The Boxer is a short-haired, medium-sized breed with a square, short muzzle. Originating from Germany in the 1800s, the breed is related to the Bulldog, and was originally bred as hunting companions. The Boxer's strength and agility made it perfect for running down and holding on to large prey until the hunter could reach it. The Boxer is classified with the working group of dogs. It has, in both past and present, worked with the military as a pack carrier and messenger, with police K9 units, as guides for the blind, and as both attack and guard dogs. The Boxer's high level of intellect, its devotion to those it is attached to, and its ability to be relaxed with those who are small or disabled make this breed an ideal pet.
The Boxer is tightly muscular, with a squarely proportioned body. It stands from 21 to 25 inches in height at the withers, and weighs from 55 to 75 pounds. The head is the most distinctive and the most valued in overall appearance. with a blunt and broad muzzle and an undershot jaw - meaning that the lower jaw is longer than the upper. This is a brachycephalic breed, though not as extreme as the Bulldog. The muzzle is not as short, and the underbite not as pronounced. The teeth and tongue do not appear with the Boxer when its mouth is closed.
When the Boxer is standing at attention, the line of the body, from the back of the head, slopes gently down the neck to the withers, and the chest is full-bodied, as if puffed out with pride. The Boxer is muscular throughout, but not overly so in any one area. This breed should be proportionally athletic in appearance. In movement, the Boxer covers a lot of ground with its wide gait. The coat is shiny and short, and can be in several shades of fawn, which range in shades of tan/yellow, to browns, to reds. The other acceptable coloring is brindle, a type of coat striping where any shade of fawn is striped by black. It is common for Boxers to have additional marking called "flash," where the chest, face, or paws are white. Flash can be in one area or in all of the expected areas of the body.
The Boxer has an alert expression, making it appear to always be watching for something to happen, even when at rest. Its hefty appearance and strong jaw make the Boxer an impressive watchdog. With its unusual combination of strength and agility, combined with stylish elegance, the Boxer stands apart from other dogs.
An active family will surely find the Boxer to be a perfect companion. The Boxer is high-spirited, curious, outgoing, and dedicated. It responds well to commands and is sensitive to the needs of those it serves. In general, this breed is good with other household pets and dogs, but may sometimes show signs of aggression towards strange dogs or to dogs of the same gender. Otherwise, there should be no other signs of aggression towards strangers that it is introduced to. The Boxer is known to be temperamentally reserved with strangers, so at its worst, the Boxer should be indifferent to new people. With those it is familiar with, the Boxer may get overly rambunctious, and will need to be trained from a young age not to jump on people. Playing, however, should be highly encouraged. Its bright, playful attitude and highly social nature make the breed an excellent companion for the park, for exercise, and for keeping the family motivated.
The Boxer’s coat needs just occasional brushing to get rid of dead hair. Daily physical and mental exercise is essential for the dog, which also loves to run. A long walk on leash or a good jog is enough to meet the dog’s exercise needs. It is not suited to live outdoors nor does it like hot weather. The dog is at its best when given a chance to spend equal time in the yard and home. Some Boxers may snore.
The Boxer has an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years and suffers from minor aliments like colitis, gastric torsion, corneal erosion, and hypothyroidism. Diseases that are more complicated are canine hip dysplasia (CHD), Boxer cardiomyopathy, and subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS). Sometimes degenerative myelopathy and brain tumors are also seen in the breed. The breed severely reacts to acepromazine and is sensitive to heat. White boxers can be deaf. Thyroid, hip, and cardiac tests are advised for this breed of dog.
The Brabenter Bullenbeiser and the Danziger Bullenbeiser are the two extinct central European breeds from which the present day Boxer is derived. Bullenbeiser stands for bull-biter, and these types of dogs were helpful in chasing large game such as small bear, deer, and wild boar in the forests. The dogs hung on to the prey until the hunter came and killed it. To achieve this, an agile and strong dog with a recessed nose and a powerful broad jaw was necessary. These were the same qualities which were sought in a dog used for bull baiting, a sport that was popular in several European countries. The English favored the Bulldog for the sport, while Germans used large mastiff-like dogs.
In and around the 1830s, efforts were made by German hunters to form a new breed by crossing their Bullenbeisers with mastiff-like dogs for size, and with Bulldogs and terriers for tenacity. The crossbreed that was created was a hardy and agile dog with a strong grip and a streamlined body. When British law put an end to bull baiting, the Germans used the dogs mainly as butcher's dogs, taking charge of cattle in slaughter yards.
In 1895, a boxer was entered into a dog exhibition and the following year the first Boxer club, Deutscher Boxer Club, was established. It is thought that the name Boxer might have originated from the German word, Boxl -- the name by which the dog was known as in the slaughterhouses. Being among the first breeds to function as military or police dogs in Germany, the Boxer later established itself as a utility dog, show dog and family pet by 1900. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904, but it was not until the 1940s that the Boxer began to make gains in popularity. Over the years it has come to be one of the most popular companion dogs in the United States, currently standing as the sixth most popular breed in the U.S.