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Red Boston Terrier: Color Genetics, Related Issues, and More

The red Boston Terrier is not a separate breed but standard Boston Terriers with a liver-like color. The cause of the coloration lies in their genes, inherited by their parents.

Red Boston Terriers look impressive. While some people think of it as a breed of its own, it’s not. It’s a red-colored Boston Terrier.

If you own one, you may be wondering what’s causing this strange coloration, or if they can compete in the competitions.

This article explores the specific characteristics of red Boston Terriers and if they meet the breed standards. 

You will also learn why they exhibit red coats and how common they are.

Red Boston Terrier Characteristics Overview

Red Boston Terriers have the characteristic of Boston Terriers, with the exception that their hair is red. Their true color is not red though but looks more like a liver color. This Color is determined by a melanin type responsible for red to yellow collaboration in dogs.

Red Boston Terriers are single-coated. Their hair is short and shiny, lined close to their body, resulting in low amounts of shedding and required grooming.

Even though they don’t shed much, red Boston Terriers are not hypoallergenic

No dogs are 100% hypoallergenic but some shed more than others. 

Height15 – 17 inches
Weight12  – 25 pounds
Lifespan11 – 13 years
Dog Breed GroupPure breed
Coat TypeSingle
Coat LengthShort 
Coat ColorRed and white
EyesDark, blue
Grooming Difficulty1

Why Is My Boston Terrier Red?

Boston Terriers are red because of a gene mutation that has been propagated throughout the breed’s history. Boston Terriers descend from English Bulldogs and White English Terriers[1]. Red English Terriers passed on the red coloring gene to their offspring.

The coat coloring of Boston Terriers is determined by a pigment called melanin. 

There are many types of melanin. Of these, eumelanin and pheomelanin are the ones that affect dogs’ hair color.

Eumelanin is responsible for black and brown coloring, while pheomelanin determines the red coat color. Some dogs’ coats are influenced by one of them, while others are influenced by both.

Red Boston Terriers lack pheomelanin, making the eumelanin shine through, resulting in the red coat color.

The white markings on Red Boston Terriers are the result of a lack of melanin as well. In these portions, neither eumelanin nor pheomelanin is produced.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Red

What Is the Nose Color of A Red Boston Terrier?

Red Boston Terriers have brown noses. Even though the brown color of their nose is similar to their red coat color, their noses are categorized as red. 

Pheomelanin, the pigment responsible for the red color in dogs, influences only the coat coloring. Not the nose color.

The color of the nose and eyes is only affected by eumelanin. As eumelanin determines black and brown colors, their noses can only be black or brown. Red-nosed Boston Terriers do not exist, but some brown colors can be mistaken for red, causing confusion.

Some Boston Terriers have pink noses. This is due to a lack of eumelanin in the nose. This phenomenon usually occurs in albino dogs that also have pink eyes.

Do Red Boston Terriers Meet the Breed Standard?

No, red Boston Terriers don’t meet the breed standard. As a result, red Boston Terriers can not take part in competitions. Neither the American Kennel Club nor the British kennel Club accepts them.

The American Kennel Club[2] accepts the following colors for Boston Terriers:

  • Brown with white markings
  • Black with white markings
  • Brindle with white markings

Boston Terriers with brindle patterns can have a red base. These are called red Brindle Boston Terriers. Yet, their nose and eyes do not fall under the standards of the breed. Red Boston Terriers have brown noses, but the standard is black.

The following white markings also have to be present to meet the breed standard:

  • On the chest
  • As a band on the muzzle
  • As a white blaze between the eyes

Related: 13 Boston Terrier Colors

Do Red Boston Terriers Meet the Breed Standard

Does the Red Color Influence the Health Of Boston Terriers?

It is unclear if red Boston Terriers’ health is affected by their color. There is not enough evidence to support that it does, nor to support that it doesn’t. 

There is a popular misconception that red-haired dogs are prone to more health issues. The origins of this myth come from a condition called “Red Coat Syndrome”.[3]

The red coat syndrome is actually a separate condition that causes the hair of dogs and cats to develop a red hue. The causes of this syndrome are linked to their diet and the effect is temporary. There is no correlation between the red-coat syndrome and the base color of Boston Terriers.

Red Boston Terriers have a predisposition for diseases specific to Boston Terriers in general. These health conditions also have no correlation to their coat color.

Boston Terriers have a predisposition to the following issues:

  • Eye disorders
  • Deafness
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Breathing Issues

Eye Disorders

Red Boston Terriers have prominent eyes. This leads to irritation and redness. 

The eye disorders red Boston Terriers have a predisposition for are listed in this table.

Eye DisorderDescription
CataractsThe natural lenses in the eyes of Boston Terriers become opaque. When the lens has no clear areas, dogs become blind. The remedy for Cataracts is surgery.[4]
GlaucomaThis condition causes the pressure inside the eye to rise. This affects the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. Boston Terriers are among the most affected breeds by this condition[5]. Boston Terriers are also prone to develop Glaucoma after Cataracts surgery.[6][7]
Corneal ulcersThe surface layer of the eye, called the cornea, is damaged. The most common cause is trauma.[8]


Red Boston Terriers Deafness
Image Source

Red Boston Terriers have a predisposition for congenital deafness. This is a recessive disease, which means both parents need to pass on the gene for the puppy to be deaf. 

Congenital deafness is a condition some red Boston Terrier puppies are born with. Their hearing is impaired forever because it has no remedy, not even surgery. 

This health condition affects more than 100 breeds[9] and is often correlated with a lack of pigmentation.

The BAER test is recommended to detect deafness in dogs.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, in popular terms, is when the knee cap pops out of place. This is a common condition in small breeds. Boston terriers have a high risk of experiencing patellar luxation.[10]

The symptoms of patellar luxation can be missed by owners, especially in their primary phases. A patella evaluation is recommended to avoid further complications.

Breathing Issues

Red Boston Terriers Breathing Issues
Image Source

Boston Terriers can experience brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome[11]. This is a condition caused by the shape of Boston Terriers’ skulls. They have shortened noses and upper jaws. 

The main symptom of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome is noisy breathing. Some red Boston Terriers can even avoid physical exercise because they can’t breathe properly. 

Some of these issues are treated with surgery. Still, surgery is not recommended if the symptoms are mild. 

Are Red Boston Terriers Rare?

Yes and no. Red Boston Terriers need both parents to pass on the gene for this color to appear. When Boston Terriers of different colors mate, red offspring is harder to achieve, but some breeders only mate with red Boston Terriers. In areas where breeders don’t do this, red Boston Terriers are rare.

The gene for the color red is recessive, meaning both parents need to pass on the gene.

Offspring needs two allenes of the same gene in order to be red. If they have genes for another color, the genes for red dominate them. This result in a red Boston Terrier, even if the offspring carries other color genes.

Are Red Boston Terriers Rare

How Much Is a Red Boston Terrier?

Red Boston Terrier puppies cost between $500 and $1000. The red Boston Terrier price varies depending on your location. If there are many breeders in your area that mate red Boston Terriers, the price is lower because of a higher supply.

When buying a red Boston Terrier puppy, make sure the breeder doesn’t overprice it. Many breeders demand a higher price, claiming it’s because of the rarity of the color.

The price of red Boston Terriers also varies according to the quality of their parents. If the parents are from champion families, the puppies are more expensive. 

Related: Boston Terrier Price


Red Boston Terriers are like regular Boston Terriers but their base color is red. This phenotype is rarely seen if the dog is allowed to mate naturally. This is why this type of Boston Terrier is rare. 

In other areas, red Boston Terriers are bred on purpose, making them easily available.

Red Boston Terriers have the same temperament and health issues as other Boston Terriers. Their color does not influence anything else than their appearance. Because of their nose color, red Boston Terriers are not accepted in competitions.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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