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Do Boston Terriers Have Tails? The Interesting Answer!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

boston terrier standing in the grass

The Boston Terrier is an American dog breed originating from the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is a small breed that is known for its friendly and loyal temperament. They are easily recognizable by their tuxedo-like coat and short, square muzzle. Boston Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, making them an ideal companion for families. But do they have tails? The simple answer is yes, Boston terriers are born with tails! Keep reading to understand why you might not see many around with tails.

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Boston Terrier Breed History

The Boston Terrier is a beloved breed that has been around for over a century. As is typical of many breeds, the Boston Terrier began as a variation of a mixed breed of dogs, with the Bulldog and the English White Terrier being the most prominent ancestors.

They were first referred to as “Round Heads” or “Bull Terriers” before it was given its formal name of Boston Terrier in the late 19th century. The breed was so popular in the Boston, Massachusetts area that it quickly became known as the “Boston Bull”. These feisty terriers were originally bred in the late 1800s to be fighting dogs. Breeders wanted a dog that was strong and intimidating, but also friendly and loyal.

However, as the breed sort of gained traction, their purpose shifted away from fighting and towards companionship. This is why they’re known for their friendly and gentle temperaments, combined with great intelligence.

boston terrier on grass
Image Credit: Lenka N, Shutterstock

Do Boston Terriers Have Tails?

Yes. Boston terriers are born with tails. However, their tails are often cut at the breeder’s or by owners when they are puppies. This is known as tail docking, and it’s primarily done for cosmetic reasons.

Reasons for Tail Docking

Over the centuries, people have adopted the practice of docking dog tails for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it’s done to help keep a dog’s tail clean in messy environments. In other cases, tail docking is done to prevent certain breeds from experiencing painful injuries or because some people believe that a docked tail is aesthetically pleasing. In some parts of the world, tail docking is even done as a way to indicate a dog’s social status or identify the breed.

short curled up tail of a boston terrier dog lying flat on the grass with her legs in frogs leg pose
Image Credit: Christine Bird, Shutterstock

Reasons Not to Dock Your Boston Terrier’s Tail

We’ve just explained the reasons why some owners choose to dock their Boston Terrier’s tail. But tail docking is a controversial practice and many argue that the negatives outweigh the positives. So, let’s look at the reasons why you may not want your Boston Terrier’s tail to be docked.

Tail Docking Can Be Dangerous for Boston Terriers

Dogs can get neuroma or an infection if their tail is cut. These can be very painful and may cause the dog to become really protective of its tail (or more so, their docked tail). This can even cause momentary depression and lethargy and some dogs.

boston terrier lying on the grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

It Can Throw Off Their Communication

Dogs communicate with one another using their tails. They also use their tails for fear, joy, anger, and excitement. Dogs with docked tails may be more challenging to understand by other dogs and humans, depending on how late in the dog’s life that the tail was docked (though it’s usually done to puppies).

It Isn’t a Painless Procedure

Dog tail docking can lead to neuromas and chronic pain. This will impact the dog’s behavior and may cause increased pain sensitivity in certain pups. The absence of pain should be a guarantee for any surgical procedure on dogs. However, this is not always true with tail docking.

Although there isn’t much research on the exact pain that dog tail docking causes canines, and because of its declining popularity, it’s unlikely we’ll see any studies. However, there are papers suggesting an increase in stress in dogs as a result of an increase in cortisol levels and increased heart rate.

vet carrying boston terrier dog
Image Credit: Zakharova_Elena, Shutterstock

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More About the Boston Terrier

Exercise Requirements

Terriers are an active breed, and they require plenty of exercise and stimulation. They are best suited for households where there is an active lifestyle and plenty of activities to keep them busy. Exercise should include at least 30-40 minutes of walking or running every day, along with other activities such as fetch, agility, and swimming. Swimming is a great way to provide exercise for terriers, as it is low impact and easy on their joints. Mental stimulation is also important for this breed, and can include interactive toys, puzzle games, and agility courses. In general, Boston Terriers should get at least 60 minutes of physical and mental exercise per day.

boston terrier in the water
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Diet & Nutrition

Like with any other dogs, Boston Terriers need protein, carbs, and fat to stay in good health. Proper nutrition helps to maintain their weight, promote healthy growth and development, and guard against disease. A terrier’s diet should consist of quality dry or wet food that is specifically formulated for their breed size and activity level. Overall, it should include proteins like lean meats, eggs, and fish, as well as healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. They also need complex carbohydrates like brown rice, peas, and sweet potatoes, as well as fruits and vegetables to provide vitamins and minerals.

It’s important to avoid overfeeding a terrier, as they have a tendency to gain weight quickly. Feeding two small meals a day is often recommended as a way to manage their weight. Feeding treats in moderation is also important, as too many treats can lead to obesity – especially for older terriers or ones with limited mobility.

Training & Socialization

Training and socialization are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle for any dog, including Boston Terriers. It helps them learn how to interact with humans and other animals, as well as build their confidence and self-control. It’s important to start training early and be consistent. Terriers need to be taught basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, come, and heel, but they also need to be socialized properly. This means introducing them to other animals and people and teaching them how to behave appropriately in different situations. Overall, socializing and obedience training should be done in a positive and rewarding way, with rewards for good behavior and patience for mistakes.

boston terrier dog
Image Credit: Vladislav, Unsplash

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How to Groom Boston Terriers

Regularly grooming your Boston Terrier can help keep their coat in good condition, reduce the risk of parasites (like ticks and fleas), and help them stay clean and comfortable. Here are a few tips to keep your terrier clean and parasite-free.

Brush Their Coat Weekly

The first step in grooming your Boston Terrier is to brush their coat regularly. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any knots, debris, or layered mats from their coat. Brushing their coat will also help to evenly spread their natural oils throughout their coat to help keep it looking healthy and shiny.

boston terrier grooming
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

Clean Their Ears

Boston Terriers have long pointy bat-like ears that can be prone to infection if not kept clean. Check your Boston Terrier’s ears every 3-4 days to make sure they’re free of any swelling (or signs of irritation), scratches, fleas, or debris. If you notice any signs of infection, such as a bad smell or redness, then you should take your dog to the vet for treatment. You can clean their ears with a dog ear cleaning solution like Virbac Epi-Otic, which you can purchase online or at your local pet store.

Trim Their Nails

The third step in grooming your Boston Terrier is to trim their nails. You should do this every 3-4 weeks, or as needed. It’s important to use the right tools to make sure you do not cut too short and cause your dog pain. Nail trimmers are pretty easy to find, and it’s best to use ones fitted for smaller dogs.

boston terrier dog at the grooming salon
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock


And of course, there is bathing. Most Boston Terriers take well to baths, but then again, every dog is different. Use a mild dog shampoo and warm water and be sure to rinse their coat thoroughly to avoid skin irritation and dry fur. After bathing, you should make sure to thoroughly dry their coat to prevent any skin issues. The cool thing about bathing Boston Terriers is that they are super small, so bathing them requires less strength and isn’t as laborious as it may be with larger dogs – though young pups may squirm quite a bit.

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Common Health Issues with the Breed

Like other canines, Boston Terriers are prone to certain health issues that potential owners should be aware of. Let’s look at a few.

Boston terrier dog with injury
Image Credit: Ruben PH, Shutterstock

Eye Problems

Eye issues are especially common in Boston Terriers. These issues include entropion and ectropion, both of which involve the eyelid rolling in or out. This can lead to pain and irritation, as well as vision problems. Other eye problems include distichiasis – a condition where eyelashes grow in the wrong direction and irritate the eye – and cataracts.

Respiratory Problems

Boston Terriers can also have respiratory issues, such as brachycephalic airway syndrome. This condition is caused by a short muzzle, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Other respiratory problems include laryngeal paralysis, tracheal collapse, and reverse sneezing. It’s important to have your Boston Terrier checked by a veterinarian if you suspect any of these conditions.

close up of boston terrier dog about to sneeze
Image Credit: Picture This Images, Shutterstock

Skin Sensitivities

Skin allergies are also common in Boston Terriers. Allergies can cause itchiness, redness, and skin irritation. These allergies can be caused by food, fleas, or environmental factors such as pollen or dust. It’s important to identify the allergen to prevent further irritation.

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Breed Temperament

The Boston Terrier breed has a unique temperament that has been described as both lively and friendly. These dogs are known for their outgoing personalities and are actually considered to be one of the most personable breeds of dog. They’re known to be loyal and affectionate, making them great companions. The terrier loves to play and socialize, and they get along well with both humans and other animals.

Boston Terriers are also considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds, and they are relatively easy to train. They need plenty of mental stimulation and exercise to stay healthy and content. They’re fairly adaptable to most lifestyles and are usually content in an apartment setting. However, they also have a tendency to bark and can be territorial.

They require patience and consistency in terms of training, but they are eager to please. With proper care and attention, they can make wonderful additions to any family. They respond well to positive reinforcement and daily consistency – and it’s best to start training when young.

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Wrapping Things Up

Boston Terriers are known for their short and stocky build, and they are in fact born with tails. But, many have their tails docked at an early age. However, many people in the veterinarian and dog owner community are against this practice, which may explain why it’s on the decline.

Featured Image Credit: J C, Pixabay

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