Boston Terriers – Choosing a Boston Terrier – Dog Breeds

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The Boston terrier is one of the few truly American breeds. Developed in Boston, Mass., the Boston terrier has steadily increased in popularity since the late 1800s. Though not one of the top dog breeds, the Boston's characteristic coloration and appearance make the dog readily recognizable.

History and Origin

The Boston terrier was originally developed as a cross between the English bulldog and English terrier and called "round heads" or "bull terriers." Around 1870, one of the progeny of this cross, named "Judge," was imported into Boston. With hard work and strict breeding programs, the Boston as we know it today was developed.

In 1889, the American Bull Terrier Club was formed by a group of about 30 Boston fanciers. Over time, opposition arose from bull terrier and bulldog fanciers about the similarity of the breed's name. In 1891, the American Bull Terrier Club changed its name to the Boston Terrier Club of America and changed the name of the breed to the Boston terrier. The breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1893.

Appearance and Size

The Boston terrier is a small, compact, muscular dog. The chest is broad and the tail can be either straight or curled. Bostons have a flat broad skull, short muzzle and ears set high on the head. The hair coat is short, smooth and shiny. The classic Boston colors are black with a white blaze and muzzle, but brindle and white, as well as brindle with black, are also accepted.

The adult Boston terrier stands 14 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 15 to 25 pounds.


Boston terriers belong to the non-sporting group of dogs. They are gentle dogs and rarely fight. Their small size and neatness make them a good breed for apartments. Even though they are not fighters, they are protective and loyal to their family.

Home and Family Relations

Boston terriers are excellent companion pets for children and the elderly. They are just as happy playing dress-up with children or spending the day next to their owner on the couch.


The Boston terrier is intelligent and enthusiastic. The breed is easily house trained, and with time and patience, can learn obedience as well as many tricks.

Special Concerns

The breed tends to wheeze and snore due to their short noses. Baths are not frequently needed and the Boston requires little grooming.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Boston is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Atopy is an itchy skin disease of animals that is caused by an allergy to substances in the environment.
  • Mast Cell Tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism is a disorder affecting the adrenal glands. When overactive, the adrenal glands secrete excessive cortisol, resulting in illness.
  • Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.
  • Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
  • Brachycephalic syndrome a group of conditions that cause resistance to airflow through the upper respiratory tract (nose, larynx) in short-nosed breeds of dogs.
  • Congenital Deafness can be present at birth.

    In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

  • Pyloric Stenosis – is a congenital hypertrophy of the pyloric muscle that causes vomiting and obstruction.
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO) is a non-cancerous disorder that almost exclusively affects the bones of the head.
  • Congenital Elbow Luxation – is a dislocation of the elbow joint.
  • Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.
  • Hydrocephalus a neurological disease in which there is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricular system of the brain.

    In addition, the Boston terrier is prone to generalized demodicosis, heat stroke and brain tumors.

    Life Span

    The average life span of the Boston terrier is 14 to 16 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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