The history of the Boxer breed is less defined and detailed than many of the other breeds, likely because of its historical use as a working dog. The Boxer of today is definitely a descendant of the heavier, more working type dog known as the Brabanter Bullenbeisser, which was popular in Germany and Belgium as a boar hunting dog prior to the 1800s. The Brabanter Bullenbeisser, in turn, was developed from the massive Roman and Assyrian war dogs known as the Molossians that were common as early as 2000 BC.
The Brabanter Bullenbeisser breed was the earliest hunting dog bred in Germany. It is believed that a German dog lover by the name of George Alt first purchased a female Bullenbeisser and bred her to a local hunting dog; then the offspring of this mating were bred to an English Bulldog. It is believed that this original crossing with the Bulldog and several subsequent crossings with the same breed resulted in the all-white coloration that is occasionally seen in the Boxer breed. This is the one my friend who owns movers Roswell loves and has 2. Breeding was selective for physical ability and traits as well as for temperament.
The name Bullenbeisser literally translates into “bull biter” and the breed was developed to grab onto the nose of bulls or boars and hold on. The jaws of the breed were very strong, short and wide, very similar to the modern Boxer and English bulldog. The dogs needed to be very courageous and athletic as well as able to tolerate pain while being used in the ring or on hunting expeditions.
In the 19th century when the sport of bull baiting was thankfully prohibited, the Bullenbeisser became a working farm dog, used for herding and even light cart work. At this time the emphasis was on developing a leaner, lighter and less aggressive breed, so the smaller dogs crossed with the English Bulldog became more favored and went on to become the Boxer breed, while the Bullenbeisser breed became extinct. Most breeders and Boxer owners believe that the breed name Boxer was chosen because of the dog’s ability to move its front feet much like a boxer, although many breeders believe it is simply a variation and mistranslation of the German word for a bite that is “bissen”.
The first time the Boxer breed was shown was in the 1895 Munich Dog Show. The German Boxer Club was more correctly known as the Deutscher Boxer Klub in 1896. The Boxers quickly became very popular dogs, largely because of their winning temperaments and personalities and their ability to perform multiple roles within the family. The breed standard was officially adopted in 1902 and has basically remained the same since its original development.
The first Boxers were imported to the United States in 1903 and there were several championship Boxers bred in the United States before the American Boxer Club was officially formed in 1935. One year later in May the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Boxer breeders and Boxer Clubs can be found all over the world and the popularity of the breed stays constant, although like many of the larger, high energy dogs there has been a slight decrease in registered numbers over the years.