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Boston Terrier


The Boston Terrier, also known as the American Gentleman, the Boston Bull, the Boston Bull Terrier and simply the Boston, is a true American breed created by cross-breeding an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier, with considerable subsequent inbreeding to standardize type. This is one of the most popular breeds in the United States and has been designated the State Dog of Massachusetts. Boston Terriers are lively, intelligent, friendly, compact and well-balanced, with striking dark coats and flashy white markings. This breed thrives on interaction with people and other pets – especially other Bostons. It does quite well with children if properly socialized and monitored. The Boston Terrier was admitted to the Stud Book of the American Kennel Club in 1893.
The Boston Terrier is classified by 3 weight categories: under 15 pounds, 15 pounds to under 20 pounds, and 20 pounds not to exceed 25 pounds. It stands between 15 and 17 inches at the withers. Its short shiny coat is easy to care for, and while Bostons need regular exercise, they are not considered to be particularly high-energy dogs.

History & Health


In the late 1800s, Robert C. Hooper of Boston acquired an imported dog commonly known as "Hooper's Judge." He was a high-stationed, dark brindle dog with white markings and is the direct ancestor of virtually all modern Boston Terriers. Judge was a cross between a white English Terrier and an English Bulldog, although he resembled the Bulldog much more so in type. During this era, crosses of bulldogs and terriers typically were used in Britain and eventually in the United States for the blood-sports of bull-baiting and pit dog-fighting, which later were outlawed. Judge was bred to a low-stationed white bitch of unknown origin named "Burnett's Gyp," and from their offspring descended the foundation of the Boston Terrier breed. It is thought that some French Bulldog blood was later added to the mix, possibly to shrink the breed's size. In 1889, a number of fanciers in the Boston area organized the American Bull Terrier Club, exhibiting their dogs as "Round Heads" or "Bull Terriers". Over time, this group met with considerable opposition from Bull Terrier and Bulldog fanciers who objected to the confusing and overlapping breed names.
In 1891, Boston Terrier fanciers formed the Boston Terrier Club of America and renamed their breed the Boston Terrier, after its city of origin. It took several years to convince the American Kennel Club that the Boston was, in fact, a pure breed that would produce true to type. Boston Terriers were officially admitted into the AKC Stud Book in 1893, and the breed club gained AKC membership the same year. With a certain amount of selective inbreeding to cement its type, today's Boston Terrier is instantly recognizable as a clean-cut, small dog with a short muzzle, a flat face, large pronounced round eyes, snow-white markings on a short dark brindle or black coat and with a stout body resembling that more of a terrier than a bulldog. By the 1920s, the breed had reached Europe, and by the 1950s it reportedly was the most popular purebred dog in North America. The Boston Terrier remains a popular and devoted companion dog.


The Boston Terrier has an average life span of 13 to 15 years. Because the breed has been selectively bred down in size while retaining its large head, Boston bitches frequently have difficulty delivering their puppies naturally. Caesarean sections are common in this breed. Other breed health concerns may include generalized demodicosis, atopy, allergies, pattern baldness, ulcerative keratitis, tail-fold intertrigo, hyperadrenocorticism, vascular ring anomaly, pyloric stenosis, congenital elbow luxation, patellar luxation, melanoma and other forms of cancer, hydrocephalus, hemivertebrae, congenital deafness and a variety of ocular disorders. Brachycephalic upper airway syndrome is common in this breed as a consequence of breeding for exaggerated facial characteristics. Hypoplastic trachea is also seen in this breed.

Temperament & Personality


The Boston Terrier personality varies from individual to individual. Some are rowdy and sassy, others more mellow and subdued, while still others will do anything for a laugh. All Boston Terriers, however, love people, love activity and love lots of attention. They are especially good dogs for elderly people, as they tend to focus most of their attention to one person, and tune in to that person's emotions. A Boston knows when his person is sad, happy, lonely or angry and can adjust his own behavior accordingly.

Activity Requirements

Boston Terriers are small, but love to run. They will chase after a ball as often as you are willing to throw it. Apartments are perfectly suitable for a Boston, but they will need daily walks and play time. Families of any size or age can adopt a Boston with confidence. They will happily romp around the yard with children, or spend the afternoon curled on the lap of an elderly companion. They are very adaptable and will adjust their activity level to the person they care about the most.


Beware the expressive eyes of a Boston Terrier. He will use his charming looks to melt the hearts of those who try to train him. Despite their tendency toward manipulation, however, Boston Terriers are highly trainable. Consistency, a little positive reinforcement and lots of treats are the best training combination for this breed. A harsh tone and disciplinary action will cause a Boston to develop avoidance behaviors and stubbornness.

Behavioral Traits

Bostons bark. Just like other terriers they are quick to alert everyone that there is a stranger approaching, leaving, or walking somewhere across the street. Like other terrier breeds, Bostons also like to bark at other dogs, but they are rarely aggressive. They are a true case of bark being much worse than bite. Early training to learn a stop barking command is essential to maintain family sanity.
Boston Terriers love their family and want to be with their people as often as possible. For this reason, separation anxiety is often a problem, and Bostons will bark, chew and scratch until their people come home. Keeping a Boston well exercised and giving him lots of activities to keep himself busy while he's alone can prevent problems.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Boston Terrier is a lively, highly intelligent, smooth coated, short-headed, compactly built, short-tailed, well balanced dog, brindle, seal or black in color and evenly marked with white. The head is in proportion to the size of the dog and the expression indicates a high degree of intelligence.
The body is rather short and well knit, the limbs strong and neatly turned, the tail is short and no feature is so prominent that the dog appears badly proportioned. The dog conveys an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order; carriage easy and graceful. A proportionate combination of "Color and White Markings" is a particularly distinctive feature of a representative specimen.
"Balance, Expression, Color and White Markings" should be given particular consideration in determining the relative value of GENERAL APPEARANCE to other points.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight is divided by classes as follows: Under 15 pounds; 15 pounds and under 20 pounds; 20 pounds and not to exceed 25 pounds. The length of leg must balance with the length of body to give the Boston Terrier its striking square appearance. The Boston Terrier is a sturdy dog and must not appear to be either spindly or coarse. The bone and muscle must be in proportion as well as an enhancement to the dog's weight and structure. Fault: Blocky or chunky in appearance. Influence of Sex. In a comparison of specimens of each sex, the only evident difference is a slight refinement in the bitch's conformation.

The skull is square, flat on top, free from wrinkles, cheeks flat, brow abrupt and the stop well defined. The ideal Boston Terrier expression is alert and kind, indicating a high degree of intelligence. This is a most important characteristic of the breed. The eyes are wide apart, large and round and dark in color. The eyes are set square in the skull and the outside corners are on a line with the cheeks as viewed from the front. Disqualify: Eyes blue in color or any trace of blue. The ears are small, carried erect, either natural or cropped to conform to the shape of the head and situated as near to the corners of the skull as possible. The muzzle is short, square, wide and deep and in proportion to the skull. It is free from wrinkles, shorter in length than in width or depth; not exceeding in length approximately one-third of the length of the skull. The muzzle from stop to end of the nose is parallel to the top of the skull. The nose is black and wide, with a well defined line between the nostrils. Disqualify: Dudley nose. The jaw is broad and square with short regular teeth. The bite is even or sufficiently undershot to square the muzzle. The chops are of good depth, but not pendulous, completely covering the teeth when the mouth is closed. Serious Fault: Wry mouth. Head Faults: Eyes showing too much white or haw. Pinched or wide nostrils. Size of ears out of proportion to the size of the head. Serious Head Faults: Any showing of the tongue or teeth when the mouth is closed.

Neck, Topline and Body
The length of neck must display an image of balance to the total dog. It is slightly arched, carrying the head gracefully and setting neatly into the shoulders. The back is just short enough to square the body. The topline is level and the rump curves slightly to the set-on of the tail. The chest is deep with good width, ribs well sprung and carried well back to the loins. The body should appear short. The tail is set on low, short, fine and tapering, straight or screw and must not be carried above the horizontal. (Note: The preferred tail does not exceed in length more than one-quarter the distance from set-on to hock.) Disqualify: Docked tail. Body Faults: Gaily carried tail. Serious Body Faults: Roach back, sway back, slab-sided.

The shoulders are sloping and well laid back, which allows for the Boston Terrier's stylish movement. The elbows stand neither in nor out. The forelegs are set moderately wide apart and on a line with the upper tip of the shoulder blades. The forelegs are straight in bone with short, strong pasterns. The dewclaws may be removed. The feet are small, round and compact, turned neither in nor out, with well arched toes and short nails. Faults: Legs lacking in substance; splay feet.

The thighs are strong and well muscled, bent at the stifles and set true. The hocks are short to the feet, turning neither in nor out, with a well defined hock joint. The feet are small and compact with short nails. Fault: Straight in stifle.

The gait of the Boston Terrier is that of a sure footed, straight gaited dog, forelegs and hind legs moving straight ahead in line with perfect rhythm, each step indicating grace and power. Gait Faults: There will be no rolling, paddling, or weaving, when gaited. Hackney gait. Serious Gait Faults: Any crossing movement, either front or rear.

The coat is short, smooth, bright and fine in texture.

Color and Markings
Brindle, seal, or black with white markings. Brindle is preferred ONLY if all other qualities are equal. (Note: SEAL DEFINED. Seal appears black except it has a red cast when viewed in the sun or bright light.) Disqualify: Solid black, solid brindle or solid seal without required white markings. Any color not described in the standard. Required Markings: White muzzle band, white blaze between the eyes, white forechest. Desired Markings:
White muzzle band, even white blaze between the eyes and over the head, white collar, white forechest, white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs below the hocks. (Note: A representative specimen should not be penalized for not possessing "Desired Markings.") A dog with a preponderance of white on the head or body must possess sufficient merit otherwise to counteract its deficiencies.

The Boston Terrier is a friendly and lively dog. The breed has an excellent disposition and a high degree of intelligence, which makes the Boston Terrier an incomparable companion.

The clean-cut short backed body of the Boston Terrier coupled with the unique characteristics of his square head and jaw, and his striking markings have resulted in a most dapper and charming American original: The Boston Terrier.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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