Portraits of Popular Breeds at Home and Abroad: German Boxer

The German Boxer can truly be called a versatile dog. With no doubts, it can be a family dog, a watchdog or a rescuer. It is also good at sports. A long-term boxer breeder, Ing. Michaela Martinů, can confirm that.

You probably can’t mistake a boxer for another breed. Its head with a slender, angular skull, broad and powerful jaws and a typical overbite are unmistakable. Boxer’s figure is sturdy with solid skeleton. Its muscles are dry, well-shaped and plastically visible. The movement is vital, temperament and full of strength. Despite its robustness, Boxers should not be heavy-footed.

A direct ancestor of Boxers was Brabanter Bullenbissers which was common in Europe in the Middle Ages. These dogs were primarily used for hunting bears and wild boars, and between the 16th and 18th century, they were trained for show fights. The breeding of Brabanter Bullenbissers was in the hands of hunters. As the task of these dogs was to hold the savage game until the hunter came, they preferred to breed dogs with broad jaws, wide tooth arrangement and a turned up nose. The description of their appearance from that time basically matches today's Boxers. But they have evolved considerably when it comes to their nature. It started with the use of firearms, when dogs were no longer needed to catch the game. In the 19th century, an effort to breed a dog with similar appearance which would be capable of functioning in a domestic environment started. The members of the Boxer Club have always bred for temperament, rather than appearance or performance. It is the reason why these dogs have such a positive combination of character traits we appreciate in them these days.

Therefore, they have gone a long journey from a sneaky and aggressive dogs to family companions who can’t be easily disturbed. Thanks to their adaptability and learning skills, these dogs can perform almost any task. Its patience is basically endless, so it’s also good with small children. Also, the joyful nature makes them perfect companions for kids. Their longtime breeder, Michaela Martinů, says: “It's a dog with steady nerves, it’s confident, calm and its nature is well-balanced. Boxers should be friendly, fearless dogs that are lively enough – people call it standard. I say: Boxers are clowns and gladiators in one body. They’re good for people who want partners and not performance machines even though they are capable of very good results.” She provides more details about their nature: As owners of other working breeds say: ‘boxer is half a dog, and the other half human’. When someone says ‘Boxer’, I think of strength, beauty, elegance, a slaphappy creature, unconditional friendship, energy both when playing or working and unreserved love for people. A clown with the body of an athlete and the heart of a gladiator. Boxer doesn’t have a long life, but it lives happily and intensively, so it’s therefore worth living alongside it.”

At first, it is distrustful and careful when it comes to strangers and even anything that could put its family at risk. It is always ready to protect its people. Thanks to its courage and fearless nature, the German Boxer can also be a great watchdog. It needs a valid reason to attack. If it is trained well, there is no groundless aggression. When it sees its master has no reason to be vigilant, it will also stay calm and remain friendly towards a stranger.

Boxer is well suited for many dog sports thanks to its versatility. However, Ing. Martinů pointed out that we always need to keep in mind its problems with thermoregulation. It is a brachycephalic breed (i.e. a breed with a short skull), so it can overheat easily. It is not well-equipped for winter as it lacks the undercoat. Also, we need to develop its inherited talents from an early age and be consistent and patient in training. Boxers can’t stand two things when training – boredom and drilling. They remember a lot, a poorly learned command or a situation is difficult to be erased from its memory, so it’s good to eliminate unnecessary mistakes,” she adds. Boxers most often (in a reasonable extent) engage in agility, canicross, coursing, dogfrisbee, dogtrekking, obedience, dogdancing and sport cynology and they are also used for rescue work.

When it comes to upbringing and training a boxer, the breeder pinpoints an important fact. Today, the emphasis is on positive motivation and consistency is sometimes forgotten. However, for such a large, energetic and lively dog, it is sometimes a big problem that can result in the dog being irritating for people around. Although many owners don’t realize this, it is not only bad for those around but also for the dog .” According to her, the dog should know the basic rules. The dog should know what I expect it to do and what it will get for it. This is not only a treat, but also a smile and a sign of satisfaction from my side. Our relationship should be on the level where it cares about me and appreciates these signs.”

Boxers started to be recognized worldwide in the 1930s and they quickly became popular. There are a number of clubs these days that focus on breeding Boxers. All of them are subject to the first one in Munich, which also still controls the basic criteria of breeding. Only individuals that meet strict standards, including their appearance, health, fitness and nature, are included for breeding. By that, keepers try to eliminate the spread of genetic diseases. Boxers are prone to joint diseases – hip dysplasia, arthritis or spondylosis. The breed is also very prone to tumours and heart diseases, which should be taken into account.

That’s why it is so important to carefully choose the breeder. A membership in a boxer’s club and a birth certificate should be basic criteria for serious breeders. This increases the likelihood that you will get not only a healthy companion. Martinů says: Socialization is important for all mammals, not only dogs, and not only for boxers at all.”. According to her, Boxers (because of their nature and their great dependence on people) are satisfied in the presence of people, and the goal of socialization should be a happy, trouble-free, well-behaved dog, ready to go through all the pitfalls of life alongside its master and his/her family. So, socialization shouldn’t be underestimated. The sooner we start with it, the better for the dog and its family. However, this experienced breeder thinks it’s important to note that it is not necessary for the dog to play with everything around him during the process of socializing. She thinks: “A dog should mainly see its owner as a game companion and a source of fun. The dog should look for his/her company, and not just the company of other dogs. If the dog is fixated to the pack and prefers other animals to its handler, it’s difficult to remove this and it is extremely undesirable for training.”.

According to the breeder, it is important to be aware of all Boxers’ characteristics and needs before getting one. It's important to think about whether it's really the right companion for us and whether we are the right companion for the dog. With regard to that, she mentions this: “Boxer is a breed that can work well with a person it loves, but its predatory and hunting genes can show off. For this reason, strict upbringing is crucial and necessary. It’s non-conflict or even annoyingly friendly with people which doesn’t have to be true for other animals, not even dogs, and conflicts may occur. Even though Boxers love children and are good family dogs, it's not a dog we can get for playing with a child. Well, we shouldn’t do that with any breed. The new owner also needs to realize that Boxers require a lot of movement and attention due to their temperament. And even though it is said that the breed is suitable for beginners, it is always important to keep in mind their strength and energy.”

She also warns about other specific features. “A person who gets a Boxer must also expect that the old age comes earlier for Boxers than for other working breeds and they need to invest in its health and know that they can’t just put the dog away. Active years for racing are usually between 3 and 7 years of age for a healthy individual, which isn’t very long. And when the dog is no longer active when it comes to tasks, it still needs certain activities and we need to adjust to that. Of course, this comes with greater investment in fitness and, in addition to dog food and good diet, in vitamin supplements.”

She also reveals how she approaches the selection of new owners for her puppies: I, myself, look for responsible owners for my puppies. Owners who will devote themselves to their dog, will offer it an active, full life, but who will also look after it when it gets old and possibly also ill and it will no longer be able to have the same results as when it was younger.”

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