Sunday, July 8, 2012


The Boston Bull Terrier, 1907, from Leighton's Book of the Dog

America's sweetheart, the Boston Terrier, was the first fully recognized American bred non-sporting breed.  Developed in Boston, Massachusetts, after the civil war and registered with the American Kennel Club in 1893, the breed was an admixture of two older more established dogs, the English Bulldog and the English White Terrier (now extinct). Additional crossings with the English Bull Terrier, Boxer and French Bulldog contributed to the development of the modern breed.  

The original dogs weighed as much as 45 pounds.  

In the 1890s, an assortment of "pocket" breeds were faddish. Although both genetic variants are now extinct, Beagles and  Boston Terriers were bred so small "they could sit in a man's hand."

In the Victorian era, pedigrees were snobby indicators of dogs and the people who owned them.  As a rule, purebred puppies cost $15 to $300 - a luxury item working class families could ill afford.

By 1900, as the standard of living improved, Americans were moving in droves from cities to suburbs. For the first time, regular folks could own a single family dwelling, a garden and a family dog. And not just any dog - a purebred dog.

Hobby-kennels of wealthy aristocrats gave way to large numbers of small commercially operated kennels.  Costs of purebred dogs dropped substantially making papered-pooches within reach of a large part of the American public.
For the next thirty years the Boston Terrier ranked as the first or second most popular breed in America.

To find out which breeds are genetically linked to Boston Terriers,  check out this genetics website.  
You might be surprised.


  1. We love these posts , show how the breeds have changed over time and often not for the better. Nice one.
    Best wishes Molly

    1. I agree. It would be nice to see some of those big Boston Terriers around.
      - Jane

    2. Hi! I know it's over a year since your post but wanted to say, I kind of have a larger Boston, he sits about 17 inches and weighs 31 lbs. My vet says he's just a big framed Boston. He's sweet, gentle and puts up with our 7 year old boy. We can't have a delicate breed and don't want a large breed. His size is perfect for us!

  2. I was surprised to see the related breeds, nothing at all alike in the looks department.


    1. Thanks for commenting Debbie. The scientific discovery showing that breeds are so closely related that they can have direct relatives that look nothing like them does not bode well for the pedigreed dog genome...