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Boston Terrier - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Boston Terrier


In the late 1800s, Robert C. Hooper of Boston acquired an imported dog commonly known as “Hooper’s Judge.” He was a high-stationed, dark brindle dog with white markings and is the direct ancestor of virtually all modern Boston Terriers. Judge was a cross between a white English Terrier and an English Bulldog, although he resembled the Bulldog much more so in type. During this era, crosses of bulldogs and terriers typically were used in Britain and eventually in the United States for the blood-sports of bull-baiting and pit dog-fighting, which later were outlawed. Judge was bred to a low-stationed white bitch of unknown origin named “Burnett’s Gyp,” and from their offspring descended the foundation of the Boston Terrier breed. It is thought that some French Bulldog blood was later added to the mix, possibly to shrink the breed’s size. In 1889, a number of fanciers in the Boston area organized the American Bull Terrier Club, exhibiting their dogs as “Round Heads” or “Bull Terriers”. Over time, this group met with considerable opposition from Bull Terrier and Bulldog fanciers who objected to the confusing and overlapping breed names.

In 1891, Boston Terrier fanciers formed the Boston Terrier Club of America and renamed their breed the Boston Terrier, after its city of origin. It took several years to convince the American Kennel Club that the Boston was, in fact, a pure breed that would produce true to type. Boston Terriers were officially admitted into the AKC Stud Book in 1893, and the breed club gained AKC membership the same year. With a certain amount of selective inbreeding to cement its type, today’s Boston Terrier is instantly recognizable as a clean-cut, small dog with a short muzzle, a flat face, large pronounced round eyes, snow-white markings on a short dark brindle or black coat and with a stout body resembling that more of a terrier than a bulldog. By the 1920s, the breed had reached Europe, and by the 1950s it reportedly was the most popular purebred dog in North America. The Boston Terrier remains a popular and devoted companion dog.


The Boston Terrier has an average life span of 13 to 15 years. Because the breed has been selectively bred down in size while retaining its large head, Boston bitches frequently have difficulty delivering their puppies naturally. Caesarean sections are common in this breed. Other breed health concerns may include generalized demodicosis, atopy, allergies, pattern baldness, ulcerative keratitis, tail-fold intertrigo, hyperadrenocorticism, vascular ring anomaly, pyloric stenosis, congenital elbow luxation, patellar luxation, melanoma and other forms of cancer, hydrocephalus, hemivertebrae, congenital deafness and a variety of ocular disorders. Brachycephalic upper airway syndrome is common in this breed as a consequence of breeding for exaggerated facial characteristics. Hypoplastic trachea is also seen in this breed.

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