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German Boxer

The German Boxer is one of the most versatile dog breeds there is. On the one hand it impresses as a very friendly family dog, on the other hand it has excellent qualities as an authority dog, as a guard dog or in dog sports. Meekness and dynamism merge in an imposing breed with a majestic appearance.

The origins of the boxers

In the Middle Ages, aristocrats across Europe kept packs of dogs to hunt defenseless game on their farms. Molossoid races with the typical facial features – recessed noses and dominant lower jaws – are the ancestors of the later boxers. Bulldogs, mastiffs, Bordeaux mastiffs and similar beats were used as war dogs before they were used in hunting and, unfortunately, were also used for cruel dog fights until they were legally prohibited.

The hunters have always focused their breeding selection on the widest possible mouth with equally wide teeth, because the Molossians’ task was to hold on to the game that the hunting dogs had found until the hunter arrived. However, with the advent of firearms, hunting techniques changed fundamentally and the loyal working dogs became superfluous: from then on these breeds found their new tasks as incorruptible guard dogs.

Pure breeding begins in Munich

In Germany, at the end of the 19th century, there was renewed interest in the elegant, athletic Molossians. Two breeders raved about their animals: “Bullenbeisser are strong, imposing dogs and the most intelligent of the great danes”. From 1894, the German pioneers R. Höppner, E. König and Friedrich Robert began to refine the bull biters by crossing English and German mastiffs. At the same time, a Dr. Shades in Munich from these dogs. He crossed his white English Bulldog male Tom with a smaller, piebald Brabant Bullenbeisser female. The litter produced extraordinary puppies of rare quality, including the bitches Blanka von Angertor and her daughter Meta von der Passage, the direct forerunners of the later German Boxer breed. Almost all pedigrees go back to the descendants of Meta vd Passage with the males Flock St. Salvador and Wotan. Pure breeding begins in 1895 with the establishment of the Boxer Club eV in Munich, where the first standard was set in 1904 and adopted by the FCI. The development of the breed owes its most important influence to the breeding efforts of the sculptor Friederun Stockmann. A scholarship led the native of East Prussia to Munich, where in 1911 she registered her boxer male Pluto from the cathedral with the Munich district council. His progeny later produced outstanding world-famous animals, including the male Lustig vom Dom, the recognized progenitor of the German Boxer breed.

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How did the boxer get his name?

Ms. Stockmann chose the kennel name “vom Dom” because Pluto gained a special fame in his territory around the Mainz Cathedral through wild hunting of cats and frequent fights with other dogs. In Munich colloquial language these dogs were originally called “beer boxers”, because many innkeepers and butchers kept copies in their shops. Since it was recognized as a breed, the uniform name has been “German Boxer”. His way of fighting with his front paws – he jumps at his opponent and knocks him over – is reminiscent of human boxing.

History repeats itself

Already notorious as war dogs in the Middle Ages, Ms. Stockmann’s boxers in particular served at the front in two world wars. In order to ensure the survival in these difficult times, the breeder decided to sell her best animals to America and Canada. Assisted by her daughter, she trained her boxers to take messages from A to B, distinguish smells, follow tracks and face enemies. The example of the male Roll von Vogelsberg also reflects the era of the former hunting dogs. His skills were legendary: he confronted entire gangs of smugglers and snipers or caught thrown hand grenades with his mouth out of the air. He lived and survived the First World War, which speaks for his intelligence and intuition to assess situations correctly and to act independently: These are all qualities that also characterize today’s boxer in a peaceful environment.

Body type and coat

As a whole, the head should have a harmonious size ratio to the muscular body, with the slightly arched upper head appearing as angular and slim as possible. Medium-sized, high-set lop ears lie on the cheeks when at rest, when they are alert they stand forward with a distinct crease. Dark, not protruding eyes get a friendly, intelligent look through the equally dark border. From the clear stop, the straight bridge of the nose leads to a large, slightly turned-up nose sponge. The mighty muzzle is given its square shape by the widely spaced fangs and the dry lips. The row of teeth in the lower jaw must be completely covered when the muzzle is closed. The upper line runs in a slight curve from a strong, round neck over the straight back to the slightly inclined croup with a rather high tail. The lower line is marked by the deep chest with ribs reaching far back and the belly slightly tucked up. The limbs are also well muscled and straight. The coat is close-fitting, short, shiny and hard. According to the FCI standard, the color should be brindle or yellow (brown). Nuances from light yellow to dark cherry red are allowed. Brindle coat colors appear with black or dark, clearly separated stripes in the direction of the ribs on a yellow base color. A black mask is added to the brown varieties. White markings up to 30% of the base color are allowed. Different colored, black, pure white or boxers with flat, unsightly white plates are not permitted for breeding. The docking of tail and ears has been banned in Germany and most other European countries since 1987/1989 according to the Animal Welfare Act.

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The essence and character of the boxer

Today the boxer is mainly found as a companion dog. His balanced nature predestines him to deal reliably with children, but it must be ensured that he “listens”, i.e. subordinates himself to the family members, because in tricky situations the fearless guard dog’s protective instinct emerges immediately – after all, boxers come directly from the battle-tested bull-biters from. A house with open air in the garden would be ideal, but housing is also possible if there is enough time for sufficient activity and walks several times a day. Since these dogs are quiet roommates at home, but want to convert their great energy into movement outdoors, they are in good hands with their enormous stamina as a sporty companion for active dog owners. A loving but consistent upbringing is necessary at an early stage with such a powerhouse: Attending a dog school can provide support and some owners also let their boxers take the protection dog test. Through this training, the very self-confident breed learns to follow commands exactly and it acquires confident reflexes. Especially when meeting other dogs, the boxer will master his temperament better after training. Thanks to their excellent sense of smell and their sovereignty, these dogs are also used as guide dogs for the blind and as police and rescue dogs.


Responsible breeders only mate boxers who have been screened for inheritable heart disease, hip dysplasia and spondylosis, an arthritic disease of the spine. In addition to physical appearance, a passed character test is also mandatory. Boxers are said to have an increased risk of tumor diseases (mast cell tumors, boxer ulcers). The posture is uncomplicated: He loves fetching, ball games and running next to the bike – he is only sensitive to excessive heat or cold. According to his tireless dynamism, the boxer has a corresponding energy requirement and enormous appetite. On average, an adult animal needs around 450 g of meat, 335 g of vegetables and 225 g of rice or the corresponding amount of ready-to-eat food every day.

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The German boxer at a glance

Origin: Germany FCI Standard No. 144, Group 2 Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids, Swiss Mountain Dogs Section Molossoids, 2.1 Great Dane-like dogsWithers height: males approx. 57 – 63 cm, females approx. 53 – 59 cm, Weight: males 30 – 32 kg, bitches around 25 – 27 kg Coat: short, shiny, hard hair Coat color: according to FCI: yellow and brindle. Other standards allow white, piebald, black Eyes: dark brown with a dark border Ears: medium-sized, close-fitting, hanging Physique: short, square building with a stocky physique Use: companion dog, protection and service dog Character: self-confident, affectionate, attentive, benign Health risks: HD, nervous and heart diseases Boxer ulcer (corneal ulcer), spondylosis (degenerative changes in the spine) Life expectancy: approx. 10 – 12 years

Image: © / volofin