Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier with a black brindle coat
Other names
  • Boston Bull
  • Boston Bull Terrier
  • Boxwood[1]
  • American Gentleman[2]: 5 
OriginUnited States
Height 9–15 in (23–38 cm)
Weight 6–25 lb (3–11 kg)
Coat Short, smooth and slick
  • Brindle with white
  • Seal with white
  • Black with white
Litter size 1–6 puppies
Life span 11.8 years
Kennel club standards
American Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
NotesState dog of Massachusetts
Dog (domestic dog)

The Boston Terrier is a breed of dog originating in the United States of America. This "American Gentleman" was accepted in 1893 by the American Kennel Club as a non-sporting breed.[2] Boston Terriers are small and compact with a short tail and erect ears.

The Boston Terrier ranked as the 24th most popular breed in registrations with the American Kennel Club in 2022.[3]


Terrier Seated (Old Boston Bulldog) by Frances B. Townsend, Boston Public Library, 19th century
A Boston Terrier ante 1904.
A young male Boston Terrier with a Brown brindle coat

The Boston terrier breed originated around 1870, when Robert C. Hooper of Boston purchased from a man named William O'Brien a dog named Judge (known later as Hooper's Judge), which was of a bull and terrier type lineage. Hooper's Judge is directly related to the original bull and terrier breeds of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The American Kennel Club cites Hooper's Judge as the ancestor of nearly all true modern Boston Terriers.[4]

This article or section appears to contradict itself. Please see the talk page for more information. (February 2024)

Judge weighed about 32 pounds (15 kg). Judge was bred to Edward Burnett's bitch named Gyp (or Kate). Gyp was a white bulldog-type female, owned by Edward Burnett, of Southboro, Massachusetts. She weighed about 20 pounds (9.1 kg), was stocky and strong and had the typical blocky head now shown in Bostons. From this foundation of the breed, subsequent breeders refined the breed into its modern-day presentation.[5] Bred down in size from fighting dogs of the bull and terrier types, the Boston Terrier originally weighed up to 44 pounds (20 kg) (Old Boston Bulldogs).[2]

The Boston Terrier Club was formed in 1891 it was admitted to membership in the American Kennel Club in 1893.[4] It is one of a small number of breeds to have originated in the United States.[citation needed]

In the early years, the color and markings were not very important to the breed's standard. By the 20th century the breed's distinctive markings and color were written into the standard, becoming an essential feature. The Boston Terrier has lost most of its aggressive nature, preferring the company of humans, although some males will still challenge other dogs if they feel their territory is being invaded.[citation needed] Boston University has used Rhett the Boston Terrier as their mascot since 1922.[6] The Boston Terrier has also been the official state dog of Massachusetts since 1979.[7]


An adult male Boston Terrier with a black coat

The Boston Terrier is a compactly built, well-proportioned dog. It has a square-looking head with erect ears and a slightly arched neck. The muzzle is short and generally wrinkle-free, with an even or a slightly undershot bite. The chest is broad and the tail is short.[8] According to international breed standards, the dog should weigh no more than 25 pounds (11 kg). Boston Terriers usually stand up to 15–17 inches (380–430 mm) at the withers.[9]

The American Kennel Club divides the breed into three classes: under 15 pounds, 15 pounds and under 20 pounds, 20 pounds and not exceeding 25 pounds.[9]

Coat and color

The Boston Terrier is characteristically marked with white in proportion to either black, brindle, seal (seal appears as black with a red cast in lighting), or a combination of the three.[9] Solid colours and colours not mentioned are not accepted by the breed standard.[9][8] According to the American Kennel Club, the Boston Terrier's markings are broken down into two categories: Required, which consists of a white chest, white muzzle band, and a white band between the eyes; and Desired, which includes the Required markings plus a white collar, white on the forelegs, forelegs, up to the hocks on the rear legs.[9] For conformation showing, symmetrical markings are preferred.[9] 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."[2][4]

Notable features

The Boston Terrier's large, prominent pair of eyes is a distinguishable feature. The breed's round eyes are set widely apart, are large in size, and located squarely in the skull.[10]

The breed's genetic makeup produces a short tail.[11] These short tails can take the shape of a corkscrew, or curl, or they can be straight.[11] Generally, Boston Terriers' tails do not exceed 2 inches (51 mm) in length.[12]


Boston Terrier is a gentle breed that typically has a strong, happy-go-lucky, and friendly personality with a merry sense of humor. Boston Terriers are generally eager to please their owner and can be easily trained.[13][better source needed] They can be very protective of their owners, which may result in aggressive and territorial behavior toward other pets and strangers.[citation needed]

Both females and males are generally quiet and bark only when necessary.[14] Their usually sensible attitude toward barking makes them excellent choices for apartment dwellers.[13][better source needed] They enjoy being around people, get along well with children, the elderly, other canines, and non-canine pets, if properly socialized.[2]


A newborn Boston Terrier

A 2024 UK study found a life expectancy of 11.8 years for the breed compared to an average of 12.7 for purebreeds and 12 for crossbreeds.[15]

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.[2]

The Boston Terrier is a brachycephalic breed of dog.[16] Brachycephaly refers to the shortened muzzle of the breed which results in a pushed-in appearance of the face.[17] Brachycephaly results in deformation of the upper airway tract and leads to obstruction of breathing.[18] Effects of brachycephaly are stridor, stertorous breathing, emesis, skin fold dermatitis, brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, exophthalmos, pharyngeal gag reflex, cyanosis, and laryngeal collapse.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] Other issues arising from brachycephaly are risk of complications whilst under anaesthesia,[26] and hyperthermia — with the latter caused due to an inability to effectively reduce body temperature via panting.[27]

Bostons frequently require caesarean section to give birth, with over 80% of litters in a UK Kennel Club survey delivered this way.[28][29] A UK study found Boston Terrier bitches to be 12.9 times more likely to experience dystocia.[30]

The breed is predisposed to the following dermatological conditions: atopic dermatitis,[31] allergic skin disease, demodicosis,[32] hyperadrenocorticism, mast cell tumour, pattern alopecia, and zinc-responsive dermatosis.[33]

A study in North America of veterinary records of almost 10,000 Boston Terriers and over 1,000,000 dogs found 0.36% of Boston Terriers to have hip dysplasia compared to 3.52% overall.[34]

Popular Boston Terriers

In 1921 at a ceremony to commemorate the United States' 102nd Infantry, the U.S. Army awarded a gold medal to an honorable war dog: Sergeant Stubby.[35] The Boston Bull Terrier, possessing three service stripes and one wound stripe, was given a rank in the U.S. Army-making him the first dog to ever earn it.[35] The comforting, protective war dog was also rewarded a medal by France.[35] Sergeant Stubby died in 1926 with the legacy of being the United States' "greatest war dog."[35]

Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC has had a live Boston Terrier mascot named Blitz since 2003 that attends home football games.[36]

In 2012, a high school student named Victoria Reed took the advice of her veterinarian and submitted a photo of her Boston Terrier, Bruschi, to Guinness World Records.[37] With each eye being 1.1 inches, or 28 mm, in diameter, Bruschi is recognized by Guinness to be the dog with the largest eyes.[37]

Lennu, the pet from 2012 to 2021 of Sauli Niinistö, the President of Finland, was present at many of his less formal appearances and well known in Finland.[38] Photos of the pair went viral globally in the United States in 2017.[39][40][41]

See also


  1. ^ "Boston Terrier". Animal World. 4 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Meade, Scottee (2000). The Boston Terrier: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet. Howell Book House. ISBN 1-58245-159-1.
  3. ^ "Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2022". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  4. ^ a b c "Get to Know the Boston Terrier", 'The American Kennel Club', retrieved 19 May 2014
  5. ^ "The Boston Terrier Club Of America". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  6. ^ "Rhett".
  7. ^ Hepburn, David. "State Dogs of American: Here are all 13 adorable state dogs of the USA - including the loving Boston Terrier". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  8. ^ a b "CKC Breed Standards — Boston Terrier". Canadian Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Boston Terrier Standard" (PDF). American Kennel Club. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  10. ^ Boston Terrier Club of America. "Boston Terrier eyes". Boston Terrier Club of America. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Chester, Jo. "Do Boston Terriers' tails curl?". The Nest. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  12. ^ "Boston Terrier". Easy Pet MD. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Boston Terrier". Vet Street. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Cline, Mrs. Charles D. (1995). Boston Terriers. T.F. H. Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-7938-2397-8.
  15. ^ McMillan, Kirsten M.; Bielby, Jon; Williams, Carys L.; Upjohn, Melissa M.; Casey, Rachel A.; Christley, Robert M. (2024-02-01). "Longevity of companion dog breeds: those at risk from early death". Scientific Reports. 14 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-50458-w. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 10834484.
  16. ^ Ekenstedt, K.J.; Crosse, K.R.; Risselada, M. (2020). "Canine Brachycephaly: Anatomy, Pathology, Genetics and Welfare". Journal of Comparative Pathology. 176. Elsevier BV: 109–115. doi:10.1016/j.jcpa.2020.02.008. ISSN 0021-9975. PMC 7380493. PMID 32359622.
  17. ^ Weir, Malcolm; Williams, Krista; Yuill, Cheryl. "Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs". VCA Hospitals. Retrieved 28 February 2024.
  18. ^ Hendricks, Joan C. (1992). "Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome". Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 22 (5). Elsevier BV: 1145–1153. doi:10.1016/s0195-5616(92)50306-0. ISSN 0195-5616. PMID 1523786.
  19. ^ TC, Amis; C, Kurpershoek (1986). "Pattern of breathing in brachycephalic dogs". American Journal of Veterinary Research. 47 (10). Am J Vet Res: 2200–2204. ISSN 0002-9645. PMID 3777646. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  20. ^ Hendricks, J. C.; Kline, L. R.; Kovalski, R. J.; O'Brien, J. A.; Morrison, A. R.; Pack, A. I. (1987-10-01). "The English bulldog: a natural model of sleep-disordered breathing". Journal of Applied Physiology. 63 (4). American Physiological Society: 1344–1350. doi:10.1152/jappl.1987.63.4.1344. ISSN 8750-7587. PMID 3693167.
  21. ^ Hendricks, Joan C. (1992). "Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome". Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 22 (5). Elsevier BV: 1145–1153. doi:10.1016/s0195-5616(92)50306-0. ISSN 0195-5616. PMID 1523786.
  22. ^ Meola, Stacy D. (2013). "Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome". Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. 28 (3). Elsevier BV: 91–96. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2013.06.004. ISSN 1938-9736. PMID 24182996.
  23. ^ Lundgrun, Becky (26 June 2006). "Reverse Sneezing (Pharyngeal Gag Reflex)". Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  24. ^ Sebbag, Lionel; Sanchez, Rick F. (2023). "The pandemic of ocular surface disease in brachycephalic dogs: The brachycephalic ocular syndrome". Veterinary Ophthalmology. 26 (S1): 31–46. doi:10.1111/vop.13054. ISSN 1463-5216. PMID 36585820.
  25. ^ Hobi, Stefan; Barrs, Vanessa R.; Bęczkowski, Paweł M. (2023-06-16). "Dermatological Problems of Brachycephalic Dogs". Animals. 13 (12). MDPI AG: 2016. doi:10.3390/ani13122016. ISSN 2076-2615. PMC 10294810. PMID 37370526.
  26. ^ Gruenheid, Michaela; Aarnes, Turi K.; McLoughlin, Mary A.; Simpson, Elaine M.; Mathys, Dimitria A.; Mollenkopf, Dixie F.; Wittum, Thomas E. (2018-08-01). "Risk of anesthesia-related complications in brachycephalic dogs". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 253 (3). American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): 301–306. doi:10.2460/javma.253.3.301. ISSN 0003-1488. PMID 30020004. S2CID 51676839.
  27. ^ Ewers Clark, Anna (2022-12-22). "Heatstroke and brachycephalic dogs – is there an increased risk?". Veterinary Evidence. 7 (4). doi:10.18849/ve.v7i4.534. ISSN 2396-9776.
  28. ^ Evans, K.; Adams, V. (2010). "Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarean section" (PDF). The Journal of Small Animal Practice. 51 (2): 113–118. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2009.00902.x. PMID 20136998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-06.
  29. ^ Wedderburn, Peter (6 April 2009). "Why do over 80 per cent of Bulldog births happen by caesarian section?". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  30. ^ Packer, Rowena. "New study reveals flat faced dogs have the highest risk when giving birth". Royal Veterinary College. University of London. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  31. ^ Rhodes, Karen Helton; Werner, Alexander H. (2011-01-25). Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult Clinical Companion. Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8138-1596-1.
  32. ^ Plant, Jon D.; Lund, Elizabeth M.; Yang, Mingyin (2011). "A case–control study of the risk factors for canine juvenile-onset generalized demodicosis in the USA". Veterinary Dermatology. 22 (1): 95–99. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010.00922.x. ISSN 0959-4493. PMID 20707860.
  33. ^ Hnilica, Keith A.; Patterson, Adam P. (2016-09-19). Small Animal Dermatology. St. Louis (Miss.): Saunders. ISBN 978-0-323-37651-8.
  34. ^ Adams, V. J.; Evans, K. M.; Sampson, J.; Wood, J. L. N. (2010-10-01). "Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK". Journal of Small Animal Practice. 51 (10): 512–524. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2010.00974.x. PMID 21029096.
  35. ^ a b c d Kane, Gillian (8 May 2014). "Sergeant Stubby". Slate. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  36. ^ "Meet the Mascots".
  37. ^ a b Moye, David (May 26, 2012). "World's largest dog eyes: Bruschi the Boston Terrier eyeballs world record". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on April 28, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  38. ^ Nagesh, Ashitha: Finland's President has a top quality dog, Metro 23 February 2017. Accessed on 28 September 2017.
  39. ^ Sauli Niinistön Lennu-koira on tämän hetken tunnetuin suomalainen – 7 kuvaa, jotka selittävät suosion, Me Naiset 23 February 2017. Accessed on 28 September 2017.
  40. ^ Shapiro, Rebecca: The President Of Finland's Dog, Lennu, Is Melting Hearts Across The Globe, Huffington Post 23 February 2017. Accessed on 28 September 2017.
  41. ^ Lennun voittokulku Yhdysvalloissa jatkuu: Jimmy Fallon matki Niinistön koiran legendaarista virnistystä, yleisö villiintyi, Ilta-Sanomat 24 February 2017. Accessed on 28 September 2017.

Further reading