The Boxer is part of the Molosser dog group, developed in Germany
in the late 1800s from the now extinct Bullenbeisser, a dog of Mastiff descent, and Bulldogs brought in from England. The
Bullenbeisser had been working as a hunting dog for centuries, employed in the pursuit of bear, wild boar, and deer. Its task
was to seize the prey and hold it until the hunters arrived. In later years, faster dogs were favored and a smaller Bullenbeisser
was bred in Brabant, in northern Belgium. It is generally accepted that the Brabanter Bullenbeisser was a direct ancestor
of today's Boxer.
In 1894, three Germans by the name of Roberth, Konig,
and Hopner decided to stabilize the breed and put it on exhibition at a dog show. This was done in
Munich in 1895, and the next year they founded the first Boxer Club, the Deutscher Boxer Club. The Club went on to publish
the first Boxer breed standard in 1902, a detailed document that has not been changed much to this day.
The breed was introduced to other parts
of Europe in the late 19th century and to the United States around the turn of the century. The American Kennel Club
(AKC) registered the first Boxer in 1904, and recognized the first Boxer champion, Dampf vom Dom, in 1915. During World
War I, the Boxer was co-opted for military work, acting as a valuable messenger dog, pack-carrier and guard dog. It was
not until after World War II that the Boxer became popular around the world. Taken home by returning soldiers,they introduced
the dog to a wider audience and soon became a favorite as a companion, a show dog, and a guard dog.
The German citizen George Alt, a Munich
resident, mated a brindle-colored bitch imported from France named Flora with a local dog of unknown ancestry, known
simply as "Boxer", resulting in a fawn-and-white male, named "Lechner's Box" after its owner. This dog was mated
with his own dam Flora, and one of its offspring was a bitch called Alt's Schecken. George Alt mated Schecken
with a Bulldog named Dr. Toneissen's Tom to produce the historically significant dog ''Mühlbauer's Flocki. Flocki
was the first Boxer to enter the German Stud Book after winning the aforementioned show for St. Bernards in Munich 1895, which
was the first event to have a class specific for Boxers.
The white bitch Ch. Blanka von Angertor, Flocki's sister, was
even more influential when mated with Piccolo von Angertor (Lechner's Box grandson) to produce the predominantly white (parti-colored)
bitch Meta von der Passage, which, even bearing little resemblance with the modern Boxer standard (early photographs depicts
her as too long, weak-backed and down-faced), is considered the mother of the breed. John Wagner, on his
The Boxer (first published in 1939) said the following regarding this bitch:
- "Meta von der Passage played the most important role of
the five original ancestors. Our great line of sires all trace directly back to this female. She was a substantially built,
low to the ground, brindle and white parti-color, lacking in underjaw and exceedingly lippy. As a producing bitch few in any
breed can match her record. She consistently whelped puppies of marvelous type and rare quality. Those of her offspring sired
by Flock St. Salvator and Wotan dominate all present-day pedigrees. Combined with Wotan and Mirzl children, they made the
The name "Boxer" is supposedly derived from the breed's tendency
to play by standing on its hind legs and "boxing" with its front paws. According to Andrew H. Brace on his "Pet
owner's guide to the Boxer" this theory is the least plausible explanation. He claims "it's unlikely that a
nation so permeated with nationalism would give to one of its most famous breeds a name so obviously anglicised".
German linguistic sciences and historical evidence date from
the 18th century the earliest written source for the word Boxer, found in a text in the "Deutsches Fremdwörterbuch"
(The German Dictionary of Foreign Languages), which cites an author named Musäus of 1782 writing "daß er aus Furcht
vor dem großen Baxer Salmonet ... sich auf einige Tage in ein geräumiges Packfaß ... absentiret hatte". At that time the
spelling "baxer" equalled "boxer". Both the verb ("boxen") and the noun ("Boxer") were common German language
as early as the late 18th century. The term "Boxl", also written "Buxn" or "Buchsen", in the Bavarian
dialect means "short (leather) trousers" or "underwear". The very similarly sounding term "Boxerl" is also Bavarian
dialect and an endearing term for "Boxer". More in line with historical facts, Brace states that there exist
many other theories to explain the origin of the breed name, from which he favors the one claiming the smaller Bullenbeisser
(Brabanter) were also known as "Boxl" and that Boxer is just a corruption of that word.
In the same vein runs a theory based
on the fact that there were a group of dogs known as "Bierboxer" in Munich by the time of the breed's development.
These dogs were the result from mixes of Bullenbeisser and other similar breeds. Bier (beer) probably refers to the
Biergarten, the typical Munich beergarden, an open-air restaurant where people used to take their dogs along. The nickname
"Deutscher Boxer" was derived from bierboxer and Boxer could also be a corruption of the former or a contraction of
"Boxer" is also the name of a dog owned by John
Peerybingle, the main character on the best selling 1845 book The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, which
is evidence that "Boxer" was commonly used as a dog name by the early 19th century, before the establishment of the breed
by the end of that same century.
The name of the breed could also be simply due to the names
of the very first known specimens of the breed (Lechner's Box, for instance).