About the Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are compact, short-tailed, well-balanced little dogs weighing no more than 25 pounds. The stylish “tuxedo” coat can be white and either black, brindle, or seal (black with a red cast when viewed in sun or bright light). The head is square, the muzzle is short, and the large, round eyes can shine with kindness, curiosity, or mischief. Ever alert to their surroundings, Bostons move with a jaunty, rhythmic step.
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It’s a safe bet that a breed named for a city—the Havanese or Brussels Griffon, for instance—will make an excellent urban pet. Bostons are no exception: they are sturdy but portable, people-oriented, and always up for a brisk walk to the park or outdoor cafe. A bright dog with a natural gift for comedy, the dapper Bostonian is a steady source of smiles.
- Temperament:Friendly, Bright, Amusing
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 21 of 195
- Height: 15-17 inches
- Weight: 12-25 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
- Group: Non-Sporting Group
The popularity of blood sports in 19th-century England led to a mania for crossing terriers and bull-type breeds to produce dogs who could excel at pit fighting and ratting contests. In Liverpool, sometime in the late 1860s, a cross between a Bulldog and the now-extinct white English Terrier resulted in a tough, muscular dog named Judge.
Judge’s owner sold him to an American named William O’Brien, who brought his new dog home to Boston. In 1870, O’Brien sold Judge to a fellow Bostonian, Robert C. Hooper. Judge, from then on known in breed histories as “Hooper’s Judge,” became the patriarch of the Boston Terrier breed and the common ancestor of almost all true Bostons.
A breed historian describes Judge as a “strongly built, high stationed dog of about thirty-two pounds weight. In color he was a dark brindle, with a white stripe in the face. His head was square and blocky, and he resembled the present Boston Terrier in that he had a nearly even mouth.”
Hooper bred Judge to a small white female named Burnett’s Gyp, owned by Edward Burnett, of Southboro, Massachusetts. And, in the genealogy so familiar to Boston Terrier fanciers, Judge and Gyp begot Well’s Eph, who begot Tobin’s Kate, and on through the seminal generations of the Boston’s U.S. history. During the breed’s formative decades, selective breeding transformed the bulky fighter of Judge’s time into a smaller, sweeter, and more attractive companion dog, originally called the Round Head by its partisans.
In honor of the city where these happy-go-lucky dogs were so painstakingly developed, the breed name was changed to Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier Club of America was formed in 1891, and two years later the AKC registered its first dog of the breed.
To this day, Boston Terriers are a point of hometown pride. The Boston Terrier has been the official mascot of Boston University for nearly 100 years, and in 1979 the state legislature named the “American Gentleman” the official dog of Massachusetts.
Care and Training
The Boston Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Boston’s need for exercise varies from individual to individual. For some, a brisk walk once or twice a day will be enough. Others will need more time to run and play every day and let off steam. Simply letting a Boston out into the backyard doesn’t count as exercise—he’ll probably just sit at the door waiting to be let back in. Left alone for long periods of time, a Boston will tend to become frustrated and develop undesirable behaviors. Throw him a ball or a toy, however, and he’ll be more than happy to play with you. Participation in canine sports such as agility, obedience, flyball, and rally is an enjoyable way to channel the breed’s energy.