Why Do Boston Terriers Snort? 7 Reasons

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Boston Terriers are an easily recognizable breed with their small stature, distinctive color with white markings, their stub of a tail, and their flat little faces with the wide eyes. If you have spent any time at all around them, you have no doubt noticed their tendency to snort.

The most common reason that Boston Terriers snort is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. However, your Boston could be snorting for other reasons including: excitement or stress, exercise, allergies, foreign objects in their nose, obesity, or an infection.

While this is a common trait among all Bostons, some people find it less than desirable and may want to steer clear of a life of heavy breathing. Personally, I think it’s one of their more charming traits and I miss it when I’m out of town without my little Bostie.

Why Do Boston Terriers Snort

Reasons Boston Terriers Snort

1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Boston Terriers fall under the brachycephalic category of dog breeds. Simply put, brachycephalic means short-headed and is characterized by shorter snouts, which translates to shorter airways.

While most brachycephalic breeds live healthy lives, others are at risk for Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. In severe cases, this can be a lifelong and life-threatening condition.

The following are symptoms of this syndrome:

Stenotic nares: Dogs with stenotic nares have abnormally narrowed or small nostrils. This narrowing restricts the amount of air that can flow into the nostrils.

Extended nasopharyngeal turbinates: Nasopharyngeal turbinates are ridges of bone covered by tissue that help humidify and warm air that is inhaled. When these extend past the nose into the pharynx (the area behind the nose and mouth), they cause variable amounts of airflow obstruction.

Elongated soft palate: A dog with an elongated soft palate (the soft part of the roof of the mouth) has a soft palate that is too long for the length of the mouth. The excess length partially blocks the entrance to the trachea (windpipe) at the back of the throat.

Laryngeal collapse: Laryngeal collapse is caused by the chronic stress placed on the cartilage of the larynx by other features of brachycephalic airway syndrome. Eventually, the larynx (voice box) is not able to open as wide as normal, causing further restriction in airflow.

2. Excitement or Stress

Anything that gets your Boston excited is going to cause him to breathe harder and those airways will tighten up a bit, leading to snorting. Pay close attention to the environment and find the cause of this excitement.

If it’s just play or they’re excited to see a friend, get them to rest. If they seem to be having a harder time breathing and are unable to settle down, then speak to your vet.

3. Exercise

When your Boston is working hard to keep up on a walk (or lead the pack of one in my case), she’s going to start panting.

With a shorter airway, she’s going to work harder to get air in and will probably start snorting. Remember to always go at the pace of your pup so they don’t overheat.

While Boston Terriers can get out of breath easily, an exercise routine is still an important part of keeping them healthy.

4. Allergies and Irritants

Allergies can create nasal irritants, leading to snorting. Pollen, mites, smoke, and odors are all common causes related to allergy-related snorting.

5. Foreign Objects in the Nose

Bostons, like most other dog breeds, enjoy a good sniff around the neighborhood or the house. If your friend starts snorting suddenly, check his nose in case he’s inhaled anything.

This could be a blade of grass, a small pebble, or a stray crumb he snorted up before he could eat it.

6. Obesity

Obesity can cause excessive snorting in your Boston because extra weight can narrow those airways. If you suspect this is the reason for an increase in snorting, it’s important to talk to your vet to see how to reduce their weight in a healthy way.

7. Infection

Dogs are like people and can develop nasal congestion caused by bacterial or fungal infections. You may or may not notice unusual discharge from the nose, but your vet can do a nasal swab to determine if an infection is the cause.


Snorting is quite common among Boston Terriers. Most of the time, the snorting is caused by reverse sneezing or their flat face and brachycephalic anatomy. Sometimes snorting can be caused by something more dangerous like a foreign body or tumor.

Treatment for snorting depends on the cause of the snorting. Some snorting is easily treated, and other causes of snorting may be more difficult to control. To be safe, it is best to take your pet to a veterinarian to have them examined if your Boston Terrier is experiencing snorting.

If you don’t have any underlying health issues with your Boston, you might as well get used to the sounds of snorts because you’ll be hearing them for a long time.

Boston Terriers Snorting FAQ’s

What should I do if my Boston Terrier is snorting?

Most of the time, there isn’t anything you can do as snorting is a common trait in this breed. However, you should always pay attention to a sudden fit of snorting, snorting that doesn’t stop, or any type of behavior that causes you think your Boston might be in distress and needs veterinarian help. Some symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, bleeding, coughing, or difficulty breathing.

What is reverse sneezing?

Reverse sneezing can be a bit frightening the first time you experience it. A reverse sneeze occurs when your Boston’s soft palate gets irritated and causes a throat spasm, which can be rapid or prolonged inspirations that sound like snorts. During the reverse sneeze episode, the airway narrows making it hard for your dog to breathe.

While this can feel alarming to both you and your dog, the episode is usually over quickly and has no lasting ill effect. Mine does it most often when she gets overly excited on a walk and tries to outrun me while she’s on a leash (which is the perfect example of why harnesses are preferred over collars).

Why does my Boston Terrier snore?

Most Boston Terriers snore when they’re sleeping because of their facial structure. Relaxed airways can become restricted airways. Also, snoring has to do with your Boston’s sleeping position. Back sleepers, in particular, are prone to snoring.

Katherine Alexander

Katherine is an experienced terrier owner, having owned 3 Boston Terriers over the last 18 years. She currently lives at home in Tennessee with her best friend, a 3 year old Bosty named Oona.

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