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Are Boston Terriers Really Terriers from Boston?

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Tags: Boston Terrier, Origin

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The naming of a dog breed is an important event and many dog breed names derive from the names of important contributors to the breed, the original jobs the dogs were bred to perform, or some other important aspect from the breed's history. Sometimes names can be misleading, though, and don't reflect the true nature of the breed. Take something like the Norwegian Elkhound, for example. This breed is neither a hound, nor was it bred to hunt elk; its name comes from a mistakeŁ in the translation of the original Norwegian name which meant Moosedog. So what about the Boston Terrier? Is it's name accurate? Is it really a terrier from Boston?

Well, it's definitely from Boston. Actually, claims are that this breed is the first purebred to have been developed entirely on American soil. The beginning of the breed was marked by the existence of the offspring of an English Bulldog and an English White Terrier, in Boston, Massachusetts. The breed was initially bred entirely in Boston and the first club for the Boston Terrier was created in, surprise, Boston in the year 1889. The original name of the breed club, actually, was the American Bull Terrier Club, as American Bull Terrier is what fanciers first wanted to call the breed; Round Head was also considered a valid option. After opposition from Bulldog and Bull Terrier fanciers, the name was changed to Boston Terrier, after the place where the breed was first developed. The club became the Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891. It was the first American breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club, in 1893.

The terrier part of the name is a bit more dubious. Terriers are dogs that were originally bred to hunt and kill small animal pests, or vermin, such as rats. In many cases, they were taken along to scare prey that hid in burrows during the hunt so that larger hunting dogs could then resume the chase. They are tough little dogs with an enormous personality, often bordering on hyperactive. While the Boston Terrier is very active and energetic, he is not the bundle of hyperactivity that the Terrier is and his personality is a bit more manageable and much more easy going. Most importantly, the Boston Terrier was not bred to hunt vermin; these dogs were developed to participate in the sport of dog fighting. Although the Boston Terrier doesn't have the history that true terrier breeds possess, this doesn't make his name entirely wrong. After all, the foundation stock for this breed included at least one breed of terrier; perhaps other terriers also contributed to the breed, as many terriers were used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for dog fighting. This means that, genetically, he can be considered a terrier, though none of the official kennel clubs classifies him as such.

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Are Boston Terriers Really Terriers from Boston?
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