Things You Should Know if You’re Thinking of Buying a Boston Terrier

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Flat faces, bulging eyes, and docked tails are just a few traits breeders have selected for in Boston terriers. These aesthetic preferences come with a host of life-altering and often painful health issues that affect the quality of life of most of these dogs. By supporting breeders, you support the continued suffering of Boston terriers—and all “purebred” dogs and “designer” mixes. Keep reading to find out the true price of those Boston terriers for sale.

Boston terriers and mixes, like all other flat-faced dogs, are considered a breathing-impaired breed (BIB). They are afflicted with an uncomfortable, debilitating, and sometimes fatal condition called brachycephalic syndrome, which leaves many of them struggling just to breathe. Going for a walk, running, and playing, such as chasing a ball—the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling—are impossible for many BIB dogs.

Humans breed Boston terriers to have distinctive large, round, bulging eyes, which makes them appear more puppy-like. As a result, they are prone to a host of conditions. One in 10 Boston terriers will experience a corneal ulcer sometime in their lifetime. This condition is caused by an eye injury, which is more likely to occur in this breed because of their protruding eyeballs.

Eye injuries can also cause proptosis, which happens when the eye is pushed forward in the socket. Proptosis is common in all BIBs and can lead to irreversible damage to the eye and the ocular nerve, causing vision loss and pain.

Humans have bred Boston terriers to have very short bobbed or corkscrew-shaped tails, which can cause a variety of health issues throughout a dog’s life. It can make the dogs prone to infections and dermatitis, and it’s even related to a condition called hemivertebrae, which affects the shape of a dog’s spinal bones. Hemivertebrae causes spinal cord compression and pain so severe that a dog may lose control of their hind legs, bladder, and bowels. It’s most often seen in Boston terriers who have corkscrew-shaped tails, and the gene responsible for this type of tail is thought to cause issues in other parts of the spine.

It’s also a common practice for breeders to dock puppies’ tails—cutting them off in an excruciating procedure that can have negative long-term effects for the rest of the dog’s life and can even lead to paralysis and death. Although docking disqualifies a dog from competitions, breeders will still do it to appeal to those who want a dog who fits the popular image. And it’s common for breeders to crop Boston terriers’ ears in order to make them stand upright, an aesthetic that’s required for dog shows.

Yes, another common disease seen in older Boston terriers is Cushing’s disease, which is an increase in cortisol caused by a tumor on either the pituitary or adrenal glands. The treatment for Cushing’s can include surgery and/or a lifetime or medical treatment, typically drugs used to decrease cortisol production.

Buying a Boston terrier, a Boston terrier mix, or any other dog from a breeder means that a dog in an animal shelter loses a potential family. Instead, adopt from an open-admission shelter if you’re ready for the lifetime commitment.

Many “purebred” dogs become ill, suffer from emotional or psychological disorders, or die prematurely because of traits they were bred to have in order to meet standards set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). If you purchased a dog such as a Boston terrier or a member of another AKC-registered breed who struggles with their health or psychological well-being or who died prematurely, we want to hear from you.

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