Before you buy a Boston terrier (also known as the Boston ‘Bull’ terrier) you must know some facts and characteristics about the breed. After all; this is a lively, energetic dog that needs plenty of exercise, attention, good nutrition, and training. So read on for some tips about their temperament, exercise needs, health problems, and other facts that every potential Boston owner needs to know.
Boston Terrier facts
- Boston terriers earned the nickname ‘American Gentleman’ owing to their lively, intelligent, and affectionate personalities, mild temperament, and classy and dapper looks.
- Robert .C. Hooper of Boston first bred these dogs using a bulldog-terrier blend he had imported from the UK. They were mainly bred for sport fighting post the Civil War.
- In the early 1900s, Boston terriers enjoyed the top rating in AKC lists of most popular dogs in the US and were always in the first or second position. Even in the last decade, Boston terriers have enjoyed a spot in the top 20 AKC’s most popular dog breeds list.
- The word ‘terrier’ in the breed’s name is rather misleading; the AKC does not consider these dogs as terriers at all.
- Boston terriers are the mascots for Boston University in Massachusetts and Wofford College in South Carolina.
- Helen Keller had a Boston named Phiz given to her by her classmates at Radcliffe College. United States former President Warren G. Harding was a fancier of Boston terriers. Actors Rose McGowan, Denise Richards, and Joan Rivers also have Bostons as companions.
This is a ‘wild-eyed’ charmer with his own ‘tuxedo’. Boston terriers are a product of the Bulldog melting pot and they resemble the bulldogs greatly. Bostons come in three sizes: lightweights are under 15 lbs, mid-weights between 15 and 20 lbs, and heavyweights between 20-25 lb.
As per the breed standards, Boston terriers are to be well-balanced, smooth-coated, short-tailed, compact, brindle, and either seal or black-color with evenly distributed white in the coat. The body is short and well-knit and flanked by powerful limbs. Their expression is highly intelligent and there is warmth in the eyes. Their eyes also convey determination and strength. The ears are small and erect and may be cropped to conform to the shape of the skull. These are brachycephalic dogs with short muzzles devoid of wrinkles.
Traditional Boston terrier colors include seal, black, and brindle with white evenly distributed throughout. Cream and red are the main color variations. Red, brown or liver-colored Bostons often have hazel eyes.
Personality and temperament
Ask any Boston owner about her/his dog and you will hear nothing but praise. They are low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for, and full of love for their families. They get along very well with kids and make attentive and loving companions for adults. Boston terriers are perfect for any size homes be it small apartments or large mansions. They don’t need large yards and make wonderful house-pets for just about any kind of family. Being very well-mannered, quiet, and easy-to-train, they gel with other house pets and fit in quickly. Naturally, you must introduce them slowly and socialize them thoroughly with other animals and people. These lovable dogs are so addictive that most Boston owners soon add a second dog to their menagerie.
Your Boston is an intelligent dog that needs intellectual stimulation as much as he needs physical exercise. You can invest in balls, plush toys, treat-dispensing Kong toys, and interactive brain games to keep your Boston mentally stimulated.
Bostons love to go out with their owners and, as puppies, have ceaseless energy. Attach a leash to your pet and take him out for a walk, at least twice a day. Adult Boston terriers also need their daily walks or hikes. You can take your pet to an enclosed dog park where he can interact with other pets and run inside fenced-in areas.
A great way to expend energy on rainy afternoons is to play a game of fetch with your puppy. Many Bostons enjoy this game for hours. You can also enroll your young Boston in competitive sports like agility, tracking, or fly-ball. Agility training will teach your pet to fly through obstacle courses and even compete against other dogs to jump over hurdles and catch balls.
Training a Boston Terrier
Many training practices exist in canine training today. Positive reinforcement works best and it is based on treating, praising, and rewarding your dog for good behavior. For example, when you are teaching the ‘Sit’ command, you immediately reward your pet when he sits. Use the same word each time during training so that your pet understands what you are teaching. Keep training sessions short and end each session with plenty of playtime, hugs, and praise. This way; your Boston will look forward to these sessions.
The first thing you must do when you bring your puppy home is house-train him. Teach him where it is okay to void. You can use newspapers if you have a small apartment or are unable to take him outside frequently. Train your puppy to ‘go’ on newspapers. Replace soiled newspapers immediately with clean ones but leave a bit of the soiled paper so that your pet can use it as a reference the next time he wants to go.
Next, teach your pet to sleep in a crate. A crate provides a secure den-like atmosphere and also ensures that your dog does not get used to sleeping in your room or on your bed. Start crate training from day one.
Grooming your Boston
Being short-haired and single-coated, Boston terriers do not need the extensive grooming that some breeds demand. However, regular washing, brushing, nail trimming, and ear-cleaning can benefit your pet greatly. Routine maintenance will keep your pet’s coat in good condition. Daily, weekly, and monthly grooming will also reduce stray hairs and minimize shedding. Brushing your Boston’s coat will help stimulate natural oils in his skin, making it healthier and shinier and will also keep it free from ticks and fleas. Besides that, regular grooming also provides you an opportunity to inspect your pet’s coat for cuts, bumps, nicks, and other problems. Get your puppy used to grooming from an early age so that he looks forward to the sessions as a means of bonding with you. Trim your pet’s nails regularly, especially if you do not walk him on tarred surfaces. Also, inspect his ears from time to time.
Bostons have bulging eyes which makes them susceptible to eye issues like cherry eye, glaucoma, and cataracts more than the other breeds. Their prominent eyes are also prone to injuries and irritations. Bostons are brachycephalic dogs which could make them susceptible to breathing problems and excess snoring. Some dogs may even need corrective surgery. Vets recommend low-dose steroids for treating these issues but these drugs tend to have side effects. Speak to a holistic vet to help you out. The average life span of a Boston terrier is between 12-15 years.
Where to find a Boston Terrier
Once you have decided to add a Boston terrier puppy in your life, you must seek a good puppy source. Find a reliable Boston terrier breeder through the website of the Boston Terrier Club of America. You can also search animal shelters nearby and adopt a rescue. Being a popular breed, the average price of a Boston terrier is between $1000 to $4000 depending on the breeder, the dog’s coat color, and also its pedigree.