Veterinarian Explains 7 Common Boston Terrier Health Problems is reader-supported. If you buy a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Boston Terriers are very friendly and playful dogs known for their charming personalities. If you own a Boston or considering adopting this energetic, intelligent breed, you would want to know what common afflictions can affect these dogs and what you must consider about them.

As a senior veterinarian and Boston Terrier owner myself, I’ll cover 7 common health issues of Boston Terriers and provide effective preventive measures that can help ensure their optimal health and well-being.

  1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
  2. Glaucoma
  3. Keratoconjuctivitus Sicca
  4. Patellar Luxation
  5. Epilepsy
  6. Allergies
  7. Deafness

Common Health Issues of Boston Terriers

Boston Terriers are a relatively healthy breed, but every breed has certain conditions to which it is pre-disposed. It depends on genetics, and numerous health conditions in pets are inherited and linked to their specific breed.

According to veterinary practitioners and canine genetic researchers, Boston Terriers have a higher likelihood of experiencing the conditions I’ve outlined below. It does not necessarily imply that your dog will encounter these issues. Only that they are more prone to these conditions.

I’ll discuss the most frequent problems Boston Terriers encounter so that you may look out for any suggestive signs and take better care of your furry friend. Let’s begin.

1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

The word “Brachycephalic” is of Greek origin, which translates to “short-headed.” This short snout gives brachycephalic breeds, such as Boston Terriers, a distinct look, but it also has some disadvantages. A shorter muzzle means narrower airways and nostrils that can contribute to breathing problems.

Veterinarian Explains Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) in Boston Terriers

Miniature Boston Terriers are at higher risk for more severe Brachycephalic symptoms.


It is genetic and may be present in various degrees of difficulty in breathing. Here are some common signs:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Gagging
  • Fainting
  • Difficult breathing


It is treatable by surgery, in which narrower airways are broadened to ease breathing. Also, appropriate exercise management can provide relief to your dog.

2. Glaucoma

In this condition, the pressure inside the eye (intra-ocular pressure) increases abnormally, causing clinical disease. Genetic predisposition, along with some other conditions, are the causes of this illness.


  • Bulging of the eyeball
  • Pain in eye
  • Cloudy or bluish appearance in the eye
  • Blindness


It is a medical emergency that, if left untreated, may cause permanent blindness. Tonometer is used to measure the pressure inside the eye, and according to the situation, the doctor may prescribe drops or, in severe cases, may recommend surgery.

3. Keratoconjuctivitus Sicca

Dry eyes or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is an ocular condition that develops when an inadequate amount of tears are produced, which causes inflammation of the eye. The cause of this condition is poorly understood, but some breeds, including Boston Terriers, happen to be more affected than others.


  • Red, painful eyes
  • Irritation in eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Thick yellowish discharge from eyes


Treatment is mostly to correct the hydration status of the eyes. Drops will be recommended by your vet to lubricate the eye. Depending on the situation, some dogs may also require topical antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication.

Glaucoma and KCS are just 2 of the possible eye issues Boston Terriers face.

4. Patellar Luxation

With Patellar Luxation, the knee cap is dislocated while walking or running. The knee cap or patella pops out of its place, and your dog may start limping temporarily, and after a while, it will be normal again. It is common in bow-legged dog breeds. Almost 5% of Boston Terriers have this condition.


  • Limping
  • Running on three legs
  • Bow legged appearance
  • Stretching or shaking of the back leg


If the condition is severe, surgery must be done to fix the knee joint.  The position of the kneecap is adjusted so that it cannot slip. With proper pain management, recovery is very quick, with a good prognosis.

5. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a nervous disorder characterized by seizures. Seizures occur because of abnormal electric impulses from the brain that cause twitching, shaking, convulsions, and tremors. Its cause is poorly understood but considered possibly genetic, with the onset of disease at one to five years of age.


  • Uncontrollable chewing
  • Falling over
  • Paddling of limbs
  • Violent shaking
  • Loss of bladder


Anti-seizure medicines are prescribed that, once started, have to be continued throughout life. These medicines decrease the incidence and severity of seizures. Stopping the medication suddenly can worsen the situation and must be avoided.

6. Allergies

Allergies, also known as hyper-sensitivities, are the abnormal reaction of the body toward allergens. This overreaction can be caused by anything like food, grains, and certain chemicals. This is a specific, individual condition whose causes are unknown.

See my recommendation for best dog food for Boston Terriers with allergies.


Based on the type of allergy, the symptoms can vary. In case of food allergy, you may observe the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Other forms of Allergies may manifest themselves as:

  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling


Allergies can be localized or systemic when the whole body is affected. Localized allergies are of little concern, where a little management is needed to prevent exposure to allergens, and anti-allergic medicines can treat the condition. On the other hand, systemic allergies are life-threatening emergencies, and immediate medical intervention is required to save the life.

7. Deafness

Boston Terriers are six times more prone to deafness than other breeds. Deafness can be congenital (by birth) or occur because of trauma and disease. Senior Boston Terriers are more prone to deafness due to the degeneration of nerves. It can be partial or complete of one ear or may involve both ears


  • Unresponsive to everyday sounds
  • Does not respond to name
  • Unaffected by loud sounds


As we described earlier, deafness could be due to several reasons. Upon complete examination and diagnosis of the cause, treatment of choice can vary from simple drops to surgical correction of the ear canal. There can also be the case that it could not be treated at all.

Preventative Measures for Common Boston Terrier Health Issues

We can not deny the importance of prevention when it comes to the health of our beloved. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

As we know, Bostons are prone to certain illnesses. However, we can help keep them healthy and reduce their likelihood of falling ill by taking preventative measures. Here are some tips on preventing common diseases and keeping your Boston healthy.

Diet And Exercise

A healthy diet is crucial for providing your Boston Terrier with all the nutrients it requires to stay healthy and fight diseases. The importance of a good diet cannot be overstated. As Boston Terriers age, their diet requirements also change.

Keep your  Bostons requirements in mind when you are selecting his food. Ananti-oxidant rich in good formulations is a great idea to prevent health issues. Boston Terriers require a specific type of exercise for their health.

Not all breeds and dogs are alike, and you must keep that in mind. The right exercise and diet maintain good health and increase immunity, improving the well-being of your dog.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

As a responsible pet parent, establish a schedule with your vet to visit him for regular check-ups of your Boston. Early detection of disease provides better chances of treatment with minimum medical intervention.

By complete examination, you can ensure optimum health, get professionals’ advice on any subject of concern relating to your pet, and help adopt best practices.


Dog Breeds are not the result of natural selection but are developed by breeders for specific characteristics. These features may make them more appealing, but it certainly comes with some trades offs.

Although Boston Terriers are vulnerable to certain diseases, it does not mean that they will surely have them. With proper care, better management, and looking out for symptoms, you can ensure your Boston remains healthy and happy.

Also Read:

Dr. Majid Tanveer, DVM

Dr. Majid Tanveer is a graduate of Islamia University with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Majid has worked extensively for the betterment of animal welfare in his country of Pakistan, where he lives with his Boston Terrier and works as a senior veterinarian.

Recent Posts