The Boxer is a medium size, square-built, powerful dog with an intelligent and alert expression. They have a broad, short skull and a square muzzle with an under bite, strong jaws and powerful bite. Their dark brown eyes and wrinkling of the forehead give the Boxer it's unique quality of expressiveness. The ears are either cropped or kept natural and the tail is usually docked. They are instinctive guardians that love and protect their humans. The Boxer's short, shiny coat comes in fawn (ranging from light tan to mahogany) or brindle coloring, often with flashes of white. The Boxer is the 6th most popular breed of dog in the United States according to the AKC Registration Statistics. There are two types of Boxers being bred, the German Boxer and the American Boxer. German Boxers have bigger heads and are generally more muscular than American Boxers.
Around 1904, white was the most common color of the Boxer breed. White boxers are not albinos, they just have white fur. White Boxers are not common today due to efforts to remove the gene which causes white fur from the Boxer line. This may have started in 20th century Europe when Boxers were used as police dogs due to their high level of intelligence. Having white fur was a disadvantage as they could easily be seen at night. Germans began breeding with the purpose of eliminating the white fur gene and even created a law to prevent the registration of white Boxer dogs in the 1920s. Today white Boxers are not recognized by the AKC for show purposes, and every Boxer club in the world prohibits breeding white Boxers.
Tail docking and ear cropping are practices that have been done for many ceturies. Tail docking was thought to prevent rabies, strengthen the back, increase the animal's speed and prevent injuries when ratting, fighting and baiting. In hunting dogs, tails could collect burrs or foxtails or be subject to injury while moving through dense brush or thickets. In guarding dogs such as the Boxer or Doberman Pinschers, docked ears are thought to make the breed look more ferocious rather than the cute droopy puppy ear look. Though personal choice, these practices are controversial, and outlawed in many countries. Without a docked tail and cropped ears, Boxers competing in the show ring are at a disadvantage.
Developed in Germany in the 19th century, the Boxer's history can be traced back to a line of dogs throughout Europe, and it is cousin to practically all recognized breeds of the Bulldog type.
The Boxer is considered a direct descendent of the Bullenbeisser, also known as the German Bulldog. The Bullenbeisser was a large, Mastiff type dog in Europe known for its strength, stamina and agillity, and dates as far back as 370 A.D. The name Bullenbeisser means "bull-biter". The Bullenbeisser's main uses were hunting, guarding and baiting. This type of dog was highly prized for it's instinctive ability to tackle game from behind and hold it without serious injury, until the hunters arrived. The Bullenbeisser breed is now extinct. German breeders, through selective breeding, created a smaller version of the Bullenbeisser that is now known as the Boxer.
The Boxer was originally used for dog fighting, bull baiting (a cruel blood sport in which a bull was tied to an iron stake and allowed to be attacked by dogs), cart pulling, cattle dogs, and to run down and hold large game such as wild boar and bison until the hunter could arrive. When the bull baiting sport was outlawed Boxers were mostly used as butcher's dogs in Germany, and controlling cattle in slaughter yards. During World War I, the Boxer was used for military work acting as a messenger dog, pack carrier, attack dog and guard dog. The Boxer was one of the first breeds selected in Germany for police training.
The breed is known for standing up on its hind legs and batting at its opponent, appearing to box with its front paws, which, according to one theory, is how the name Boxer came about. There are many other theories as to how the Boxer got its name.
The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904 but it was not until about the 1940s that the American public began to take a real interest in the breed.
The disposition and temperament of the Boxer are what made the breed an American favorite. The Boxer is a dog with a sometimes regal and sometimes goofy disposition. The Boxer is a very affectionate breed and loves the company of humans. They often attempt to be lap dogs despite their size and weight. Boxers love to play and need lots of exercise. This is an intelligent, alert, dignified and self-assured breed, while at the same time a very entertaining dog with his animated personality and playfulness. They may be aggressive towards strange dogs, especially if they feel threatened, but are generally good with other household dogs and pets. Boxers become very attached to their family and will go the extra mile to ensure that you are always safe and sound, keeping watch over you. Don't be surprised if your Boxer stays awake until late hours of the night waiting for your return just to be sure you are safe and sound. The Boxer is friendly with strangers if they are friendly with him, but will exhibit fearless courage if threatened.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The standard size of the Boxer is 21-25 inches tall with a weight between 55 and 70 pounds.
The Boxer breed is prone to cancers, heart conditions such as Aortic Stenosis and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy ("Boxer Cardiomyopathy"), hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy and epilepsy. According to a UK Kennel Club health survey, cancer accounts for 38.5% of Boxer deaths, followed by old age (21.5%), cardiac (6.9%), and gastrointestinal (6.9%) related issues. Boxers are also susceptible to bloat.
Boxers do not do well with high heat or humidity, and care should be taken when exercising in these conditions.
Boxers have an average lifespan of 10-13 years.
GROOMING AND CARE
The Boxer's short coat requires little grooming. Brush with a firm bristle brush and bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.
The Boxer is very energetic and playful and needs exercise and mental stimulation to keep it from becoming bored and destructive. Left to his own devices, a Boxer can get into trouble. Boxers are great and patient with children and have a sense of knowing just the right amount of roughness they can display while playing. Boxers will do ok in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised.
Boxers are temperature sensitive due to their blunt muzzle, becoming easily over-heated in summer and chilling quickly in winter. It generally does not do well living outdoors.
Boxers tend to be headstrong and stubborn and require a dominant owner. It is important to establish yourself as the clear pack leader or your Boxer can become sneaky, demanding, boisterous and hard to control. Training should start young and be consistent. They will respond better to positive reinforcement rather than punishment-based training. Boxers have a high prey drive.
The Boxer is a dog that is both a clown and an intellect. They are perfect as a family dog, great with children, love the company of others and become very attached to and protective of their humans. Though not aggressive, they are confident and self assured, and make good guard dogs. They are not shy, aloof or hyper but can be stubborn and destructive without proper training and exercise. The Boxer is prone to several health issues including heart conditions and cancers, is easy to groom, intelligent, athletic and faithful.
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.