Why Does My Boston Terrier Snort? Exploring the Anatomy Behind the Sound

on October 16, 2023

Why Does My Boston Terrier Snort?

Boston Terriers, affectionately known as the "American Gentlemen", are a breed of dog that is cherished for its friendly demeanor, tuxedo-like markings, and a unique set of sounds ranging from barks to, most notably, snorts. For many Boston Terrier owners, the snorting sound is both endearing and a point of curiosity. Why do these little gentlemen make such a peculiar sound? Let's dive deep into the anatomy and reasons behind the snort.

The Anatomy of a Boston Terrier's Respiratory System

Boston Terriers, like other brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short noses and flat faces), have a distinctively shaped respiratory tract. The anatomy of their nose and throat is compacted, which can lead to certain characteristics in the way they breathe and vocalize.

  1. Shortened Nasal Passage: The nasal passage of a Boston Terrier is shorter than that of longer-snouted breeds. This means that the air has less distance to travel, which can lead to faster airflow. The faster airflow can contribute to the signature snorting sound.

  2. Elongated Soft Palate: The soft palate is a fleshy extension of the roof of the mouth. In Boston Terriers, this palate can be elongated and might partially obstruct the airway, especially when the dog is excited or active.

  3. Narrowed Nostrils: Often referred to as "stenotic nares", some Boston Terriers have nostrils that are narrower than usual. This can restrict the amount of air that flows into the nostrils, leading to increased effort when breathing and the resultant snorting sound.

Why the Snorting Sound?

Given the unique anatomy of Boston Terriers, there are several reasons why they might snort:

  1. Excitement or Playfulness: When a Boston Terrier gets excited or playful, their breathing rate increases. The combination of their compacted respiratory system and increased airflow can lead to snorting. It's their way of expressing joy and enthusiasm!

  2. Trying to Clear Their Airway: The elongated soft palate might sometimes get temporarily stuck, causing a blockage. The snort can be a Boston Terrier's way of trying to clear the obstruction and breathe more comfortably.

  3. Resting Position: When Boston Terriers are resting or sleeping, especially on their backs, the soft palate can fall backward, partially obstructing the airway. This can lead to periodic snorting sounds as they sleep.

  4. Response to External Stimuli: Just like humans might sneeze when exposed to dust or strong scents, Boston Terriers might snort as a reflexive response to certain external stimuli.

Should I Be Concerned?

While snorting can be a normal sound for Boston Terriers, it's essential to differentiate between regular snorts and signs of respiratory distress. If your Boston Terrier is snorting excessively, has difficulty breathing, is coughing, or shows signs of fatigue after minimal exercise, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian. Conditions like brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) can affect these breeds, and early diagnosis can help manage the condition effectively.

Tips for Reducing Snorting

While some level of snorting is typical for Boston Terriers, there are a few things owners can do to help reduce the frequency:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Overweight dogs can have exacerbated breathing issues. Ensuring your Boston Terrier maintains a healthy weight can reduce the strain on their respiratory system.

  2. Use Harnesses Instead of Collars: Harnesses reduce the pressure on the neck and throat, allowing for easier breathing during walks.

  3. Keep Them Cool: Like all brachycephalic breeds, Boston Terriers can overheat quickly. Keeping them in a cool environment, especially during hot weather, can help reduce heavy breathing and snorting.

  4. Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular visits to the vet can ensure that any potential respiratory issues are detected and addressed early on.


The snorting sound of a Boston Terrier is part of what makes them unique and lovable. Understanding the anatomy behind this quirky sound can help owners appreciate it even more and ensure their furry friend stays healthy and happy. Always remember to monitor your Boston Terrier's breathing and consult a veterinarian if you notice any changes or concerns. After all, our little "American Gentlemen" deserve the best care and understanding we can provide.

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