The Boston Terrier is a compact, muscular and small dog. Its coat comes in primarily black and white, which is often called its “tuxedo”. There are also brindle and white and seal and white coat colors. The brindle color is a dark variegated pattern, while the seal color takes on a reddish cast when viewed in the light.
The Boston Terrier is often called the American Gentleman due to the coat it wears, its origins, and its highly agreeable personality. They are highly intelligent. Their heads, bodies, and tails are short. Their torsos are short, muscular and well balanced. Their legs are strong, and they stand with an alert posture which gives them an appearance of graceful style and strong determination.
The breed is considered to be the first native American dog breed, because it was created in Boston, Massachusetts. The first Boston Terriers were the result of crossing an English Bulldog with an English White Terrier. In the 1800s, the city of Boston’s wealthier citizens owned dogs. Their coachmen began to interbreed some of them. One of these early crossings resulted in Hooper’s Judge, who weighed more than 30 pounds. He was bred with a smaller female. One of her male pups was bred to an even smaller female. Their offspring were interbred with French Bulldogs. These became the foundational dogs of the Boston Terrier breed. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1893, and in subsequent decades it became highly popular in Boston and then throughout America.
In the early years, Boston Terriers could weigh nearly 44 pounds. They were dogs used for pit fighting in those days. They were even given weight classifications of light, middle and heavyweight. Now, Bostons usually weigh less than 25 pounds, and they are gentle dogs with calm and friendly natures.
Not enough can be said about the gentle nature of this breed. Bostons love their owners to be with them. Participating in obedience class is one way to train Boston puppies, beginning around 10 weeks old. They are intelligent and enjoy mental stimulation as much as physical activity. Some will find the extra challenge of agility training a positive activity, while others will prefer to stay inside and rest.
Size and Exercise
• Males and females range in height from 9 to 15 inches tall.
• Males weigh from 8 to 25 pounds.
• Females weigh from 6 to 22 pounds.
They are wonderful playmates for children, enjoying many doggie games. They enjoy fetching flying discs, playing with balls, running and playing in the yard. They like walking daily with their owners. Visits to the park to see people is fun, and, once trained, an occasional supervised visit at a dog park with other dogs is a nice activity.
Whatever the activity, fresh water must always be available. Bostons tend to overheat and some may need rapid cooling measures if conditions are very hot or humid. They are just as likely to become too cold, so during extremely cold weather they must wear a sweater or doggie coat.
Health Issues and Living Conditions
The Boston Terrier is most affected by over 20 conditions and illnesses of the eyes. There are also other common illnesses and conditions which are either genetic or related to general health. These include:
• Juvenile cataracts in very young dogs can cause complete blindness
• Cataracts in old age dogs
• Mitral Valve problems
• Heart Murmur
• Allergic dermatitis
• Sensorineural deafness
• Patellar luxation
• Brachycephalic syndrome
• Demodectic mange
Boston Terriers do best living close to other family members. They are good with children and even other pets. Because they are small to medium in size, they can live in apartments as long as they have sufficient exercise. They should have daily walks with their companions and time for play. They excel in a variety of living conditions, making excellent family pets, therapy dogs for nursing homes, companions for the elderly and lively active playmates for children.
Bostons need a regular place for elimination four times each day once they reach adulthood. They must have high quality food and clean water to drink. As with many dogs bred for companionship traits, they enjoy sleeping near their family members and should be kept indoors for safety except during daily exercise times. When walking, they should always be on a leash. When playing, they should always be in an enclosed, fenced area. Because their coats are thin, they must be kept from excessive heat and cold.
Boston Terriers have an average lifespan of approximately 11 to 13 years.
Boston Terriers are short haired dogs without a secondary undercoat. Because their coat is smooth, combing and brushing is relatively simple. They shed a reasonable amount, but only need a bath when they develop that characteristic dog odor. Their faces need to wiped clean with a damp cloth daily. Their eyes are prominent, and need a careful daily cleaning. Their ears can harbor ticks, and both eyes and ears can have grass seeds. These should be carefully removed. Their nails also need to be clipped on a regular basis.
Caring for Boston Terrier Puppies
Boston Terriers can easily be trained to be quiet puppies with good manners. Though they are wonderful with agility skills such as jumping, running, fetching and other dog tricks, they can have trouble breathing at times. Due to their muzzle configuration, some develop brachycephalic syndrome. This is basically sneezing inward, which can lead to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Some puppies can be calmed by rubbing the backs of their necks. Others will need to have their noses gentle cleared of mucous to help them breath. These puppies will need extra monitoring to keep them from running too long.
One best friend of the Boston is a veterinarian who is skilled with caring for their particular conditions. Establishing a relationship promptly will help the puppy to have the vaccinations, preventive medications, regular checkups and medical supervision that this breed needs.
Before Taking Your New Boston Terrier Puppy Home
• Find the breeder who will help to match you with the right puppy
• Look for breeders who prepare their puppies for going home with proper health certifications
• Find the breeder who will answer your questions and address your concerns
• Learn about Boston Terrier history
• Access the Boston Terrier Club of America for information
• Make contact with the best local veterinarian who will care for your puppy
• Ask your veterinarian about referrals to breeders if necessary
• Organize your budget to prepare for the extra costs associated with your new puppy
• Buy the breeder recommended food, treats, dishes, toys, a collar and leash for walks
• Investigate puppy training, obedience training and agility training courses for the future
• Prepare a crate and dedicated sleeping area for your new puppy
• Read about how to potty train your puppy
When You Bring Your Puppy Home
Boston terrier puppies have beautiful, large and protruding eyeballs. Due to the high occurrence of illnesses with their eyes, learning how to protect puppies right from the start is one of the most important things you can do for your brand new Boston. Their muzzles are short in comparison to their protruding eyes, so they must be kept from accidental scratches.
• Avoid exposing your puppy to long times in the sunshine
• Put small doggie sun visors on your puppy’s head to keep the sun out of its eyes
• Never allow your Boston to stick its head out of the car window, avoiding harmful air pressure
• Do not take your Boston on hikes when and where it is very dusty
• Always carry dog eyewash drops to wash sand, dust, plant or other particles out of their eyes
• Do not allow your puppy to rub its eyes if you suspect particles might scratch their eyes
• Keep your puppy away from areas with cactus, roses or thorny plants to avoid eye scratches
Boston Terrier Mixes and Types
The American Kennel Club standards are very specific about the Boston. These dogs have been carefully bred since the beginning to produce clearly recognizable traits. Because of this focus, there is only one purebred type. Mixes tend to be accidental versions not bred by AKC member breeders. The breed is well-loved as the first true American breed, with breeders adhering to strict standards with pride.
One interesting note is that once in a while a Boston is born with a dark circle on the top of the head, located in the middle of the white blaze. This marking is called a Haggerty Spot. The significance of this dot, spot, or as some call it, the “Haggerty Star”, is that it is a sign that the Boston who has it can trace its lineage back to one of the original founding Haggerty lines from the early years of the 1900s. Respected and honored judge and Boston breeder Vincent Perry, considered it a perfect marking and “the kiss of God”.
Other names for the breed include:
- Round Heads – the first name for the breed
- The American Gentleman – a designation of affection given to the breed by breeders in honor of the breed’s gentle and kind disposition as companions and house pets
- The Boston
- Boston Bull
Boston Bull Terrier
The Boston Terrier was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1893.
The official AKC National Breed club is the Boston Terrier Club of America.
American Canine Association Inc. (ACA)
American Canine Registry (ACR)
American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)
Australian National Kennel Club (ANKC)
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA)
Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
Kennel Club of Great Britain (KCGB)
National Kennel Club (NKC)
New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC)
North American Purebred Registry, Inc (NAPR)
United Kennel Club (UKC)
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