The hands that brought the world to Helen Keller were never far from her beloved “Phiz.” Cary Grant chose to own the only canine companion that was his equal in all things dapper and debonair. And for those of you who pause whenever you hear Louis B. Armstrong render his signature ballad, “It’s a Wonderful World,” you might be amused to know that it was oft conjectured that Satchmo was crooning to “The General,” his Boston Terrier. Comforting. Debonair. Inspirational. All this and much more comes in a delightful package known as the Boston Terrier. Known as “a big dog in a small package,” just what is it about this lively little comedian that sends its owners flying to the dictionary for adjectives? For insight into their character and characteristics, we need look no further than the Breed Standard.
Each recognized breed of dog has a standard that describes the perfect individual of its breed. Considering the breed’s original purpose, the Standard sets forth the physical attributes and personality traits necessary for the dog to successfully fulfill that purpose. Responsible breeders know their breed’s Standard inside and out, with each breeding carefully and meticulously planned. Breeders strive to produce an individual that not only reflects the Standard for conformation and movement, but also exudes the personality for which its breed is known. Each litter is evaluated for personality as well as structure to ensure that the puppy will thrive in its new environment. Does your dream dog win the ribbons and the points in the breed ring? Does he have the work ethic and drive to beat the clock in agility or score the highest points in the obedience ring? Maybe you’d like to share your Boston with other people, and you seek the individual who can quietly and comfortably make new friends who live in an extended care community. If your aim is to find a new best friend that enjoys a leisurely walk and a long nap on the couch, there’s a puppy ready to excel in that role too.
Jodi and Dominic Koon have been breeding champion Boston Terriers and world-class family companions for over 20 years. “Breeders seek to find the best homes possible for their puppies. We want to match the lifestyle, the home environment, and the family’s expectations with the puppy’s personality strengths. We have several repeat buyers of both companion and show puppies. We have also placed retired show champions. Companion homes are looking for that special temperament of the Boston Terrier: loyal, alert, and friendly,” says Koon. “It’s very important to place the right dog in the right home.” The Koons are also willing to share the best of their breeding and show ring progeny with others. Cindi Bosley is one of these grateful owners whose dreams of owning and showing a superstar have come to fruition. When 10-year-old Cindi made her show ring debut in Pasadena, California, she did not come home with the blue. She brought home, however, the prize that would last a lifetime. Cindi came home with a heart on fire to compete. In 2019, she returned to that same venue and earned the coveted Best in Specialty with her sidekick and companion, MBISS GCHG QB and Hickory Hill’s Grand Tradition. Together, they are amassing an enviable record, each ribbon and title made more memorable as Cindi is an amateur handler. She gives all the credit to “Bronson,” her partner. “He finished his championship when he was just six months old, and each of those shows was a specialty,” shared Cindi. Just what is it that makes this specialty-winning dog so special? “He is structurally very correct. It’s his adherence to the Standard that makes him difficult to defeat.”
The 2011 AKC Standard calls for a calls for a “lively” dog that “conveys an impression of determination, strength and activity, with style of a high order” and with the prescribed color and markings. His overall message as he enters the ring shouts, “I’m something special and here I come!” His very demeanor reflects his intelligence, liveliness, and friendly nature. A consistently winning show dog requires more than an eye pleasing appearance to win in the conformation ring. Those perfectly angled hindquarters and strong, short hocks help him enter the ring with the straight and effortless gait set forth in the Standard. With eye contact that reflects self-assured intelligence, he dares the judge to look any further.
Athleticism, physical conditioning, and determination are factors as well. Dog show days are long days and the focus required to work with his handler is a necessity.
Beginning with an early morning call to the breed ring, Bostons and their handlers must then settle in to compete for Best of Breed competition. Later in the afternoon is the Group ring and, hopefully, on to Best in Show where he will have to rely on the Boston’s determination to focus on his handler and “turn on” the shine. This requires a dog that is physically fit and engaged in close communication with his handler. A show dog must be physically fit to execute his gait with animation, always holding his stacked position with intensity and flair. Mental alertness and the breed’s renowned intelligence help a dog like Bronson keep his mind on his mission. Unlike many dogs at the show, Bronson does not have to share his handler’s attention with anyone else. His day begins with an early morning grooming session and ends with evening walks geared to keep him both fit and relaxed; in a word, they are inseparable. It’s no surprise that he thrives on the road. Given the Boston’s predilection for being with their people, Bronson thrives on this arrangement. His owner can keep every detail of his home schedule the same when they are on the road. “They are just so smart. It’s my job to see that we stick to our routine,” Cindi says. Meals at the same time of day, making sure he gets to bed on time and has plenty of rest; these are just a few of the things that help him feel right at home, no matter where they are. If he is happy and without worry, it shows up when he trots through the “in” gate, ready to take on all comers.
Not all Bostons are destined for the show ring. There are many more that live their lives as integral members of their families. As happy settled into your lap as they are going for a hike and a swim, this breed’s activity level makes it a great candidate for a wide variety of lifestyles. Their sensitivity to their owners’ needs is legendary. One adult male Boston, that was rescued at a year and a half, quickly took account of his new surroundings and got down to business. His new mistress had a pain disorder that often triggered full focal body tremors. Within six months of taking up residence, “Bugsy” was able to sense an oncoming incident. Whenever he came and sat in front of his owner, stamping his front feet with determination, she and her husband knew what was coming. His quick diagnosis cut down on many visits to the emergency room.
Sensitive and soulful. Comedic and compassionate. Alert and laidback. The individual Boston Terrier is certainly anything but “standard.” However, we look to the Standard when we are searching for a Boston that represents all the physical traits and characteristics we have come to know and love.