Dogs of the Boxer type, like most other breeds, have roots in antiquity. The Boxer, along with its close relative, the Bullmastiff, as well as the Great Dane, the bulldogs and the various bull terriers, belongs to the descendants of the ancient fighting breeds. Through selective breeding, dogs with heavy heads, short strong muzzles and great courage, were developed as war dogs and later for boar hunting, bull-baiting and bear-baiting. During the Middle Ages, the Germans called their version of these dogs Bullenbeisser (bull-biters), of which two types were defined around 1630. The larger type was called the Danziger Bullenbeisser, developed by crossing the Bullenbeisser with dogs of the Deerhound or Irish Wolfhound type imported from Britain during the early sixteenth century. A smaller, more compact type, extremely powerful and with tremendous courage, was known as the Brabanter Bullenbeisser.
The modern Boxer was developed through selective breeding from a cross between the small Bullenbeisser and the English Bulldog. Today, however, virtually the only features which the Boxer still has in common with his early ancestors are his short muzzle and undershot jaw, his black mask, his fawn or brindle colour and his courageous temperament.
The Breed Standard insists that the character of the Boxer is of the greatest importance and requires the most solicitous attention. He has been renowned from olden times for his alertness, his intrepid courage as a defender and protector and his great loyalty to the entire household.
He is harmless and affectionate with all his family members, bright and friendly at play, although sometimes perhaps a bit boisterous and overenthusiastic. As he is never vicious, false or treacherous, even in old age, and because he is not easily hurt, he is usually an excellent companion and playmate for children, from whom he will good-naturedly tolerate all sorts of rough handling.
The Boxer with correct temperament is normally easy to train, but at times can be rather stubborn and self-willed, requiring a firm hand and a no-nonsense attitude from his handler. It is important that the Boxer understands his subordinate position in the household right from the start, or he might feel compelled to take over as leader of the "pack".
His courage, self-assurance and pronounced protective instincts, combined with his modesty and cleanliness, makes him an ideal family dog, but he is equally competent as a guard, service or escort dog. He is truly a "dog for all seasons", suiting the need for household guardian, attractive companion, children's playmate and loyal friend.
In Europe the Boxer has been classed as a working dog since 1921. He acquits himself very well in the various disciplines required for the Schutzhund qualifications: manwork, tracking and obedience. Due to his versatility, his agility and sound temperament he has been put to many uses. He is ideally suited as a disaster relief dog and a rescue dog. He has been used in this capacity since the inception of this service in 1968, particularly after disastrous earthquakes in Friaul, El Asman and the south of Italy and most recently after the 11 September disaster in New York. In Switzerland the Boxer is a popular member of the police force and is also used by the military. He has also been used as an avalanche dog in Switzerland. In both Europe and the USA, Boxers are trained as guide cum protection dogs for the blind.
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