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  • Temperament: Bright, Fun-Loving, Active
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 10 of 192
  • Height: 23-25 inches (male), 21.5-23.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), females are about 15 pounds less than male
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Boxer standing sideways facing left
Boxer standing facing forward
Boxer coat detail
Boxer standing facing forward, head turned left in three-quarter view
Boxer standing facing forward, head turned left
Boxer head facing left looking up
Boxer standing facing forward, head turned left in three-quarter view
Boxer head facing forward, turned slightly left

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The ideal Boxer is a medium-sized, square-built dog of good substance with short back, strong limbs, and short, tight-fitting coat. His well-developed muscles are clean, hard, and appear smooth under taut skin. His movements denote energy. The gait is firm yet elastic, the stride free and ground-covering, the carriage proud. Developed to serve as guard, working, and companion dog, he combines strength and agility with elegance and style. His expression is alert and his temperament steadfast and tractable.
The chiseled head imparts to the Boxer a unique individual stamp. It must be in correct proportion to the body. The broad, blunt muzzle is the distinctive feature, and great value is placed upon its being of proper form and balance with the skull.

HEAD

The beauty of the head depends upon the harmonious proportion of muzzle to skull. The blunt muzzle is 1/3 the length of the head from the occiput to the tip of the nose, and 2/3 the width of the skull. The head should be clean, not showing deep wrinkles (wet). Wrinkles typically appear upon the forehead when ears are erect, and are always present from the lower edge of the stop running downward on both sides of the muzzle. Skull – The top of the skull is slightly arched, not rounded, flat, nor noticeably broad, with the occiput not overly pronounced. The forehead shows a slight indentation between the eyes and forms a distinct stop with the topline of the muzzle. The cheeks should be relatively flat and not bulge (cheekiness), maintaining the clean lines of the skull as they taper into the muzzle in a slight, graceful curve.

BODY

Neck – Round, of ample length, muscular and clean without excessive hanging skin (dewlap). The neck should have a distinctly arched and elegant nape blending smoothly into the withers.
The back is short, straight, muscular, firm, and smooth. The topline is slightly sloping when the Boxer is at attention, leveling out when in motion. Body – The chest is of fair width, and the forechest well-defined and visible from the side. The brisket is deep, reaching down to the elbows; the depth of the body at the lowest point of the brisket equals half the height of the dog at the withers. The ribs, extending far to the rear, are well-arched but not barrel-shaped. The loins are short and muscular. The lower stomach line is slightly tucked up, blending into a graceful curve to the rear. The croup is slightly sloped, flat and broad. The pelvis is long, and in females especially broad. The tail is set high, docked, and carried upward. An undocked tail should be severely penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are long and sloping, close-lying, and not excessively covered with muscle (loaded). The upper arm is long, approaching a right angle to the shoulder blade. The elbows should not press too closely to the chest wall nor stand off visibly from it. The forelegs are long, straight, and firmly muscled, and, when viewed from the front, stand parallel to each other. The pastern is strong and distinct, slightly slanting, but standing almost perpendicular to the ground. The dewclaws may be removed. Feet should be compact, turning neither in nor out, with well-arched toes.

COAT

Short, shiny, lying smooth and tight to the body.

EXPRESSION, EYES & EARS

Expression -Intelligent and alert. Eyes – Dark brown in color, frontally placed, generous, not too small, too protruding, or too deep set. Their mood-mirroring character, combined with the wrinkling of the forehead, gives the Boxer head its unique quality of expressiveness. Third eyelids preferably have pigmented rims. Ears – Set at the highest points of the sides of the skull, the ears are customarily cropped, cut rather long and tapering, and raised when alert. If uncropped, the ears should be of moderate size, thin, lying flat and close to the cheeks in repose, but falling forward with a definite crease when alert.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are strongly muscled, with angulation in balance with that of the forequarters. The thighs are broad and curved, the breech musculature hard and strongly developed. Upper and lower thighs are long. The legs are well-angulated at the stifle, neither too steep nor over-angulated, with clearly defined, well “let down” hock joints. Viewed from behind, the hind legs should be straight, with hock joints leaning neither in nor out. From the side, the leg below the hock (metatarsus) should be almost perpendicular to the ground, with a slight slope to the rear permissible. The metatarsus should be short, clean, and strong. The Boxer has no rear dewclaws.

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About the Boxer

A well-made Boxer in peak condition is an awesome sight. A male can stand as high as 25 inches at the shoulder; females run smaller. Their muscles ripple beneath a short, tight-fitting coat. The dark brown eyes and wrinkled forehead give the face an alert, curious look. The coat can be fawn or brindle, with white markings. Boxers move like the athletes they are named for: smooth and graceful, with a powerful forward thrust.

Boxers are upbeat and playful. Their patience and protective nature have earned them a reputation as a great dog with children. They take the jobs of watchdog and family guardian seriously and will meet threats fearlessly. Boxers do best when exposed to a lot of people and other animals in early puppyhood.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Boxer

Find a Puppy: Boxer

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Boxer Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Boxer should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Boxer’s short, shiny coat requires very little grooming. A good once-over with a rubber curry-brush or a hound glove once or twice a week should keep him looking his best. The Boxer tends to be a clean dog, needing a bath only occasionally. His nails should be trimmed at least once a month unless naturally worn down on a hard surface, and to prevent tartar buildup his teeth should be brushed often—daily if possible.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

Boxers are very playful, high-energy dogs. They need ample exercise every day, on leash or in a securely fenced area. The Boxer must never be allowed to run loose. The breed’s heritage as a chaser of wild game means that they spend a good deal of time jumping and leaping about—as young dogs, they are constantly in need of reminders to teach them to stay “down.” Because the Boxer is a powerful, active, and playful dog, he may not be the best choice for a very frail adult, nor for a small child who could be overwhelmed by a well-meaning but bouncy puppy.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are vital in channeling the breed’s energy and exuberance in a positive way. Boxers are highly intelligent, but can become bored with repetition. They tend to have a mind of their own and are excellent problem solvers. Not always tolerant of other dogs of the same sex, most Boxers of opposite sexes enjoy each other’s company. Boxers excel in a wide range of canine sports, including obedienceagility, and herding, and they perform brilliantly as service, assistance, and therapy dogs, and in roles such as drug detection and search-and-rescue.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Outgoing

HEALTH

The Boxer does not have a high tolerance for either extreme heat or cold, and he should always be kept inside the house as a beloved member of the family. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, heart conditions such as aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy, thyroid deficiency, degenerative myelopathy, and certain cancers. The website of the breed’s national parent club, the American Boxer Club, provides in-depth details about the breed’s health and care.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • AS\SAS Cardio
  • Aortic Valve Disease
  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy
  • ARVC DNA Test
  • Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

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History

The Boxer’s ancestors, the war dogs of the Assyrian empire, go back as far as 2,500 B.C. But what we think of today as a Boxer can be traced to Germany of the late 1800s and early 20th century. The breed is thought to have been bred down by German dog fanciers from a larger, heavier German breed called the Bullenbeisser (“bull biter”).

In medieval times the Bullenbeisser was Germany’s premier big-game hunter, used by noblemen to run down, catch, and hold such formidable opponents as bear, bison, and wild boar on vast ducal estates. By the early 1800s, the political situation in the German states was changing. German nobles were out of favor. Their estates were broken up, and the cherished tradition of lavishly appointed boar hunts came to an end. By 1865, the mighty Bullenbeisser was out of a job.

Through judicious crosses to a smaller, mastiff-type breed from England, the obsolete big-game hunter gained a new lease on life. By the late 1800s, the modern Boxer—a sleeker, more elegant dog—had come into focus. (The English name Boxer refers to the way the breed spars, like a prizefighter, with their front paws when playing or defending themselves.)

Over the years, Boxers have done many jobs: athlete, cattle dog, police dog, war dog (in both world wars), watchdog, protection dog, and guide dog for the blind. The AKC registered its first Boxer in 1904, but the breed’s U.S. heyday began in the 1950s, when a Westminster-winning Boxer named Bang Away became a national celebrity. Since that time, Boxers have reigned as one of America’s top 10 most popular breeds.

Did You Know?

The Boxer springs from a line of dogs known throughout the whole of Europe during the 16th century and is one of many descendents of the old fighting dog of the high valleys of Tibet.
Flemish tapestries of the 16th and 17th centuries depict scenes of stag and boar hunting, featuring ancestors of the Boxer.
Until dogfighting and bullbaiting were outlawed, the Boxer, like all dogs of his type, was used for this purpose.
The Boxer is cousin to practically all recognized breeds of the Bulldog type, all of which go back to basic molossus blood.
The Boxer reached its greatest perfection and development in Germany.
The Boxer was one of the first breeds selected in Germany for police training.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The ideal Boxer is a medium-sized, square-built dog of good substance with short back, strong limbs, and short, tight-fitting coat. His well-developed muscles are clean, hard, and appear smooth under taut skin. His movements denote energy. The gait is firm yet elastic, the stride free and ground-covering, the carriage proud. Developed to serve as guard, working, and companion dog, he combines strength and agility with elegance and style. His expression is alert and his temperament steadfast and tractable.
The chiseled head imparts to the Boxer a unique individual stamp. It must be in correct proportion to the body. The broad, blunt muzzle is the distinctive feature, and great value is placed upon its being of proper form and balance with the skull.

HEAD

The beauty of the head depends upon the harmonious proportion of muzzle to skull. The blunt muzzle is 1/3 the length of the head from the occiput to the tip of the nose, and 2/3 the width of the skull. The head should be clean, not showing deep wrinkles (wet). Wrinkles typically appear upon the forehead when ears are erect, and are always present from the lower edge of the stop running downward on both sides of the muzzle. Skull – The top of the skull is slightly arched, not rounded, flat, nor noticeably broad, with the occiput not overly pronounced. The forehead shows a slight indentation between the eyes and forms a distinct stop with the topline of the muzzle. The cheeks should be relatively flat and not bulge (cheekiness), maintaining the clean lines of the skull as they taper into the muzzle in a slight, graceful curve.

BODY

Neck – Round, of ample length, muscular and clean without excessive hanging skin (dewlap). The neck should have a distinctly arched and elegant nape blending smoothly into the withers.
The back is short, straight, muscular, firm, and smooth. The topline is slightly sloping when the Boxer is at attention, leveling out when in motion. Body – The chest is of fair width, and the forechest well-defined and visible from the side. The brisket is deep, reaching down to the elbows; the depth of the body at the lowest point of the brisket equals half the height of the dog at the withers. The ribs, extending far to the rear, are well-arched but not barrel-shaped. The loins are short and muscular. The lower stomach line is slightly tucked up, blending into a graceful curve to the rear. The croup is slightly sloped, flat and broad. The pelvis is long, and in females especially broad. The tail is set high, docked, and carried upward. An undocked tail should be severely penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are long and sloping, close-lying, and not excessively covered with muscle (loaded). The upper arm is long, approaching a right angle to the shoulder blade. The elbows should not press too closely to the chest wall nor stand off visibly from it. The forelegs are long, straight, and firmly muscled, and, when viewed from the front, stand parallel to each other. The pastern is strong and distinct, slightly slanting, but standing almost perpendicular to the ground. The dewclaws may be removed. Feet should be compact, turning neither in nor out, with well-arched toes.

COAT

Short, shiny, lying smooth and tight to the body.

EXPRESSION, EYES & EARS

Expression -Intelligent and alert. Eyes – Dark brown in color, frontally placed, generous, not too small, too protruding, or too deep set. Their mood-mirroring character, combined with the wrinkling of the forehead, gives the Boxer head its unique quality of expressiveness. Third eyelids preferably have pigmented rims. Ears – Set at the highest points of the sides of the skull, the ears are customarily cropped, cut rather long and tapering, and raised when alert. If uncropped, the ears should be of moderate size, thin, lying flat and close to the cheeks in repose, but falling forward with a definite crease when alert.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are strongly muscled, with angulation in balance with that of the forequarters. The thighs are broad and curved, the breech musculature hard and strongly developed. Upper and lower thighs are long. The legs are well-angulated at the stifle, neither too steep nor over-angulated, with clearly defined, well “let down” hock joints. Viewed from behind, the hind legs should be straight, with hock joints leaning neither in nor out. From the side, the leg below the hock (metatarsus) should be almost perpendicular to the ground, with a slight slope to the rear permissible. The metatarsus should be short, clean, and strong. The Boxer has no rear dewclaws.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
WHITE 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
BLACK MASK, WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 005
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
BRINDLE MARKINGS 007
FAWN MARKINGS 008