by: Mike Mathews
It is hard to imagine that a dog breed descended from the mastiff-type dogs of war and one whose progenitors were used for bull and bear baiting, is now one of the most popular family-oriented breeds in the world.
The popular Boxer dog is a playful clown that continues to display youthful exuberance from its puppy stage to its senior years. Boxers are a courageous, good-natured, friendly, energetic, loyal, fun-loving, and family-oriented dog breed. Boxers love children and will suffer all sorts of child inflicted indignities with stoicism. However toddlers and young children should be carefully supervised with excited adolescent and young Boxers who can accidentally knock them over. The boxer is a large and strong dog that must be socialized thoroughly and obedience trained while a puppy and that training must be continued through adolescence to control its exuberance. The Boxer can be overly protective of the children in the family when roughhousing with friends and must be thoroughly socialized and trained to minimize any aggressive tendencies. The breed is naturally suspicious of strangers and usually makes a good watchdog. The Boxer is fairly intelligent and eager to please and can be trained to higher levels for obedience competitions and even for agility competitions. Additional information on activities for dogs can be found in my article: Fun Dog Activities. Unfortunately the Boxer has a stubborn streak that will show up from time to time. He will suddenly refuse to entertain commands that he has been obeying for years and look at you with an inquisitive or even a mischievous expression. However the endless hours of fun and entertainment provided by the Boxer, more than compensate for the stubborn streak.
The Boxer is a medium- to large-sized muscular dog with a blunt and expressive face and a docked tail. Male Boxers stand 22 to 25 inches tall at shoulder height and weigh from 65 to 70 pounds. Females are slightly smaller at 21 to 23.5 inches tall and weigh 55 to 65 pounds. The Boxers ears are generally cropped in the U.S. and Canada but left uncropped in England and some European countries. The Boxer's short, smooth and shiny coat is usually red, fawn or brindle in color. Some Boxers have white markings on their coats but too much white color has been discouraged. The Boxer's coat is easy to care for and requires only an occasional brushing with a soft brush and a rub down with a chamois cloth. This dog breed is a low to moderate shedder.
The early ancestors of the Boxer are thought to be the large and courageous dogs of war that were used in ancient Greek and Roman times. These ancient dogs were later called Molossians after the modern Albanian city of Molossis. When these Molossians spread across Europe they became the ancestors of many modern dog breeds including the British Mastiff, the Swiss Saint Bernard, and the German Bullenbeiser. The Bullenbeiser was a large and strong hunting dog that the aristocracy developed to hunt bears, wild boar and other large game. Later the fearless Bullenbeisers were used as guard dogs and unfortunately also for the cruel sports of dog fighting, bear baiting and bull baiting. Eventually two lines evolved - the larger Danzigers and the smaller Brabanters. The Brabanter was crossed with an early version of the English Bulldog to produce the modern Boxer. The first Boxer was registered in Germany in 1895 and the breed's numbers increased rapidly until World War I. The British Boxer Club was established in 1936 and despite the outbreak of World War II, the bloodlines survived in both Germany and Britain. The Boxer was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1915. The line has continued to evolve and most of the aggressive tendencies have been bred out of the modern Boxer. Today's Boxer has become a very popular family dog and is ranked 7th out of 154 dog breeds in 2004 AKC registrations.
Boxers need regular exercise and do best with an active family. They like lots of attention and can become somewhat destructive if bored. Boxers do not like inclement weather and are sensitive to heat and humidity and shouldn't be taken jogging or cycling during hot summer days. Boxers, being intelligent animals, like to remain in the shade or inside in air conditioned comfort on hot days. Boxers can even adapt to apartment living if they are exercised regularly.
Boxers are normally a fairly healthy dog breed that can be expected to live for 9 to 11 years. Boxers, like most short-muzzled dogs, may snore and suffer from flatulence.
Common inherited health problems include: hip dysplasia; hypothyroidism; corneal dystrophy eye disorders; cardiomyopathy and sub aortic stenosis (SAS) heart diseases; and bloat. Information on these inherited diseases and ways to help control bloat can be found in my article: Hereditary Diseases. Before you buy a Boxer puppy make sure you ask the breeder for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) results for hip dysplasia and thyroid and the Canine Eye Registry (CERF) recent ophthalmologists report for both the sire and dam.
If you are seriously interested in acquiring a Boxer then you should check with your national pure-bred dog organizations such as the American (.akc.org) or Canadian Kennel (.ckc.com) Clubs to look for conformation shows in your area. Make sure you talk to owners and breeders at these shows to see if your lifestyle is really suited to this breed. Additional information on Boxers and on specific shows and competitions in your area can be found by checking with the national Boxer clubs which are The American Boxer Club in the US and The Boxer Club Of Canada in Canada. Both of these umbrella organizations will point you to the local chapter closest to your home that may be able to provide you with information on reputable breeders. They should also provide you with information on Boxer rescue organizations in case you wish to obtain an adult dog.