Everything You Should Know About the Red Boston Terrier

Red Boston Terrier puppy

The Boston Terrier, also known as “The American Gentleman,” has been winning the hearts of dog enthusiasts for ages. Given its equally adorable looks and personality, it was ranked as the 21st Most Popular Breed in 2019 by the American Kennel Club.

As they rose to popularity, a wonder to its kind came famous too – the red Boston Terrier. This breed is the most well-known out of all the non-traditional colors of Boston Terriers.

But since it is out of the breed norms, the red Boston Terrier holds controversies and misconceptions to its name. Hence, what you thought you knew about it may have just been another myth. 

In this in-depth guide, I’ll dive into everything you need to know about the uniqueness of this small wonder. 

What Is a Red Boston Terrier?

The red Boston Terrier came from the variation of Boston Terriers. It traces its origin back to 1865, to a cross between an English Bulldog and an English Terrier. What made it distinct among other Boston Terriers is its red fur-coloring, which is considered non-standard for its breed.

The red coat of this canine resembles a liver-toned hue. Many non-reputable breeders earn hefty amounts by claiming that this color is ‘rare.’ On the contrary, it is not. Several studies have long tackled the earlier existence of red Boston dogs.

Originally, Boston Terriers were bred to be pit dogs but through the years, they grew into sweet lovers rather than fighters.

These little sweethearts are more than just puppy eyes and formal tuxedo attire; they are fond of human interactions too. That being said, they make a great companion towards anyone.

The red Boston Terrier may be unique to its kind but it is still confused with the similarly-looking French Bulldog and Boxer. To avoid such confusion, read on to know about its appearance.

What Does the Red Boston Terrier Look Like?

Red Boston Terriers are compactly-built, 15 to 17 inches in height, and 12 to 25 pounds in weight. They belong to a family of brachycephalic dogs, which are breeds with shortened snouts. 

Below is a more specific look at their features:

  • Facial structure: It has a flat skull structure, short head, and square jaw. The head is in proportion to its size. 
  • Coat: It has an adorable red carpet ready look, thanks to its tuxedo-like coat. In this color, there is a varying shade of copper red to vivid red. According to Cypress Farms Kennel, this shouldn’t include any black hairs or pigmentation. White markings are present in the chest, between the eyes and around the muzzle.
  • Nose: The nose of a genuine red Boston Terrier is reddish-brown, and it matches its paws. 
  • Eyes: The large, almost-pleading eyes are set widely apart. Red Boston puppies can have blue eyes but this usually changes into amber when they reach 4 to 6 months old.
  • Ears: The large cat-like ears stand erect.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is short and deep, square-shaped, and wrinkle-free. On top of its flat cheeks, this gives a pushed-in face appearance.
  • Body: The body is short but sturdy and muscular. It has a broad chest, short tail and limbs, and a generally pugnacious stance. 

What Makes a Red Boston Terrier Different From Other Boston Terriers?

Aside from its color, the red Boston Terrier is not far different from the other Boston Terriers. It is only distinguishable due to its appearance. Usually, the standard Boston Terrier has dark-colored eyes but the red-coated one has amber or gold.

As aforementioned, they also differ in the fur coloring. But if we’re talking about a purebred red Boston Terrier, it must possess the same appropriate white markings and inhibits similar traits as the other Boston pups.

If there’s an evident difference, it lies around the eligibility of the red Boston Terrier with regards to its breed lineage. Compared to the traditional Boston pup, it has stereotypes attached to its name.

The red Boston’s often questionable breed is partly due to the standards set by the AKC, which I’m going to discuss next.

Do Kennel Clubs Like AKC Recognize the Red Coloring?

The Boston Terrier Club of America and the American Kennel Club neither recognize the red-coated Boston as a breed standard.

According to AKC’s standards, the following are the qualified colors with appropriate white markings.

  • Black
  • Black Brindle
  • Seal (black with a red cast in bright sunlight) 
  • Seal Brindle 

Although the liver color indeed existed since the breed’s infancy, the AKC excluded this in its 1990’s revision. Other colors such as blue, fawn, splash, grey, lilac, and albino are ruled out as well. Many factors contributed to this exemption. 

The AKC determines an original Boston Terrier according to a set of points including the general appearance, expression, and individual body parts.

The red Boston Terrier falls short on some of the categories. It does not qualify under the dark-colored eyes and black colored nose criterion. Therefore, it could not participate in AKC dog shows. 

While they don’t fit the AKC standards, this does not make a big deal if you don’t intend to participate in dog shows and breeding. The only downside of this non-recognition is that it led the red Boston to be the black swan of its kind. 

Since this differently looking dog emerged from its family, you might be wondering, “What made it Red?” Well, one thing’s for sure, it’s not a magic spell. It’s the science of genetics.

Red Boston Terrier Genetics

I’ll start at the roots of color production—the cells called melanocytes. The melanocytes produce the two major pigments that determine the coat color, namely: eumelanin (black pigment) and phaeomelanin (yellow/red pigment). 

Now, how do the genes affect the entire process of coat coloration? The genes control each of the two pigments. It dictates how much of the pigments are produced, and where these pigments are produced. 

To make things easier, imagine the dog as a blank canvass, the melanocytes are the color palettes, and the genes are the painter. The painter decides the paint color and how much or where to put it in the canvass.

The red canine coat is produced when the gene (e) stops the production of black pigment until what’s left is the production of the red pigment. A dog with two copies of the gene (e) will pass it on to 100% of its offspring.

Since the red Boston Terrier traces its forefathers to the Bulldog and the White English Terrier, its red coloration can be linked to the Bulldog lineage. Currently, red Bulldogs are recognized by the AKC. 

The red Boston Terrier was first mentioned in the book The Boston Terrier and All About It in 1910, where it was described as the Jack Reed dog. Therefore, it is arguable that this red fella inherited genes from its ancestors many generations back.

Now that you know that its red color was a product of genetic mutation, you might ask, does this affect its health? We’ll get on to that next.

Effects of Red Coloring on Health & Behavior

The correlation of the coat coloring on a dog’s behavior is still vague. This has only been proven in a few dog breeds and certainly it does not apply to Boston Terriers.

In a study published by the Applied Animal Behavior Science, it was found that the golden or red English Cocker Spaniels tend to be more feisty; and that parti-color ones (white with patches of color) are more amiable. This coat color and behavior relation are also present among Labradors.

For the red Boston Terrier, it’s common to assume that its rare fur coat is linked to serious health issues. On the contrary, any circulating information about the red Boston being prone to health problems is nothing but a myth.

There are no known health and behavioral defects related to its color. This canine is as loving and intelligent as the other pooches of its kind. If they are prone to any health problem, those diseases are common to their race and not specific to their color.

Red Boston Terrier Temperament

True to its name as The American Gentleman, this red clown canine is not just dressed to impress; it boasts with impeccable manners too. The red Boston Terrier, much like the standard Boston Terriers, is a people-oriented breed.

It is very smart, agile, affectionate, and has a cool temperament. It makes a perfect dog for apartment dwellers as it is generally quiet and only barks when necessary. 

Attitude wise, you can never hate this sweet gentleman. Match those pleading eyes that always seem to say “I love you” with constant smooches, and you’ll fall in love.

They are very cuddly, sensitive, and rarely aggressive. Most Boston Terrier owners also commend the dog’s easy-to-train attitude. They tend to be hyperactive too, which requires constant exercise.

Meanwhile, it is important to take note that the red Boston Terrier’s personality varies. While most of them have a laid back and gentle temperament, some are stubborn too.

But of course, nurturing outweighs nature. The extent of socialization and persistent training determines this pooch’s temperament. 

In general, red Boston Terriers are charming little sweethearts who love humans and chase balls.

Red Boston Terrier Health

No medical concerns are specific to red Boston Terriers. They are generally healthy with an average life span of 11 to 13 years. But like other dogs, they are prone to develop several conditions. If you sought to buy a red Boston pup, seek for health clearances to ensure that it is free from any diseases. 

The common health issues that you need to watch for are:

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: This is a respiratory condition related to the short muzzle and nose structure of Boston Terriers. It refers to the combination of the following conditions: 
    • Elongated Soft Palate: the roof the mouth is too long and it extends up to the airways.
    • Stenotic Nares: the nostrils are too narrow.
    • Everted Laryngeal saccules: the tissues located in front of the vocal cords called laryngeal saccules are being pulled into the trachea.
      All of these conditions lead to the obstruction of proper airflow and disrupts breathing.
  • Cataracts: This eye condition refers to inherited blindness which can develop earlier or later on a dog’s life. It presents as a clouded film that covers the eye’s lenses.
  • Patellar Luxation: A luxating patella or a misaligned kneecap is a common problem in small dogs. Depending on its grade, patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, joint pain, and decreased mobility.
  • Allergies: Eye and skin allergies are present in itching, watery eyes, and excessive rubbing. 
  • Deafness: This is more common in older and white Boston Terriers. Deafness can be prevented by comprehensive vet care. 

Red Boston Terrier Price: Do They Cost More Than Other Boston Terriers?

Before I dive into price ranges, take note that the cost of the red Boston Terrier relies heavily on its sources. This can either be a pet store, a breeder, or a rescue.

The general cost of Boston Terriers ranges from $350 to $4,000. The median price is around $1,050. The cost grows significantly higher for a top-quality dog with superior lineage. Other factors such as the age, health, and gender of a dog, as well as the breeder’s certification, are also price indicators. 

The red Boston Terrier, in particular, has an average cost of $989. But as mentioned, this can also vary. Some non-reputable breeders tend to advertise red Boston pups at higher prices, claiming their rarity. Often, a very low or a very high price is a red flag. 

The AKC marketplace usually sells them from $800 to $1,000. The standard Boston Terrier on the other hand, costs $1,311. In conclusion, the red-coated one does not cost more than the other Boston Terriers.

Where to Find Red Boston Terrier Puppies for Sale? 

If you’re looking to purchase a red Boston Terrier, never buy from a puppy mill or a non-reputable seller. A good place to start would be the AKC marketplace.

Below are some of the credible and well-respected sites to buy a red Boston Terrier puppy:

If you want a more comprehensive list, the Boston Terrier SocietyOpens in a new tab. provides a directory of credible breeders in the United States and Canada. 

Where to Find Red Boston Terrier for Adoption From Rescues and Shelters?

If adoption seems a better prospect for you, there’s no reason to be hesitant. Many red Boston Terriers from rescue centers need a loving home.

They are incredibly healthy too, and the majority are just often neglected by their original owners. Adoption might be a lengthy process but it’s definitely worth it.

To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled a list of Boston Terrier rescue organizations: 

Other reputable rescue centers such as Vital Puppies HomeOpens in a new tab. and Adopt-A-Pet.comOpens in a new tab. provides help in finding a Boston Terrier by location. The Boston Terrier SocietyOpens in a new tab. also has a complete list of rescue organizations in different states across the United States and Canada. 

Male vs. Female Red Boston Terrier: What’s the Difference?

Both male and female red Boston Terrier is closely similar. They only have small behavioral differences.

Physically, males are taller than females. They grow up to 17 inches while females grow up to 15 inches. They are heavier too. Adult males weigh around 10 to 25 pounds while females weigh 9 to 20 pounds.

When it comes to temperamental differences, the female red Boston Terrier matures faster than its male counterpart. Females tend to be more dominant, bossy, and territorial while males are more friendly and affectionate.

Males are also slower to pick-up commands and can be more stubborn. While females, due to their quick maturity, they are more intelligent and are easier to train. 

Can Red Boston Terriers Have Red Eyes? 

Red eyes, commonly known as cherry eyesOpens in a new tab., are common among canines. It appears as bright red and swollen looking eyes. This occurs when a tear gland in a dog’s third eyelid is inflamed. In turn, the prolapsed gland swells and protrudes on the corner of the dog’s eyes. 

This condition is genetic in origin. Hence, the red Boston Terrier just like other dog breeds can be prone to it. If left untreated, cherry eyes can lead to conjunctivitis and further irritation. Fortunately, it can be easily treated through minor surgery.

My Final Thoughts

The red Boston Terrier is a little sweetheart that’s only slightly different in appearance but can be unique in many different ways you as an owner can define. This clown-like gentleman with its sweet and fun tactics will surely win a place in your heart. 

However, keep in mind that the red Boston Terrier is still not qualified on the AKC standards. Owning one is never wrong, but massively breeding them should not be patronized. 

For instance, some non-reputable breeders breed them without considering their health and only focus on achieving the ‘rare’ color to meet market demands.

Such a situation produces non-genuine breeds. This doesn’t only destroy the quality and integrity of the breed; it can also produce health defected dogs.

Conforming to the standards is essential to preserving the breed’s lineage. Simply put, red Boston Terriers should not be a subject of unethical practices. Instead, this small pup deserves nothing but a big love.

Some Red Boston Terrier Videos

Sources

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

Recent Content