by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 3, 2009)
The Boxer is one of the most popular of dog breeds in the United States, as he is in his native country of Germany, in France, and many other countries. Based on American Kennel Club registrations for 1948, he was the fourth most popular show dog. When all Stud Book registrations are considered, he does not rank lower than seventh.
The Boxer is a clean-limbed dog of great strength. And this is matched by sturdy beauty, good nature, good sense, and utter dependability. The Boxer makes an excellent guardian of the home, has been used successfully as a war dog, and is often seen leading the blind.
There are three theories as to the origin of the dog's unusual name. The first is that it is a corruption of the term "beiszer," which means "biter." Thus, a bullenbeiszer was a bull biter, or a bull baiter. This fits in with the dog's use, since the ancestors of the Boxer are known to have been used in bull baiting. Some authorities believe that the term "Boxer" is a corruption of the word "boxl," which was an alternate name given to a now extinct breed called the Brabanter. According to these authorities, the Brabanter was the parent of the Boxer.
The third theory as to the origin of the name is that it was given by an Englishman to the breed in recognition of the fact that many of the dogs appear to spar with their feet in fighting. It is difficult to suppose however, that this single reference by an Englishman to a German breed, already fairly well established, could have stuck.
As with most other breeds, the origin of the Boxer is a matter of conjecture. His ancestors almost certainly were used to fight wild boars and to bait bulls. This has led to the assumption that he is a cross between a Great Dane (sometimes called the German Boar Hound) and the English Bulldog.
His similarity to the English Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and French Bulldog of an earlier period is striking. In fact, Flocki, the first Boxer registered 1n Germany, could be taken for a Boston Terrier. A picture of Flocki gives no indication of his size. In other respects, Flocki looks as much like a Boston Terrier of 1900 as he does an unrefined Boxer of the same period.
Some students of the breed have noted also a similarity between the early Boxers and the typical "Chiens de Boucher," or "butcher dogs" of France, Belgium, and parts of Germany. Indeed, the Boxer has that sturdiness of body, the strength and nature of the typical butcher dog.
It is believed by some that the Boxer, through the Brabanter, is really the ancestor of the English Bulldog. This, however, is improbable since English Bulldogs go back to about 1200 when bull baiting became popular. There is no indication the Boxer, through the Brabanter, has any such history.
The real history of the Boxer begins in that great awakening period for German dogdom, the years just prior to 1900. The Dachshund and Great Dane had been brought to near perfection earlier. The Boxer, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, and others were chiefly developed in the decade from 1890 to 1900. The success of these breeds brought the improvement of others in the years immediately following.
During World War I, the Germans extensively used dogs for Red Cross, messenger, pack and other services. While German Shepherds predominated in this, some Boxers were used. It is said that the Boxer Club, through its members, gave sixty dogs. These acquitted themselves with distinction.
In the United States, sporadic attempts had been made to establish the Boxer as early as 1900. In 1904 the first Boxer was registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. This dog was American bred, but he left no influence on the breed. In those days, the breed was considered to be something of a Bulldog. It was shown in the non-sporting group with the Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, etc. Little attention was paid to it.
The Boxer is a medium-sized, smooth-haired, sturdy dog of short, square figure and strong limbs. The musculation is very clean and powerfully developed, standing out plastically from under the skin. His movements are alive with energy. The gait although firm is elastic, the stride free and roomy, and the carriage proud and noble. As a service and guard dog, he must combine with substance and ample power that considerable degree of elegance absolutely essential to his further duties; those of an enduring escort dog with horse, or bicycle, and as a splendid jumper. Only a body whose individual limbs are built to withstand the most strenuous mechanical effort, assembled as a complete and harmonious whole, can respond to such combined demands.
The Boxer has some faults that as a family dog could be a problem. He can be vicious, unreliable and has a lack of temperament with a leaning to cowardice. The male usually weighs over 66 pounds and is around twenty-three inches. The female is about twenty-two inches and weighs around 62 pounds. The coat is short, shiny, lying smooth and is tight to the body. The colors that are usually found on this breed are fawn and brindle, fawn in various shades from light yellow to a dark deer red.
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