Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Croft
Published: April 8, 2022
© iStock.com/Ridofranz
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While they are both terriers, there are significant differences between the Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier. Not only are these dogs different sizes, but they have very different appearances and origin stories as well. But how can you learn how to tell them apart, and what are their major differences as well as their similarities? 

In this article, we will address all of the differences between Border Terriers and Boston Terriers so that you can have a full understanding of the breed. We will discuss their behavioral differences, lifespans, and ancestral differences. Let’s get started and talk about these lovable terrier breeds now! 

Comparing Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
The markings of the Boston Terrier are much more distinct than the muddled coat of the Border Terrier.

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Border TerrierBoston Terrier
Size10-15 pounds; 12-14 inches tall15-25 pounds; 13-17 inches tall
AppearanceCoarse and short coat with whiskers around mouth; found in a variety of colors. Compact and otter-like in appearance with floppy and hairy earsFound in a variety of colors including black, white, brown, gray, red, and tan. Ears stick up and they have a mark on the center of their face
AncestryOriginated in Scotland for hunting game alongside larger dogsOriginally bred in Boston for hunting rats and were used illegally in dog fights
BehaviorStrong and sturdy for their size; focused and capable workers. Does well in apartments and family settings given their eager natureLoyal and protective; loves taking care of their families and is a very lovable and goofy dog
Lifespan13-16 years13-15 years

Key Differences Between Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is larger in both height and weight compared to the diminutive Border Terrier.

©Nailia Schwarz/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between Boston Terriers and Border Terriers. The Boston Terrier is larger in both height and weight compared to the diminutive Border Terrier. The markings of the Boston Terrier are much more distinct than the muddled coat of the Border Terrier. Finally, Border Terriers originated in Scotland, while Boston Terriers originated in Boston as their namesake suggests. 

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now. 

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: Size

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
Border Terriers only reach 12 to 14 inches tall, while Boston Terriers frequently reach 13 to 17 inches tall on average.

©CaptureLight/Shutterstock.com

While both of these dogs are compact and on the small side, Boston Terriers grow larger than Border Terriers on average. This includes both their height and weight, as Boston Terriers appear bigger bones compared to the otter-like Border Terrier. Let’s take a closer look at their weights and measurements now. 

Boston Terriers average anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five pounds, while Border Terriers average ten to fifteen pounds total. Additionally, Border Terriers only reach 12 to 14 inches tall, while Boston Terriers frequently reach 13 to 17 inches tall on average. 

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: Appearance

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
The coat of the Border Terrier is much shaggier and more coarse compared to the smooth fur of the Boston Terrier.

©Zero Degrees Photography/Shutterstock.com

You can easily tell the difference between a Boston Terrier and a Border Terrier by looking at them. The coat of the Border Terrier is much shaggier and more coarse compared to the smooth fur of the Boston Terrier. Additionally, Boston Terriers are found in far more colors compared to the Border Terrier. Let’s take a closer look at their markings and distinctive features. 

Boston Terriers come in a variety of colors including black, white, brown, gray, red, and tan, while Border Terriers are typically just found in shades of brown. However, both of these terriers have similar body shapes, making them compact and sturdy. The Border Terrier has floppy ears while the Boston Terrier has erect ears.

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: Ancestry and Breeding

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers were originally bred for dog fighting, while Border Terriers were never used in this sort of illegal activity.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

The Border Terrier and Boston Terrier were bred for very different reasons. For example, the Boston Terrier was originally bred in Boston as its namesake suggests, while the Border Terrier was originally bred along the border of Scotland and England. But that isn’t the only difference in their ancestry and breeding. 

Both the Boston Terrier and the Border Terrier have hunting dog tendencies, though the Border Terrier hunted alongside other dogs and the Boston Terrier typically hunted rats alone. Additionally, Boston Terriers were originally bred for dog fighting, while Border Terriers were never used in this sort of illegal activity. 

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: Behavior

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers have a bit more of a playful personality, while Border Terriers are more focused and eager to please.

©Lenka_N/Shutterstock.com

There are some behavioral differences between the Boston Terrier and the Border Terrier. For example, the Boston Terrier is loyal and extremely protective of their family, while the Border Terrier is a prime example of a working dog. Additionally, Boston Terriers have a bit more of a playful personality, while Border Terriers are more focused and eager to please. 

In general, Border Terriers require more exercise and entertainment compared to the lovable and more laid-back Boston Terrier. However, both of these small dogs need a decent amount of entertainment, lest they suffer from separation anxiety and destructive tendencies. 

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier: Lifespan

Border Terrier vs Boston Terrier
The Border Terrier lives slightly longer than the Boston Terrier on average, likely due to its sturdy working dog breeding and background.

©Andreas Gradin/Shutterstock.com

The final difference between Border Terriers and Boston Terriers is their lifespans. The Border Terrier lives slightly longer than the Boston Terrier on average, likely due to its sturdy working dog breeding and background. However, given the small size of both of these dogs, they live longer lives than larger dogs and other dog breeds. 

For example, the Boston Terrier lives an average of 13 to 15 years, while the Border Terrier lives an average of 13 to 16 years. Given that there isn’t very much difference between these two life spans, you can expect either your Border Terrier or Boston Terrier to live a long and happy life with a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

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The Featured Image

Boston terrier at vet
Boston terrier at vet
© iStock.com/Ridofranz

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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