In the 1860s a cross between a White English Terrier (now extinct) and an English Bulldog resulted in a dog named Hooper’s Judge—considered the granddaddy from which all of today’s Boston Terriers are descended. Then, the breed was larger and often used in fighting matches. As the dog was bred down in size, it became a mix of several breeds, including French Bulldog, Boxer, and Bull Terrier.
The Boston Terrier, the first breed of dog to originate in the United States, was recognized by the AKC in 1893. First known as the American Bull Terrier, the name was adjusted to reflect its birthplace
Despite the name, the Boston isn’t actually a terrier. In show, they’re listed under the catchall heading of “Non-sporting Group.”
In 1979, Governor Ed King declared the Boston Terrier the official state dog of Massachusetts.
That irresistible face inspires whimsical artwork, as exemplified in Good Dog II by Vermont folk artist Warren Kimble and the late Stephen Huneck’s Boston Terrier Angel.
Black-and-white tuxedo markings are most common; the only other colors considered acceptable by breed aficionados are brindle with white and seal with white. (Seal appears black, but casts a reddish hue in sunlight.)
The Boston Evening Transcript (Feb. 8, 1902) reported that Helen Keller received a gift of a Boston Terrier named Sir Thomas. When Sir Thomas first met her, he “made a dash for Miss Keller, rubbed his nose on her skirt, and when she knelt down put his chin on her knee.”
Owing to the Boston Terrier’s small size and large head, virtually all deliveries are by caesarean section. Bostons’ short snouts also makes them noisy housemates—they snore.
On the upside, the Boston Terrier is highly intelligent and learns quickly—a good student for both obedience training and therapy work.
The famed canine Sergeant Stubby is alleged to have a lineage connection with the Boston Terrier. Stubby was roaming Yale Field while troops were training there during World War I. He became their companion and was smuggled overseas with the platoon. The dog, who warned the soldiers of poison gas and imminent attacks, became a decorated war hero. When he died in 1926, his obituary in the New York Times was three columns wide and a half-page long.
Though one of the 20 most popular breeds in the country, no Boston Terrier has ever won “Best in Show” at the Westminster Dog Show.
The doe-eyed, compact, perky-eared pooch of today has been nicknamed “the American Gentleman” for his grace and sweet disposition.
The Boston Terrier has left his (paw) mark on Hollywood. Three different Bostons played the role of “Georgia” in the film Hotel for Dogs. The breed has also appeared in campaigns for MasterCard, Geico, and McDonald’s, among others.