History & Overview
The Boxer’s ancestors belong to the Mastiff family of dog breeds known for their remarkable courage and massive size. These dogs were used to hunt lions and wild boar as far ago as 2000 B.C. Later, these dogs were named Mollosian, after the city of Molossis (modern Albania).
From there they were brought to the British Isles and then to Rome (second century A.D.). In the Middle Ages, a new, lighter and faster type of dog was developed by crossing the ancestors of modern Deerhounds, Irish Wolfhounds and Great Danes.
It was brought to Germany where it soon became popular among court aristocrats as a hunting and watchdog and was called “Englische Dogge”. These dogs were the ancestors of the modern Great Dane, or Deutsche Dogge.
Bullenbeisser (German Bulldog) – Extinct
The new extinct variety of the Molossian, of smaller size but heavy built, with cropped ears and tail, was called “Bullenbeisser,” or “bull-biter,” was bred and trained to hold in check the most fiery bull and to obtain a grip on the nose which he held, regardless of the animal’s efforts.
The breed became very popular for his intelligence, alertness and high trainability. In those days these were entirely acceptable forms of entertainment and sport. The Bullenbeissers were also used as hunting hounds, but with the decline of hunting, the Bullenbeisser was mainly seen around cattlemen where he was used to round up cattle.
It is from the Brabanter, a smaller type of Bullenbeisser, that the Boxer is believed to have been bred. The Brabanter is almost entirely of German descent, although an occasional Bulldog crossing was used in those days.
The Deutscher Boxer Club was created in the late 1890’s. The development of the breed continued which resulted in producing a powerful dog of well-balanced temperament, elegance, striking coloring and nobility.
Boxers in The U.S.A
In the United States, the first Boxers were shown at Westminster dog show in 1925. Many devoted and talented Boxer fanciers played a part in the breed’s development and rapid rise to popularity: Corral Kennels, Barmere Kennels (often referred to as “father of American Boxers”), Sumbala Kennels, Box M Kennels and many other kennels.
Particularly tolerant and protective of children, the Boxer loves to join in their games whenever the opportunity arises and will take any kind of mauling and roughhousing. Even in old age, a Boxer never fails to be interested in family activities – in short, this is a fun-loving, energetic dog with a way of edging itself into the hearts of all those who come to know it.
Bred to be both a guard dog and a playmate, the Boxer has a well-controlled temper that sometimes breaks out. Faced with danger, it becomes determined and brave, but with its human family, he is docile and affectionate.
This breed is generally obedient and easily taught. As a short-haired dog, he is clean, easy to take care of. Unlike some other similar breeds, he is not good in extremes of heat and cold.
At A Glance:
Country of Origin:
Service dogs, guide dogs for the blind, therapy dogs, occasionally herding cattle or sheep
FCI Classification: Group 2 – Pinschers, Schnauzers, Molossoid breeds, Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs and other breeds. Section 2.1 – Molossoid breeds, mastiff type
AKC Classification: Working Group
Medium (21 – 25 inches at shoulders)
Fawn or brindle. Fawn comes in various shades from light fawn to dark deer red but the most attractive shades are in the middle range (red fawn). Black mask. The brindle variety : fawn background of varying shades has dark or black stripes running parallel to ribs. Stripes must contrast distinctly to ground color. White markings should not be discarded.
10 – 12 years
A quick brushing will be sufficient.
Intelligent, playful, fun-loving, even-tempered, affectionate, very devoted to its owner. The Boxer is wary of strangers and makes an excellent protection dog. When threatened, they exhibit fearless courage that would deter most intruders. They are highly adaptive to the home environment and will not claim all your spare time.
Gets along with familiar dogs quite well, but can be aggressive toward strange dogs.
Suitability for Children:
The well-bred Boxer is gentle, fun-loving and patient with children. He may be wary of unfamiliar children.
Very high. The Boxer needs plenty of daily exercise (2 hours daily would be ideal for this high energy dog).
Easy to train but can be stubborn.
Health & Behavioral Issues:
Boxers are considered strong and sturdy dogs, but they suffer from several diseases. They have several genetic disorders with heart and eye diseases being the most common. With careful selection and thorough testing, many genetic disorders can eradicated.
“While some health problems in purebred dogs have been shown to be due to specific genetic mutations, other health problems are thought to result from the selection of animals for breeding according to breed standards,” Dr Vicki Adams said (Animal Health Trust).
- Aortic Stenosis
- In aortic stenosis, there is a partial obstruction to the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to the rest of the body. Aortic Stenosis is an inherited heart disease.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- This a serious inherited disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn’t work as well as it should. There may be multiple causes, including genetic predisposition and viral infections. The disease occurs most often in Doberman pinscher and Boxer and may result in heart failure and sudden death. The signs usually include exercise intolerance and fainting. Treatment depends on the type of the disease and may include medications or implantable devices. Available health screening tests: echocardiography and Holter monitoring.
- Atrial Septal Defect
- A dog’s heart with atrial septal defect has an opening in the wall between the right area and the left area of the upper part of the heart. This wall is called the septum. As a result, some blood from the left atrim flows through the hole in the septum into the right atrium and increases the total amount of the blood that flows toward the lungs. The increased blood flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs creates a swishing sound, which is known as a heart murmur.
- Corneal Dystrophy
- The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Corneal dystrophy is a condition in which one or more parts of the cornea lose their normal clarity due to a buildup of cloudy material. The disease is inherited; it affects the right and left eyes equally, and is not caused by outside factors, such as injury or diet.
- Third Eyelid Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye)
- In this condition, the gland of the third eyelid, which produces about one-third of the tear film, prolapses as a pink fleshy mass protruding over the edge of the third eyelid. It can become inflamed and ulcerated.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- This is a collective term comprising a group of hereditary degenerative lesions of the retina (a layer of nervous tissue which covers the back of the eyeball where the sensation of vision occurs).
- Intervertebral Disk Disease
- A common back problem in many breeds of dogs, including Beagle. It is manifested by acute pain, loss of movement coordination and paralysis.
- Cutaneous Asthenia
- An inherited skin disorder characterized by extremely stretchy and fragile skin that tears at the slightest scratch causing scars and wounds.
- Hip Dysplasia
- A progressive degenerative condition of the pelvic joint that can lead to severe lameness and pain in large breed dogs. It can be very debilitating, but with the help of several ingenious surgical techniques, the function of the leg can be restored-sometimes almost to normal capacity. Dysplasia of the elbow joint is also common.
- Gastric Dilation Volvulus (Bloat)
- Bloating and twisting of a dog’s stomach is a serious condition veterinarians call Gastric Dilation Volvulus, or GDV. May be caused by overeating, especially in predisposed breeds, but often there is no underlying cause. A dog with GDV will have a distended abdomen and may appear restless and depressed and have dry heaves.
- Dermoid Sinus
- This is a cavity (sinus), which connects the skin with the outer covering of the spinal cord in the vertebral canal or other structures in the area. It is commonly found in nasal area, tongue and area around the tail. It is recognized by a tuft of hair protruding from each sinus and is sometimes complicated by infection (swelling and pain). Other common names used to describe a dermoid sinus include dermoid cyst, epidermal inclusion cyst, hair cyst and African cyst.
- Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis
- An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that occurs predominantly in Boxer breed. It causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, causing diarrhea. Ulcers form in places where the inflammation has killed the cells lining the colon; the ulcers bleed and produce pus. Young boxer dogs with relatively mild signs of HUC may respond moderately well to medical and dietary therapy with fair prognosis.
- Pyloric Stenosis
- A narrowing of the outlet from the stomach to the small intestine (called the pylorus). This condition is caused by a thickening of the muscles of the pylorus. This prevents the stomach from emptying into the small intestine. The cause of the thickening is unknown, although genetic factors may play a role. The condition mostly occurs in Boxer and other brachycephalic breeds (Boston terrier, Pekingese, bulldog, shih tzu and similar “short-nose” breeds).
- Malignant Histiocytosis
- A type of skin cancer. Histiocytoma is a type of benign skin tumor. Histiocytomas look like red, dome-shaped, sparsely haired nodules that appear rapidly. They often are ulcerated but are non-painful. The most common places of tumor development include the head, neck, especially in young dogs. More rarely, growths may occur on the trunk and feet. Breeds mostly affected are Flat-coated Retrievers, English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, Greyhounds, Boxers, and Boston Terriers.
- A condition that occurs when the dog’s body underproduces thyroid hormones disrupting the dog metabolism. The disease is most often caused by the destruction of the thyroid gland. Signs usually develop during middle age and may include dull, dry coat, laziness, symmetrical hair loss, weight gain and a tendency to seek warm places. The condition is treated with thyroid hormone medication.
- Atopy Dermatitis
- Is the predisposition to allergic disease in response to environmental allergens. One of the most common sources of allergens causing atopy is the house dust mite. Tree, grass and weed pollens can also cause this disease. Flea allergic dermatitis and parasitic infections such as sarcoptic mange (scabies) and demodectic mange also cause allergic-type reactions.
- Congenital deafness
- This is recognised as a problem in many breeds of dog that carry the extreme piebald gene. Such breeds include Dalmatians, White Boxers and White English Bull Terriers. More than 80 breeds of dog have been identified as suffering from congenital deafness (deafness at birth). Inherited deafness is passed down through one or both parents. White Boxers should NOT be bred.
- A congenital disability in many dog breeds when one or both testes fail to descend normally. The testes (testicles) develop in the abdomen and gradually descend into the scrotum. They should be present there at birth, or shortly after. If they have not descended by the time the dog is adult, he is described as either unilateral cryptorchid (when one testis is still retained in the abdomen) or a bilateral cryptorchid (when both have not descended). Check with your vet during the time of vaccination.
- Demodicosis (Demodectic mange/ Red Mange)
- Also called Demodex mange, is an allergic reaction to Demodex mites. The mites are transferred directly from the mother to the puppies within the first week of life.
- Boxer Heart Testing
- All breeding stock should be screened by designated specialists. Those animals which are free of heart murmurs (grade 0) may be considered free of Aortic & Pulmonic Stenosis, and are suitable for breeding purposes.