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A breed standard is a breed organization's blueprint of what the ideal dog should look and act like. This is what a show dog like a purebred Boston Terrier is judged against. Instead of being compared to the other dogs in the ring, the dog is compared to how well they fit the breed standard. This is usually what breeders strive to achieve in their breeding programs. A breed standard is the Holy Writ of the dog world.

Unlike a lot of other breed standards, there has always been an equal emphasis on the temperament of a Boston Terrier just as much as their looks. An ill-mannered or mean Boston Terrier has never been rewarded in the show ring, unlike some other breeds. The temperament of a Boston Terrier should be friendly, lively, easy to get along with others and inquisitive. A goal of breeders is top make good pets, and not just good show dogs.

The breed standard also reveals another reason why the Boston Terrier is so popular. They are small, but not so small as to jeopardize their health. They are robust, but portable. Although you may find some Boston Terriers outside the lines, they are usually fifteen to twenty-five pounds and only about fifteen inches high at their shoulders. They are most famous in black and white, but also come in seal and white and brindle and white. The breed standard is quite strict on the distribution of white around the body, which disqualifies a lot of Boston Terriers from the ring.

Common faults in pet-quality Boston Terriers include the afore-mentioned long tail, being too heavy, being taller than fifteen inches at the shoulder and bat-ears (having ears that are far bigger than the rest of the head). Ideally, the ears should be in proportion to the rest of the body. Other common faults include a sway back (similar to a sway-backed horse), being able to see the teeth or tongue when the mouth is closed, or having a head or most of the body be completely black.

But part of the Boston Terrier breed standard that best helps you identify one of this breed is the temperament. Thankfully, the temperament in a Boston Terrier has always been considered just as important as their looks.

But that also tells you that these dogs need to be kept indoors, as they lack any protection from the elements.

In looking at the Boston Terrier breed standard, you can see not only if your shelter dog is a Boston Terrier (or mostly Boston Terrier), but also get to see how hard it is for a show dog to win a class. But their winning personalities often get them out of trouble in new homes that they got into in their previous homes.

Boston Terriers are big dogs in little packages. They should exude strength and spirit but also give of an aura of friendliness.