Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Owners of Boston terriers know that they are lively characters, full of personality, and overall pretty hilarious. They bring a lot of joy, love and laughter into their homes. They only average 10 to 25 pounds, but some very entertaining behaviors come out of those little bodies.
Boston terriers are the first non-sporting dog bred in the United States and because of this they have been given the nickname the “American Gentleman”. They were first introduced in 1865 by Robert C. Hooper and were of English bulldog and white English terrier mix. Unfortunately, this mix of dog was bred specifically for fighting. Hooper’s dog, however thankfully was bred with a white female whose breed was unknown. Several generations following this, we had the present day version of a Boston terrier. This breed is now known for being friendly, intelligent, social, and wonderful companions.
These flat-faced beauties also come with their own set of humorous behaviors. It is what makes them-them. Each pup is an individual of course, but there are some quirky behaviors that are seen throughout the breed.
Terriers are known to be instinctual burrowers. Even though Boston terriers are not a true terrier, they do carry terrier DNA through their white English terrier heritage. This is likely the reason that they love to burrow. Burrowing allows them to make a comfy spot to snooze, especially when they are working to snuggle up in your bed covers! Boston’s love to be near their humans and burrowing in your blankets is the perfect way to act on their instinctual call and be close to you at the same time.
In addition, temperature regulation can be a bit dicey for Boston terriers due to that short little nose. Being part of the family of brachiocephalic (short head) dogs makes it harder for them to tolerate temperatures that are too hot or cold. Burrowing can help with temperature regulation as well.
Either way, it is adorable to watch them get themselves sorted out in a comfortable spot. Providing them a place to nestle will go a long way to making your pup a very contented one!
Obviously Boston terriers do not have the corner on licking, but it is something very common to the breed. BTs will lick for several reasons, but most owners agree on one thing-they like to lick! They will lick their toys and each other, but the number one favorite subject of licking is their owners (and any guests that may visit). They lick pretty much everything.
Licking in dogs can indicate many things: allergies, submission, affection, trying to communicate something, or that they simply like how humans smell and taste.
Boston terriers will lick to show you that you are the boss and they are happy to be part of your pack. They will also lick to show you how much they love you and that they are happy to see you. Licking can also be a way of saying “hey, I have something to tell you”! This can be that your pup is hungry, needs to go out, wants to play, or someone may be at the door. Finally, they may lick you just because it is fun and you taste good.
3. Bitey Face
One of the craziest behaviors Boston terriers engage in is a play behavior frequently referred to as “bitey face”. Many Boston owners have multiples and that is when bitey face games occur.
Bitey face is characterized by two or more Bostons open mouthed “biting” at each other without a lot of touching. It is more like open air biting movements similar to what hippopotamus do when showing dominance. (It seems that when referring to this it is easier to say "bitey face" than hippopotamusing").
Along with this mouthing, they make very high pitched squeaking noises which almost sound like noises that dolphins make. This game begins generally out of nowhere, lasts for a few minutes and then just abruptly stops. It is quite entertaining to watch.
Sometimes it can seem that the dogs are being aggressive, but they are actually engaging in play. This stems from ancestral behaviors where young wolves “practice” hunting and defensive maneuvers. Bitey face is actually just really good fun to Boston terriers!
4. Reverse Sneezing
Hearing a reverse sneeze from your dog for the first time can be a very disconcerting experience. It happens abruptly and the pup will stand up and drop and extend his/her head while making a deep snorting noise over and over. Along with this, you will see a strong bulging out of the rib cage.
It can be a very upsetting scene if you do not know what is going on. You can be comforted to know that it is quite normal.
Instead of blowing out as in a normal sneeze, a dog will strongly inhale repetitively for 10 to 15 seconds which makes the snorting noise. The difference is a regular sneeze is used to get rid of an irritant in the nose, whereas a reverse sneeze is used to get rid of something that is annoying the back of the throat.
Any dog can reverse sneeze, however it most commonly occurs in brachiocephalic dogs. Being mindful of what may be causing the irritation and addressing it (such as allergies, chemical exposure, etc.) can help if you pup is a chronic reverse sneezer.
5. Head Turning
One of the most adorable behaviors of Boston terriers is head turning. They actually look as if they are intently listening to what you are saying to them (and they are). Head turning allows the dog to focus the sounds being heard and amplify this sense. They are evaluating what they hearing and it is an instinctual protection behavior.
Another theory is that they are trying to optimize their vision as a way to further assess what you are doing when talking to them. This is more common with short nosed dogs and can be that their flattened muzzle is actually affecting their seeing your behaviors when talking to them. By tilting their head, it frees up their vision to further figure out what you are doing or asking of them.
You may notice certain words, phrases, pitches of voice, or music will promote a consistent head tilt in your pup. Regardless of the reason Bostons head tilt, it is absolutely enchanting and we just love it.
If you own a Boston terrier you already know what an amazing breed they are. They love people, and children, generally good with other pets, and just want to be where you are. They are cuddly, sweet, and very smart.
If you do not own a Boston and are looking for a wonderful family dog, you may want to consider this breed. Be prepared to laugh a lot because they certainly have some very whacky ways that will steal your heart in no time.