The Boxer is a breed of medium-sized, short-haired dogs developed in Germany. Their coat is smooth and tight-fitting; colors are fawn or brindled, with or without white markings, which may cover the entire body, and white. Boxers are brachycephalic (they have broad, short skulls), have a square muzzle, mandibularprognathism (an underbite), very strong jaws, and a powerful bite ideal for hanging on to large prey. The Boxer was bred from the Old English Bulldog and the now extinct Bullenbeisser, and is part of the Molosser group. The Boxer is a member of the Working Group.
Boxers were first exhibited in a dog show for St. Bernards in Munich in 1895, the first Boxer club being founded the next year. Based on 2013 American Kennel Club statistics, Boxers held steady as the seventh most popular breed of dog in the United States for the fourth consecutive year.
The Boxer is part of the Molosser dog group, developed in Germany in the late 19th century from the now extinct Bullenbeisser, a dog of Mastiff descent, and Bulldogs brought in from Great Britain. The Bullenbeisser had been working as a hunting dog for centuries, employed in the pursuit of bear, wild boar, and deer. Its task was to seize the prey and hold it until the hunters arrived. In later years, faster dogs were favored and a smaller Bullenbeisser was bred in Brabant, in northern Belgium. It is generally accepted that the Brabanter Bullenbeisser was a direct ancestor of today's Boxer. In 1894, three Germans by the names of Friedrich Robert, Elard König, and R. Höpner decided to stabilize the breed and put it on exhibition at a dog show. This was done in Munich in 1895, and the next year they founded the first Boxer Club, the Deutscher Boxer Club. The Club went on to publish the first Boxer breed standard in 1902, a detailed document that has not been changed much to this day.
The breed was introduced to other parts of Europe in the late 19th century and to the United States around the turn of the 20th century. The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the first Boxer in 1904, and recognized the first Boxer champion, Dampf vom Dom, in 1915. During World War I, the Boxer was co-opted for military work, acting as a valuable messenger dog, pack-carrier, attack dog, and guard dog. It was not until after World War II that the Boxer became popular around the world. Taken home by returning soldiers, they introduced the dog to a wider audience and soon became a favorite as a companion, a show dog, and a guard dog.
The German citizen George Alt, a Munich resident, mated a brindle-colored bitch imported from France named Flora with a local dog of unknown ancestry, known simply as "Boxer", resulting in a fawn-and-white male, named "Lechner's Box" after its owner. This dog was mated with his own dam Flora, and one of its offspring was a bitch called Alt's Schecken. George Alt mated Schecken with a Bulldog named Dr. Toneissen's Tom to produce the historically significant dog Mühlbauer's Flocki. Flocki was the first Boxer to enter the German Stud Book after winning the aforementioned show for St. Bernards in Munich 1895, which was the first event to have a class specific for Boxers.
The white bitch Ch. Blanka von Angertor, Flocki's sister, was even more influential when mated with Piccolo von Angertor (Lechner's Box grandson) to produce the predominantly white (parti-colored) bitch Meta von der Passage, which, even bearing little resemblance with the modern Boxer standard (early photographs depicts her as too long, weak-backed and down-faced), is considered the mother of the breed. John Wagner, in The Boxer(first published in 1939) said the following regarding this bitch.
Meta von der Passage played the most important role of the five original ancestors. Our great line of sires all trace directly back to this female. She was a substantially built, low to the ground, brindle and white parti-color, lacking in underjaw and exceedingly lippy. As a producing female few in any breed can match her record. She consistently whelped puppies of marvelous type and rare quality. Those of her offspring sired by Flock St. Salvator and Wotan dominate all present-day pedigrees. Combined with Wotan and Mirzl children, they made the Boxer.
Boxers will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They are fairly active indoors and do best with at least an average-sized yard. Boxers are temperature sensitive, getting easily overheated and chilling very quickly.The Boxer is a very energetic dog and will therefore require regular exercise. This breed is not unsuited to life in an apartment environment, but will always thrive best with a readily available garden in which to exercise and play. Like many other very short-haired breeds, the Boxer does not like extreme temperatures and should not be subjected to extreme cold or heat.Boxers are energetic dogs, and they need daily exercise. Their love for company means that interactive games make an ideal form of exercise, so a game of fetch or Frisbee will go down a treat. The boxer also enjoys his daily walk, which is of particular importance if he lives in an apartment.
One must weigh carefully, the decision to bring a Boxer into his or her life and home. You must truly be a “dog person” to coexist happily with a Boxer. This is not the breed for everyone. In fact, he can be a regular nightmare for some.
Boxers rule but they also drool! They pass gas, give wet kisses, jump up to greet you and snore too! If the sound of any of this makes you wince, you are not right for a Boxer! If an attention seeking, 70+ pound slobbering lap dog isn’t appealing to you, please do not acquire a Boxer!
Boxers have great affection reserved especially for children (and older adults too). Most can recognize the need to be more patient and gentle with these fragile beings; however, some are better at executing it than others! Boxers have the tendency to bowl over young children when they get excited or while playing. If you would find this unacceptable, do not get a Boxer dog!
While Boxers in general, tend to be protective towards their family members, some are better at it than others! A Boxer should never be acquired for the sole purpose of guarding. It’s been said “A Boxer will lead a thief to the jewels for a pat on the head.”
They are absolutely dependent upon the companionship of their families! This is not a dog to be left alone unattended for hours on end. They MUST live indoors with their families. It is common to find a Boxer who suffers from separation anxiety. They need to be around people and they thrive on this special companionship. Boxers can develop unwelcome behaviors such as digging, barking and chewing if ignored or not cared for properly. They have the potential to do a great deal of damage (they are powerful chewers) if they are not in a suitable environment.
The Boxer generally makes a fine Therapy Dog. This breed is known for their uncanny knack of being compassionate and “in tune” with the feelings of people around them. If you are sad, they’ll lick your tears and know to be quiet and sit next to you. If you want to run around and play, so will they.
Boxers are a bright, energetic and playful breed and tend to be very good with children.They are patient and spirited with children but also protective, making them a popular choice for families. They are active, strong dogs and require adequate exercise to prevent boredom-associated behaviors such as chewing, digging, or licking. Boxers have earned a slight reputation of being "headstrong," which can be related to inappropriate obedience training. Owing to their intelligence and working breed characteristics, training based on corrections often has limited usefulness. Boxers, like other animals, typically respond better to positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training, an approach based on operant conditioning and behaviorism, which offers the dog an opportunity to think independently and to problem-solve. Stanley Coren's survey of obedience trainers, summarized in his book The Intelligence of Dogs, ranked Boxers at #48 – average working/obedience intelligence. Many who have worked with Boxers disagree quite strongly with Coren's survey results, and maintain that a skilled trainer who uses reward-based methods will find Boxers have far above-average intelligence and working ability.
The Boxer by nature is not an aggressive or vicious breed. It is an instinctive guardian and can become very attached to its family. Like all dogs, it requires proper socialization.Boxers are generally patient with smaller dogs and puppies, but difficulties with larger adult dogs, especially those of the same sex, may occur. Boxers are generally more comfortable with companionship, in either human or canine form.
Leading health issues to which Boxers are prone include cancers, heart conditions such as Aortic Stenosis and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (the so-called "Boxer Cardiomyopathy"), hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy and epilepsy; other conditions that may be seen are gastric dilatation and torsion (bloat), intestinal problems, and allergies (although these may be more related to diet than breed). Entropion, a malformation of the eyelid requiring surgical correction, is occasionally seen, and some lines have a tendency toward spondylosis deformans, a fusing of the spine,or dystocia. Other conditions that are less common but occur more often in Boxers than other breeds are hystiocytic ulcerative colitis (sometimes called Boxer colitis), an invasive E. coli infection, and indolent corneal ulcers, often called Boxer eye ulcers.
According to a UK Kennel Club health survey, cancer accounts for 38.5% of Boxer deaths, followed by old age (21.5%), cardiac (6.9%) and gastrointestinal (6.9%) related issues. The breed is particularly predisposed to mast cell tumours, a cancer of the immune system.Median lifespan was 10.25 years. Responsible breeders use available tests to screen their breeding stock before breeding, and in some cases throughout the life of the dog, in an attempt to minimize the occurrence of these diseases in future generations.
Boxers are known to be very sensitive to the hypotensive and bradycardiac effects of a commonly used veterinary sedative, acepromazine. It is recommended that the drug be avoided in the Boxer breed.
As an athletic breed, proper exercise and conditioning is important for the continued health and longevity of the Boxer. Care must be taken not to over-exercise young dogs, as this may damage growing bones; however once mature Boxers can be excellent jogging or running companions. Because of their brachycephalic head, they do not do well with high heat or humidity, and common sense should prevail when exercising a Boxer in these conditions.