The Boxer breed was originally used to seize large game and hold onto it until huntsmen arrived, but due to its highly trainable nature, it has become a popular choice for military and police work today. Although hard workers, boxers are playful characters and they make great family pets, with lovers of the breed considering them to be a perfect package of beauty and brains.
- Height: up to 63 cm (at the shoulder)
- Temperament: friendly, intelligent, boisterous family pet
- Maintenance: low maintenance but high need for companionship
- Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Boxers originated in Germany as descendants of the bullenbeisser breed used for bullbaiting and big-game hunting. Crossed with the bulldog and mastiff breeds, and possibly great Danes and terriers, they were developed in the late 1800s as hunting dogs, then becoming useful helpers in slaughterhouses due to their ability to control cattle. The distinctive shortened nasal area of the boxer breed (brachycephalic skull) is believed to have been developed to aid the dog’s ability to bite and hold down large game such as bison, bear, and wild boar.
The name of the breed is popularly believed to stem from the way boxer’s use their paws when playing or defending themselves, making then look like a prize-fighter in the boxing ring, but some historians suggest the breed name may relate to the German language and connect to their slaughterhouse days as butcher’s assistants.
Charles Cruft, founder of Crufts dog show, introduced boxers to the world in the early 1900s. Initially considered working dogs, their strength and intelligence made them ideal police dogs, one of the first breeds used by the service, but their loyal and playful nature soon led to them becoming popular as guard dogs, companions, and family pets.
Characteristically, boxers are affectionate, patient, playful, and fearless companions, known for their protective nature and love of children. Their intelligence and hard-working nature mean they take their role in the home very seriously, defending their people from all threats, but they also love to get involved in fun and games.
Always upbeat and alert, boxers can be overenthusiastic and bouncy, but their fun-loving attitude and boundless energy makes them ideally suited to families with children. If left without companionship, they can be destructive, so having a boxer in the family means having someone around to keep him or her company at home or having a lifestyle that allows you to take your dog with you wherever you go.
Outgoing and eager to please, boxers are highly trainable, but their natural exuberance can mean boredom sets in quickly if training becomes repetitive. They do have a mind of their own and can be stubborn at times, but they are also superb problem solvers, excelling in agility and obedience activities. Boxers are a popular choice for search-and-rescue and drug detection roles, also working extremely well as therapy or assistance dogs.
Training of young dogs must begin early as they will need constant reminders not to jump up. Puppy training classes can also provide socializing opportunities. Most boxers enjoy the company of the opposite sex, but they are not always tolerant of the same sex.
Boxers are unable to tolerate extremes in temperature, either hot or cold, so they need to be kept indoors and treated as part of the family. They can be prone to lick sores, caused by over licking or biting small skin irritations such as flea bites, so careful attention is needed to ensure small lumps or scratches don’t become bigger issues. Other medical conditions that may affect boxers include:
Interesting Boxer Facts
- ● The boxer first appeared as an exhibition dog breed in 1895 at a dog show in Munich.
- ● White boxers are rare, and they are generally born deaf.
- ● In 1985, a white boxer dog was saved from euthanasia by an animal nurse. Named Bomber, he went on to become a much-loved member of the cast in the UK television series, Oliver Twist.
- ● A boxer named Brandy held the record for the “longest tongue on a dog” with a measurement of 43 cm (17 inches).
- ● The tradition of docking tails and cropping ears was originally to aid the boxer’s hunting ability, making it less likely that tails and ears could be targeted by the hunted animal.