AKC Working Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © MyDogPhoto. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © MyDogPhoto. All rights reserved.

The Boxer originated in the mid-1800s when German hunters interbred bulldog-type dogs with mastiff-type dogs and terriers. Early on, these dogs were prized for hunting, bullbaiting, and controlling cattle in slaughter yards. They were one of the first breeds to be used as a police and military dog in Germany. They also became popular circus and theater dogs because they learned tricks so easily. Breeding was rather indiscriminate until the first Boxer stud book was started in 1904, stabilizing the breed standard. Though early Boxers may have been quite ferocious, the breed today is a very gentle, loving family companion.


The Boxer is a muscular, medium-sized, squarely built, energetic dog of the Mastiff family. The Boxer’s well-developed muscles appear smooth beneath his tight-fitting skin. The muzzle is wide and blunt, and should be in good balance with the rest of the dog. The top of the muzzle should not slant downward or be concave. Muzzle proportions are important for this breed with the muzzle one third the length of the head and two thirds the width of the skull. The top of the skull is slightly arched. The head should not be round like a Bulldog. The forehead is slightly indented between the eyes with a distinct stop where it meets the muzzle. When the ears are erect, wrinkles should appear on the forehead. Wrinkles should always run from the lower edge of the stop down the sides of the muzzle. The eyes are dark brown and the broad nose is black. The teeth should meet in an undershot bite with the lower jaw extending beyond the upper jaw and curving slightly upward. The ears are generally cropped (although more breeders are electing to leave them natural), and the tail is docked and held upward. The Boxer has a short, straight back. The topline slopes smoothly and slightly downward from the withers. The chest is broad with a deep brisket, extending to the elbows. The lowest point of the brisket should be at half the height of the dog at the withers.

The Boxer has a sleek, shorthaired coat in fawn or brindle, sometimes with white trim. White markings should not comprise more than one third of the dog’s coat. White markings can replace part of the black mask. The elegant Boxer carries himself proudly and has a free, elastic gait.

Key Facts

  • Height: 23 to 25 in. (male); 21-1/2 to 23-1/2 in. (female)
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 70 lbs. (male); 60 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: Very popular
  • Talents: Watchdog, guarding, police work, military work, search and rescue, competitive obedience, agility, Schutzhund, and performing tricks


Might drool a little and snore. Best in temperate climates as the breed can chill easily in cold weather and have trouble cooling off in very hot weather. Don’t overfeed. The Boxer is very clean; he grooms himself like a cat. Heart disease is prevalent in the breed; breeding stock should be checked with a Holter monitor for arrthymias.


A highly intelligent, exuberant, playful and energetic breed. Easily trained—a good obedience dog. Very devoted to family, good with children. Quiet, but alert and protective. Generally reserved with strangers. Not generally combative with other dogs unless challenged.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Needs people a lot
  • Dominance: Moderate
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Not a barker


  • Grooming: Very little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Short coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Docking: The ears are customarily cropped, and the tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging: A good jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate: Best in cooler climates
  • Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Boxer Breed Standard

Boxer Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Boxer

Boxer Gifts