Boston Terriers have been a popular breed for about a century now. Their tuxedo-like markings and affectionate, gentle personalities have earned them the nickname ‘American Gentlemen’, despite being initially bred to be fighting dogs. These dogs are relatively small, only standing 15-17 inches at the shoulder and usually weighing 12-25 pounds.
This breed was initially bred for dog fights and rat-killing competitions, as these activities were sadly pretty popular in 19th-century England. There is one dog believed to be the common ancestor for all “true” Bostons. Judge was born in the late 1860s in Liverpool and was the cross between a Bulldog and now extinct white English Terrier. Judge eventually found his way to Boston and was bred with another dog.
Over the generations, Boston Terriers became less of a bulky fighter than Judge was and soon were the smaller, nicer companion dogs we know today. The breed was formally registered with the American Kennel Club in 1893 and the Massachusetts legislature named Boston Terriers the official state dog. Plus, the mascot for Boston University has been a Boston Terrier for over 100 years. Any dog breed named after a city generally does well in an urban setting and Boston Terriers are no exception. These sturdy dogs are small enough to be portable, do well in apartments, and love walks to the park or restaurant patio. In addition to a relatively low tendency for barking, they’re also pretty great with other dogs, cats, children, and people. However, they do have a high potential for wandering off and will need daily walks to be happy and healthy. But given the right exercise routine and enrichment activities, these dogs would be a great first dog for novice owners!
Boston Terriers do have some general health problems to keep in mind. Their large eyes are prone to issues like dry eye, corneal ulcers, and cherry eye so it’ll be important to be careful around their eyes and make sure everything is okay. Their short noses also present some issues, as they have issues cooling air before it goes into their lungs. Between that and their short coats, they are more prone to heat stress and sensitive to cold temperatures. They can also be a bit gassy and their short noses mean that these terriers will snort, drool, and snore! They have other respiratory issues, like ‘reverse sneezing’. This issue usually happens when a Boston gets too excited, eats too fast, or affected by pollen. Nasal discharge drops onto their soft palate, which then closes over the windpipe. During a reverse sneezing episode, you should try to calm your Boston and help them relax. Forcing them to breathe through their mouth by temporarily closing their nostrils is also said to help and can be the fastest way to stop the episode.
While these dogs are smart and affectionate, they can also be stubborn and are quite emotionally sensitive. Persistent and consistent positive training are important for Boston Terriers, as punishment and negative tones in your voice can make them shut down. No training or a lack of a pack leader can lead to a Boston having ‘Small Dog Syndrome’. They are also really sensitive to extreme temperatures and are indoor dogs in any climate, as they are by no means meant to be an outside dog.
Daily walks, playtime, and toys can all make a difference in a Boston’s life. They don’t need excessively long walks and are generally content to be couch potatoes. But they can also develop behavioral problems if not trained and exercised enough. The good news is that these dogs love to play and are great with children! They’re not too big to potentially and accidentally hurting a child but not small enough to be hurt while playing. Additionally, Boston Terriers actually excel at various activities! Dog sports like agility and obedience are great activities to do with at Boston Terrier. Because of their gentle and happy disposition, this breed also does really well as therapy dogs.
A Boston Terrier’s coat is smooth, short, and fine and comes in three colors: black, brindle, or seal (a coat that looks black but has a reddish look in the sunlight). They are really easy to groom and compared to other breeds, they don’t shed a whole lot! Brushing once a week with a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt is all they really need and baths only really need to happen when absolutely necessary.
Overall, Boston Terriers are great dogs to have around, especially if you are a first-time dog owner or if you live in an apartment or urban setting. They’ll need daily walks and training but don’t need excessive amounts of exercise. They also do well in agility courses, as therapy dogs, and in other activities, as they’re smart and loving companions! All in all, this is a wonderful breed and would make a great addition to any home or family.