.

4. Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)

Cushing’s disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism. It is a malfunction of the adrenal glands that causes them to produce too much steroid hormone. This leads to the thinning of the skin, hair loss, and the appearance of blackheads.[10]

This medical problem is resolved through surgery.

Boston Terrier Bone Issues

Boston Terriers are prone to bone issues, such as hemivertebrae or patellar luxation. These are caused by their short backs and curly tails. Such bone conditions are caused by this breed’s genetics.

The physical appearance of a Boston Terrier leads to pressure on certain bones and joints[11]

This causes some medical conditions:

  1. Spinal deformities
  2. Patterlar luxation

1. Spinal Deformities

Boston Terrier Spinal Deformities

Spinal deformities are also called hemivertebrae. This deformation of the spinal cord results in weakness, loss of hindlimb function, and incontinence. Some cases of hemivertebrae are harmless, while others need medical or surgical treatment.

Boston Terriers are born with this condition. The only way to avoid it is through responsible breeding.

2. Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxations are knee problems that cause the kneecap to slip out of its place. This condition results in abnormal walking and it’s temporary.

Patellar luxation isn’t dangerous if your Boston Terrier is only affected in one leg. Mild patellar luxations are treated with special medication. Severe knee problems need surgery, rehabilitation, and special exercises.[12]

Other Boston Terrier Illnesses

Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed. Because of this, they are susceptible to illnesses such as Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Boston Terriers are also prone to severe complications with general anesthesia.

Other medical issues that Boston Terriers develop because of their genetics are

  1. General anesthesia complications
  2. Brachycephalic Syndrome

1. General Anesthesia Complications

Boston Terrier General Anesthesia Complications

Brachycephalic dogs are susceptible to life-threatening complications during general anesthesia. Some of these are the development of partial or total airway obstruction, and predisposition to regurgitation and bradycardia.

Luckily, these complications can be avoided with pre-anesthesia planning.[13]

2. Brachycephalic Syndrome

The brachycephalic syndrome is also known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome. This is a common medical problem in all flat-faced dogs. 

It is manifested through the following anatomic abnormalities:

  • An elongated soft palate
  • Stenotic nostrils
  • A narrow trachea

Some dogs can live with this syndrome all their life. If the abnormalities interfere with the dog’s breeding, surgery is mandatory.

Common Health Concerns That Affect Boston Terriers

There are some common health concerns that affect Boston Terriers, such as cancer, obesity, epilepsy, parasites, and dental diseases. These medical problems are seen in all dog breeds. They are not genetically inherited by Boston Terriers.

Here are some of the health conditions that affect all dog breeds:

  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • Parasites
  • Dental diseases

These can occur in any dog breed. Boston Terriers are no exception.


Can Boston Terriers Have Hip Dysplasia?

Yes, Boston Terriers can have hip dysplasia. This disease is caused by the improper formation of the hip joint and it leads to pain and weakness in a dog’s hind legs.

About Iordache Cristina Maria

Cristina is a freelance writer, student, and animal enthusiast. While she learns about animals, she writes about how they behave, what they look like, and other facts that most people don't know about.

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