Boston Terrier Breed

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: November 25, 2008

Nicknamed the little American gentleman among dogs because of its gentle disposition, the Boston Terrier was bred in Massachusetts well over 100 years ago, a cross between the English Bulldog and English Terrier. Devoted, clever, active, and clever, the Boston Terrier makes for a wonderful companion.

Physical Characteristics

The clean-cut Boston Terrier has a square-proportioned, compactly-built, and short-backed body. This dog passes on the impression of liveliness, sturdiness, strength, determination, grace, and style. It preserves many features of its Bulldog relatives, but has a clean-cut structure, making it ideal as a helpful house companion. These small dogs are also known to snore or wheeze because of its flat nose. Its short coat, which is fine and comes in brindle, seal, or black with white markings, is elegant in appearance.

Personality and Temperament

The Boston Terrier may be stubborn at times, but as it is also clever, it can be taught to learn. It is shy in front of strangers and some Boston Terriers may get feisty towards unfamiliar dogs, while others bark a lot. However, this breed is also sensitive and devoted, and while indoors, it is one of the most well-mannered, well-rounded dogs. If taken outside, the Boston Terrier is a highly active dog and is bold, playful, and always up for a game of fetch.


Boston Terriers should not be kept outdoors, as many do not tolerate heat well. Its coat needs minimal care, just the occasional brushing is enough to get rid of dead hair. The Boston Terrier is an indoor dog but does, however, need exercise daily, which can be accomplished with a short leash-led walk or a nice romp in the yard.


This Boston Terrier has an averafe lifespan of 10 to 14 years and is prone to minor ailments like stenotic nares, allergies, elongated soft palate, and patellar luxation. Deafness, demodicosis, seizures, corneal abrasions, and cataract may occasionally affect this breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, knee, and eye exams on the dog.

The Boston Terrier breed cannot tolerate anesthesia or heat. Additionally, Boston Terrier pups are often delivered by cesarean section.

History and Background

Fortunately, the origin and history of the Boston Terrier breed has been properly documented, which is unusual compared to other dog breeds. A true American creation, the Boston Terrier was a result of a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier, which occurred around 1870. This dog was commonly known as "Hooper's Judge," named after the man who purchased the animal, Robert C. Hooper. It is now believed all modern Boston Terriers can follow their terrier ancestry to this 30-pound male. After crossbreeding it further with French Bulldogs, its physical and temperamental characteristics were refined. In 1879, the Boston Terrier was recognized by the Massachusetts State Legislature as the official state dog, and in 1889, the first dog club for the breed was established, the American Bull Terrier Club.

Because the dogs were often named and classified as Bull Terriers in competitions and shows, English Bulldog and Bull Terrier fanciers began to object to these new entrants because of the similarity of the breed name. The Boston Terrier Club of America was established in 1891 and soon thereafter officially changed the name of the breed to the Boston Terrier, taking the name of the city where the breed originated.

In 1893, after little more than 20 years from the breed's inception, the Boston Terrier breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This was rather unusual, as many other breeds take many decades to be recognized by the AKC. The breed's distinctive markings would later become a vital feature for the Boston Terrier and is now recognized as its most beautiful characteristic. Today, the Boston Terrier is an elegant pet and a wonderful companion to have.

Image: C_Gara via Shutterstock

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