Nicknames can be misleading. Take the Boston Terrier, for instance. Its nickname is “the American Gentleman,” which makes it sound like a serious, reserved, and noble breed. In reality, Boston Terriers seem to be made for lowbrow humor, with their funny faces, humorous antics, and legendary penchant for flatulence (a byproduct of those smashed snouts, which cause them to swallow a lot of air).
The nickname makes a lot more sense when you consider the origin of the breed. First, as suggested by their official name, the Boston Terrier is one of the rare terrier breeds that originated in America – the result of a cross between an English Bulldog and an English Terrier. Second, the prototypical black-and-white variety appears to be dressed in a gentlemanly tuxedo. And finally, there’s the simple fact that the breed is known for being a lovable, people-pleasing, and gentle pet.
In any case, this is not a breed reserved for the rich and famous. It’s actually one of the most popular dog breeds around, and lives with people of all stripes. What’s a little flatulence when the Boston Terrier has so much else going for it?
The Boston Terrier personality is almost always described in positive terms. They have the energy and intelligence common to terriers, without the hard-headedness or confrontational attitude. For those who get a kick out of terrier ‘tude, that might not be a big selling point. However, most people appreciate a dog that minds well, gets along with children and other dogs, and doesn’t have a powerful instinct to chase everything that moves.
Health Problems & Life Expectancy
Bostons usually live about 12-15 years. However, their life span can be much longer with proper care and some luck. Most of the health problems associated with this breed are due to that funny face. So-called brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds often have trouble breathing, leading to problems ranging from snoring to overheating to serious conditions requiring surgery. Those buggy eyes are another problem area, both because they’re easily injured and due to other conditions like glaucoma.
Boston Terrier Mixes and Variations
As is usually the case, a popular purebred like the Boston Terrier also makes a popular ingredient in hybrids. Some of the most common breeds mixed with Bostons include the Bull Terrier, the Beagle, the French Bulldog, the Pug, and the Chihuahua.
There’s also a big market for Teacup/Toy Boston Terriers. These dogs are purebred Bostons that are smaller than the breed standard, usually by design. While undeniably cute, there’s some controversy about whether intentionally breeding small dogs is a good idea.
Owning a Boston Terrier
There’s a reason these little dogs are so popular. They adapt extremely well to both active and less-active lifestyles, get along with everyone, and by most accounts, are simply delightful pets. Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider before getting a Boston:
Health Issues. As mentioned, this breed suffers from a lot of different health problems. While most issues that crop up are not life-threatening, with this breed there is an increased chance of expensive vet bills should the dog require treatment or surgery.
Shedding. Chalk up another point in the Boston’s favor, as these dogs shed very little. The breed is generally classified as hypoallergenic.
Overheating. The combination of lots of energy and restricted breathing can lead to overheating in Boston Terriers. In warmer weather, they require lots of water and constant supervision to make sure they don’t suffer heat stroke.
Interested in getting a Boston Terrier? There are lots of responsible breeders to choose from, though finding one requires some research. Avoid buying from anyone who’s secretive about their operation or doesn’t guarantee the health of their dogs.
Adoption is another great option. If you can’t find a Boston at your local shelter, check out the many breed-specific rescue organizations around the country. While most people want a puppy, getting an adult dog offers many advantages as well (such as potentially skipping potty training, for example).