10 Sporty Facts About Boxers
Sometimes described as clownish and puppy-like, these big dogs have an even bigger heart. Learn more about what makes boxers so lovable.
1. THEY ORIGINATED IN GERMANY.
Boxers were bred down from a now-extinct breed known as the Bullenbeisser (bull-biter), a massive breed that also influenced bulldogs and mastiffs. Bullenbeissers were bred in Germany to hunt large game such as boars and bears. As boar hunting dwindled, smaller versions of the Bullenbeisser were bred in Belgium to serve as butcher and cattle dogs. These smaller dogs are believed to be direct ancestors of the modern boxer. By 1895, Munich had its first boxer club, which set the standard for future breeding.
2. THEY REALLY DO BOX.
As their name suggests, these dogs have an impressive left hook. When playing, the breed has a tendency to stand on its back legs and kick out its front paws like a human boxer might do. Most people believe this behavior is what led to the moniker, but since there are no records on the name’s origin, we can only guess.
3. THEIR HEAD SHAPE SERVED A PURPOSE.
Boxers are known for their unusual head shape. According to the breed standard, their snouts are meant to be half the length of their skull. This, coupled with an undershot jaw and strong teeth, helped boxers bite and hold on to their prey. Boxers were bred to be able to clutch animals in their mouths until their owners arrived, while their short snouts allowed them to breathe all the while.
4. SOME HAVE REALLY LONG TONGUES.
The record for “Longest Tongue on a Dog,” belonged to a boxer named Brandy. The record-breaking tongue spanned an impressive 43 centimeters (17 inches). For comparison, the longest human tongue ever measured was only 10.1 centimeters. The Gene Simmons of dogs lived in Michigan with her owner, John, until she passed away in 2002.
5. THEY STEPPED UP DURING WARTIME.
During World War I, the boxer was one of the seven breeds chosen to aid German soldiers. During World War II, the breed charmed the other side as well, and United States soldiers started employing them. The loyal dogs worked carrying messages and supplies, and would help locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield. (Dogs were considered ideal messengers because they could run quickly over different terrain, and were less likely to be targeted by snipers.) Boxers became even more popular after the war, and they were accepted into the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1948.
6. THEY'RE UNDERREPRESENTED IN HOLLYWOOD.
Boxers are the eighth-most popular dog in the United States, but they are severely underrepresented in movies. Unlike German shepherds and Jack Russells, boxers get very little face-time on the big screen. (Some exceptions: Good Boy, Kevin of the North, and, of course, the iconic Homeward Bound 2.) This wasn’t always the case. Back when film was just being invented, boxers starred in some of the earliest motion pictures.
7. WATCH OUT FOR DEAFNESS.
According to the American Kennel Club, boxers can come in three colors: Fawn, brindle, and white. While all are approved colors, white comes with a serious health concern. White and piebald dogs sometimes have a tendency to be deaf. Absence of pigment cells in the inner ear can cause a loss of hearing, meaning dogs with less pigmentation are more likely to be deaf. About 18 percent of all white boxers in the United States are afflicted.
8. THEY TAKE A WHILE TO GROW UP.
These dogs suffer from some serious Peter Pan syndrome. It takes boxers about three years to reach maturity, making their puppyhoods one of the longest in the dog world.
9. YOU HAVE TO CLEAN THEIR WRINKLES.
As hunting dogs, boxers needed to hold onto their prey for long durations of time while their hunters caught up. The wrinkles in their face worked as canals, channeling blood away from the eyes. Today, these dogs are mostly couch potatoes, so their wrinkles’ only job is to make them cuter. However, these skin rolls need to be cleaned every once in a while to prevent infection. A damp cloth will do the trick.
10. CELEBRITIES LOVE THEM.
According to the Boxer Daily, there are a ton of celebrities with pet boxers. Some include: Hugh Jackman, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Luke Perry, Ryan Reynolds, and Chelsea Handler.
All images courtesy of iStock.