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The boxer is exemplary in its combination of stylish elegance with strength and agility. It is square-proportioned with good substance and musculature. Its stride is free and ground-covering, with proud carriage. Its head is distinctive, with a broad, blunt muzzle and alert expression. Its coat is short and shiny. It is perfectly suited to serve as a working watchdog.
The boxer is playful, exuberant, inquisitive, attentive, demonstrative, devoted and outgoing; it is a perfect companion for an active family. It can be stubborn, but it is sensitive and responsive to commands. It may be aggressive toward strange dogs, but it is generally good with other household dogs and pets.
AKC RANKING 7
FAMILY livestock dog, mastiff (bulldog)
AREA OF ORIGIN Germany
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION bullbaiting, guardian
TODAY'S FUNCTION guardian
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 22.5-25 Weight: 65-80
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 21-23.5 Weight: 50-65
OTHER NAME none
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Friendly
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability Medium
Protection ability Moderately protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
The boxer needs daily mental and physical exertion. It likes to run, but its exercise needs can also be met with a good jog or a long walk on leash. It does not do well in hot weather and is generally unsuited to living outdoors. It does best when allowed to divide its time between a house and yard. Some snore. Its coat needs only occasional brushing to remove dead hair. Major concerns: cardiomyopathy, SAS, CHD
Minor concerns: gastric torsion, tumors, intervertebral disc degeneration, corneal erosion, colitis
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: cardiac, hip
Life span: 8 10 years
Note: sensitive to heat and anesthesia; white boxers may be deaf.
The boxer derives from two central European breeds of dog that no longer exist: the larger Danziger bullenbaiser and the smaller Brabenter bullenbaiser. Bullenbaiser means "bull biter," and these dogs were used to grab large game (wild boars, deer and small bears) after it was at bay, hanging onto it until the hunter arrived to kill it. This required a strong but agile dog with a broad powerful jaw and a recessed nose to enable the dog to breathe while its jaws were clamped onto an animal. Similar attributes were required of dogs used in bull-baiting, a popular sport in many European countries. In England, the bulldog was the favored breed for the sport, whereas in Germany large mastiff-type dogs were used. Around the 1830s, German hunters began a concerted effort to create a new breed, crossing their bullenbaisers with mastiff-type dogs for size, terriers for tenacity and, finally, bulldogs. The result was a tough agile dog with a streamlined body and strong grip. When bull-baiting was outlawed, the dogs were mostly used as butcher's dogs in Germany, controlling cattle in slaughter yards. By 1895, an entirely new breed, the boxer, had been established. Although the exact origin of the name boxer is obscure, it may have been derived from the German boxl, as they were called in the slaughterhouses. The boxer was one of the first breeds to be employed as a police and military dog in Germany. By 1900, the breed had become established as a general utility dog, a family pet and even a show dog. The AKC recognized the breed soon after, but only in the 1940s did the breed begin its steady rise to the top of the popularity charts, eventually peaking as the fourth-most popular breed in America.