Unlike some breeds, the Boxer’s history is very well known, with all dogs able to be traced back to one common ancestor: Molossus, a large shepherd-type dog. Molussus’ lineage includes Mastiff and Bulldog, as well as the Bullenbeissen, which was used in Germany for hunting large game such as bear, boar, and deer. The job of the Bulldenbeissen was to catch and hold large game in its powerful jaws until the hunters could arrive to claim their prize. This now-extinct breed was integral in the creation of the Boxer, and nearly all modern day Boxers can be traced to five influential ancestors, all of whom were produced by a brindle female from France named Flora and a male dog of indeterminate breed from Munich, named “Boxer.” The breed standard was finalized in 1904, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed that same year.
The ideal Boxer is intelligent, playful, and full of energy. Despite their large size and boisterous personality they make wonderful family companions and are extremely patient with children. However, Boxers can also be protective, so it is important to properly socialize these dogs, especially with strangers. Boxers can also be stubborn, and they require adequate exercise in order to avoid destructive tendencies such as chewing, digging, and excessive licking. Boxers get along well with smaller animals, but occasionally take issue with other dogs of similar size or larger. If planning on acquiring a companion for a Boxer, it is recommended to introduce a dog of the opposite sex.
Boxers are large dogs with both sexes typically weighing up to 71 lbs. The typical Boxer aesthetic is very distinct, with the breed having a 1:3 ratio in the proportions of the length of muzzle to the whole head. Boxers also have an underbite, and are slightly bracycephalic. The Boxer coat is short and smooth, and lies close to the body. They shed lightly and are therefore very low maintenance. Only two coat colors are accepted, fawn and brindle, but fawn encompasses a broad range of colors from light tan to dark red. In addition, Boxers can also be white; however there is controversy regarding these dogs. Since white is not a recognized color by any of the national breed organizations, many white Boxer puppies are euthanized at birth, both because they are considered to be a “fault” by breed standards, and also because many all-white Boxers are deaf. However, breeders are less frequently euthanizing and are more often neutering the dogs and placing them in homes as family pets.
Boxers suffer from a wide array of health issues, and a potential owner should perform extensive research when choosing a breeder in order to find the healthiest puppy possible. The vast majority of Boxer deaths (approximately 38%) are cancer-related, particularly from mast-cell tumors. Besides cancer, Boxers are predisposed to cardiovascular issues, such as cardiomyopathy. Other common problems include hip dysplasia, bloat, and eye diseases. Boxer owners should also beware that due to the slight bracycephalic nature of the Boxer that heat and humidity tolerance is low. Due to the common health problems listed here, Boxers have a shorter-than-average lifespan of 9 – 11 years.