The American Gentleman: Boston Terrier

Tuxedo Boston Terrier

by Rebecca Kramer


The Boston Terrier is a small, short-muzzled dog native to the United States. Playful and good tempered, they make excellent family pets and “apartment dogs”. Their short muzzle may present breathing issues which need to be watched for.




The Boston Terrier breed originated in the United States. Yes in Boston, Massachusetts. The first of the breed was adopted by a Mr. Robert C. Hooper in the 1870s. Judge, also know as “Hooper’s Judge” was a mix of English Bulldog and English White Terrier. Judge, weighed 27.5 lbs., very close to today’s standard of no more than 25 lbs. Judge was later bred with the similar looking French Bull Dog and the resulting offspring and all Bostons today are thought to be the result of that pairing. Judge was bred with more than one French dog.


Despite being descended from what were considered fighting breeds, the Boston is an affectionate little dog. They were bred to a consistently small size, and regarded as companion dogs (pets). Their popularity in Boston grew to the extent that a club of owners and admirers was formed resulting in their submission to the American Kennel Club (AKC) where they were accepted and recognized as a breed in 1893.


The Boston Terrier was the first nonsporting (non-hunting) dog bred in the United States and as such is a bit of an American symbol. In a nod either to his gentle nature, his tuxedo like black and white coloring, or both, the Boston was nicknamed the “American Gentleman”.


Brindle Boston terrier



Black and white (tuxedo) is the most common color but Bostons may also be brown and white, brindle (a mix of colors) and white, and seal (a bluish black) and white. They weigh between approximately 10 and 25 lbs. and stand at most approximately 17 inches tall. The females are a little smaller. They have broad chests, and short somewhat triangular ears that point up, pretty much “bat ears”. Their muzzle (nose/jaw) is on the short side, giving their heads a round appearance. In fact in 19th century Boston they were nicknamed “Roundheads”, interesting in that it was one of the original colonies and closer to the time of the historic Round Heads, the short haired Puritans who colonized the United States. Bostons have large round dark eyes which, in addition to the shape of their heads, give them a youthful appearance. They have a short tail that can be straight or curly.




As smooth shorthaired dogs their grooming needs are not excessive. A monthly bath and regular brushing should do it. Due to their short muzzles, breathing issues are a concern. If traveling by plane they need to be in the cabin, never cargo which receives less air. Their short muzzle also makes them sensitive to air temperature. Care should be taken so that they don’t overheat or get too cold. When you go out, leave the air conditioning or heat on for them if you would for yourself. On winter walks don’t be ashamed to put them in a coat or sweater. The average life span of a healthy Boston Terrier is 13 to 15 years.

Boston terrier

Boston Terrier Sara, was the runt of her litter and weighs only 5 pounds! Six years old at the time of this photo. She has a high level of energy and is lean and fearless! She even loves to swim in water, snorting out water as she swims along. Photo by Robert Hudson @ Minto Brown Park, Salem



Bostons need exercise but nothing strenuous, regular walks should do. Playful but not excessively hyper or barky, Boston Terriers’ personality in addition to their size makes them good apartment dogs. Bostons are considered a smart breed and can learn quickly. If they refuse to sit or stay it’s more likely to be because of their stubborn nature than because they don’t understand. They are generally good with other pets and kids, making them good family dogs. Bostons are affectionate little guys and appreciate company. A Boston Terrier left alone too long may develop separation anxiety (anxious and destructive behavior).  Although the breed is known to be be very affectionate, they can also be very protective over their family.




The Boston Terrier Club of America, linked below, is the very same club that was founded in 1890s Boston and responsible for the Boston Terrier’s entry into the American Kennel Club.

Like its cousin the French Bulldog, its ears and tail are not usually docked. Purebreds ears should stand erect on their own. Mixed breed Bostons often have the tips or greater portion of the ear flop over and are stockier overall than purebreds.

11 year old Beanie

11 year old Beanie is a mix breed Boston terrier who loves the Oregon coast!




The Boston Terrier Club of America

Boston Terrier Club of Western Washington

Boston Terrier Rescue

Boston Terrier Rescue Net

Adopt through Petfinder

Boston Terrier Club of Portland, Oregon


Facebook Groups

 Celebrity Bostons:

Chopper the Biker 

Celebrities who have Bostons, (past and present)


Norman Reedus and his Boston Terrier


Famke Janssen and her Boston Terrier


Allison Sweeney and her Boston Terrier


Brendon Urie and his Boston Terrier

Jake Gyllenhall with his boston terrier

Robin Williams photographed with a boston terrier



Rose McGowan and her Boston terrier named Lucy


Joan Rivers and her boston terrier