Are Boston Terriers Prone to Heart Problems?

Boston terriers are genetically predisposed to certain heart conditions.
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All breeds of dogs have their own unique characteristics, both positive and negative, and Boston terriers are no exception. Bostons are loyal, sweet, strong and intelligent. Unfortunately, these little guys are also prone to some nasty heart conditions, including heart failure. Keeping your Boston healthy begins with understanding these potential problems and scheduling regular visits with a veterinarian.

A Bit About Bostons

A cross between the English bulldog and the white English terrier, the Boston originated in Boston, Massachusetts in the late 19th century. Not larger than 25 pounds, the dog is muscular, alert and intelligent, and has an easygoing personality. That said, heart disease is the leading cause of death in this breed. Monitoring heart valve deterioration on a regular basis is critical. In addition to caring for the heart itself, providing dental care and enforcing weight management help protect your Boston's heart health.

The Facts About Heart Disease

The sobering fact is heart disease accounts for the majority of deaths among older Boston terriers. This is commonly due to a genetic predisposition toward valve deterioration and can be often be heard as a heart murmur during your dog's annual exam. If caught early on, prescribed medications can slow degeneration and increase life span. While Fido may be predisposed to this condition, that does not mean succumbing to heart disease is a foregone conclusion. Preventative health care is key.

Preventative Measures

In a breed predisposed to heart disease, responsible breeding is of the utmost importance. In addition, regular veterinary checkups are a necessity. Studies have shown maintaining oral health is a great first line of defense, as bacteria ingested can exacerbate disease in many organs. Also, weight management helps lessen the stress on organs such as the heart and lungs. While it may not eliminate the disease, weight management can certainly improve your Boston's quality of life.


If the diagnosis of heart disease becomes a reality, a veterinarian can monitor mitral valve degeneration with radiographs, ultrasound and electrocardiograms to determine the extent of damage, the disease progression rate and how best to treat it. Some treatments include diuretics to reduce fluid buildup, ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure so the heart does not have to work as hard, and other drugs to help the heart pump more efficiently.