Boston Terrier

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Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier with brindle coat
Boston Terrier with brindle coat
Alternative names
Boston Bull
Boston Bull & Terrier
Country of origin
United States
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 9 Section 11 #140 Stds
AKC: Non-sporting Stds
ANKC: Group 7 (Non-Sporting) Stds
CKC: Group 6 - Non-Sporting Stds
KC (UK): Utility Stds
NZKC: Non-sporting Stds
UKC: Companion Breeds Stds

The Boston Terrier is a breed of dog originating in the United States of America.


14 month-old Boston Terrier; 10 lb
14 month-old Boston Terrier; 10 lb

Boston Terriers are typically small, compactly built, well proportioned, dogs with erect ears, short tails, and a short muzzle that should be free of wrinkles. Boston terriers can weigh from 10 to 25 lb, typically in the vicinity of 15 lb. The breed is known for its gentle, alert, and intelligent expression. Boston Terriers usually stand 15-17 inches at the withers.

The Boston Terrier is characteristically marked with white in proportion to either black, brindle, seal, or a combination of the three. Seal is a color specifically used to describe Boston Terriers and is defined as a black colour with red highlights when viewed in the sun or bright light. Ideally white should cover its chest, muzzle, band around the neck, half way up the forelegs, up to the hocks on the rear legs, and a white blaze between but not touching the eyes. In show dogs, symmetrical markings are preferred. Due to the Boston Terrier's markings resembling formal wear, in addition to its refined and pleasant personality, the breed is commonly referred to as the "American Gentleman."

Young Boston Terrier pup with black coat and white markings
Young Boston Terrier pup with black coat and white markings

Frequently, variations on the standard are seen depending on the ancestry of the individual dog. At various times, the English Bulldog, English Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and French Bulldog—among other breeds—have been crossbred with Boston Terrier lines to minimize inbreeding in what is necessarily a small gene pool.


While originally bred for fighting, they were later down bred for companionship. The modern Boston Terrier can be gentle, alert, expressive, and well-mannered. Many still retain the spunky attitude of the typical terrier. They were originally a cross-breed between the White English Terrier (now extinct) and an English Bulldog. Some Bostons enjoy having another one for companionship. Both females and males generally bark only when necessary. Having been bred as a companion dog, they enjoy being around people, and if properly socialized get along well with children, other canines, and non-canine pets. Boston Terriers can be very cuddly, while others are more independent. Boston Terriers are known to lick the faces of their owners excessively.


Many Bostons cannot tolerate excessive heat and humidity due to the shortened muzzle, so hot weather combined with demanding exercise brings the danger of heat exhaustion.

They can live 15 years or more, but the average is around 13 years.

The Boston, like other short-snouted breeds have an elongated palate. When excited, they are prone to a "reverse sneeze" where the dog will quickly, and seemingly laboriously, gasp and snort. This is caused by air or debris getting caught under the palate and irritating the throat or limiting breathing. "Reverse sneezing" episodes won't hurt a Boston in the least, but it will scare the dog, and maybe its owners, a good deal. The quickest way to stop these episodes is to talk to them calmly, and cover their nose with the palm of your hand, which will force the dog to breath more slowly and deeply through its mouth.

Because of their short snouts, they do tend to snort and snore. These can be signs of serious health issues.Surgery is available to correct the defects that can cause trouble with breathing,(i.e.elongated palate,narrow trachea and pinched nares). There are risks attached to the surgery so it is suggested that you put your dog through such surgery only if its health is compromised. You can adjust their heads so the dog's airway is straight and the snoring should cease but does not cure more serious problems as mentioned before. Due to the Boston's prominent eyes, some are prone to ulcers or minor injuries to their cornea.


The Boston Terrier breed originated around 1870, when Robert C. Hooper of Boston purchased a dog known as Hooper's Judge, a cross between an English Bulldog and an English White Terrier.

Judge weighed over 30 pounds (13.5 kg.). He was bred down in size with a smaller female and one of those male pups was bred to yet a smaller female. Their offspring interbred with one or more French Bulldogs, providing the foundation for the Boston Terrier. Bred down in size from pit-fighting dogs of the bull and terrier types, the Boston Terrier originally weighed up to 44 pounds (20 kg.) (Olde Boston Bulldogge). Their weight classifications were once divided into lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight.

The breed was first shown in Boston in 1870. By 1889 the breed had become sufficiently popular in Boston that fanciers formed the American Bull Terrier Club, but this proposed name for the breed was not well received by the Bull Terrier Fanciers. The breed's nickname, roundheads, was similarly inappropriate. Shortly after, the breed was named the Boston Terrier after its birthplace.

In 1893, the American Kennel Club (AKC) admitted the Boston Terrier breed and gave the club membership status, making it the first American breed to be recognized. It is one of a small number of breeds to have originated in the United States that it recognizes.

The Boston Terrier was the first non-sporting dog bred in America.

In the early years, the color and markings were not very important, but by the 1900s the breed's distinctive markings and colour were written into the standard, becoming an essential feature. Terrier only in name, the Boston Terrier has lost most of their ruthless desire for mayhem, preferring the company of humans, although some males will still challenge other dogs if they feel their territory is being invaded.

Boston Terriers enjoyed particular popularity during the 1920's in America.

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