Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Bo-Jack
Lexi, 9 weeks (Photo thanks to Imad Andrew Kamaleddine)

Question: How to sum up the Bo-Jack in a nutshell? Answer: Handsome but hyper.

The Bo-Jack is the result of breeding together a Boston Terrier and a Jack Russell Terrier. Notice the presence of the ‘terrier’ on both sides of the family tree. This creates a small to medium-sized dog that knows their own mind and needs plenty of exercise.

Although strong-willed the influence of the Boston Terrier lends a sweeter, fun-loving side to a driven character. But take nothing for granted. As with any hybrid breed, be aware there’s no guarantee of where on the sliding scale between Jack and Boston Terrier, the pup's temperament will lie.

About & History

The Bo-Jack is what is known as a hybrid or designer dog breed. Both these terms refer to the deliberate mating of two pedigree breeds to produce puppies with mixed characteristics from both side of the family tree. The Bo-Jack seems to be a relative late-comer on the hybrid scene. The evolution of the Bo-Jack seems to have a natural progression of a trend for experimentation, but cannot be pinned down to a particular date or person. We do know plenty about both parent breeds, however, both with histories dating back to the 19th century.

The Boston Terrier

As the name suggests, the Boston Terrier hails from Boston in the US. He also has the charming name of ‘American Gentleman’ because of his gentle nature and good manners. The great-great granddaddy of the breed was a dog called Hooper’s Judge, owned by one Robert Hooper. He bought a terrier-type dog from another man, and that dog went to become the founding father of this super dog breed.

Hooper’s Judge was most like a mix of English Bulldog and the now extinct English White Terrier. He was then bred with French Bulldogs, the last puzzle piece that gave the breed their characteristic cute looks. Originating from the US, the Boston Terrier was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1893. Since then, the breed has gone from strength to strength and frequently feature in lists of America’s most popular dog breeds.

The Jack Russell Terrier

On the other side of the Bo-Jack family tree is the Jack Russell Terrier. Their roots go back to around 1819 and a dog belonging to the Rev John (Jack) Russell. The Reverend’s dog was a female (called Trump!) and most likely a blend of Fox Terrier and English White Terrier.

Trump proved adept at flushing out foxes, and passed this talent onto her pups. By the 1850s, Trump’s offspring was hugely popular amongst farmers, hunters and poachers. One of the characteristics that made the breed a success is their courage, but this can make them a bit of a handful for inexperienced owners. This is a breed that makes their own decisions and is not easily led. Pair this with a strong prey instinct and life becomes interesting for the unwary owner.


There is guarantee as to which parent the Bo-Jack will take after. Some pups lean towards pure Jack Russell, some pure Boston Terrier, and some are halfway in-between. A typical Bo-Jack is likened in looks to a small a Boxer, a Bulldog, or even a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They usually have a rounded skull with a fore-shortened muzzle, which gives them an appealing, almost child-like appearance. The ears may be pricked, but often aren’t, or are somewhere in between.

The coat is usually smooth and short with waterproof qualities. Most commonly, the Bo-Jack is bicolour with white and brindle, brown, or black being popular. One thing both parent breeds have in common is a stocky, compact, muscular body. This is finished off with a long (hopefully waggy) tail.

Character & Temperament

The Jack Russell is a hunting dog with a strong prey drive. To some extent this trait is softened by the more docile inclination of the Boston Terrier. The combination should make for a lively, energetic dog, which is fun to be around but may chase other household pets.

Because of their size and robustness, there is a temptation to consider them good family pets. This is true- up to a point. Perhaps more than for other hybrids, it’s essential to choose a puppy from a breeder who has a socialisation plan in place for the pups. Furthermore, once the pup goes to a new home, they require an owner committed to continuing this socialisation and then moving onto obedience training. This ensures a confident dog that isn’t overly anxious in strange situations, and is also well-mannered.

With the right start in life and in the right hands, the Bo-Jack can indeed be a four-legged friend to all family members. But be warned, this is a handsome but hyper chap. When an owner fails to meet their needs for exercise and mental stimulation, they will develop bad habits. These include barking, chewing, and destructive behaviour… so, best not go there.


The Bo-Jack requires a patient handler who is not a novice at dog training. Terriers are known for their strong sense of self-determination. An inexperienced owner may find themselves doing the dog’s bidding, rather than the other way round.

On the positive side, the Bo-Jack is intelligent and given the right motivation is a quick learner. Always used reward-based training methods, since the reward acts as motivation for the dog to present the desired behaviour. For a Bo-Jack, that motivation isn’t necessarily food, but can also be a game of ball or tug.


There is no official data relating to the health problems specifically linked to the Bo-Jack. However, with Bo-Jack pups inheriting genes from both Jack Russell and Boston Terrier, we can make some educated assumptions about their health.

Cherry Eye

The Boston Terrier in particular is prone to ‘cherry eye’. This term describes the appearance of the eye, where a gland pops from behind the third eyelid and sits like a red cherry in the inner corner of the eye.

Cherry eye looks uncomfortable and has cosmetic implications. The majority of dogs with cherry eye need a surgical procedure to suture the gland back in place. However, there is a significant failure rate with this surgery and a repeat procedure may be necessary.

Surgical removal of the swollen gland is now frowned upon. This is because the gland produces tear fluid, and without it, the dog is at risk of developing dry eye.

Patellar Luxation

The patella (or kneecap) should sit snuggly at the front of the knee, providing an anchor for the large thigh muscles to pull against to straighten the leg. A wobbly kneecap (more correctly known as patellar luxation) causes a physical locking of the leg in the wrong position. This is a common problem, especially in smaller breeds.

Mild cases may need occasional pain relief. But at the other end of the scale, severe cases require reconstructive surgery or risk developing debilitating arthritis.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

BOAS is linked to the flat face of the Boston Terrier. Along with that foreshortened nose come a variety of anatomical quirks that can make breathing difficult. These problems include narrow nostrils, large tonsils, a long soft palate, and narrow windpipe.

BOAS can be so severe it has welfare implications for the dog. However, the mingling with Jack Russell genes (and their longer snout) may reduce the risk of this happening in a Bo-Jack.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Bo-Jack is an active dog that thrives when given plenty of exercise. This should include twice daily exercise, preferably off the lead. They do like to sniff and hunt, so interactive games of fetch go down well. You may also wish to train the dog to scent as a way of providing valuable mental stimulation.

Just be careful with a Bo-Jack’s waistline. If they don’t get sufficient exercise, there’s a good chance of piling on pounds leading to a thickened silhouette. This is undesirable and will predispose them to health problems, such as arthritis, liver disease or diabetes.


The Bo-Jack’s coat is low maintenance and doesn’t require professional grooming. That short, hard coat does best when brushed regularly at home. This spreads natural conditioning oils over the coat and helps removed shed hair.

The semi-waterproof qualities of the coat also make keeping them clean easily. Leave a muddy Bo-Jack to dry off, and then simply brush away the excess mud. Indeed, be wary of shampooing a Bo-Jack too frequently, as this strips away those protective oils and can lead to dry skin.

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