Some dogs always have a smile on their face, and paired with a childlike sensibility, it can be hard to resist. The Boxer is exactly this type of dog, with an expression that either looks grumpy or excited. Its rambunctious personality has kept it as one of the most popular breeds in the US for a while, as well as in many European countries.
A point of German pride
The ancestry of the Boxer can be traced back to the old Assyrian war dogs, as far back as 2500 BC. But the Boxer we know today can be traced back to the German Bullenbeisser ― a dog descended from Mastiffs. The Bullenbeisser (German for “bull biter”) was used to hunt bear, deer, and wild boar, their job being to hold the prey until the hunters arrived. But, much like many specialized breeds, this dog lost its purpose once their original activities fell out of favor or usefulness. Eventually, it was used mostly for guarding and driving cattle. Serious breeding started at the end of the 19th century. Eventually the Bulldog was thrown into the mix ― the Boxer was the end result. The breed then found its way to the US in the early 1900s.
When World War I broke out, the Boxer was used in the military, as a messenger and working dog, as well as guardian and attack dog. It was also one of the first breeds selected by German police to be trained as police dogs. It was then in the 1940s the breed started getting popular in the US, when WWII soldiers brought home their Boxer mascots from war. This dog has held many jobs over the years; cattle dog, police dog, athlete, watchdog, guardian, guide dog, and war dog (in both World Wars). Today, the Boxer is mostly a companion, but does that job just as well.
Size and appearance of the Boxer
The Boxer got its English name from how it fights and plays, using it front paws in a way most dogs don’t. It’s a muscular dog, with a square build, long legs and a proud stance, and males are 23-25 inches tall, while females run a little smaller. They live quite long, 10-12 years, and they’re known for retaining their youthful spirit until the very end. While the Boxer is a strong, intimidating dog, their face is expressive and endearing, with a slight underbite, snub nose, and large, intelligent eyes. Their ears and tail are often seen cropped and docked, but if left untouched, the Boxer has soft, folded ears, and a long, powerful tail. They also drool. A lot. And they also snore, which is worth keeping in mind.
This breed comes in two colors; brindle or fawn, with or without white markings. Fawn can range from tan to mahogany, and brindle displays tiger-like markings of black on a fawn background. White markings usually appear on the chest, belly, chin, paws, sometimes running up between the eyes and their black mask. One fun thing about the Boxer is that they tend to clean themselves like cats do ― but they still shed a lot and need regular brushing. Their coat doesn’t get matted, though, since it’s short, soft, and close to the skin.
Temperament and personality
Their face alone shows what kind of dog the Boxer is. The wrinkled forehead, the big eyes, the snout and big smile ― it gives a curious, alert, and open impression. And it’s accurate. The Boxer is known for being childlike and energetic, playful regardless of age, and its gentle, protective nature makes it an ideal family dog. They’re also “hearing dogs”, which means they always stay vigilant and watchful, in order to keep their home and family safe. With strangers, they’ll be wary but friendly, and with kids, they’ll be patient and playful ― though, always be careful and never leave kids alone with a dog. Even with the utmost kindness from both sides, it’s easy for one to accidentally harm the other, depending on the dog.
Like with every dog, the Boxer needs lots of socializing very early on, but it really is in their nature to just want to hang out with people. They’re fearless, and take their job as a guardian very seriously. They mature slowly, which is part of why they have such a reputation of being active and rambunctious; they stay kids for a pretty long time. They’re very intelligent, on the other hand, and very trainable if you can provide enough challenge and consistency for their liking.
Despite their strength, the Boxer is not an outdoor dog. Their short coat and short snout make it harder to endure cold and hot weather, so this pup prefers being inside a lot of the time. The Boxer needs a lot of exercise, in order to channel all that fun-loving energy, and you need to make sure you can make the time and effort to give it. Long walks, playing, learning tricks, hiking through the woods ― the Boxer is happy to do it all.
Things to consider
There’s a reason the Boxer has been so popular for so long. They’re strong, brave, dedicated, and at the same time loving, playful, and gentle. They make for excellent family dogs, but work just as well in a number of other roles, and tend to keep their puppy-like demeanor for life. While all these traits and wonderful and fun, they also mean you need to put in the work to keep your Boxer happy, balanced, and disciplined. This dog isn’t for those who aren’t willing to adjust their lifestyle for their sake, in order to give them the exercise, time, training, and socialization they need. But if you are the kind of person willing to do all of that, you’ll be greatly rewarded with a wonderful, courageous, and sometimes silly dog.