The loveable “American Gentleman”, a moniker given to the Boston Terrier on account of their distinctive markings, is a cheery little breed with a big personality. Affable, clever and lively, this dog is a popular pet both in its native home of North America and around the world. Boston University has considered the Boston Terrier to be its official mascot for almost a century. Owners of this dog are enchanted by the breed’s merry and loyal disposition, their devotion and tremendous sense of humour. Boston Terriers are very adaptable and can easily manage in small houses or flats, making them versatile for modern living.
Height: 15-17 inches (38-43 cm)
Weight: 10-25 lbs (4.5-11 kg)
Average Litter Size: 3-5, although 1-7 is not uncommon
Life Expectancy: 11-15 years
Good with Children: Yes
Kennel Club Classification: Utility
Boston Terriers sport markings loosely resembling that of a tuxedo, with both dark and light sections. Standard colours for this breed are the traditional black and white, as well as black and white brindle, black brindle and white, brindle, brindle and white, mahogany and white, mahogany brindle, white and mahogany brindle, red and white, seal and white, seal brindle, and lastly white and seal brindle. Boston Terriers can also be found in other colours and shades, but they are not officially recognised by the UK Kennel Club.
A Boston Terrier’s single coat is relatively low maintenance. This breed’s fur stays short, so cuts are not required. A Boston Terrier does shed though, so brushing the dog once or twice a week will remove excess hair and help to keep the home free from dander. Brushing also helps to keep the coat healthy and shiny. Bathing need only be carried out when required, but it’s important to keep the facial wrinkles, ears and eyes clean to prevent infections. Nails should be clipped fortnightly to avoid clip dew claws.
The Boston Terrier has a flat face, and like many other breeds with a similar muzzle shape, these dogs can be more susceptible to breathing problems and eye disorders. Other potential health issues of the Boston Terrier include impaired movement of the hind legs, deafness, luxating patellas, skin allergies, Cushing’s syndrome and hemevertebrae. This breed can sometimes have difficulties delivering puppies, which may result in the need for a caesarean section. It’s always wise to check the health history of the dog’s parents to reduce the chance of inherited conditions.
The friendly little Boston Terrier makes an excellent family pet. Their energetic and cheerful nature enables them to get along well with people of all ages equally, as well as other animals. Boston Terriers love spending time with their families and are happy engaging in energetic play with children.
Boston Terriers are intelligent little dogs and are usually considered easy to train. Despite their stubborn streak, these dogs are enthusiastic about pleasing their owners, and this breed responds well to positive reinforcement with rewards for good behaviour. It’s important to be consistent and patient when training a Boston Terrier, and as this dog is easily distracted, it’s wise to choose a training environment that is free from toys or other items that could catch the dog’s eye. Boston Terriers are prone to digging, so this is one behavioural trait that most owners try to curb sooner rather than later.
All dogs need exercise, and the Boston Terrier is a fairly active breed, requiring a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes brisk walk every day. It’s personal preference as to whether this is taken in the form of one longer walk or two shorter outings, but this breed will benefit from a regular schedule. Boston Terriers also love to play, and they are adept at games involving chasing and catching balls or other toys. Given the opportunity, Boston Terriers also enjoy lively play with other dogs. Even indoor play has a beneficial effect on these dogs, as they love games, such as tug of war.
Unlike many other dogs, the history of the Boston Terrier is very well documented, as this is not a particularly old breed, dating only as far back as approximately 1875. As the name suggests, the first Boston Terrier originated from Boston in Massachusetts, USA. It is, however, possible to trace the ancestors of this lineage even further back and across the Atlantic Ocean to England.
The paternal line of the first Boston Terriers stems from a British born dog from Liverpool named Judge, which originally belonged to a U.S. representative from Massachusetts named Edward Burnett. Judge was a bull and terrier, a breed of dog now extinct worldwide. Bull and terrier dogs were crossbred from the Old English Bulldog and at least one variety of Old English Terrier (also known as the Black and Tan Terrier), both of which are also now extinct.
When Edward Burnett sold Judge to Robert C. Hooper of Boston, Hooper made the decision to breed Judge with a female bulldog-type female named Gyp, also owned by Edward Burnett. This union resulted in the first Boston Terriers, and the breed was later tweaked and modified over subsequent generations until it reached its current standard. Today’s Boston Terriers are smaller than their ancestors and have a much friendlier disposition.
Upon development of this breed, these dogs were initially named Round Heads, Bullet Heads or Bull Heads. Boston Terrier was settled on as a name in 1889 in homage to their city of origin, and the American Kennel Club officially registered them in 1893. Boston Terriers are considered a source of great pride to the city of Boston, and even of the wider state of Massachusetts. Their use as a companion dog is now firmly established and they are among the 20 most popular breeds in the USA.
Missie, a Boston Terrier from Denver in the 1960s, was known as the most successful dog clairvoyant in the world.