BOSTON TERRIER HISTORY DEEPDIVE
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The Boston Terrier is a very modern breed, and because of that, we actually have very detailed records of the breeds history. Which is not common among many other dog breeds. The origins of the Boston Terrier can be traced back to a dog in Liverpool England named Judge. In the early 19th century, blood sports like ratting and pit-fighting were very popular and it was this craze that led to Judge. Judge was a small but very tough and muscular dog that formed the foundation of the breed we know today, but wasn’t called a Boston Terrier just yet.
Judge was sold to an American and brought to the city of Boston in the US. Several years later in 1870, William O'Brien, Judge’s first American owner, sold him to another man in the area, Robert C. Hooper. This is when the foundation of the breed in America really took off and also where the breed got its name as the Boston Terrier, since much of the work was done in Boston, Massachusetts. Judge is a common ancestor for almost every pure Boston Terrier we know today but looked a bit different than what we’re used to seeing.
Judge was described by a breed historian as being about 32 pounds in weight and strongly built. His color was dark brindle though he had a white stripe on his face, a common marking that we still see in many Boston’s today. His head was square and had a jaw that was well portioned. Many of these traits are still seen in the Boston Terriers today though they are now more likely to not have an even bite and shorter snouts.
Like other bulldog varieties, Boston’s are brachycephalic which means they are prone to snoring and grunting. They also can’t handle extreme heat and cold or excessive running without having potential breathing problems. Boston’s today also have sensitive digestive systems and coats which can manifest as allergies to common food ingredients and skin irritation. Improper breeding can lead to eyes that “bug out” from their head which generally doesn’t cause an issue but can mean they are more apt to eye irritations or injuries especially when playing.
Hooper bred Judge to another bulldog type female who was smaller than him and white in color, her name was Burnett's Gyp. It was in this first pairing that led to many subsequent crossings through the generations of the breed where the sires and dams were selected to tone down the bulky and large muscle mass of the Judge. The result was a smaller, sleeker, sweeter tempered companion dog that we now recognize.
The breed is known to be full of antics and quite clownish and has lost nearly all of the aggression that made it a popular bloodsport dog only 100 years ago. The Boston Terrier is also known as the American Gentleman because of the coat pattern that resembles a tuxedo but also because they are extremely sweet and charming with all those they meet. They are fantastic dogs for both young families and older adults since they are easily talked into having a cuddle or playing with anyone. Their small size of less than 25 pounds also makes them ideal for small homes and apartments with their energy quickly used up playing a quick game of fetch.
In 1891 the Boston Terrier Club of America was formed and in 1893 the AKC recognized and added the breed to its registry. The Boston Terrier is one of just a handful of breeds that was bred and developed in the US and was the first All-American breed in the AKC registry. It was also the first non-sporting dog breed in the US giving it several distinctions.
In the early 1900’s the University of Massachusetts declared the Boston Terrier its mascot and the state declared them the official breed in 1979. The breed has been a steady source of pride for the region since the early days of its breeding and continues to be adored today across the entire US and UK. The breed is not overly spread around the world, despite its English ancestors, but remains one of the best all around companion dogs there is.
The American Gentleman is a new breed that has undergone a huge transformation in temperament in the last 100 years graduating from pit-fighting to steadfast companion. The tuxedo markings and charming personality give the Boston Terrier its nickname as the American Gentleman though the breed is loved in the UK too. These little dogs have the distinction of being one of the few breeds developed in the US and pack a lot of personality into their small muscular bodies.