Boston Terrier 101: Breed History

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by Wendy Caples

The Boston Terrier, nicknamed The American Gentleman, is the first dog to be developed in America. They were bred specifically to be companion to human beings. However, their ancestors were fighting dogs, including their original type of the rare breed the Olde English Bulldogges. This ancient breed was thought to have been created from crossing the English Bulldog and the long-gone English White Terrier.

Dogs were already well established in North America by the time the very first European settlers arrived. However, anything having to do with the Native Americans was seen as shocking, savage and unfamiliar. So the Native American dogs, along with their owners, were ostracized from new America. Boston was one of the biggest shipping towns in New America, and still had close ties to Europe. Therefore, the Boston Terrier came from predominately European bulldog lines.

The founding sire of the Boston Terrier breed is thought to have been a jaunty little dog called Hooper’s Judge, owned by Robert C. Hooper of Boston, who bought him in 1870. This pivotal dog was imported from England and made a big impression on not just the female dogs of Boston, but their owners as well. He was thirty-two pounds, which is a lot heavier than the Boston Terriers of today. He also is described in old America Kennel Club records as having a well built, high-stationed body, being a dark brindle with a white blaze down the nose.

Hooper’s Judge looked a lot different from today’s Boston Terriers. The only Boston Terrier information we have of him is written descriptions. He was thought to be over thirty pounds, a solid dark brindle color except for a white blaze down the nose. His head was more round like an English Bulldog. He established a breed called the Old English Bulldogge (which has gone through several spellings). The breed still exists today, but it is very rare.

The Boston dog breeders first developed the Old English Bulldogge, which is a far larger dog of solid colors and a round head. The founding father of the Boston Terrier is considered to be the English import Hooper’s Judge, which was bought by Richard C. Hooper of Boston in 1870.

The breed has gone through many name changes to get to the Boston Terrier name we have today. The American Kennel Club recognized them as a distinct breed in 1893.

The future of the Boston Terrier looks very good, because there has been just as much attention to breeding a good temperament as there has been to breeding cute looks. There have been attempts to make a teacup sized Boston Terrier, but they are frowned on because of health concerns.

Despite all of the generations of fighting dogs in him, a Boston Terrier is more inclined to run away than pick a fight.

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