Britains most favourite working dog breed is the Boxer! A firm favourite sitting on Britains top 20 dog breed list for over a decade! Learn all about the Boxer dog in our comprehensive guide below.
Boxer Breed Standards:
Kennel Club Member?: Yes
Boxer Lifespan: 10-12 years
Boxer Exercise: More than 2 hours per day
Height: Male 23-25 inches Female 21.5-23.5 inches
Weight: 29-36 kilograms
Boxers are one of Britain’s favourite dogs. In 2020 there were 3,202 Boxer puppy registrations which listed them as Britain’s 14th favourite dog breed! However, they came top of the list for Britain’s favourite working dog breed, with Rottweilers taking second place at 2,050 registrations.
The Kennel Club lists Boxers under Breed Watch Category 2. Their points of concern are pinched nostrils which interfere with breathing. Boxers are flat-faced so they’re a Brachycephalic breed which puts them at risk of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome. Due to its hunting heritage, they’ve been classed under the Working Group.
Check out the pros and cons of the Boxer dog breed below:
- Low grooming maintenance
- Ideal watchdog and guard dog
- Child-friendly & family orientated
- Excellent service dog
- High exercise needs
- Not suitable for first-time owners
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Brachycephalic breed
Boxers are a medium-large dog breed featuring a distinct square head and muscular body. Their single-layered coat is short and doesn’t shed large amounts of fur. The coat is easily maintained and is found in colours fawn and brindle both of which may include white markings. White Boxers aren’t unheard of and the American Boxer Club estimates 25% of Boxers are born white.
Boxers are known for having a rather comical and humorous character. Goofy and on occasion clumsy, the Boxer dog is often referred to as the clown of the dog world! They are boisterous and bursting with energy so require lots of outdoors time.
This breed is demanding and if their needs aren’t met, destruction and bad behaviour will be their outlet. Deeply intelligent, this dog wants to live life to the fullest so it’s unsurprising they come with a stubborn side! A firm, experienced owner is recommended.
As a watchdog and guard dog, Boxers are wary of strangers but given the right socialization, will be friendly. They’ll become aggressive if they sense a threat so it’s very important Boxer puppies are thoroughly socialized.
This brave, confident, and fearless canine is a great addition to families with older children. Due to their bubbly, energetic nature, they could accidentally knock over a smaller child. Affectionate, playful and loving towards all members of the family, the Boxer will instinctively protect those it loves!
Boxers aren’t exactly trusting of other dogs and can go head to head with those of the same sex. Their dominant and territorial behaviour is a contributing factor to disagreements. A Boxer puppy needs lots of socialization to ensure friendly behaviour with other canines.
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The Boxer is another popular German protection dog developed during the 1800s. Descended from the extinct Bullenbaisser, Mastiffs and Bulldogs, this breed was initially bred to chase and pin down large game. Their prey included Wild Boar, Bison, Deer and even Bears!
As a working breed, the Boxer also undertook a variety of other jobs. They were used for bull-baiting, a bloodsport popular in its heyday. Boxers would also assist butchers in the slaughterhouse by controlling the cattle. Later down the line, they found a new position alongside the police and army.
Just three years later in 1954, Boxers had risen to Britains 4th most popular dog breed! Decades later although their position has slipped down the line, they’re still in the UK’s top 20 dog list! The working breed is still used by police, and has since ventured into guide dog and therapy work!
In World War I & II the Boxer was found on the frontline. They were widely used as messengers, pack carriers, and attack dogs. After the end of World War II, returning soldiers brought back Boxers. It wasn’t long before they became one of the world’s most famous dog breeds.
In 1895 the Deutscher Boxer Club was established with the first breed standard issued in 1904. That same year, the breed received recognition from the AKC. In the UK, 1936 the British Boxer Club was formed. By 1951 there were 4,500 KC registered Boxer puppies that year!
Exercise & Grooming
Boxers require an active owner that can dedicate over 2 hours of exercise each day. They’re high in energy and will display puppy-like behaviour longer than other breeds. Split up their exercise time across the day as opposed to all in one. A bored boxer will quickly get into mischief!
It’s important they have some off-leash time so they can really let loose. This should take place in an enclosed area. Given enough time and training Boxers can participate in dog sports. Agility, rally, obedience, and even herding are their best categories.
Mental stimulation is important for the intelligent Boxer dog. Simple games, for instance, hiding food treats around the home, are great ways to keep their minds ticking over. Teaching them new tricks, letting them sniff around, even a small garden obstacle course is mentally stimulating.
Boxer dogs are low maintenance on the grooming front and only need a weekly brush to remove dead fur. Whilst they don’t moult consistently, shedding will be heavier in the spring and autumn as their single-layered coat grows thicker due to colder weather.
Give them a bath every 2-3 months as frequent bathing is damaging to the skin. Ensure their facial creases are regularly wiped to prevent skin fold dermatitis. Wipe their ears weekly to remove any debris. Trim their nails every ten days and don’t forget to brush their teeth!
Find out the breed-related health conditions of the Boxer dog below:
- Hip Dysplasia: The abnormal development of the hip joint will cause pain, lameness, inflammation and eventually arthritis.
- Epilepsy: A neurological conditon causing repeated seizures. Boxers are prone to idiopathic epilepsy.
- Aortic Stenosis: Congenital aortic stenosis is a heart disease caused by a narrow aortic valve which reduces blood flow to the body. It’s typically seen in large breeds.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy: A genetic condition typically seen in large and giant breeds. The disease affects the cardiac muscle decreasing its ability to pump blood around the body.
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome: Flat-faced dopgs have excess tissue in their upper airway system which obstructs air flow. Depending on the severity a dog may need an operation to open their airways.
- Degenerative Myleopathy: A degenerative and progressive condition targeting the spinal cord. Typically seen from the age of 7 years and onwards.
- Corneal Ulcers: A painful wound on the eye that is damaging to the surface. If no treatment is sought the dog could loose its eye.
- Hypothyroidism: An endocrine condition affecting a dogs metabolism.
- Cancer: The Kennel Club indicates 38.5% of Boxers die from cancer. Mast Cell Tumours is more common amongst the breed.
- Skin Fold Dermatitis: An infection found within the folds of the skin caused by yeast and bacteria build up.
- Gingival Hyperplasia: A dental disease prone to Boxers which target the gums. Click this link for further information in our Dog Dental Care guide.
It’s been estimated that 22% of Boxer puppies die due to stillbirth (dystocia).
Boxers will need thorough and consistent training throughout their lives. As they hold onto their puppy years for longer, it’s important owners don’t give in or dismiss bad behaviour. Boxers are extremely demanding and do best when one person from their household is at home for most of the day.
First-time owners aren’t recommended for this breed. Despite their high level of intelligence, they’re still a handful to train! Positive reinforcement methods work best for these fast learners but remember, they can pick up bad habits just as fast as good.
Socialization is very important for Boxers, especially since their instinct is to guard their family. They’ll need to learn that not every stranger is a threat and dogs of the same sex can be their friend! Group training classes are good ways to teach commands whilst also socializing with both humans and canines!
The breed is relatively easy to housebreak and is naturally clean. Take a Boxer puppy for a toilet break 15 minutes after they’ve eaten or drank. Reward them once they go potty outdoors. It’s best to take a dog to the same potty spot as repetition is key.
Boxer puppies are boisterous so it’s worth teaching them the ‘Down’ command. It’s essential this breed is being given the correct amount of exercise. Training will be meaningless if a Boxer puppy is filled with pent up energy.
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Boxer Interesting Facts
- Boxers have a distinct head shape which was designed for an interesting purpose. Their short snouts and undershot jaws is great for hunting. It enabled them to maintain a better latch on their prey when waiting for the huntsman to make the kill.
- Some Boxers have very long tongues. In fact, the dog with the Worlds Longest Tongue belonged to Brandy the Boxer! It reached an enormous 17 inches! As of 2021, this Guinness World Record hasn’t yet been beaten! Brandy lived with owner John Schneid in Michigan, USA until her death in 2002.
- At the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Boxer has taken the Best in Show title 4 times. The years were 1947, 1949, 1951, and 1970. Unfortunately, Boxers still haven’t won this title at Crufts.
- One rather unusual trait of this breed is its ability to stand on it’s hind legs, producing a boxing motion with it’s front paws! Some believe this lead to the name ‘Boxer’ although this is highly disputed.
- A female Boxer named Tasha gave her DNA dog genome sequencing. The Boxer dog is the first breed to complete this. The US National Genome Research Institute is aiming to better understand human diseases via genetics. The project cost around $30 million and began in 2003.