Boxer dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Boxer is a dog breed developed relatively recently. It is characterized by a special appearance and many skills, as well as qualities. It is not a dog type suited for everyone, but it has a high potential to become an excellent companion and play mate.

The first ancestors of the Boxer date back in the sixteenth century. However, this breed was significantly improved since then. More or less, it is cognate with almost all types of bulldogs. Throughout history, these dogs have been used for dog fights, but they have slowly been redirected to other activities, such as protection, hunting and even courier services.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Working Dogs
Height:Generally 1 foot, 9 inches to 2 feet, 1 inch tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 60 to 70 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years

The Boxer dog breed is one of the most popular ones. This type of dog was named Boxer because it has a funny way of using its front limbs that is similar with boxing movements. Extremely intelligent, agile and energetic, it can be easily trained by a person with a strong will and personality that can dominate its slightly stubborn nature.

The Boxer’s popularity has increased since World War I even though it has appeared in its final form in the late nineteenth century. Back then, they helped in various military actions, but these days they are used as guard and protection dogs, in circus acts or as pets. Regardless of their activities, they prove their usefulness and skills by trying to please their owners.

Before the world wars, the Boxers used to hunt bears and deer, but afterwards their utility area has changed profoundly. Unfortunately, some people explored their aggressive and violent nature especially during the late twentieth century. These people were breeders who have created a chain of dangerous Boxers. Even now, Boxers are instinctively slightly aggressive, but not if trained properly and raised by a loving family.

Specialists noticed that the Boxer has a long childhood compared to other dog breed. It takes 2 to 3 years for a Boxer to act like an adult. Even so, this dog breed’s nickname is Peter Pan because it has such a playful nature that it doesn’t really stop acting childish. Loyal, protective and playful, these dogs are excellent pets for families with children. Moreover, they are so versatile that they serve as guides for the blinds and are also proficient in different types of therapies.

Main Highlights
  • The Boxer dog breed descends from the middle ages. The Bullenbeisser of Brabant, the English Mastiff and the Bulldog contributed to its creation through multiple crossings.
  • It was recognized as a distinctive dog breed at the end of the nineteenth century when the German Club for the Boxer Dog was founded in 1896. It has rapidly spread throughout Germany after that.
  • These dogs were called Boxers thanks to the way they use their forelegs to greet their owners, play with each other and do other chores.
  • The Boxer’s coat is short and requires brushing just once per week. Its coat is usually bicolor with white spots on snout, chest and lower limbs.
  • It is powerful, harmonious, energetic, courageous and vigilant. Loyal and attached to its owner, it is suspicious of strangers, happy and friendly with children and sometimes scary when it feels a threat.
  • The look in a Boxer’s eyes is usually gentle, but it becomes piercing in case it needs to deal with strangers or potential harmful people.
  • It is among the dogs that are well-adjusted to human needs.
  • As a general matter, the Boxer dog is solid, with strong bones, developed muscles, quadratic body and rather short.
  • Compared with bulldogs, Boxers’ spontaneous activity is 67% higher. It requires an increased level of energy, so its muscles and joints are subjects to constant pressure.
  • Sun and heat are not beneficial to Boxers. They are prone to heatstroke and thermic shock.
  • To achieve a normal and harmonious development of a puppy Boxer, it must be fed with quality food because it is a major consumer of protein and fat.
  • Boxers have a pleasant personality, are very agile and need a lot of exercise to consume their energy.
  • Likened to Peter Pan, a Boxer will keep its inner child active throughout its life.
  • Easy to train, smart and eager to please its owner, the Boxer is suited for various types of competitions.
Breed History

The ancestors of the Boxer are the German Bullenbeisser, which is a descendant of the Mastiff and the Bulldog. For centuries, the Bullenbeisser was used for hunting bears, wild boar and deer. Its main purpose was to catch and hold the prey until the hunters arrived. Over time, these dogs were adopted by farmers and used to guard their livestock.

The Boxer we know today was created at the end of the nineteenth century. Georg Alt, a German from Munich had bred a Bullenbeisser female named Flora with a local dog of unknown origin. Lechner Box was the result of the crossbreeding, which is considered the first Boxer. Next, a female named Schecken was born and was recorded as a modern Bierboxer or Bullenbeisser. She was mated with a bulldog named Tom and gave birth to a dog named Flocke.

The latter became the first Boxer dog recognized officially after winning a canine show in Munich. Flock’s sister, a white female Boxer, had a greater influence than her brother in the development of this dog breed because she gave birth to Meta von Passage, a female that is considered the mother of the Boxer breed. John Wagner explained her importance in the development of this dog breed in a publication that appeared in 1939.

Boxer dogs arrived in the rest of Europe in the late nineteenth century and in the United States in the early twentieth century. The American Kennel Club recognized the first Boxer champion named Dampf will the Dom in 1915 even though 11 years before they registered it as a distinctive dog breed. During World War I, soldiers used Boxers as messengers, combat and guard dogs.

However, their global popularity began to grow only at the end of World War II, when soldiers returned home and presented these dogs to the world. These days, the Boxer is placed on the 7th place out of 155 breeds registered by the AKC.


The Boxer is a medium sized dog. Female Boxers are slightly lighter and shorter than male Boxers. A female weight is between 55 and 65 pounds, while a male weight is between 60 and 70 pounds on average. As for their height, a female’s height ranges between 21 and 24 inches, and a male’s height between 22 and 25 inches. According to the AKC guidelines, Boxers with these characteristics fit into the standard even though they might look different.

Personality and Character

The Boxer’s character is very important and therefore requires a lot of attention, love, training and education. Recognized for its love and gratitude towards its family, this dog breed is very playful and harmless, but, at the same time it can become very dangerous and courageous towards strangers or threats.

While its constitution is forceful, athletic, fierce and sometimes scary, connoisseurs characterize the Boxer as a kind, tender, cheerful and emotional dog. At first sight, this dog breed may seem imposing and dangerous, but once you get to know them, you will discover that these dogs are playful, loving and trustworthy family members.

Often referred to as Peter Pan, the Boxer remains playful an energetic even after it becomes an adult. It doesn’t give up playing and acting childish throughout its life. With an almost infinite need to be held and comforted, Boxers are able to make great sacrifices just to be close to their loved ones.

They like to be in the spotlight and when they are not, they make a funny sound in order to attract attention. Moreover, these dogs are very protective of their family, always alert and reliable watchdogs. They start barking as soon as they feel a stranger getting close. Their muscular appearance and tough expression is usually effective in case of malicious people.

Boxer dogs are cheerful, witty, playful, curious and very energetic. They are known, among others, for the unique way they get along with children. In addition, since they are intelligent, shrewd and quick learners, they can apply any procedure or technique in no time.

Sometimes, they can be stubborn and get bored. That is why they are good for competitive dressage. Their physical needs include a lot of exercise, so they must have an occupation at all times in order to avoid seeing their not so pleasant side that involves agitation and the destruction of things around the house.

Health and Potential Problems

Sadly, Boxers are predisposed to developing a high number of diseases. These specific conditions cannot be prevented, but most of them can be treated.

  • Aortic stenosis. This disease manifests by the obstruction of blood flow through the aortic valves. Over time, the left ventricle expands, leading to cardiac problems and the development of congestive heart failure.
  • This is a disorder of the heart’s electrical system that leads to arrhythmias. When the heart beats are irregular for too long, the Boxer may die.
  • Expansion, gastric torsion or the volvulus syndrome. This is characterized by the rapid accumulation of air in the stomach of a dog. This means that the stomach is inflating and it doesn’t allow food to flow out of it.
  • Hip dysplasia and dysplasia of the shoulder. These 2 affections occur most often in senior Boxers. If the Boxer’s parents had one of these 2 affections, then their puppy will mostly probably develop it as well.
  • Hypothyroidism. A thyroid dysfunction, this is considered to be the reason of epilepsy, alopecia, obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation and other skin diseases in dogs.
  • Thyroid dysfunctions. These are known that lead to hair loss, obesity, lethargy and other skin problems in Boxers and other dogs.
  • This is a condition that is genetically transmitted to Boxers. A Boxer owner can easily find out if his or her dog is deaf by testing it. The test can be done starting at young age. It is not recommended for deaf dogs to reproduce because they transmit this affection.
  • Corneal dystrophy. This is a progressive disorder of both eyes that is transmitted genetically. The cornea, which is the outer layer of the eye, is affected the most. There are 3 types of corneal dystrophy, depending on the location in which it is identified, namely the corneal epithelium, the corneal stroma and the corneal endothelium.
  • Demodecosis. This is a disease that occurs when Demodex mites multiply. The mother of a puppy transmits this disease, which may or may not manifest depending on the puppy’s immune system.
  • Allergies. Boxers are often affected by allergies. The most common allergy in dogs is to various foods and the second most common one is of respiratory type.
Care Features

The Boxer dog is extremely playful, energetic and definitely useful. This breed is extremely loyal and when a friendship is formed, it lasts forever. If you are the new owner of a Boxer, then you have to be very careful and take care of what it needs in terms of attention and proper training. These dogs are extremely intelligent, which may be to your advantage when it comes to training, but this can also be a disadvantage when they use their intelligence to get what they want.

A Boxer can be easily held in the apartment if you can ensure its daily exercise needs and walking requirements for at least one hour. It can be raised in a house or in an average-sized yard. This dog is extremely agile and energetic, so it needs to be stimulated daily with games and exercise. If you keep your Boxer in a yard, you should pay extra attention to the fence because it has the tendency to jump over it and adventure itself outside.

Also, because Boxer dogs have short hair they cannot regulate their body temperature well, so they cannot survive in extreme weather conditions. Therefore, try not to expose it to low or extremely high temperatures.

A Boxer’s training consists in teaching it to be a guard dog. Those who don’t know much about Boxers assume that they are naturally aggressive, fact which is not true. Actually, they can be more playful than many other dogs. Due to their strong bodies and aggressive look in their eyes, people automatically assume that these dogs do more harm than good. If not properly trained, these people might be right.

Because of their intelligence, Boxers can act very stubborn. This may or may not be an advantage for you, depending on how you use it. In every Boxer’s life there are times when they simply do not want to bother to do what you ask them to do.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t understand you, but they simply find it inconvenient. In cases like this, you should remember to be patient and persevere. As soon as a puppy Boxer is 6 weeks old, you can start the training. Make sure to find interesting ways to teach it new things by playing and socializing.

The main aspect in the formation of a Boxer is socialization. Boxers are very friendly dogs, but should be trained for this. They need to get used to the presence of other dogs and people. The best way to do this is to train them when they are young. Between 13 and 16 weeks of life, these dogs tend to show their dominance. That is the perfect time when you can show them who is the dominant one. You must be a firm trainer and do not tolerate its dominant behavior.

Feeding Schedule

Boxer dogs grow and develop a lot during their first months of life, so their diet should be adequate and contain more vitamins at the beginning. Its basic food plan should contain proteins and fats. Because most Boxers have a sensitive digestive system, they should only eat dry food. Feeding should be adapted depending on its activity and the level of exercise performed daily. Usually, an adult Boxer should be fed 2 to 3 times daily, 2 to 3 cups of food. The Boxer has a slender waist, so it is recommended to avoid fattening it.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Boxer dogs have short, shiny and soft coats. The colors of their coats range from brown with traces of red and white on the belly, chest and on all four legs to light tan and mahogany. In some cases, the white marks appear on their noses and on their heads. Sometimes, these white spots may be signs of a disease that leads to deafness. They shed only once per year, when they need to be brushed daily. Other than that, they do not require much care.

Occasional brushing with a stiff brush is enough for them. As for bathing, that should only be done when necessary in order to maintain their natural oils. Usually these dogs clean themselves, just like cats do. In addition, since its coat is short, it must be kept indoors when the temperatures drop.

Brushing is something they should be used with at young ages. An owner should touch their ears and paws while brushing their coat. These beauty sessions should end with rewards and a lot of praise. Keep in mind that Boxers may be stubborn, so if they refuse brushing and washing, you should persevere and show them that they must do what you say. Giving them rewards is definitely helpful.

A Boxer’s dental care is also important. It is best to brush its teeth with a toothbrush at least several times per week in order to remove lime scale. Do not use your toothpaste for your dog’s teeth. They have different needs and dental bacteria compared with humans. Nails should also be groomed at least once a month if they don’t shorten naturally thanks to walking on paved sidewalks. In this way you avoid scratches and also ensure its comfort.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Boxer is specifically adapted to family life and loves the company of children. It is very playful, but also very careful with children especially if they are little. Even if the children misbehave, Boxers forgive them quickly and play further. A well-educated and socialized Boxer also enjoys the company of other dogs and other animals from a household. This dog will always try to protect its family and home, so guests are not welcome even if they are children unless it is already familiarized with them. Family relations are based on loyalty and obedience.

There are Boxers that easily befriend cats and may also be friends with other dogs, but that hunt ducks or any other animals alike. A female Boxer will often want to fight other female dogs, trying to impose itself. As soon as the dominance is settled, female Boxers can be friends with other female dogs.

Boxers are companion dogs, but also watch dogs recommended for any family that wants a mixed and balanced dog that loves children very much. Since its coat is short, it does not shed, so it is easy to care for. What it needs is exercising or a medium sized yard where it can run freely.

Unfortunately, many people think Boxers are aggressive and violent, but they are quite the opposite. A Boxer can be a wonderful companion because it is intelligent, loving, playful and loyal. A Boxer may be intimidated by strangers and become protective, however, there are other dog breeds that may be more suited to guard. A Boxer prefers to play and offer love more than just guard.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.