In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

The Boxer as we know it today is a relatively young breed, developed in 1895 in Germany. But its roots can be traced back to the 16th century, thought to be related to the French Dogue de Bordeaux and the Tibetan Mastiff. However, in 1895, three German breeders combined the now-extinct Bullenbeisser (a type of Mastiff) and the English Bulldog to create what we now recognize as the Boxer. Interestingly, they were mostly white dogs with a little bit of fawn coloring. While we still find white Boxers, the American Kennel Club does not recognize them as the breed standard.

Boxers were bred to hunt but became popular as helpers during World War I, acting as guard dogs, messenger carriers, and pack carriers. Their popularity grew during the 1940s and they are now one of the top ten dogs in the United States.

Boxers deserve their name. They love to play by smacking their front paws with moves similar to boxing. Yes, they are playful dogs! Boxers are very joyful and happy dogs, and love to be around people who allow them to express this true nature.  They are the kinds of dogs who are perpetually young and active. Watch their whole rear ends wiggle when they greet you. They have the reputation of being clowns due to their silly actions.

Boxers love people, especially their families. They are great with children if they were socialized with them as puppies. Boxers may not make the best pets for families with small children, however, due to their active nature and tendency to “box” when playing.

Boxers are naturally guard dogs, being suspicious of strangers. To avoid any aggression to people, ensure that you expose your young Boxer to as many people as possible at an early age and be sure to take your dog to obedience training. No punishment or harsh techniques should be used with Boxers (or any dog). They are loving and trusting dogs; harsh methods can destroy that trust.

Boxers are very strong, muscular dogs. Be sure that they are trained to walk nicely on a leash at a young age to ensure that they do not pull you down. Because they were originally bred as hunting dogs, Boxers can have a high prey drive. They will chase small animals. All the more reason to be sure your Boxer walks nicely on a leash. And it should go without saying that Boxers should never be allowed to run off leash without a fence. They will certainly run away if they spot an animal.

Boxers are athletes. They need exercise, lots of it. Don’t expect to get a Boxer and have him lie by your feet all day. Only exercise may not be enough for your Boxer.  They are intelligent and require mental stimulation, either through playing games, doing daily obedience practice, or even organized games such as agility. Don’t think of Boxers as agility dogs? Absolutely! They are smart and energetic and love to be with people – a perfect combination for agility.

Because they need exercise and stimulation, leaving them alone all day is probably not a good idea. They can get bored and destructive. Boxers love to be active and part of your life but they are not clingy dogs. It’s all about play! When it comes to exercise, use caution in the hot weather. Boxers are brachycephalic (their muzzles are very short) and they cannot tolerate much exercise in the heat just like Bulldogs and Pugs.

If you are looking for an active, silly, and perpetually young-acting dog, the Boxer is for you.