The Boxer Breed: History, Physical Traits, Behavior and Health

The name “Boxer” is thought to have come from the way the dog jumps up and uses its front paws in a boxing manner. It originated from Germany in the late 19th Century, where it was the product of two German mastiff type dogs – the Bullenbeiszer and the Barenbeiszer. Later on, further crossing with ancestors of the Bulldog and Mastiff, produced a very powerful dog that was found to be perfect for hunting, pulling carts, bull baiting and herding livestock. Boxers did not stabilise as a breed until 1904, when the first dog was finally accepted and registered by the American Kennel Club.

Today the Boxer makes the perfect family pet, as it is loving, loyal and great with children. They are highly intelligent, have excellent hearing and are very quick to learn new skills; which is probably why they are highly favoured for police and military work, guarding duties, search and rescue operations and leading the blind.


There are actually two types of boxers being bred today – the German and the American Boxer. German Boxers have bigger heads and are more muscular in appearance than the American Boxer. The body of the Boxer is very strong and muscular and stands firmly with very straight and parallel front legs. The head is square and chiselled with a characteristic black mask on the face. The lower jaw extends beyond its upper jaw and curves upwards. It has a dark nose and eyes, with a dense and shiny coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. The coat usually comes in brindle, fawn, white and various shades of red with white markings – some kennel clubs will not register pure white boxers. The tail is generally docked and the ears can be cropped or naturally folded over. They stand in the region of 21 – 25 inches (53 – 63cms) and weigh between 53 and 70 lbs (24 – 32kgs). The male boxer is generally slightly taller and heavier than the female.

Health and Care

Boxers are rather boisterous by nature and require plenty of exercise and training. They also love human company and thrive on attention – if left for long periods of time without attention they may become destructive in the house.

They are easy to groom and only require regular brushing with a stiff bristled brush. Bathing should only be carried out when absolutely necessary, as too much bathing can remove essential oils in the coat. Due to the nature of their very dense coats, they are not suitable for being kept outdoors in very cold weather and may even benefit from a coat in the winter.

Boxers are generally quite healthy dogs, but can be prone to one or two problems later in their lives. Tumours can develop more easily in Boxers than in other breeds, and they can also suffer from allergies, epilepsy, heart conditions and hip dysplasia. Boxers are also unfortunately prone to snoring and can suffer form flatulence problems – so they may not be the best companions to have in your bedroom at night. Despite their potential health problems, they do have a good life expectancy of around 11 – 14 years.
© Jane Grimshaw 2007

Kevin Bentley

Hi, I’m Kevin Bentley, a dog lover and enthusiast. Though I started out as a cat person, my wife quickly set me on the true path of dog love. Now I’m full-on obsessed with dogs and everything related to dogs. I’ve purchased every dog accessory you can think of, so I decided to collect my thoughts about them on this site.

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