The Boxer was developed in Germany, originally bred for dog fighting & game in the 19th century. Bison & boar hunters used them to run down large game and hold them there until they could get to them. The Boxer obtained its unique name by how it battles its opponent, standing up on the rear legs and “boxing” with the front paws. They started becoming popular in the U.S. after World War I.
The Boxer is a well built athlete with guardian instincts. However they have a friendly personality. They love people and thrive on the attention. They make good seeing-eye dogs, and were popular during war time as couriers. According to the AKC regristration statistics, the Boxer currently is one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. The Boxer is a popular choice for families because they tend to be very good with children & patient, yet protective at the same time.
The Boxer has a short smooth coat that requires minimal grooming, but they do need their daily exercise. They come in brindle & fawn colors and range in size from 21 ½ inches to 25 inches tall at the shoulder. Occasionally they are seen in white, but this is not usually a desired trait. The breed standard calls for cropped ears and tail, but it is very common for boxers to have natural ears nowadays, however, most Boxers still have a cropped tail. There is controversy surrounding ear cropping, and it may not be too far in the future that natural ears and possibly tails will become the new breed standard.
The Boxer is known as one of the “Bulldog” breeds and is therefore brachycephalic (having broad, short skulls) and an under bite. These are breed standard qualities, and in the Boxer, rarely cause severe health problems that can be more common is the smaller breeds. However there are some things that Boxers are prone to. These include cancers, heart conditions such as Aortic Stenosis, and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (the so-called “Boxer Cardiomyopathy”), hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy.
Other conditions that may be seen are gastric dilatation and torsion (bloat), intestinal problems, and allergies (although these may be more related to diet than breed). Entropion (a malformation of the eyelid requiring surgical correction), is occasionally seen, and some lines have a tendency toward spondylosis deformans,(a fusing of the spine), or dystocia. According to one survey by the UK Kennel Club, cancer accounts for 38.5% of Boxer deaths, followed by old age (21.5%), cardiac (6.9%) and gastrointestinal (6.9%) related issues.
Boxers have a slight reputation as being a little headstrong, but it is almost always due to improper obedience training. Using good training is almost always effective in creating a wonderfully behaved and socialized dog.
All in all, the Boxer is a bright, energetic, playful breed that is great with people. They make wonderful family pets and are often especially good with children. It is important with the Boxer (as all breeds) that they have appropriate obedience training and socialization. Also, when selecting a Boxer for a pet, make sure you find a reputable breeder that breeds responsibly. As mentioned earlier, they are prone to several health conditions that tend to be hereditary, and your best bet is to find a breeder that will not breed dogs with any potentially genetic medical condition.
By: Melissa Welton, CVT
Vice President Maybeck Animal Hospital