Boston Terrier history, unlike the history of many dog breeds, is fairly well documented. A dog known as Hooper's Judge was imported from England by Robert C. Hooper, a resident of Boston, Massachusetts in 1865. Hooper had immigrated from England, and while living there had admired the bulldog and terrier crossbreeds that were popular at the time.
Hooper's Judge was stocky and weighed 32 pounds. His mouth is described as being slightly undershot, and he was dark brindle in color with a white collar and narrow blaze on the face. Judge's only known mate was Burnett's Gyp (also known as Burnett's Kate), whose ancestry also goes back to the bull and terrier crosses. Gyp was all white, with a blocky head and three-quarter tail, and weighed 20 pounds.
Only one offspring is documented from Judge and Gyp's mating, a male named Well's Eph. It's said that he had none of the attractive features of his parents. He is described as being dark brindle with white markings on his head and a small bit of white on the feet.
Eph produced a handsome son named Barnard's Tom, who typified the qualities of the modern day Boston Terrier. Tom had a very short and twisted screw tail. Because of this screw tail and his appearance, he was heavily bred to other bulldog/terrier crosses as well as French bulldog/terrier crosses and boxer crosses. As the lines were further bred, the dogs began to take on a specific look, became smaller in size, and became increasingly popular.
In 1890, Charles F. Leland, invited several other men in the Boston area who shared an interest in the breed to form a club to create a standard for the breed. By 1891, owners began keeping breeding records and strongly discouraged crossing with other breeds.
During this time, the Boston Terrier was known by several different names such as the "Boston bulldog", "toy bulldog", "bullet head" and the "round-headed bulldog". Fans of the dog lobbied for acceptance of the breed by the American Kennel Association (AKC).
It took two more years, but in 1893 the AKC admitted the Boston Terrier to the studbook. The first Boston Terrier registered with the AKC was a male named Hector. The first AKC champion was a female named Topsy. A Boston Terrier named Heilborn's Raffles and Ringmaster is credited with contributing through his offspring to the size, black color, and round expressive eyes that distinguish today's Boston. The popularity of the Boston Terrier continued to soar. Between 1920 and 1963, the Boston Terrier was in the top ten of breeds registered with the AKC.
In 1979, Governor of Massachusetts, Edward King officially named the Boston Terrier as the state dog. As a boy, Governor King had owned a Boston named Skippy. Today, the Boston Terrier still places near the top half of breeds registered with the AKC.
Boston Terrier history photos courtesy of Project Gutenberg