The Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier
Hanging up the gloves—memoirs of a former tough dog.

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It has all the makings of an Oscar-winning storyline. Raised a working-class tough guy from Boston, our leading man-upon being recognized for his intellect, dashing good looks, and utter potential-earns a place on the right side of the proverbial tracks.

No, this isn't a reference to Matt Damon in his finest writing and performing hour. It's the story of the Boston Terrier.

The well-dressed canine kids we see in the passenger seats of minivans across the continent today are a far cry from Boston Terriers of old. In fact, Boston Terriers were originally bred for pit fighting. Like the local bar brawler in every hometown, the Boston Terrier was once a fearless fighter. However, unlike the hometown goon, this one-time scrapper grew out of his penchant for aggression and into a sophisticated little dude. Were we to rewind the scene 135 years, the dogs forced to endure the horrors of the pits would never believe future branches on their family tree would be nicknamed "the American Gentleman." With his natty markings, the Boston Terrier looks more like a black-tie guest than a street thug.

Around 1865, coachmen employed by Boston's wealthy began crossbreeding some of the fine dogs owned by their employers. (What the owners thought of this is not recorded. Presumably, they were not told.) In 1870, a William O'Brien sold an imported dog called "Judge" to Robert C. Hooper. This dog, known as "Hooper's Judge," is considered the grandfather of all modern-day Boston Terriers. As such, the Boston is a mixture of many breeds- the English and French Bulldogs, the Bull Terrier, the now-extinct white English Terrier, and the Boxer.

In 1889, fanciers of the breed made the first attempt at naming with the formation of the American Bull Terrier Club. However, Bull Terrier enthusiasts put a stop to this moniker based on the names' similarity. Given the breed's origins in the city of Paul Revere, the name "Boston Terrier" was proposed and accepted. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1893.

From Boston? Yes. Terrier? Actually, no. The Boston "Terrier" isn't even in the Terrier group. For dog show purposes, the Boston is in Britain's "Utility Group" and America's "Non-sporting Group," which generally means nobody could figure out where they really fit in.

Aesthetically, they could be described as gorgeously ugly. The Boston Terrier funny-face is unmistakable. They have a short, square muzzle and full black nose. Their dark, round eyes are set far apart and convey a sweet yet determined expression. Their ears, even when left "au naturel," stand perkily upright. Their hair-short and fine-is brindle or black with distinctive white markings, including, in most cases, white "gloves" on the front feet. An undocked, short tail finishes up the smart look. While early Bostons were much larger- somewhere in the realm of 44 pounds-Simon and Schuster's Guide to Dogs (1980) reports that today's Boston weighs between 15 and 25 pounds. Collins Gem Dogs (2004) reports they can be as small as 10 pounds.

Their spunky personalities endear them to their human companions. They're intelligent, well-mannered, alert, and rambunctious. Easy to train and frequently effective watchdogs, the Boston Terrier is good with children and tender with elders. However, as we all know, nothing in life is perfect. Much the same as Uncle Cecil, the Boston Terrier is prone to snoring. And like a bad prom date, prone to drooling as well. But if you can handle the nighttime sonorous symphony and the occasional slobber splatter, you just may have a new pal.

Regardless of where you sit on the doggy fashion fence-whether you're a "My dog has a closet full of Coach!" parent, or a "My dog wears fur, but only his own!" parent-one thing is certain: The Boston Terrier is sensitive to the cold. Boston Terrier mom, Kaya, says of her nine-month-old puppy-son, Bodi: "He hates the rain. He shivers even with his coat on!" If you don't believe in canine apparel, a dog like Bodi is not the best baby for your crib. These former tough guys are foul-weather-wimps now. And if you're looking for a companion to accompany you as you train for the Ironman, keep looking. While energy is spent running mad circles inside the home, this dog does not crave the opportunity to flaunt his athletic prowess. Long naps are preferred over long walks. Says Kaya of Bodi: "In the morning, I have to drag his floppy, sleepy body out of bed. He'd be happy to sleep until 11:00 most days!"

Knowing that today's Boston Terrier has undisputedly lost his aptitude for violence-preferring infinitely to snuggle on mom's lap-it could be said that the closest he'll get to a fight now would be a Pay-per-View match on TV. And even then, he may only go so far as to open one eye to see who wins.

If you are interested in adopting a rescue Boston Terrier, check out www.petfinder.com or visit an animal shelter in your neighbourhood.

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Comments (14)

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Thu, 05/03/2012 - 18:20
My Boston, Mugzy, is the love of my life! Just like the description says, I have to drag his floppy body out of bed if I want him to wake up before 2pm. I have health problems and he's the perfect medicine - when I'm not feeling well he just cuddles in bed w/ me all day, and days I'm able to play or go on walks, he can't wait! Of course the walks are very short and he poops out after 5 minutes of playtime! And he loves to lay in the sun spot on the floor let in by the glass door - as the sun goes down and the spot gets smaller, he curls up tighter & tighter to try to fit inside it! And a few more things about Bostons - they love to sleep under the covers, LOVE to give kisses (and really just lick anything - their paws, the bed sheets, you name it!), are the best snugglers in the world, can destroy ANY toy in under 2 minutes, and watch out for their infamous Boston gas - it doesn't come any worse than BT farts!!! You'll get used to them quickly but they can make for really embarrassing situations when you have company over! (No one ever believes you when you say "the dog did it!" LOL)
Wed, 07/18/2012 - 21:36
I love my 2 bt's. everything you said about the bt is true. I just don't know why they never win the dog shows.
Tue, 02/11/2014 - 11:06
Why are people flagging post where people have said nothing wrong? Anyway, I love my Boston. I work from home and my little buddy is usually under my desk or right beside me. He is so smart too! Bostons are a great breed. They have good energy, are easy to train/quick learners, and have pleasant personalities.
Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:38
I brought my sweatheart home 3 weeks ago. She is such a joy! I couldn't even imagine how it would be, but she's the joy of my life!! 12 weeks at the moment, but she's learning very fast! That cute little face, I love Bostons!!
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:02
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Mon, 11/19/2012 - 23:27
Speak for yourselves about energy while my Boston is the king of snuggling he loves the outdoors cold or not and loves to run with me on 2-3 mile runs at a brisk pace. Also they can be pretty feisy and won't back down from a scrap. Not that I encourage or let him fight dogs , but if confronted aggressively he won't be the one cowhering.
Fri, 11/30/2012 - 16:07
My Boston Terrier is so loving and sweet. His name is Nigel, after the perfect gentleman he is. I do wish he could sleep on my bed but two things prevent that. He snores as loud as my hubby, and farts as much too. He can stink out a room, believe you me.. LOL He loves to sleep, sleep, sleep. He enjoys chasing our 2 cats , but only to play with, and he can be stubborn at times.. But, he is extremely smart. I love him to death snores, gas, and all.
Tue, 12/04/2012 - 16:02
I'm NYC's most fabulous Boston, and I must dispute that we prefer long naps over walks. I will be 13 this year and I can still walk for hours! Sure I luv a good nap, but walking is my thing!
Thu, 01/24/2013 - 19:38
One more issue is really that video gamnig became one of the all-time main forms of excitement for people of nearly every age. Kids have fun with video games, plus adults do, too. The particular XBox 360 is among the favorite gamnig systems for people who love to have a lot of activities available to them, as well as who like to play live with other people all over the world. Many thanks for sharing your notions.
Fri, 04/05/2013 - 05:36
"America's "Non-sporting Group," which generally means nobody could figure out where they really fit in."

Not true! The Boston terrier was the first American purpose-bred gentleman's companion. They were also the first dog to be assigned to AKC's non-sporting breed category. In the early days it was virtually impossible to distinguish Bostons from Frenchies and some people showed their dogs in both categories.
Sun, 07/28/2013 - 07:06
You're completely right when you say they hate the rain. My Boston can't stand water, will hide indoors every time it sprinkles (luckily we live in California so it doesn't happen often) The cute thing is, when I go out in the rain, she will start pacing around the porch and crying, like she's worried I'll get too cold.
Sat, 03/01/2014 - 03:33
I have a 2 yr old pure-bred BT and a bigger guy about 25-26 lbs. He is the best addition to our family, he fishes in blizzard weather with my husband from dawn til dusk in his orvis down coat with rubber booties! He runs and plays with all the other fishing dogs, naps on the beach or sits for hours on a rock waiting for a bite. He can also be found under the blankets every night in bed. These dogs need training and guidance not discipline, they are much smarter and more stubborn a creature than one might think. They are indoor dogs, it breaks my heart when I hear people say "oh my bt is wild, we just keep him outside"
Mon, 12/22/2014 - 22:03
My Boston is a big sleeper, but he's always itching to play or go for a walk. He's also more like the Bostons of the past - he's a big boy (36 pounds) and a scrapper. I don't let him get into fights, but he won't back down from one. And he's more of a guard dog than watch. In other words, he's awesome :)
Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:59

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