The Boston Terrier is an all American dog, being one of only a handful of breeds that were developed in the United States.
The original Boston Terriers resulted from a cross between a White English Terrier and an English Bulldog, and first appeared around 1870 in Boston, Massachusetts. These early Bostons weighed up to 44lbs (20kg), and were a fighting dog. Over the years, selective breeding has reduced their aggressiveness, and also their size, to produce a gentle dog that is well suited to being a companion for individuals and families.
These gentle little dogs are affectionately known as the American gentleman, because of their amiable nature. In spite of the name, they are not actually terriers as defined by the American Kennel Club, but are included in the non-sporting group. They were recognized by the AKC in 1893.
The Boston is a compact and muscular dog, with a square shaped head. They don’t grow very tall, only 17 inches (43cm) at the shoulder, and don’t weigh much more than 25lbs or 11kg. They have a naturally short or corkscrew tail.
Their color and markings are very important. Under the AKC standard, these dogs should only have three color combinations: brindle, black or seal (black with red highlights), all with white markings. Some breeders are producing Bostons in other shades such as tan or fawn. These dogs are often as healthy as any other Boston, but there are concerns these fanciers are breeding for color, rather than health and good conformation.
These little dogs are lively, friendly and intelligent. They are usually well mannered and quiet, and don’t bark unless they have a good reason. Like their Bull breed ancestors, they can be stubborn and challenging to train.
Because they have been bred for a good temperament and compact size, these are no longer considered a fighting breed, and are delightful playmates for children. However, they will stand up for themselves if they feel threatened by another dog. If they are well socialized from a young age, they will happily share their household with other pets.
There are several health issues that may affect the Boston Terrier.
They can be affected by cataracts, either as a juvenile or as an adult, which can lead to blindness. These may be hereditary. Cataracts are thought to be the most common health problem in the Boston Terrier breed.
Like their English Bulldog ancestors, these little dogs may develop cherry eye, a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. This usually needs to be replaced surgically.
Luxating patellas, or slipped kneecaps, can cause a characteristic skipping limp in the Boston. This condition often has a hereditary basis. The movement of the kneecap can cause wearing of the cartilage in the joint, and the result is painful arthritis. To avoid this, luxating patellas should be surgically repaired.
If a Boston Terrier has a lot of white, they may be deaf. Deafness is another trait that originated with the White English Terrier. Puppies can be tested to check for deafness, and only those with normal hearing in both ears should be used for breeding.
Like the English Bulldog, the Boston Terrier is a brachycephalic breed. This means they have a short snout, small nostrils and long palates. They can find it hard to breathe if they are exercised, and they may also be less able to cope with heat. If you like your dog to cuddle up in bed with you, be aware that the Boston Terrier has a reputation as a snorer.
It is very likely that a Boston Terrier will be unable to deliver their puppies naturally, and will need a cesarian section to give birth.
Before you welcome a Boston Terrier into your family, make sure you check the health of their parents, and the results of any pre-mating tests that were performed on them. By doing so, you minimize the risk of you buying a pup with a genetic disease, which will lead to heartache for you.
When it comes to ongoing care and maintenance, the Boston Terrier is a very easy breed to look after.
They don’t have a great need for exercise, and will be happy with a regular game in the back yard. Having said that, all dogs benefit from a walk around their neighborhood or in the dog park every day. This gives them the opportunity to explore the sights and smells around their home, and to interact with the local canine population.
Their short coat takes no time to groom. These little dogs should be bathed if and when necessary, and a once-over with a grooming mitt will remove any loose hairs, and keep their coat smooth and shiny.
In spite of their tendency to stubbornness, the Boston still benefits from socialization as a puppy, and ongoing training as an adult. This teaches them to respect you as their leader, and to fit in better with your household.
If you choose your dog carefully so that you avoid any health problems, you’ll enjoy one of the lowest maintenance breeds in the dog world.
The Boston Terrier is an ideal companion for people in just about any circumstances. Busy families will appreciate not having to spend much time on looking after their dog. Seniors will enjoy the company of a dog that is calm, quiet and affectionate, and that loves to be with them.
These little dogs are particularly ideal for apartment dwellers, as they don’t need much exercise. They don’t bark indiscriminately, which means you will stay friends with your neighbors.
The average life span of a Boston is about 11 years.