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History of Boston Terrier


The Boston Terrier is the first true American creation of a purebred dog. Nicknamed the American Gentleman, tremendous progress has been made in developing the Boston Terrier we know today. Very few have the disposition and quality of being such a wonderful companion. Great responsibility lies with breeders in their selection of which breeding stock they choose. The future of the breed is dependent on how the current generation is carefully bred. All must be done to preserve the high standards that have been previously set.

We know more about the Boston Terrier breed than most others due to very detailed record keeping by the early breeders. The Boston Terrier was originally bred to be a fighting dog. Present day Boston Terriers are more lovers than fighters. Undesirable traits have been bred out to compliment the qualities we treasure in our best friends today. They are indoor dogs that do not tolerate extreme weather conditions such as frigid temps or high heat. Due to their popularity in their infancy in Boston, many realized their great worth as companions and a much brighter future path was developed.

Before we discuss the actual creation of the breed in Boston I want to mention two important events that occurred in England that played an important role in changing the Boston Terrier’s fate in dog fighting. Both of these events made their way to the East Coast of USA from their origin in England. The first were the organized Stud Books of English Foxhounds followed closely by other breeds. Consequently Dog Shows and Kennel Clubs developed in England, soon to be embraced on the USA soil as well. The second event was the Passage of English Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835. This banned the very popular sports of bear and bull baiting which many partook in as forms of gambling and recreation in England.

Now to the highly anticipated look at the Boston Terrier’s beginnings in Boston. Around 1870 William O’Brien of Boston sold his imported dog JUDGE to Robert Hooper also of Boston. This dog became known as HOOPER’S JUDGE and is the ancestor of the true modern Boston Terrier. Originally a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier, French Bulldogs and Pit Bull Terriers were also introduced in the mix. Many of the early breeders included stable workers and carriage drivers who used their employers’ pedigreed dogs to breed with their non-pedigreed dogs. The common name for these dogs was American Bull Terriers, also known as Roundheads.

During 1889 The American Bull Terrier Club was formed in Boston. There were 75 dogs in their Stud Book. Three generations could be traced back and thus formed the basis for the modern Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier Club of America was established in 1891 officially changing the name to Boston Terrier. The AKC was not sure the breed would continue to breed true. As it did, the AKC admitted Boston Terriers to their Stud Book in 1893.

By the end of the 19th century started to overtake Toy Spaniels and Pugs with the American Upper Class. During the 1920’s the Boston Terrier became the most popular dog in America. It’s presence was seen in Ads from tobacco to playing cards. In 1922 Boston University adopted Boston Terrier character RHETT as their official mascot.

During the 1930’s the Depression caused a decline in American’s interest in dogs. Many new breeds had been developed and soon surpassed the Boston Terrier’s popularity.

From 1900-1950 the AKC registered more Boston Terriers than any other breed of dog. Bostons have held their own. During 2012-2013 they were the 23rd most popular breed.

The commonwealth of Massachusetts named the Boston Terrier the Official State Dog in 1979.

Today the Boston Terrier appears to be making a major comeback in the USA. They are starring in numerous commercials, paper ads and adorning clothing, backpacks and toys. Besides being excellent companions and competing in dog shows, Boston Terriers are excelling in many other areas. Fly Ball, agility trials, Pet Therapy and Service Dogs are just a few examples of the versatility of this breed. With their intelligence and great dispositions, the world is their limit.


Boston Terrier Club of America ~ Online Version

AKC ~ Boston Terrier ~ Online Version

EasyPetMD ~ Online Version

Wikipedia ~ Boston Terriers ~ Online Verison