Boxers are a breed of stocky, medium-sized, short-haired dog with a smooth fawn or brindled coat and square-jawed muzzle. Boxers have very strong jaws and a powerful bite.
The ancestors of this breed were the German Bullenbeisser, a dog of Mastiff descent, and the English Bulldog. 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 favoured and the Bullenbeisser grew smaller and was then called the Brabanter.
In the late 19th century, the Brabanter was crossed with an English Bulldog to start the line that would become the modern Boxer. In 1894, three Germans by the name of Roberth, Konig, and Hopner decided to stabilise 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 breed was introduced to other parts of Europe in the late 1800s and to the United States around the turn of the century. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised the first Boxer champion 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. Boxer mascots, taken home by returning soldiers, introduced the dog to a much wider audience and it soon became a favourite as a companion animal, as a show dog, and as a guard dog.
The name “Boxer” is supposedly derived from this breed of dog beginning a fight by standing on its two hind legs and “boxing” with its two front paws.
An adult boxer typically weighs between 25 and 32 kg (55 and 70 lb). Adult male boxers are between 57 and 63 cm (23 to 25 in.) tall at the withers; adult female are between 53 and 60 cm (21 to 23 Â½ in.). Cropping of the tail remains popular, although cropping the ears is now prohibited in most European breed standards and is slowly becoming banned in many other countries.
In color, boxers are typically either fawn or brindled with a white underbelly and white on the front or all four feet. The whiteness, called ‘flashiness,’ often extends onto the shoulders or face. Conversely, some brindled boxers are so dark as to appear black. In the UK, fawn boxers are typically richer in color and are called “Red”.
Some boxers are entirely white. Contrary to popular opinion, white boxers are neither albino (lacking pigment in the skin and eyes), nor rare. Some studies indicate that as many as 25% of all boxers are white.
Boxers have a severe underbite, and as a result, their lower row of teeth can get caught in their jowls.
The character of the Boxer is of the greatest importance and demands the most careful attention. He is renowned for his great love and faithfulness to his master and household, his alertness, and fearless courage as a defender and protector. The Boxer is docile but distrustful of strangers. He is bright and friendly in play but brave and determined when roused. His intelligence and willing tractability, his modesty, and cleanliness make him a highly desirable family dog and cheerful companion. He is the soul of honesty and loyalty. He is never false or treacherous even in his old age.
Boxers are a bright, energetic and playful breed and tend to be very good with children. It’s best if obedience training is started early since they also have a strong personality and therefore can be harder to train when older; this plus their strength might present a challenge for a first-time dog owner. It is also equally true that Boxers have a very long puppyhood and adolescence. They are not considered fully mature until age three, one of the longest times in dogdom, and thus need the early training to keep their high energy from wearing the owner out. Boxers have unfairly earned a slight reputation of being ‘headstrong’; no doubt due to some poorly obedience-trained examples of Boxers.
Owners: Affectionate, devoted.
Children: Playful, exuberant (may be too much for very young children).
Other Pets: Good if raised well.
Strangers: Protective of their family, Friendly if well socialised.
Unfamiliar Dogs: Can be problematic unless well socialised.
Boxers can develop “cancers, progressive retinal atrophy, torsion (bloat), epilepsy, bleeding disorders, intestinal problems” (Bailey 37), heart murmurs and ailments of the joints, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, although most good breeders test their breeding stock before breeding and the incidence is slowly decreasing. White boxers have a tendency to develop deafness at a rate much higher than other boxers. Some studies indicate 30-40% of all white boxers are deaf in one or both ears. Since white boxers are not albinos but simply have a white coat, they have no added risk of skin cancer as compared to other boxers.
Boxers are friendly, lively companions that are often used as family dogs, although they are also used as guard dogs. They also sometimes appear at dog agility trials and flyball. Before dog fighting was made illegal, Boxers were often used in dog fights. These strong and intelligent animals have even been sometimes used as guide dogs for the blind and police dogs in K9 units in place of the typical German Shepherd.
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