Boxers are silly, sweet and mischievous. They clown around with family and friends, are patient and playful with children, but show a deliberate and wary face to strangers, responding with unmatched courage to anything that threatens their loved ones. Those characteristics are why people love them. Overview
The Boxer is a breed of stocky, 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, mandibular prognathism (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. Highlights
Boxers are high-energy dogs and need a lot of exercise. Make sure you have the time, desire, and energy to give them the play and activity they need.
Boxers are exuberant and will greet you ecstatically.
Early, consistent training is critical — before your Boxer gets too big to handle!
Although they are large, Boxers are not “outdoor dogs.” Their short noses and short hair make them uncomfortable in hot and cold weather, and they need to be kept as housedogs.
Boxers mature slowly and act like rambunctious puppies for several years.
Boxers don’t just like to be around their family — they need to be around them! If left alone for too long or kept in the backyard away from people, they can become ill-tempered and destructive.
Boxers drool, a lot. Boxers also snore, loudly.
Although they have short hair, Boxers shed, especially in the spring.
Boxers are intelligent and respond well to firm but fun training. They also have an independent streak and don’t like to be bossed around or treated harshly. You’ll have the biggest success in training your Boxer if you can make it fun for him.
Some Boxers take their guarding duties a little too seriously, while others may not exhibit any guarding instincts at all.
To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Other Quick Facts
Boxers are big dogs with a big streak of mischief in their makeup. You’ll need a sense of humor to live with one.
Boxers are great watchdogs but not aggressive toward people unless the situation calls for it.
Boxers are athletic and excel in many dog sports, including agility and herding.
Boxers are lovers, not fighters, but they won’t back away from a showdown if another dog starts something.
The Boxer was developed as a working breed in Germany in the late nineteenth century. He belongs to the family of bull breeds, which include the Bulldog, Bull Terrier and Dogue de Bordeaux, to name just a few.
In his modern incarnation, the Boxer has existed for only about a century, but you can see hints of him in the dogs portrayed on old tapestries from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Those big Mastiff-type dogs may have been ancestors of the Boxer. They were known as bullenbeissers, a German word meaning “bull biter.” Bullenbeissers were used on great estates to bring down large game, and later they were employed by butchers and cattle drovers to keep livestock in line.
The modern Boxer was born in the 1880s, when a man named George Alt, who lived in Munich, imported a brindle bullenbeisser named Flora from France. Her offspring became the foundation of the Boxer breed. It’s unclear whether the breed name comes from a corruption of the word “beisser” or is a reference to the breed’s habit of using his front paws in a fight. Boxers were trained for police work, were some of the earliest guide dogs and served in the German military during World War I as messengers and scouts.
The American Kennel Club first registered a Boxer in 1904. The breed didn’t catch on right away, and the dislike for German breeds that occurred during World War I didn’t help matters any. It wasn’t until the 1940s and 1950s that the Boxer became a popular breed. In 1951, a Boxer named Bang Away won Best in Show at Westminster, the third Boxer to do so, and for the time, he was a rock star. You could see Bang Away’s photo in Lifeand Esquire, and when he flew to dog shows, he rode in the cabin of the plane, never in cargo. Only one other Boxer has won Westminster since the days of Bang Away, Ch. Arriba’s Prima Donna, who won in 1971.
Boxers today are more refined and elegant than their ancestors, but they are still strong, smart, and fearless. The breed ranks seventh among those registered by the AKC.
Boxers may look like imposing figures from afar, but up close and personal they are playful and loving family companions. Often dubbed the Peter Pan of dogs, Boxers are highly energetic, and as they grow into adulthood, they never lose the desire to romp and play like a puppy. Perpetual cuddle bugs, Boxers will try to wriggle into even the smallest spaces possible to get close to the ones they love. They love to be the center of attention and make a sound unique to their breed that some owners call a “Woo Woo.” When they want something they will make this “woo woo” sound to attract an audience.
Protective of their family, Boxers are alert and reliable watchdogs, sounding the alarm that strangers are approaching. Their menacing, muscular appearance will deter anyone whose intent is not above board. Boxers get along well with other pets, including cats and make a loving and loyal addition to any active family.
Some major concerns are cardiomyopathy and other heart problems, sub-aortic stenosis and thyroid. Can be prone to skin and other allergies. Sometimes prone to epilepsy. From age eight on they are more likely to get tumors than other breeds. Prone to cancer. Boxers are highly prone to mast cell tumors. Prone to arthritis, hip dysplasia, back and knee issues. These dogs may drool and snore. May have excessive flatulence, especially when fed something other than their own dog food. Some white Boxers are prone to deafness.
The Boxer’s coat needs just occasional brushing to get rid of dead hair. Daily physical and mental exercise is essential for the dog, which also loves to run. A long walk on leash or a good jog is enough to meet the dog’s exercise needs. It is not suited to live outdoors nor does it like hot weather. The dog is at its best when given a chance to spend equal time in the yard and home. Some Boxers may snore.
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.
An active, athletic breed, Boxers need daily work or exercise, as well as a long brisk, daily walk. They also enjoy fetching a ball or other sessions of play.
The Boxer is an easy-care dog. His short, smooth coat benefits from weekly brushing with a firm bristle brush or rubber curry brush to keep it shiny and healthy and to remove dead hairs that would otherwise find their way to your clothes and furniture.
Frequent baths are not necessary unless he gets dirty, but with the gentle dog shampoos available now, you can bathe a Boxer weekly if you want without harming his coat.
Clean the ears as needed with a solution recommended by your veterinarian. Don’t use cotton swabs inside the ear; they can push gunk further down into it. Wipe out the ear with a cotton ball, never going deeper than the first knuckle of your finger.
Trim the nails every couple of weeks or as needed. Don’t let them get so long that you can hear them clicking on the floor.
Children and other pets
Boxers love kids and are great playmates for active older children. They can be too rambunctious for toddlers, however, and can accidentally knock them down in play.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Boxers can get along well with other dogs and cats, especially if they’re raised with them.
Did You Know?
White Boxers are not albinos and their coloration is not the result of a genetic mutation. In Boxers, white is just a color. But white dogs tend to burn in the sun and may be at increased risk of skin cancer.