Where Do Boston Terriers Come From?

Unlike most dog breeds with very little documentation of their ancestry, the history of the Boston Terrier is well documented. Sometime in the late 1860s in England, an English Terrier (now extinct) and a Bulldog were bred, and their puppy was sold to William O’Brien, an American, who took the dog to Boston.

O’Brien sold the dog in 1870 to Robert Hooper, and the dog became known as “Hooper’s Judge.” Hooper’s Judge is the patriarch of the Boston Terrier breed. Judge weighed over 30 pounds and was bred with a smaller white bulldog-type female named Gyp. A smaller puppy named Eph was born. Judge and Gyp begat Eph, Eph begat Kate, and so forth. Today’s Boston Terrier breed was created after a few more refinements by other breeders.

By 1890, these Boston Terriers became extremely popular in the Boston area, and owners created a club called the American Bull Terrier Club. Shortly after, the dog’s breed name was officially changed by the AKC to the Boston Terrier, and the AKC recognized the breed by the AKC in 1893.

Dubbing the breed the “American Gentleman,” the legislature of Massachusetts declared the Boston Terrier to be the official state dog in 1979.

The Boston Terrier is not part of the AKC’s Terrier Group despite its name. Instead, it is in the Non-Sporting Group. It is a relatively popular breed, ranking number 21 on the AKC’s list of most popular.

What Do Boston Terriers Look Like?

The Boston Terrier is a small dog standing about 16 inches tall and weighs not more than 25 pounds. They have erect ears, a short muzzle, and a coat combining white and black that resembles a tuxedo. The tuxedo look and good manners are why the Boston Terrier is nicknamed an American Gentleman.

The black part of its coat can have some variation. It can be completely black, black brindle, or sable. Sable looks black but has a reddish tint in bright lights. Its face resembles the French Bulldog, and these two breeds are often confused.


Black Brindle

Brown Brindle

French Bulldog

 Are Boston Terriers Good Family Dogs?

The Boston Terrier is an excellent companion dog and usually gets along very well with all family members. They are affectionate and may become a bit possessive and territorial, making them resentful of other dogs and strangers.

Generally, they are happy, friendly, and well-behaved family members. They need human companionship and are not outside dogs. They love to play with kids and require a lot of attention. They are not frequent barkers but will bark when necessary. This makes them pretty good watchdogs.

They do shed somewhat, so they are not a hypoallergenic breed. Boston Terriers need brushing about once a week and an occasional bath. Consequently, Boston Terriers are not a good choice for people allergic to dogs.

Boston Terriers are highly devoted to their owner and are very sensitive to the atmosphere and mood. This dog can sense whether its owner or other people feel upset, happy, or angry. This unique characteristic makes the Boston Terrier an excellent companion who is clever and learns very quickly.

This tough-looking dog may seem like it could live outdoors, but it does not very well tolerate heat or cold temperatures. They need daily exercise, which only requires regular walks on a leash or some playtime. They love to play chasing games and retrieve a ball. But most importantly, they want constant human companionship.

Are Boston Terriers Smart?

Ranked at number 54 in Stanley Coren’s book, “The Intelligence of Dogs, Boston Terriers are average in doggie smarts. Owners will tell you these dogs are very clever and relatively easy to train. Owners may be biased, but the Boston Terrier is clever and eager to please, so training should not be all that difficult. They can be stubborn, so you must be patient. Their desire to please should soon lead them to do what you trying to teach them.

Are Boston Terriers Healthy?

Your Boston Terrier should be relatively healthy with proper care, good nutrition, and enough exercise. They have a lifespan of 11 to 13 years.

Some health issues that may come up are stenotic nares, patellar luxation, elongated soft palate, and allergies. Boston Terriers can also have hip dysplasia, knee problems, and potential eye issues. Because of their short nose, some with

Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed. They may have some breathing problems, so they may snort or sneeze to try to clear their smaller nostrils. They sometimes snore.

Compare Bulldogs

Breed Country

English Bulldog

Height (inches): 14-15
Weight (Pounds): 40-50
Life Expectancy (Years): 8-10
Popularity (AKC): 5
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
United Kingdom

American Bulldog

Height (inches): 20-25
Weight (Pounds): 60-100
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): Not ranked
Group (AKC): Foundation Stock Services
United States
French Bulldog

Height (inches): 11-13
Weight (Pounds): under 28
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): 4
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
Bull Terrier

Height (inches): 21-22
Weight (Pounds): 50-70
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-13
Popularity (AKC): 62
Group (AKC): Terrier
United Kingdom
Boston Terrier

Height (inches): 15-17
Weight (Pounds): 12-25
Life Expectancy (Years): 11-13
Popularity (AKC): 21
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
United States
Miniature Bull Terrier

Height (inches): 10-14
Weight (Pounds): 18-28
Life Expectancy (Years): 11-13
Popularity (AKC): 110
Group (AKC): Terrier
United Kingdom