Traditionally used for bear and bull baiting, the Boxer we recognise today is a direct descendent of the now extinct Bullenbeisser. The Boxer was developed in Germany and introduced across Europe during the 19th century, reputedly originating from interbreeding between the Mastiff and the Bulldog. When the practice of baiting was finally ended, the traditional Boxer became a protection dog, appearing later in the theatre and circus. Its intelligent, eager and vigilant nature was utilised during WWI, where it was involved in military work, as a pack-carrier, guard, and messenger dog. Nowadays, the Boxer breed is widely seen in police work, search and rescue, competitive obedience and as an effective watch and guard dog. The Boxer was first exhibited in Munich in 1895 at a dog show intended for St. Bernards.
Possessing an athletic and muscular build, the Boxer is typically recognised for its proportioned body, head and limbs, high-set ears that are either cropped or natural, and short, smooth coat in colour variations of fawn, tan, brindle, black and mahogany, usually with white markings. The Boxer possesses distinctive facial features, including open nostrils and an under-biting jaw. Characteristic traits, such as the dog's tendency to stand on its hind legs and 'box' with its front paws, derive the breed's name. A popular family dog, the Boxer is notorious for mirroring its owner's mood and expressions, and has an easy, affectionate temperament that accounts for its wide employment as a therapy, service and guide dog for the blind. The breed is known to be temperature sensitive.
Protective of its family and home, the breed is otherwise relaxed and welcoming of new situations and people, and a cheerful, fun-filled character. Despite its early usage in the baiting ring, these aggressive traits have since been bred out, developing a breed that is docile and gentle. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for the Boxer, who can be boisterous or highly strung if left unchecked. Unsuited to living outdoors away from its family, the Boxer thrives with human company and is compatible with other house pets when introduced to them gradually. The average Boxer will weigh 28-35 kg, depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-15 years when shown appropriate care.
Despite being generally robust and healthy, the Boxer is susceptible to a number of breed-specific ailments, including cardiac complaints and weaknesses, arthritis and epilepsy. Additionally, the breed is particularly prone to cancer and mast-cell tumours, deafness and allergy-related illness.