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Get to the Know the Boxer: Born and Bred for Bravery

The breed descends from German Bullenbeisers, which held large game until hunters arrived.

 |  Feb 18th 2014  |   3 Contributions


The Boxer is one of the most recognized breeds of dogs, but he can still be confused with a couple of other stockier breeds such as the Bullmastiff or Cane Corso. The Boxer is a much smaller, lighter-bodied dog. White Boxers may be confused with the Dogo Argentino, but is also lighter bodied, more square proportioned, has a shorter muzzle with more lip, and usually has a short docked tail.

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Brindle Boxer by Shutterstock

Read more interesting things about Boxers

  • The Boxer descends from German Bullenbeisers (German bull-biters), which were used to chase and grab large game, such as boar, deer and bear, until the hunter arrived.

  • In the early 1800s, crosses to mastiff-type dogs and bulldogs produced a strong, agile dog with strong jaws and a recessed nose that let him breathe while hanging on. They became popular as butcher’s dogs, controlling cattle in slaughter yards.

  • These dogs were called Boxl, which may have been the origin of the name, Boxer. Contrary to popular belief, it's unlikely that the name Boxer comes from a tendency to use the paws like a boxer in play.

  • The Boxer was one of the first breeds used as a police and military dog.

  • At one time the Boxer was the fourth most popular breed in America.

  • Boxers come in three colors: fawn, brindle and white. The fawns and brindles may or may not have white legs, forechest and possibly collar and muzzle. Boxers with lots of white are called "flashy" as opposed to the "classic" or "plain" Boxers without much white. "Flashy" markings are desirable for show dogs. Flashy markings occur when dogs have one gene for white and one for color. If two flashy dogs are mated, then on average one quarter of their offspring are white.

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White Boxers are often deaf and prone to sunburn. Boxer puppies by Shutterstock

  • White Boxers are not allowed by the AKC standard, but make up about 20 percent of all Boxers. They can compete in all AKC events except conformation. They have a higher incidence of deafness and sunburn, but are overall just as healthy and wonderful as colored Boxers.

  • In North America, almost all Boxers have docked tails, and most show Boxers also have cropped ears. Many, if not most, non-show Boxers have natural ears.

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Most show Boxers have cropped ears. Boxer sitting upright by Shutterstock

  • Four Boxers have won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show, including one of the dog world's most famous show dogs, Champion Bang Away of Sirrah Crest, in 1951. So popular was this dog with the public that he may have been responsible for propelling the Boxer into being the third most popular breed during the 1950s.

  • Like other short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, Boxers can overheat quickly.

  • A Boxer has a recurring role in TV's CSI.

  • Owners include Humphrey Bogart, Emily Bronte, Nat King Cole, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Diane Fossey, Jodie Foster, Steffi Graf, Sonja Henie, Charlton Heston, Billie Holiday, Alan Ladd, Rocky Marciano, Luke Perry, Pablo Picasso, Sylvester Stallone, Justin Timberlake, Andy Williams, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Robin Williams.

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Quizzical Boxer by Shutterstock

  • The Boxer is currently the seventh most popular AKC breed, in the same position it was a decade ago.

Do you own a Boxer? Have you spent time with one? Let's hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you'd like us to write about, let us know that, too!

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron's Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier

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