Previously known as the German Boxer, the German Bulldog and the Deutscher Boxer, the Boxer is a breed that the Germans largely molded using selective breeding in the 19th and 20th centuries. The blunt muzzle, broad head and flat face makes them easy to recognize. It’s personality makes it an excellent family companion and guardian, although these dogs are also used as guide dogs, by the military and for certain types of police work. Their elegance, style, strength and agility make them a popular choice among families looking for a loyal pet.
A breed from Germany, Boxers are cousins to most breeds of bulldogs, and it’s thought that their ancestors came from Tibetan bred fighting dogs. Originally, Germans bred the Boxer to be a guard, hunting and working dog. One of the dog’s predecessors is the Bullenbeisser mastiff, which was another German breed that was used to give chase to, catch and then hold different types of wild game, including bear, bison and wild boar. These dogs are thought to be descendants of the German Bullenbeisser and a type of bulldog that was exported to Munich from England. The breed was stabilized and ahibited by three Germans in 1894, which brought this breed into prominence. The Deutsche Boxer Club of Munich was founded in 1896, although it wasn’t until 1902 that the original breed standard was adopted in Germany.
During World War 1 and World War 2, Boxers were often used to carry supplies, ammunition and messages. Soldiers returning from the wars brought Boxers back to the United States, and they quickly became popular within the U.S. In 1904, the American Kennel Club registered its first Boxer and later in 1935, the American Boxer Club was started. Since that time, this breed has continued to soar in popularity as show dogs, family dogs, watch dogs and guardians.
As a member of the Mastiff family, the Boxer has some of the characteristics of Mastiffs. The dog is energetic and medium sized with visible, well developed muscles. Their muzzles are black, blunt and very wide and breed standards require that muzzles are 1/3 of the length of their head and 2/3 the width of their skull to be shown. The Boxer’s skull is arched and the forehead is indented slightly. They boast a black nose and dark brown eyes. Their slight under bite is another characteristic of these dogs that is very distinctive. Usually the tail of these dogs is docked and the ears are generally cropped.
These sleek, muscular dogs have tight-fitting skin and short, sleek coats. The Boxer comes in two different colors, including fawn and brindle. Shades of fawn range between a deep mahogany and light tan. Brindles often have a fawn background with a pattern of stripes. While they often have white markings, they should have no more than 30% of their coat in white. Excessive white markings are undesirable and may result in the dogs being more likely to deal with certain health problems. Male Boxers range between 23-25 inches tall and generally weigh around 70 pounds. Females are a bit shorter, standing between 21.5-23.5 inches tall and weighing about 60 pounds.
Although Boxers have an imposing figure, they are very loving and playful, making them a great companion dog for families. They are energetic as puppies and they never lose that energy and their desire to play and romp. Boxers also enjoy cuddling and snuggling up to their owner. Since they love being the center of attention, they’ll make noise to attract their owners if they want something or they think they need more attention.
This breed is very protective, especially of their owners, which makes them reliable, alert watchdogs. If a stranger approaches, they’ll definitely sound the alarm loud and clear. In general, the Boxer does well with other family pets, but they may be aggressive towards dogs, particularly those of the same sex. To avoid this problem, simply make sure that puppies are socialized with other dogs. Because of their deep attachment to their owner, they can develop separation anxiety. However, ensuring that they get enough mental and physical activity will help prevent problems with anxiety.
When it comes to training, Boxers require consistent training. It’s important that trainers establish leadership early. If these dogs are given even a little leeway, they’ll begin taking advantage. To train this breed effectively, avoid discipline and harsh tones, using treats and positive reinforcement instead.
Since the Boxer has a short coat, they are easy to groom. This breed is very clean and these dogs actually groom themselves regularly, much in the same way that cats groom themselves. While they shed year round, this can be kept under control easily by brushing their coat weekly. To keep the coat sleek and shiny, wiping down the coat with a chamois cloth occasionally is recommended. Only bath these short haired dogs as needed, or about once every four months. Weekly ear cleanings and tooth brushing should be used to prevent oral and ear problems. Toenails should be trimmed if they are not worn down naturally.
The strength and intelligence of the Boxer has made this breed a popular choice for various jobs. They are often used as police dogs for K9 units and they have been used by the military in the past as well, doing tasks such as pack carrying and messenger dogs. They make excellent guide dogs, service dogs and therapy dogs. Occasionally, these dogs may work herding sheep or cattle.
Boxers live to be between 11-14 years old in most cases. However, they don’t do well in excessively hot or cold climates. The Boxer breed is often prone to certain health problems, including heart conditions, cancers, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and degenerative myelopathy. Other conditions that are less common include allergies, gastric dilation, intestinal issues and spondylosis deformans. Surveys by the UK Kennel Club found that over 38% of Boxer deaths were caused by cancer while over 21% of deaths were simply caused by old age.