The Boxer is a breed of dog developed in Germany. It was bred from the old English Bulldog and the now extinct Bullenbeisser, the Boxer is part of the molosser group of dogs.
There are different theories about how the breed got its Boxer name. One is that it is because of the breeds tendency to play while standing on its hind legs and ‘boxing’ with its front paws, another is that the word Boxer translates as ‘prize fighter’ in German dictionary, so the name was bestowed in appreciation of the fighting qualities of the dog.
Boxer is also the name of a dog owned by John Pierybiggle the main character in the 1845 book The cricket on the hearth by Charles Dickens. This is evidence that Boxer was commonly used as a dog name in the 19th century, it could just be that the name of the breed is taken from the actual name of the first specimen of this breed.
The Boxer is part of the molosser dog group developed in Germany towards the end of the 19th century by crossing Bull dogs from Great Britain with the Bullenbeisser, a dog of Mastiff descent. It is generally accepted that the Breberther Bullenbeisser was a direct ancestor of today s Boxer.
In 1894, three Germans, Friedrich Robert, Elard Konig and R Hopner decided to stabilise the breed, and put it on exhibition at a dog show. A year later they founded the first Boxer club, the Deutscher Boxer club, the club posted its first standard in 1904, a detailed document which hasn’t changed much to this day.
The Bulldog was introduced to other parts of Europe, and the United States around the turn of the 20th century. The American Kennel club registered its first Boxer in 1904, and recognised their first Boxer champion, Dampf Von Dom in 1915.
It wasn’t until after World War II that the Boxer became really popular around the world. Taken home with them by returning soldiers, the dog was introduced to a wider audience and soon became a favourite companion, guard dog and show dog. The Boxer is currently the eighth most popular dog in America.
Boxer dogs are energetic, bright, playful and usually good with children, they are loyal, patient and protective, making them an ideal choice for a family pet. They are an active dog which will soon get bored and start chewing and digging, if not given adequate attention. The Boxer by nature is not an aggressive or vicious breed, but it is an instinctive guardian and will protect its owners.
Like all dogs they require socilisation, from an early age if possible, they are generally patient with smaller dogs and puppies, but can have difficulties with larger adult dogs, especially those of the same sex.
A solidly built, muscular dog, the Boxers most distinctive feature is its head. It should be in perfect proportion to the body, the muzzle must be of correct form and in absolute proportion to the skull. The Boxer should be slightly prognathous, this means its lower jaw should protrude beyond the upper jaw and bend slightly upwards in what is commonly called an under bite.
The male Boxer should stand 22 to 25in (56 to 64cm) and weigh 65 to 75lb (29 to 34kg).
The female boxer should stand 21 to 24in (55 to 61cm) and weigh 55 to 70lb (25 to 32kg)
Boxers were originally a crocked and docked breed, while this is still done in a few countries, most places around the world now prohibit this.
It is a short haired breed with a smooth, tight coat, the only recognised colours are fawn and brindle, usually with white on the underbelly and feet. The Boxer does not carry the gene for a solid black coat colour, therefore purebred black Boxers do not exist. Boxers with white markings covering more than a third of their coat are conventionally called white boxers, they are neither albino nor rare. Approximately twenty-five per cent of all boxers born are white, genetically these dogs are either fawn or brindle with excessive white markings overlying the base coat colour. Because, they are not recognised by the standard, in the past breeders often euthanized white puppies at birth, today breeders are thankfully increasingly reluctant to euthanize white puppies and choose to neuter and place them in pet homes instead.
The average lifespan of a healthy Boxer dog is 9 to 15 years.
Leading health issues which Boxers are prone to include Cancers, heart conditions (such as oestic sterosis), hypothyroidism (caused by the thyroid gland not producing enough thyroid hormone), hip dyslasia and degenerative myclopathy (a disease of the spinal cord).
Being an athletic breed, proper exercise and conditioning are important for continued good health, care must be taken not to over exercise young dogs as it may damage growing bones. Because of its short skull and head shape, the boxer does not cope well with high temperatures and humidity, care should be taken exercising the Boxer dog in these conditions.