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The lowdown on Boston Terriers

By HELEN PALMER

K9 Corner

I don’t normally write about a certain breed but since I was asked a number of questions about the Boston terrier and its suitability for a family, which I had to research, I thought my readers might be interested too.

For those unfamiliar with this non-sporting breed, it originated in the United States around 1870 in Boston. The adult height is about 15 to 16 inches, but the breed is judged by weight: lightweight being under 15 pounds which is currently the most popular, middleweight, 15 to 20 pounds, and heavyweight reaching 20 to 25 pounds.

The coat is short and smooth and the breed is noted for the black with white markings that give the dog an aristocratic air of a gentleman in a tuxedo, white dress shirt and black top hat. However, brindle is acceptable in place of black. There is some shedding, but grooming can be easily done by the owner.

This breed is moderately active and requires some outdoor exercise daily. However, because this breed has a shortened muzzle, it should be kept quiet in air conditioning during hot, humid weather.

According to Shirlee A. Kalstone in her book, “Dogs: Breeds, Care and Training,” this breed has “clean habits and is playful and affectionate. It is a devoted family pet, extremely gentle with children, and adapts to most environments. The breed is considered intelligent, and easy to train. It is a good watchdog, and should not be considered a guard dog. Most Boston terriers are friendly to everyone but some can be sensitive at times.”

In the official standard for the Boston terrier, it is noted that “the dog should convey an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order; carriage should be easy and graceful.”

Another question asked concerned genetic defects in the breed. Not too many readers even know that there are books available detailing the genetic faults to look for when selecting a puppy. I was impressed with the background knowledge of the caller.

In “Medical & Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs,” by Ross D. Clark, DVM and Joan R. Stainer, it is noted that this breed has difficulty in whelping and frequently requires surgery because of the lack of the hormones that initiate and control labor.

Puppies may grow steadily, but some may develop unevenly. This is normal. However, front dewclaws must be removed when the puppies are five days old or younger. This protects their prominent eyes from being injured if the pup rubs its face with its front paws.

Puppies should be screened for partial or total deafness and several different eye problems. It is possible for the animal to have one enlarged nostril which may need surgical correction. Not every problem needs surgery. Many hernias found in Boston terrier pups disappear with maturity.