Boxer is said to be descended from a variety of European breeds, including the old English Bulldog and the French Dogue de Bordeaux. The breed came to maturity in Germany and was one of the first breeds selected for police training there. Their name is derived from their tendency to stand erect on hind legs and box with the front legs.
The Boxer is a medium-sized dog, 21 to 25 inches tall and 50 to 80 pounds, with females smaller than males. The body is compact, muscular, and powerful. The tail is docked and carried high. The head is also carried high and has the short muzzle typical of bull breeds. The ears naturally drop but are often cropped. (Although cropped ears are required for AKC competition, many owners prefer the natural ears.)
Boxers are fawn with a black muzzle and mask and white on the chest, legs, and feet. The coat is short and smooth. Grooming is easy; the coat should be brushed twice a week with a soft bristle brush or curry comb.
Exercise is very important. They enjoy performance sports. The breed should not be exercised in the heat of the day during hot weather, especially in humid climates, as they can have breathing difficulties due to the shortened muzzle. Young Boxers should meet and play with a variety of other puppies, as adult Boxers do tend to be aggressive toward strange dogs. Socialisation can often keep this behaviour in check. Boxers should attend puppy and basic obedience classes and ideally continue training.
A Boxer can be stubborn at times, but when she wants to learn, she learns easily and retains training well. Training should be firm and structured, yet fair and fun. They are happiest when with their people. They are excellent with children, although puppies can be quite rambunctious and need to learn how to play with kids.
Boxers with white markings covering more than one-third of their coat – conventionally called “white” Boxers – are neither albino nor rare; approximately 20–25% of all Boxers born are white. Genetically, these dogs are either fawn or brindle, with excessive white markings overlying the base coat colour. Like fair-skinned humans, white Boxers have a higher risk of sunburn and associated skin cancers than coloured Boxers. The extreme piebald gene, which is responsible for white markings in Boxers, is linked to congenital sensorineural deafness in dogs. It is estimated that about 18% of white Boxers are deaf in one or both ears, though Boxer rescue organisations see about double that number. In the past, breeders often euthanised white puppies at birth; today, most breeders place white puppies in pet homes with spay/neuter agreements.
They are usually quite good with other pets, although they do need to be taught not to chase cats. Health concerns include breathing problems, bloat, torsion, cardiomyopathy, and hip dysplasia.