Boston Terrier Guide

Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

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The Boston terrier is a compactly built, square-proportioned, short-backed, clean-cut dog. It should convey the impression of determination, strength, sturdiness, liveliness, and style, with a graceful carriage. It retains many of the attributes of its bulldog ancestors, but in a clean-cut package that makes a handy house companion. Its short fine coat, with distinctive markings, adds to its dapper appearance.

The Boston is devoted and sensitive to its owner's wishes and moods. It is well-mannered indoors but saucy and playful (especially enjoying ball chasing) whenever the chance arises. Somewhat stubborn, it is nonetheless clever and learns readily. It is reserved with strangers, and some may be aggressive toward strange dogs. Some bark a lot.


FAMILY rerrier, companion, mastiff (bulldog)

AREA OF ORIGIN United States


ORIGINAL FUNCTION ratting, companion


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 15-17 Weight: 10-25

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 15-17 Weight: 10-25


Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Low

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Low tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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This is a lively dog that needs daily exercise and interaction with its people. It loves games, and most of its exercise requirements can be met with a romp in the yard or a short walk on leash. It cannot live outdoors. Some Bostons wheeze and snore, and many don't tolerate heat well. The coat requires only minimal care, an occasional brushing to remove dead hairs.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: cataract, PDA, patellar luxation, stenotic nares
• Occasionally seen: deafness, hydrocephalus, esophageal achalasia,
distichiasis, persistent right aortic arch
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 10 – 14 years
• Note: This breed does not tolerate the heat and is sensitive to
anesthesia. It is prone to corneal abrasions. Caesarian deliveries
are commonly needed.
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Unlike most breeds, the origin of the Boston terrier is well-documented. Around 1865, the coachmen employed by the wealthy people of Boston began to interbreed some of their employers' fine dogs. One of these crosses, between an English terrier and a bulldog, resulted in a dog named Hooper's Judge. Although Judge weighed over 30 pounds, he was bred to a smaller female, and their son was in turn bred to another smaller female. Their progeny, probably interbred with one or more French bulldogs, provided the foundation for the Boston terrier. 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 bull terrier fanciers. The breed's nickname, roundheads, was similarly inappropriate. Shortly after, the breed was named the Boston terrier, after its birthplace. The Boston's rise from nonexistence to AKC recognition was meteoric by modern standards, as the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1893, less than 20 years after the breed was born. Breeders continued to seek greater consistency. In early years, color and markings were not particularly important, but by the early 1900s, the breed's distinctive markings had become an essential breed feature. The handsome little Boston terrier quickly gained favor throughout America, ranking as one of the most popular breeds in the early to middle 1900s and retaining great popularity today.
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