Boston Terriers - Common Health Issues

In general very healthy little dogs, Boston Terriers are susceptible to very particular health issues most of which are related to their protruding eyes and short muzzles.

The most common health issues with Boston Terriers include: juvenile cataracts, cherry eye, luxating patellas and deafness. Health issues also arise from a Boston Terrier’s reaction to extreme heat or cold- due to the short muzzle the breed cannot regulate internal temperature causing adverse reactions.

Juvenile Cataracts

The most common eye disease affecting Boston Terriers, juvenile cataracts is genetic and will cause total blindness in young dogs between the ages of 8 weeks and 12 months. While cataracts can sometimes be clearly visible, it is most often diagnosed by a veterinarian using a CERF test. Considered to be a serious problem with Boston Terriers, carrier dogs should not be bred. Boston Terrier puppies should receive a CERF test before going to their new owners.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye occurs when the “third eye lid” (that contains a tear gland) comes out of its normal position in the corner of the eye and swells. More prevalent in smaller breeds including the Boston Terrier, the most common treatment for cherry eye involves surgery to reposition the gland.


There can be a high incidence of deafness amongst Boston Terriers and close attention should be made to their hearing as puppies. A BAER test can be given to a puppy to determine their status. Deafness can either occur unilaterally (in one ear) or bilaterally (in both ears.) Those who are considered unilaterally deaf will generally not show the defect in a noticeable way and will make a great pet. Boston Terriers who are bilaterally deaf would be considered “special needs” and require special training.

Patellar Luxation

The most common orthopedic problem found in Boston Terriers and other small breeds, patellar luxation is a dislocation of the kneecap. Though it can be caused by trauma, it is often more genetic in nature. Signs of patellar luxation are limping, pain and constant leg stretching (to pop the patella back into its natural groove.) A Boston Terrier with patellar luxation should keep its weight down. Extreme cases of the problem can result in surgery and physical therapy.

Note: This information is for educational purposes only. A diagnosis cannot be made without a veterinarian’s examination of your dog.

Catherine Taylor is a self-declared “ultimate” Boston Terrier lover and proud mother of Boston Terrier, Shelby. She shares her love for the Boston Terrier breed at

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