Largely considered one of the most handsome of the dog breeds, the Boxer is popular throughout much of North America and Europe for its loyal behavior, intelligence, easily maintained coat, and beautiful coloring. Boxers are often used as sporting dogs, but they are also quite popular as family pets.
Physical CharacteristicsA Boxer is a medium to large dog that is characterized both by the shape of its body and head and the distinctive coloring of its coat. A Boxer’s coat is very short, which allows for the shape of its bulky muscles to be seen quite clearly beneath the skin. Boxers typically have white chests and white patches on the legs and paws.
The rest of the coat can range in color from dark brown or even black to light tan or fawn. The brown patches on the Boxer’s coat are often marbled: a color known in the dog breed world as “brindle.”
The front legs of the Boxer are held perpendicular to the ground; however, the back legs slope backward, and this gives the breed its characteristic sloping back. This body style makes the Boxer appear to be standing alertly at attention, which is why it is quite popular in dog shows.
The head is large and angular, and the chest is much wider than the hindquarters. The muzzle of the Boxer is short and boxy, and the lower jaw protrudes farther than the upper jaw, resulting in an unmistakable under bite.
While Boxer puppies are born with long tails and floppy ears, these are often clipped and docked to make the Boxer appear sportier. The tail is bobbed quite short, usually two to four inches, and the ears can be clipped to encourage them to stand straight up.
TemperamentBoxers are exceptionally affectionate and quite loyal to their owners. They are also very intelligent. Boxers can be trained as sporting dogs; in fact, this was one of the original uses for the breed. Their strong build enabled them to perform quite effectively as “pinners,” where the Boxer would tackle injured prey to prevent it from escaping. Families who own Boxers as leisurely pets will discover that the breed’s intelligence makes them eager to please and capable of learning a myriad of tricks or commands.
Boxers also have a guardian instinct, and this makes them capable watch dogs. Their innate protective instinct, however, can be problematic if the dog is not taught to socialize properly with strangers. Despite the Boxer’s tough build and stern expression, it is quite gentle with small children.
Care & GroomingBecause of the Boxer’s short coat, care and grooming are very simple. Boxers rarely shed, and their coats can be kept clean and shiny simply by providing the animal with a proper diet, occasional baths, and regular brushing. Because of the short coat, however, Boxers tend to be intolerant of cold weather. In exceptionally dry conditions, Boxers may develop skin irritations such as dry skin, hot spots, or dander. These conditions are easily treatable, however, with moisturizing shampoo or vitamin supplements.
One quirky health issue that many Boxer owners discovered is an acne-like affliction that pops up on the Boxer’s chin after puberty. In actuality, this skin disorder is very much like human acne. It can be treated by cleaning the area regularly with a gentle cleanser and antibiotic ointment or applying a moisturizer to prevent over-drying.
HistorySadly, the Boxer’s origin lies in the sport of dog fighting. The breed was developed in Germany in the mid-1800s to be a tough competitor for bulldogs and other fighting breeds. In fact, the breed gets its name from its fighting style: Boxers often rear up on their hind legs and jab at an opponent with their forepaws, much like a boxer in a ring. The Boxer breed was quickly realized to be an effective dog for hunters of large game. The dog is strong enough to wrestle large game, such as wild hogs or even elk, to the ground.
Boxers didn’t become popular in the United States until after the first World War when they were imported from Eastern Europe. Today, the breed is one of the most popular because of its loyal demeanor and proud appearance, and Boxer owners are just as proud of and loyal to the breed.