Background and History
What not a terrier? What am I doing here? Why am I not in the terrier group?
These are questions that the Boston Terrier or ‘American Gentleman’ might legitimately ask. Instead, it joins its esteemed Bulldog forebear in the Non-Sporting Group of dog breeds although practically it can hold claim a strong Terrier background.
The Boston Terrier was initially prolifically and sadly used in dog-fighting. It also performed well as a traditional Terrier in the control of pests in factories. Despite this, it is the first dog breed in America placed in the Non Sporting Group. It might well reflect a move by the American Kennel Club at the time to distance this lovely dog from cruel sports.
It seems that this ‘American Gentleman’ happily shed its associations with the sport. It also went up in the world. The Terrier is traditionally associated with the working man. But this breed abandoned its more humble roots to become the darling of well-heeled Bostonian society. As a result, the Boston Terrier was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1893.
This popular and very likable breed was named after the Massachusetts town. It the result of crossing the English and French Bulldog. Some Old English Terrier blood was then thrown in the mix. The earliest accepted example was a dog taken to Boston from Liverpool in 1875. This was sold to a Mr. Hooper and it is possible that Hooper brought the dog himself to the USA. Hooper was a pioneer in mixing English bulldogs with other breeds successfully. The Boston Terrier has since become deservedly one of the most celebrated American breeds.
Character and Temperament
This dog is very clever and is fully imbued with a Terrier’s tendency towards mischief and cheekiness. The Boston Terrier is an excellent family pet but it is a little clingy to its human owners and any owner of this dog is very likely to acquire a small bull-dog-shaped shadow around the house.
No Terrier puts up with being looked down upon, even if they are of diminutive size. This is, even more, the case for this ‘American Gentleman’. This Terrier acquired this name for his dapper looks and the white breast on black is often equated with a tuxedo. This dapper dog might also point to his distinguished ancestry from the dear old English Bulldog.
This adorable breed is very popular in the United States and is ranked the 21st most popular breed according to 2020 AKC registration data . It is the official state dog of Massachusetts. It has also returned to its old-world roots and is establishing a paw-hold of popularity back in the United Kingdom.
This popularity is very well-earned as this breed is very giving and loving. They are perfect in the home and are alert and good fun. These dogs need early socializing. This will soften the Bulldog tendency to be a little stubborn and self-willed at times. This can lead to a tendency to pull on the leash and occasional episodes of ‘selective hearing’.
The Boston Terrier is a very playful pup who makes an ideal companion to children as they do not play rough. This breed has a mischievous and cheeky temperament and will enjoy interactive games and challenges including chasing and retrieval opportunities on walks.
This breed is generally sociable with other dogs and is also good with other household pets including cats. But they can be aloof with strangers and some of this breed are prone to excessive barking in the home.
The Boston Terrier is well-suited to city living and offers a good choice for owners who live in apartments. But opportunities should be taken for games and interactive play outside whenever possible.
For the different stages in a puppy and adult dog’s development please click here.
This bubbly little dog is very capable of learning a range of commands and being trained to a good standard. The inherited Bulldog stubbornness might occasionally present a challenge but generally, this dog dotes on people and is very eager to please.
An approach that is based around treats and positive reinforcement will always be a winner with this fellow.
The Boston Terrier only requires a moderate amount of exercise. They will enjoy a short walk but a couple of outings of around 30 minutes will be enough in a day with the added opportunity for interactive play.
The Boston Terrier is bedecked in a short and sleek coat covering a strong, compact body. The general impression is one of elegant but stoic solidity in keeping with its Bulldog heritage. This dog has a straight back leading to a short tail that can be cork-tailed or straight.
This little Terrier is squarely proportioned with a broad and slightly rounded domed headset with large rounded eyes and gently arched upright ears. This all combines in an unusual but attractive look and conveys a sense of calm and gentleness.
The Boston Terrier generally stands between 15 to 17 inches (38-43 cm) and weighs somewhere between 11 to 25 lb (5-11 kg).
Coat and Grooming
The grooming requirements for this breed are minimal. A weekly brush will suffice to remove dead hairs although this should be a little more frequent during periods of hot weather in order to help this gentleman keep his cool.
Lifespan and Health
This breed is generally healthy and usually enjoys a good lifespan between around 11 to 14 years.
The Bulldog inheritance means the Boston Terrier is brachycephalic. This can lead to respiratory issues. Owners must be vigilant to ensure that their dog’s breathing is comfortable. Any exertion or exercise must be moderated. Especial care must be taken during periods of hot weather. This dog must be kept cool and safe from heatstroke.
The Boston Terrier can be prone to suffer from patellar luxation (dislocated knee joints) as well as eye-related problems and allergies. Children should be advised to be careful around their eyes during play.