Seeing the soft brown eyes and concerned, wrinkly face of a boxer, it's hard to deny what a charmer he is. With a combination of personality traits ranging from courageous bravery to clownish playfulness, it's little wonder the AKC lists boxers among the most popular breeds in the U.S.
Boxers were originally bred as fighting and hunting dogs with the intelligence to think independently. Today's boxers might not spend a typical day hunting boar, but they still exhibit those traits bred into them so long ago. Fearlessness and courage with self-assurance, high spirits and plenty of energy are the main characteristics remaining from the original boxer ancestors, along with loyalty, affection and playfulness (which boxers often retain beyond puppyhood and for the rest of their lives).
Possible Behavior Problems
Even though the boxer breed is friendly and loving by nature, uncharacteristic negative behavior can arise. Most boxer behavior problems, however, stem from lack of training, bad breeding or, for some problems, lack of early socialization -- all more handling issues than breed flaws. Such problems can include aggression, digging, chewing, excessive barking and biting or nipping.
Modifying Boxer Behavior Problems
Early obedience training gives you and your boxer a foundation to build from and a protocol to follow should a negative behavior develop. In most cases, proper training programs, such as puppy kindergarten and Canine Good Citizen classes, will head off bad behavior altogether. Of the possible behavior problems mentioned, aggression is perhaps the most difficult to deal with, especially once the boxer is an adult. Early socialization and obedience training, however, can help prevent aggression in the first place. If your boxer starts barking for the sake of hearing his own voice, he's probably bored. Your boxer is a high-energy dog who enjoys interaction, so take him on an extended walk or engage him in spirited play to satisfy him and tire him out, leaving no energy for barking. Digging can be deterred by not leaving your boxer alone in the yard for long periods of time. You might also try covering his preferred digging spots with chicken wire and then covering the wire with dirt. Your dog won't like the feeling of his nails raking across the wire and he'll soon stop digging. If your boxer is a chewer, crating or kenneling him when you're gone will keep him away from items you don't want destroyed. Chewing, another problem often caused by boredom, is sometimes alleviated with a vigorous play session or by redirecting the dog's chewing to a more appropriate object, such as a toy. Finally, biting or nipping can be curbed or avoided entirely with proper training through obedience classes or one-on-one training with a dog behaviorist.
Other Boxer Behavior-Related Facts
The boxer is a cousin to nearly every breed of bulldog, which explains their shared traits of gentleness, protectiveness and affinity for children. Developed from a line of dogs recognized throughout Europe during the 16th century, the boxer breed was perfected in Germany during the 19th century. In fact, while the German shepherd is the breed most associated with police work in the United States, in Germany it was the boxer that was among the first breeds chosen for police training due to its intelligence and courage.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.