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Boston Terrier Personality and Temperament: 13 Traits

Boston Terriers have joyful and playful personalities. They are loyal and build strong connections with their owners. They don’t like to be left alone and can develop separation anxiety. Boston’s are calm and intelligent. They are easy to train and like to spend a day on the couch.

In the United States, Boston Terriers are the 23rd most popular dogs in a list of 197 breeds[1].

They are great companions, but not everyone knows how interesting their temperament is.

This article explores 13 of the most relevant personality traits of Boston Terriers:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Trainability
  3. Family suitedness
  4. Patience towards young children
  5. Friendliness towards other dogs
  6. Compatibility with cats
  7. Protective nature
  8. Affection
  9. Aggression
  10. Barking tendency
  11. Stubbornness
  12. Energy levels
  13. Hunting instinct

Boston Terrier Characteristics

Boston Terriers are high-spirited and fun to be around. They are protective and affectionate towards their family members. This breed is intelligent and responds well to positive reinforcement.

This table lists the main characteristics of Boston Terriers:

TraitRating (1-5)
Easy to train4
Good family dogs5
Good with kids5
Good with other dogs4
Good with pets3
Protective nature5
Affectionate 5
Aggressive 3
Barking 2
Stubbornness 3
Energetic 3
Hunting instinct4

In 2019, researchers compared the brains of 33 different dog breeds[2]. They wanted to find out if there were any anatomical differences among breeds that can influence dog behavior.

The results indicate that selective breeding made a difference in how dogs’ brains evolved. 

This means dogs from different breeds behave differently in specific situations. This happens because some parts of their brains evolved differently. In other words, they have a predisposition for it. 

The results of this study support the theory that hunting dogs have different personalities than herding dogs.

A more recent study conducted in 2022 challenges the hypothesis that dogs’ behavior is influenced by their breed.[3]

One of the methods used to collect data was a questionnaire answered by dog owners. The issue with this data collection is the responders can be biassed. Moreover, dog behavior is not observed through the same lens.

Still, many questions must be answered. Both points of view have solid arguments.

Boston Terrier Characteristics

The Temperament of Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers are friendly and protective and are able to distinguish between dangerous and friendly situations. They are consistent in behavior if they are socialized and trained during puppyhood. 

In the United States, the temperament of dogs is measured using a test[4] conceived by the American Temperament Test Society.

More than 85% of Boston Terriers consistently pass this test[5][6]. This means they are well behaved in most situations of everyday life. 

The following aspects define the temperament of Boston Terriers[7]:

  • Friendliness
  • Shyness
  • Prey drive
  • Protectiveness
  • Stability
  • Being able to define a situation as threatening or nonthreatening

1. Are Boston Terriers Smart?

Are Boston Terriers Smart

Boston Terriers have above-average intelligence. They are not as smart as Border Collies or Poodles, but they ranked 54th in a study that analyzed the intelligence of 130 dog breeds.[8] 

In 1995, Stanley Coren, a professor of Psychology at British Columbia University, published his research findings on dog intelligence. 

He ranked 130 dog breeds in terms of working intelligence and obedience. 

The working intelligence of dogs refers to their ability to understand what humans want from them. It also includes dogs’ ability to learn from humans. 

In this test, Boston Terriers displayed an average working-obedience intelligence. 

They obeyed the first command at least 50% of the time. They also understood new commands in between 25 and 40 repetitions. 

2. Are Boston Terriers Easy To Train?

Are Boston Terriers Easy To Train

Yes, Boston Terriers are easy to train. They are eager to please and love rewards. Training during puppyhood results in a well-behaved adult Boston Terrier. 

Boston Terriers form strong bonds with their owners and want to make them proud. They are not self-willed, which is why training them is so easy. 

They respond well to positive reinforcement and don’t need many sessions to learn new commands. 

Boston Terriers are not easily distractible, which allows them to focus during training sessions.

3. Are Boston Terriers Good Family Dogs?

Yes, Boston Terriers make great family dogs. They are affectionate and form strong bonds with humans. They also like to be a part of a group and treat everyone as their best friend.

Boston Terriers are loyal. They are trustworthy and reliable when they are in the presence of their family. 

Bostons are playful and love to be around people, even if they are not a part of the family. This means they are well-behaved at home gatherings and don’t become anxious.

4. Are Boston Terriers Good With Kids?

Are Boston Terriers Good With Kids

Yes,  Boston Terriers are great with children. They are patient and tolerant of children’s behavior. This reduces the chances of aggression, but they still shouldn’t be left alone with young children.

It’s a proven fact that having a dog when you’re a kid is correlated with better psychological development[9]

If you want your child to be well-blanched on a social-emotional level, a Boston Terrier is a great choice.

5. Are Boston Terriers Good With Other Dogs?

Are Boston Terriers Good With Other Dog

Boston Terriers are generally friendly towards other dogs. They love going on playdates, even with dogs they don’t know. Some Boston Terriers are reserved in the beginning but leave their guard down after a few minutes.

Friendliness towards other dogs is not necessarily inherited. 

Even though Boston Terriers are generally well behaved around other pet dogs, it’s not a guarantee.

Early socialization is essential for Boston Terriers to learn how to act around other dogs. If they haven’t been introduced to other dogs during puppyhood, there is a high chance they won’t be friendly to dogs when they grow up.

6. Are Boston Terriers Good With Cats?

Boston Terriers are generally well-behaved around cats. But because they were bred for pit fights and vermin control, they can react instinctively to small animals. 

Boston Terriers are friendly to cats if they are introduced to each other at an early age. 

If this doesn’t happen, they can develop a fear of cats.

Boston terriers get along well with cats, especially when both pets grow up together. Also, if adult Boston Terriers meet a baby cat, their protective instincts come into play. 

7. Are Boston Terriers Protective?

Are Boston Terriers Protective

Yes, Boston Terriers are protective of their family members. Their high protective levels cause them to engage in territorial behavior. This often results in aggressive behavior towards strangers and other pets.

Boston Terriers form strong bonds with their owners. 

This means they suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long periods, but also that they can become territorial. 

Researchers observed the behavior of 60 dogs when their owners were trapped[10]. The conclusion after this observation was that dogs can feel their owners’ stress levels and try to help them. 

This means dogs manifest their protective nature in various ways.

8. Are Boston Terriers Cuddly?

Are Boston Terriers Cuddly

Yes, Boston Terriers love to cuddle. They are affectionate and love to engage in physical contact with their humans. Cuddling with your dog also has benefits for you.

Dogs are not the only ones benefiting from some dog-human affection.

Some benefits of dog-human interaction for humans are[11]:

  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety relief
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved pain management

9. Are Boston Terriers Aggressive?

Boston terriers can be aggressive. One study[2] correlates dogs’ purpose to their brain development. As Boston Terriers were bred for pit fights, they have an increased chance of engaging in aggressive behavior. 

Boston Terriers potential for aggression is influenced by their lifestyle and socialization during puppyhood:

  • Socialization during puppyhood
  • Training during puppyhood
  • Amount of daily physical exercise
  • Daily mental stimulation
  • Their stress levels

10. Are Boston Terriers Barkers?

Are Boston Terriers Barkers

Boston Terriers are minimal barkers. They are a quiet breed that only barks because of various medical issues, such as cognitive disorders. When they are stressed, they are also more likely to express their emotions through barking.

Dogs bark to communicate, but some are more vocal than others.

When they are vocal, Boston Terriers try to communicate the following emotions:

  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Loneliness[12]
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety[13]
  • Need for attention[14]
  • An external threat 

You can control your Boston Terrier’s barking with the following tips:

  • Reducing their stress levels
  • Training them to stop barking on command
  • Not paying attention to them when they bark
  • Engaging them in incompatible activities

11. Are Boston Terriers Stubborn?

Are Boston Terriers Stubborn

Boston Terriers can be stubborn but it depends on the personality of the individual. They are not self-willed, which makes them easy to train, and they usually like to please their owners. 

All dogs act stubborn at some point. This usually happens when they are puppies. 

If you train your Boston Terrier from puppyhood, you should be able to keep their stubbornness to a minimum.

12. Are Boston Terriers Hyper?

No, Boston Terriers are not hyper. They are calm and don’t display high energy levels. But if they don’t regularly engage in physical activity regularly, they will have bursts of energy.

Boston Terriers have a moderate amount of energy and don’t need a lot of exercise, compared to other dogs. 

They like to run but they also enjoy spending a day on the couch. 

They are suited for both energetic and lazy owners as they can adapt to each one.

13. Are Boston Terriers Hunting Dogs?

Are Boston Terriers Hunting Dogs

Boston Terriers have been used for vermin control throughout history but are currently bred for companionship. The breed’s initial purpose was to take part in pit fights. 

Boston terriers are currently not bred as hunting dogs, but they were once used for pest control. 

As a result, they still possess characteristics specific to hunting dogs.

Boston Terriers have the following traits of hunting dogs:

  • A well-developed sense of smell
  • Great stamina
  • Eagerness to please
  • Exceptional running abilities
  • A well-developed capacity for dog-human collaboration
  • Increased self-control


Boston Terriers are smart and easy to train. They get along well with strangers and other pets. This breed is an excellent choice for families, as they are well-behaved around young children. Bostons are loyal and become protective of their family members. They don’t bark much and sometimes engage in hunting behavior. 

About Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a Misfit Animals staff writer and psychology student interested in animal behavior. She likes to dive deep into the newest scientific studies to find out the latest discoveries in the field.

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