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Boston Terrier



Boston Terrier: BREED BOX


United States




Intelligent, lively, gentle


Not terrible shedders



The Boston Terrier is a genuine American breed, developed in Boston in the late 19th century. They are often referred to as “the American Gentleman” both because their dapper markings suggest they are wearing a tuxedo and because of their very classy good manners. Bostons are a small dog, weighing in under 25 pounds, and they are devoted to their owners. These gentle, intelligent dogs make wonderful apartment dogs and house pets and they love nothing better than to curl up next to their owner and keep him or her company.

Breed History

You might not guess from looking at the Boston Terrier today, but these small dogs were originally developed to be fighting dogs. The breed was developed in Boston after the Civil War by crossing an English Bulldog with a white English Terrier. The imported Bulldog was called “Hooper's Judge,” (named after his owner) and he became the ancestor of virtually all Boston Terriers from this mating. The Terrier was named Gyp. A dog named “Well's Eph” was a descendant of this mating and he was later bred to a dog named “Tobin's Kate.” They are the ancestors of all Boston Terriers today.

The first club for the breed was formed in Boston in 1889, though they called themselves the American Bull Terrier Club at that time. The dogs were known as Bull Terriers or Round Heads in those days. However, there were objections from Bull Terrier and Bulldog breeders regarding the use of this name for the breed. They established the Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1893.

There was already a tradition of crossing bulldogs and terriers to create bull-and-terrier dogs for fighting when the Boston Terrier was created. Sports such as bull baiting and bear baiting had been outlawed in England in 1835 but other blood sports such as dog fighting were still popular and quite legal in the United States. The Boston Terrier was created with these sports in mind but breeders soon realized that the dogs were much more popular as companion dogs.

Today, of course, the docile Boston Terrier is never used for fighting. Some of the early dogs weighed over 40 pounds but today the dogs are much smaller and kept as companions. They are the gentlest of house dogs. Most of the development of the breed came in the 20th century.


In appearance the Boston Terrier is a small dog, though they come in three sizes:  under 15 pounds; 15-20 pounds; and under 25 pounds. They have a short, smooth, fine that comes in a variety of colors with white markings. They can be brindle, seal, or black with white markings. The markings are basically the same on all dogs. They have a white band around the muzzle, a white blaze between the eyes, and a big white forechest. They are compactly built dogs.

The Boston has a short, square head with an alert and kind expression. They are a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed).Their ears are small but they are carried erect.


Everything about the Boston Terrier makes him a good companion. He is intelligent and lively. He is friendly but he prefers to be with his owner doing whatever you are doing. He is quite happy to stay indoors with you while you read a book or watch TV.

Boston Terriers are considered easy to train though they are said to be stubborn a times. They are usually eager to please their owners. They are typically happy, friendly dogs. Owners often say that their dogs have good manners and the dogs have a reputation for preferring to be clean and for grooming themselves like cats.

In The Home

Boston Terriers are intelligent, happy dogs who are devoted to their owners. They are gentle, quiet dogs. They like to spend time with their owners though they are friendly with other people.

Bostons are not prone to barking much which also helps to make them good for apartments. With some socialization they can get along well with kids, other dogs and other pets in the home, and the elderly.

Bostons have a short, fine coat and they do shed a little, but they are not terrible shedders. Bostons are a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed) so they do best in air-conditioned homes. They need to avoid summer heat and humidity.

Care/Health Issues

The Boston Terrier requires a minimal amount of grooming. You should be sure to check their ears on a regular basis and clean them weekly. Trim your dog's nails often and brush his teeth regularly.

The Boston has prominent eyes and you should also check them often to make sure they have not collected any debris and that they have not been scratched or injured in any way.

As a short-nosed breed your Boston can have problems with heat and humidity so don't let him over-exert himself outside in the summer. Bostons require only moderate exercise. They enjoy walks and short play periods in the yard.

The Boston Terrier is a generally healthy breed and it is not unusual for these dogs to live 15 years or more. However, like all dogs, there are some health issues which can appear in  the breed. Bostons can have eye problems such as cherry eye (the inner eyelid membrane becomes visible); juvenile and adult cataracts can also be problems.

Luxating patellas can occur in the breed, as it does with many small dogs. This is similar to a slipped kneecap in humans and it varies in severity. Some dogs may bunny hop occasionally while the condition can become very serious in other dogs and require surgery.

Deafness occurs in some dogs. Heart murmur can be found in some dogs. Allergies also occur with some dogs, but they can occur with many breeds and mixes.

Because they have short noses, Bostons are also prone to snoring and reverse sneezing. These are not actual health problems but you should be aware your dog can make these sounds.

If you plan to breed your Boston Terrier, it is not uncommon for this breed to need a caesarian section to deliver their puppies.


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