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Boston Terrier

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Extrovert, full of energy and loving, Boston terriers are hard to resist. They are fabulous companions and can live anywhere but they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. These appealing pooches boast distinctive markings and expressive faces. They are feisty and gregarious characters which are incredibly popular around the world.

Which breed group is the Boston terrier in?

Breed group: Utlity

Boston terrier breed history

The Boston terrier was developed in the 19th century but there is some debate as to exactly how this breed first evolved. Many people believe that the coachmen of wealthy families developed the Boston terrier by crossing Bulldogs and the now extinct English white terrier to create a new dog-fighting breed. Others favour the idea that a Bostonian named Robert C. Hooper imported a Bulldog/English Terrier cross named Judge from England in 1865 because he reminded Hooper of a childhood pet. Another story suggests that Hooper purchased Judge from another Bostonian, William O'Brian, around 1870.

There is no dispute that a dog called Judge existed and that Boston terriers are his descendants. He was bred only once in his lifetime and the result was a single puppy. One of his offspring was crossed with a French bulldog and the puppies proved to be the foundation of the Boston terrier breed which was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1893.

During the 20th century, the dogs’ distinctive markings were evolved and written into the breed standard. Boston terriers became the most popular breed across the pond and were favoured by celebrities. The Boston terrier is the official state dog of Massachusetts and the mascot of Boston University.

Boston terrier breed characteristics

Comparatively small but with big personalities, Boston terriers are generally happy, friendly and boisterous dogs. They possess square heads; square muzzles and their eyes are set wide apart. Their ears are carried upright and their legs are muscular. Their bodes appear short due to their curving rumps and their feet are small with arched toes. Tails are set low and can be carried straight or curled.

The distinctive coat of this breed is short, smooth and lustrous. It can be a variety of colours and colour combinations, but the dogs must have white muzzles together with a white blaze covering their head, their collar, breast and all or part of their front legs. They should also be white below their hocks on their hind legs.

Notable for their intelligence and lively characters, Boston Terriers can be stubborn and wilful. They require a dedicated and firm approach to training and must be socialised from an early age. Male dogs may be very protective and both sexes form strong bonds with their owners which can lead to separation anxiety. If left to their own devices, these dogs can be come highly vocal and very destructive.

  • Lifespan: 9-15 years
  • Height: up to 43cm
  • Weight: up to 11.4kg
  • Small dogs
  • Characterful and boisterous
  • Intelligent
  • Square heads
  • Square muzzles
  • Erect ears
  • Small feet
  • Short coats
  • White muzzles
  • White blazes on heads, collars and front legs
  • Protective
  • Build strong bonds with humans

Health issues with the Boston terrier

Boasting a long lifespan and generally good health, the Boston terrier is nonetheless prone to the following conditions:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Early on-set cataracts
  • Late on-set hereditary cataracts
  • Hereditary heart defects
  • Deafness
  • Sinus issues
  • Incorrect vertebra development

What is the Boston terrier bred for?

Originally developed as companion dogs and sometimes for fighting, Boston terriers are now primarily bred as family pets and show dogs.

What sort of owners does the Boston terrier suit?

These boisterous little chaps are extremely people orientated and so are amazing companions. They don’t require much grooming, shed only minimally and are relatively easy to train. As such, they are good choices for first time owners. However, it is important to note that Boston terriers are highly energetic and often suffer from separation anxiety and so will place significant demands on their owners’ time. They will be happiest in households where at least one person is home all day and with owners who can give them plenty of walks. They tend to bark and so are not good choices for apartment living or for homes with near neighbours.


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