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Boston Terrier

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Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier with brindle coat
Boston Terrier with brindle coat
Alternative names
Boston Bull
Boston Bull & Terrier
Country of origin
United States
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 9 Section 11 #140  
AKC: Non-sporting  
ANKC: Group 7 (Non-Sporting)  
CKC: Group 6 - Non-Sporting Dogs  
KC (UK): Utility  
NZKC: Non-sporting  
UKC: Companion Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The Boston Terrier is a breed of dog originating in the United States of America.


Boston Terriers are typically small, compactly built, well proportioned, dogs with erect ears, short tails, and a short muzzle that should be free of wrinkles. Boston terriers can weigh from 10 to 25 lb, typically in the vicinity of 15 lb. The breed is known for its gentle, alert, and intelligent expression.

14 month-old Boston Terrier; 10 lb 14 month-old Boston Terrier; 10 lb

The Boston Terrier is characteristically marked with white in proportion to either black, brindle, seal, or a combination of the three. Seal is a color specifically used to describe Boston Terriers and is defined as a black color with red highlights when viewed in the sun or bright light. Ideally white should cover its chest, muzzle, band around the neck, half way up the forelegs, up to the hocks on the rear legs, and a white blaze between but not touching the eyes. In the show ring, symmetrical markings are preferred. Due to the Boston Terrier's markings resembling formal wear, in addition to its refined and pleasant personality, the breed is commonly referred to as the "American Gentleman."

Frequently, variations on the standard are seen depending on the ancestry of the individual dog. At various times, the English Bulldog, English Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and French Bulldog—among other breeds—have been crossbred with Boston Terrier lines to minimize inbreeding in what is necessarily a small gene pool.


Young Boston Terrier pup with black coat and white markings Young Boston Terrier pup with black coat and white markings

Bred for companionship, the modern Boston Terrier can be gentle, alert, and well-mannered; however they may be difficult to potty train in the beginning. They're known to be quite rambunctious, with a sense of humor. Some Bostons enjoy having another one for companionship. Both females and males generally bark only when necessary. Having been bred as a companion dog, they enjoy being around people, and if properly socialized get along well with children, other canines, and non-canine pets. Boston Terriers can be very cuddly, while others are more independent. Some Boston Terriers have an excitable or dominant temperament that requires special training and handling by the owner. Some are aggressive towards other dogs and some dogs are just attached to one person. Boston Terriers do not typically realize that they are small animals and are not afraid to confront larger dogs or other animals.


Several health issues are of concern in the Boston Terrier: cataracts (both juvenile and adult type), cherry eye, luxating patellas, deafness, heart murmur, and allergies. Curvature of the back, called roaching, might be caused by patella problems with the rear legs, which in turn causes the dog to lean forward onto the forelegs. This might also just be a structural fault with little consequence to the dog. Many Bostons cannot tolerate excessive heat and humidity due to the shortened muzzle, so hot weather brings the danger of heat exhaustion.


The Boston Terrier breed originated around 1870, when Robert C. Hooper of Boston purchased a dog known as Hooper's Judge, a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. The English White Terrier as a breed is currently thought to be extinct. In 1893, the American Kennel Club (AKC) admitted the Boston Terrier breed and gave the club membership status—making it the first American breed to be recognized.


Rhett the Boston Terrier is the well-known mascot of Boston University.

In 1979, the state legislature recognized the Boston Terrier as the state dog of Massachusetts.


  • Meade, Scotteee (2000). The Boston Terrier. Howell Book House. ISBN 1-58245-159-1.
  • Cline, Mrs. Charles D. (1995). Boston Terriers. T.F. H. Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-7938-2397-8.
  • Bulanda, Susan (1994). Boston Terriers. Barron's Educational Series, Inc. ISBN 0-8120-1696-3.

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