The Versatile Boston Terrier

Adapted from an Article by Ellen Dresselhuis for the Boston Terrier Club of America
Combined images of versatile Boston terrier participating in various dog sports


The Versatile Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are a fixture on the dog show circuit. Their good looks and formal appearance have earned them the title of “The American Gentleman.” Well-bred Bostons excel in the show ring, but they are capable of much more. In fact, they are standout performers in the myriad dog sports offered by the American Kennel Club.

Bostons participate in many sports. You will find them in the Obedience ring and at Rally Trials, Agility Trials, Flyball, Fast CAT, Disc Dog, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and even Tracking events. A healthy, sound Boston is an athlete who can hold her head up among the best of them. A Boston can sail over the jumps and race around the ring, exuding joy at every turn.

A Boston flies over an obstacle at the AKC Agility Championship.
A Boston flies over an obstacle at the AKC Agility Championship.

The Boston Terrier Club of America supports Bostons in the companion events by holding Obedience, Rally, and Agility trials at its annual specialty. The club also recognizes the achievements of our breed at its annual awards banquet, awarding certificates to the dogs who are in the Top 10 in Agility MACH competition and the Top 5 in Agility PACH competition. Our annual Parade of Titleholders recognizes Bostons that have earned Agility, Rally, and Obedience titles in addition to those with Conformation titles. In addition, the club offers three levels of Versatility Awards to dogs who earn Conformation Championships and titles in Companion, Performance, and Title Recognition Program events.

Boston at top speed, closing in on the Fast CAT lure.
Boston at top speed, closing in on the Fast CAT lure.

Agility is a terrifically fun sport in which Bostons excel. It is an ideal venue in which to show off a Boston’s speed, jumping ability, and natural athleticism. Boston Terriers earned a whopping 377 Agility titles in the most recent AKC reporting period. The breed is also well-represented at the AKC Agility Invitational and the AKC National Agility Championships.

The Boston Terrier’s speed is on display in the rapidly growing sport of Fast CAT, a test of speed in which our dogs run a timed 100-yard dash. Bostons routinely exceed speeds of 22–24 MPH, with the current leader clocking in at 26.96 MPH! (This is faster than World Record Holder, Usain Bolt’s 23.2 MPH.) In the most recent AKC reporting period, 133 Fast CAT titles were awarded to Boston Terriers.

This Boston Terrier has detected the scent and is alerting her handler.
This Boston Terrier has detected the scent and is alerting her handler.

The sport of Scent Work is similar to the kind of nose work performed by drug and bomb detection dogs. Cotton swabs saturated with essential oils are hidden out of sight in the search area. When the scent is detected, the dog must alert the handler who calls out the find to the judge. Some might think that Boston Terriers, with their short noses, would be at a disadvantage in this game, but Bostons earned a total of 104 AKC Scent Work titles in the most recent reporting period.

Obedience tests our dog’s ability to perform certain specific exercises on-command without verbal communication or additional cues. Rally tests a dog’s ability to navigate a course of designated exercises with verbal communication and encouragement from the handler. Bostons earned 32 AKC Obedience titles and 48 AKC Rally titles.

A smiling Boston competes in AKC Rally.
A smiling Boston competes in AKC Rally.

The AKC also offers titles in their Family Dog Program. These include the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, which examines a dog’s good manners and ability to cope in social situations, and Trick Dog, which tests a dog’s ability to perform fun activities in five different levels of ability. Ninety-six Boston Terriers earned the Canine Good Citizen title and sixty-eight Trick Dog Titles were earned.

Bostons compete in the team sport of Flyball, which is another fast-moving sport. Flyball is a team sport that requires the dog to speed through a set of jumps to catch a ball in mid-air and return to the start line.

Eyes on the finish, an athletic Boston heads for home in a Flyball competition.
Eyes on the finish, an athletic Boston heads for home in a Flyball competition.

Boston Terriers have also earned AKC Farm Dog, Barn Hunt, Dock Diving, and Disc Dog titles. All of these activities require that you have a physically and temperamentally sound Boston, the kind you should expect from a responsible Boston Terrier breeder.

Some European countries discriminate against the brachycephalic breeds, saying they are unable to live long, useful lives because they cannot breathe properly. The Boston Terrier Club of America rejects any such notion. Dogs bred to our Breed Standard excel in all of the dog sports. We offer a consistent record of excellence and achievement as evidence of the soundness and good health of a well-bred Boston Terrier.

A Boston Terrier jumps in mid-air at a Dock Diving competition.
A Boston Terrier jumps in mid-air at a Dock Diving competition.


The Obedience & Rally classes at this year’s National Specialty are dedicated to the memory of
Ellen Dresselhuis.

Ellen was a pioneering women’s attorney, author, breeder, and owner-handler of Boston Terriers titled in Conformation, Obedience, and Agility. She was a long-time member of the BTCA and the Minnesota Boston Terrier Club.

In 1991, Ellen and her Boston, Brother Mack Duff, achieved the breed’s first Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH), a feat that has been equaled only once—twenty-three years later.

  • Ellen Dresselhuis passed away on Sunday, September 11, 2022. Alzheimer’s. Ellen shared 83 years with all of us. She was very active in her church and church choir. She was passionate about her Boston Terriers and successfully showed and bred them. Her dog “Macky” was the first-ever Boston Terrier to earn an OTCH (Obedience Trial Championship) in 1991. She later bred Bostons that went on to win many awards as well as those residing in great homes as esteemed pets. Ellen was an active member in several dog clubs, both local and national. Professionally, she was a very fine lawyer, practicing when few women practiced law. She was quite active and passionate about women's rights throughout her career and life. —Charlie Leavitt, LC, MIES

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

Amstaff running

The Versatile Amstaff

The versatility of the American Staffordshire Terrier (Amstaff) has been a coveted attribute of ...

Conformation Dog Show Judges, Part 1: WHAT DO WE WANT?

From  ShowSight Dog Show Magazine, October 2019 Issue. Click to subscribe. Part 1 — ...

Penn Ridge, New Clubs, and Insight from a GOAT

Penn Ridge, New Clubs, and Insight from a GOAT

For the second year in a row, the Penn Ridge Charitable Foundation fundraiser was ...

australian terrier barn hunt

Australian Terrier – Ready, Willing & Able!

Discover the hidden potential of Australian Terriers as remarkable performance dogs, excelling in Obedience, ...

Your Cart

No Item Found
Subtotal $0.00
Shipping $0.00
Tax $0.00
Total $0.00