What Is a Haggerty Spot on a Boston Terrier

Dog lovers often refer to the Boston terrier as the “American gentleman,” thanks to its tuxedo-like coat. Some canines of this breed also feature another special marking — a small dot at the top of the head. What is this dot seen on some Boston terriers, and what does it mean?

The Haggerty spot is a small area of colored hair located on top of a Boston Terrier’s head that sits atop the dog’s blaze (strip of white fur). The distinctive marking is linked to a specific genetic line of canines bred by the Haggerty family (hence the name) in the early 1900s.

In this article, I’ll explain what a Haggerty spot is, why only some Boston terriers have it, and what it means. Toward the end of the article, we’ll briefly discuss the breed’s ideal markings and how to learn more about your Boston terrier’s history. Read on to learn more about this unique feature.

What Does the Haggerty Spot Look Like?

Some Boston terriers present with an interesting coat marking at the top of the crown. This marking typically appears as a smudge, dot, circle, or non-geometric shape in the middle of the blaze (the strip of white fur on the head that runs down the face). In some cases, it may be slightly positioned to the left or right.

This odd feature is commonly known as the “Haggerty” spot, though people often refer to it using several other terms, including:

image of a Boston Terrier with a haggerty spot
Image thanks to https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e7/91/34/e79134124755e2c89c1a4858af91224a.jpg

What Color is the Haggerty Spot?

The Haggerty spot comes in several different shapes, sizes, and colors. Colors include red, black, seal, and chocolate brown, depending on the Boston terrier’s coat. For example, a black and white Boston terrier would feature a black Haggerty spot, whereas a red and white canine would have a red mark.

The Origin of the Haggerty Spot

“Haggerty” may sound like a strange term — that’s because it’s actually a surname. The Haggerty’s were a prominent dog-breeding family that lived in the early 1900s. After whelping many dogs, their litters started appearing with distinctive markings on their heads. The spot quickly became associated with the family and, as such, became known as the “Haggerty spot.”

Interestingly, Boston terriers today that feature this marking can usually be traced back to the Haggerty’s line of canines.

The Haggerty Family and Their Boston Terriers

During the early 1900s, while the Haggerty’s were breeding dogs, Boston terriers were a commonly featured breed in show rings throughout the eastern United States. Some of these dogs were even bred by the Haggerty family, well-known in the industry for raising and showing the dapper canines.

Coincidentally, beginning in 1905, the Boston terrier became the first or second most popular breed in the United States for three decades. Although there’s no evidence to suggest the Haggerty family played a significant role in the popularity of the breed, it’s safe to assume that they likely provided many families with their first Boston terrier

Is the Haggerty Spot Rare?

The Haggerty spot isn’t rare, but not all Boston terriers feature the marking. Some breeders raise prices on puppies with the spot because of the association with the Haggerty bloodline. However, there’s no evidence suggesting dogs with the spot are healthier or “better” than those without.

Unless the canine comes from an unbroken line of champion breeds, there’s no reason to pay more for a dog with the Haggerty spot.

Ideal Boston Terrier Markings

Vincent G. Perry, renowned International Show Judge, once remarked on the Haggerty spot, referring to it as one of the perfect markings of the breed. He even went so far as to call the Haggerty dot “kiss of God” in his book, “The Boston Terrier.”

With that said, the Haggerty marking isn’t considered part of the breed standard, nor is it an official “ideal” marking. In fact, the breed standards set by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club do not mention the Haggerty marking at all.

According to the UKC, the ideal markings of a Boston terrier are:

  • White band around the snout
  • White strip of fur that extends from the head to in between the eyes
  • White neck
  • White forelegs and hind legs

Dogs with predominantly white heads or bodies are considered unideal.

In terms of body and movement, Boston terriers should appear short, well-formed, with robust limbs and small tails. Every part of its body should be in proportion. The breed should display a determined, strong, active demeanor and have a graceful walk.

Your Boston Terrier’s History

To determine whether your Boston terrier comes from the Haggerty line, take a look at its pedigree. When purchasing a purebred Boston terrier, the breeder should provide a copy, as well as the dog’s registration number.

A dog’s pedigree includes information about its lineage and genetic makeup, all of which contribute to its conformation, temperament, and any inherited health disorders or other traits. To see if the dog comes from the Haggerty line, however, there’d need to be an unbroken line that goes back to the family’s stock.

Non-registered or non-purebred Boston terriers may present with the Haggerty marking. However, because these dogs do not come with pedigrees, it’s challenging to track their lineage.

There are canine DNA tests available, but DNA tests are not pedigrees, so they cannot determine your Boston terrier’s ancestors. However, these tests can provide vital information regarding potential inherited health issues and traits. This data can help you know what health conditions to watch out for in your canine.

If you have a mixed-breed Boston terrier, you can find out more about the breeds in its lineage using DNA tests.

Final Thoughts

The distinctive head marking seen on many Boston terriers is more than just an adorable feature — it’s linked to a specific bloodline dating back to the early 1900s.

If you notice that your canine companion has this spot, take a look at its pedigree to see if it traces back to the Haggerty line.

It’s a bit more difficult to determine lineage in dogs without pedigrees or mixed-breed Boston terriers. DNA tests can provide a little more insight, but cannot provide information about your dog’s bloodline.


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