Boston Terrier: A Look Into The Personality Of The “”American Gentleman””

The Boston Terrier breed originated in the United States during the late 1800s. The exact origins can be traced back to Boston, Massachusetts, where Robert C. Hooper purchased a dog named Judge (later known as Hooper’s Judge) from Edward Burnett in the 1870s. Judge is considered the foundation sire of the Boston Terrier breed.

Originally bred to be a companion dog and pit-fighting dog, the Boston Terrier was later bred down in size to become a proper Victorian “gentleman’s” companion. Hence, they earned the nickname “The American Gentleman.” They were accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1893. The original Boston Terrier breed standard was drafted by James Watson in 1891.

The Boston University mascot Rhett the Boston Terrier was adopted in 1922 to honor the University’s Boston roots. Rhett embodies the intelligence, friendliness, and jaunty spirit of the Boston Terrier breed.


Boston Terriers are known for their distinctive appearance. They have a very square shaped head with flat cheeks and a short muzzle. Their ears are small and stand erect on their head. Their eyes are large and round and typically dark in color. Their neck, back and forechest are short. Their bodies are compact and well-proportioned. They are short bodied but well-muscled.

Boston Terriers come in three main color variations: black with white markings, brindle with white markings and seal (brown) with white markings. The white markings are expected to form what is referred to as a “tuxedo” pattern on their chest, forelegs and face. Common white markings include a white “baldface”, a white muzzle band, a white blaze between the eyes and white forechest. Overall, their coats are short, sleek and glossy.

In terms of size, Boston Terriers are considered a small breed. They typically stand 15-17 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 10-25 lbs. Male Boston Terriers are usually slightly larger than females. Despite their small size, they have large amounts of energy packed into their compact bodies.

Overall, with their squarely proportioned build, tuxedo coat markings and alert expression, the Boston Terrier has a unique and distinctive appearance unlike any other breed. Their elegant yet lively look epitomizes the breed’s nickname of “The American Gentleman.”


the boston terrier breed has a friendly and lively temperament that makes them gentle companions

Boston Terriers are known for having a friendly, lively, and eager-to-please temperament. They are gentle dogs that get along well with people of all ages, including children, seniors, and everyone in between. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Boston Terriers are characterized as being “affectionate” and “open” towards strangers. Their gentle disposition also makes them unlikely to be aggressive or overly protective.

In terms of intelligence, the Boston Terrier is a smart breed that is relatively easy to train, thanks to their eagerness to please. The AKC describes them as “eager to please” and DogTime notes their energetic and lively attitude makes training “a breeze.” With positive reinforcement training techniques, they can learn basic commands and tricks quickly. Their lively spirit paired with an affectionate nature creates a loyal and fun-loving companion.

Overall, the Boston Terrier lives up to his nickname as the “American Gentleman.” They embody a friendly, gentle, and eager-to-please temperament that makes them a delightful dog suitable for many households. Their lively spirit and intelligence also makes them a joy to be around.

Energy Level

Boston Terriers have a moderate energy level that requires some exercise each day but they can also be content with short walks Despite their small size, they need 30-60 minutes of activity per day which can be met through playtime, a short walk, or a run Boston Terriers enjoy playing fetch but don’t require constant high intensity exercise. A few short 5-10 minute play sessions throughout the day is often sufficient to meet their needs.

Living Requirements

The Boston Terrier is a highly adaptable breed that does well in apartments and city living. According to the American Kennel Club, Boston Terriers are apartment-friendly dogs due to their small size and minimal exercise needs. They enjoy being close to their family and do not require a large home or yard.

This breed has moderate grooming needs. The American Kennel Club recommends brushing their short, fine coat weekly to remove loose hairs and promote new hair growth. Baths are only needed when dirty. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, and their teeth brushed often.

Boston Terriers do well in all climates, although they prefer to be indoor dogs. Their short muzzles make them sensitive to temperature extremes. Overall, the adaptable nature and moderate care requirements of Boston Terriers make them an excellent choice for city dwellers.


Boston Terriers are quite trainable dogs due to their eagerness to please their owners. They respond exceptionally well to positive reinforcement training methods that utilize praise, treats, and toys as rewards. According to, “Boston Terriers, with their blend of contagious enthusiasm and intelligence, are very trainable. Being that they’re often so eager to please their masters, Boston Terriers catch on quickly to the training regimen.” Their love of playtime makes training feel more like a fun game to them. With consistency and patience, Boston Terriers can learn basic commands, house training, tricks, and more.


Boston Terriers are prone to some respiratory issues due to their short muzzles and flat faces. Their small nasal passages make them sensitive to heat, exercise, and stress. Overheating and labored breathing during hot weather or exercise is common. According to the American Health Center, Boston Terriers may suffer from a collapsing trachea which leads to a chronic, dry cough. They are also susceptible to eye issues like corneal ulcers and glaucoma.

Due to their brachycephalic skull shape, wheezing, snoring, and snorting is typical in Boston Terriers. Owners should be alert to any severe respiratory distress and contact a veterinarian if breathing difficulties worsen. Keeping Boston Terriers cool and calm, especially in summer weather, can help prevent overheating and breathing issues.


The average lifespan of a Boston Terrier is about 12-15 years1. This is a fairly long lifespan compared to many other breeds of similar size. With proper care, exercise, and a healthy diet, Boston Terriers can potentially live even longer. Some factors that influence lifespan include genetics, accidental injuries, and major health issues. Reputable breeders focus on breeding dogs with good overall health and longevity. Like all breeds, some health screening for conditions like patellar luxation may help identify dogs predisposed to issues affecting lifespan. While 12-15 years is the average, some Boston Terriers have been known to live as long as 18-20 years with diligent care.


One of the most popular dog breeds in the US, the Boston Terrier has ranked in the top 25 breeds registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) for over 15 years. According to the AKC, the Boston Terrier ranked 21st most popular breed in 2021 1. Their popularity has remained steady over the past several years, maintaining a rank between 20-25 since 2006. In fact, Boston Terriers have been a top 25 breed every year since 1893 except for a brief period between 1940-1960 2. Clearly, the “American Gentleman” has won over the hearts of dog lovers across the nation.

Fun Facts

The Boston Terrier has gained several fun and interesting nicknames over the years. They were originally nicknamed “Roundheads” in 1889 due to their rounded, block-shaped heads (AKC). Later on, they became known as the “American Gentleman” due to their dignified, dapper appearance and gentle temperament (AKC).

In 1979, the Boston Terrier was named the official state dog of Massachusetts, owing to its Boston origins (A-Z Animals). The breed has also made appearances in popular media over the years, featured in films, TV shows, advertisements and more. Some examples include the Target mascot Bullseye, Buddie from the movie Air Buddies, and Ein from the anime Cowboy Bebop.

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