Are Boxer Dogs Dangerous?
Animal file: Boxer
The Boxer dog breed is a very popular animal with many guardians. People fall in love with their affectionate and playful character as much as their distinct features. However, there are many people unfamiliar with the dog who find them intimidating. Since they are an athletic and muscular breed, some think they might be dangerous. However, it is important to know they are not a dog known for a tendency for aggression or attacks.
If you are thinking of adopting one of these dogs, it is healthy to ask are Boxer dogs dangerous? At AnimalWised, we dispel any myths about this breed and reveal their true character and temperament. We also look at any possible legal restrictions in keeping them.
The history of the Boxer dog breed
The boxer is a German dog breed which first defined its standard in the 19th century. According to the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), the ancestor of the boxer was the Bullenbeisser, a molosser-type dog with origins in the ancient Assyrian era (around 2000 BC).
Most molosser type dogs, generally considered the progenitor of the different Mastiff dog breeds, were often used as fighting or hunting dogs. Due to their large size, they were particularly used for big game. This began sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries. It wasn't until the 19th century that these breeds became recognized for their intelligence and were considered for other purposes.
The Boxer dog was developed at the end of the 19th century from the Bullenbeisser. At this point, they were used as a watchdog for homes, farms and livestock. Even today, we can see alertness as a general character trait of all types of Boxer dog breeds. It is not uncommon to hear them barking at a stranger which passes the home they consider their territory.
In 1895, breeder Friedich Roberth first founded the ‘Munich Boxer Club’ and created the first breed standard. By the twentieth century the Boxer stood out as a good breed for training. This led to their use as military dogs in World War I. They were involved in tasks such as ‘sniper detection’, but were rarely used for this purpose in World War II. The German Shepherd breed was more commonly used for this purpose.
Although potentially dangerous if you were an enemy sniper not wanting to be caught, the Boxer was not used as an attack dog. Eventually, they became much more popular as a companion animal. This is due to their personality which is loyal and loving, making them an excellent companion for all types of families.
If they are not dangerous, why are they called Boxers?
The prejudice against Boxer dogs may be in part due to their name. Boxers are tough and known for fighting, making us associate these traits with the dog breed which bears their name. However, there are several theories that explain why the boxer was given this name:
- The first claims that they are given this name Boxer because they tend to use their front legs with great skill.
- They also have a habit of sitting on their hind legs and lifting their front legs like a boxer.
- Another theory suggests that the word Boxer is derived from a group of dogs known as Bierboxer, a breed mixed with the Bullenbeisser.
- Boxer is a corruption of the German word Boxl.
Reasons why people think Boxers are dangerous dogs
Although some people have the misconception that Boxer dogs are dangerous animals, it is not true. However, this misconception usually comes from somewhere. They may have heard they were illegal in some countries or have heard of attacks. While it is difficult to determine why one person may have the wrong impression, there are some general characteristics which may contribute to these beliefs:
- Barking: as we have stated above, the Boxer dog is an animal which is known for their alertness. This makes them good watchdogs. However, their tendency to bark is to alert their family of a possible danger, not to be aggressive to another person.
- Physicality: the Boxer is a medium-sized dog, but they have a robust and muscular body. Their face also looks similar to some Mastiff dogs which are considered dangerous dogs. As with Pitbull type dog breeds, many people confuse a muscular body with an aggressive nature.
- Social: Boxers are often quite a hyperactive dog breed. They are also known for being very sociable. They love to play and meet new dogs and people. This combination can mean some people think a Boxer being friendly is actually acting aggressively.
- Hunting instinct: as with many dog breeds, the Boxer has an innate hunting instinct related to their wild ancestry. This means they might see smaller animals as prey. Even if they are only playing, they may chase or run around people excitedly. However, this is something common to many breeds and with proper socialization shouldn't be a problem.
- Reputation: if some people think Boxers are dangerous dog breeds, this reputation can grow despite not being founded in facts.
Is it legal to own a Boxer dog?
To know whether it is legal to keep a Boxer dog as a pet, we need to look at the laws of each country. Although controversial, many countries control animal populations via breed-specific legislation. Essentially, this means certain dog breeds are banned because they are said to be dangerous. This is related to certain breeds such as the the Pit Bull, as many people question whether they are dangerous also.
The issue is a complicated one. The reputation for danger in certain breeds exists for various reasons. Statistics on dog attacks are one of the most important factors. Pit Bulls have high statistics for attacks, but this does not necessarily mean this is because of their breed. The Pit Bull is a breed commonly associated with criminal activity, has been used in dog fighting and often suffers abuse. Legal restrictions have been placed on their adoption in come countries.
For many reasons, breed-legislation does not work. Much more important is education, socialization and information. However, there are some breeds which do have a tendency towards aggressiveness due to this trait being encouraged during breeding. For example, if dogs have been used for many years as attack dogs, they may have a greater predisposition towards aggressiveness. With training and socialization, these tendencies can be reduced.
Breed-specific legislation depends on location. Not only will this depend on the country, but the region. For example, some states in the USA may have legislation restricting the ownership of some breeds, but not others. The Boxer is not a breed which is banned in any US state, nor can we find municipalities with a ban on boxer dogs. However, you should always check your local laws to determine whether keeping a certain breed is legal.
Internationally, Boxers had some limitation in the Ukraine, but recent legislation has changed this. At the time of writing, we cannot find evidence that it is illegal to Boxer dog breeds in any territory.
The true temperament of Boxer dogs
Without hesitation, we can say that the Boxer is not a dangerous dog. In fact, they are a dog many ethologists claim are a particularly good breed for children. According to their general temperament, they are loyal animals which become devoted to their family. Their enthusiastic attitude, cheerful presence and capacity for affection has given them the reputation of being an ‘eternal puppy’.
As we have previously stated, the Boxer is usually alert and has a protective instinct. However, they are generally very friendly animals, even with strangers. They place their trust easily in their family and will be very obedient with a proper education.
Their active demeanor and fun personality means they love to play. They can also be mischievous and their desire to play makes them unsuitable for guardians who cannot offer proper mental stimulation. They also have a high level of reasoning, something important when they were used as working dogs.
Although it does not make them dangerous, their need for attention means they can become bored easily. If we do not provide them with enough engagement, they can become destructive and register other problematic behaviors. They are not dogs which can be left on their own for long periods of time, otherwise they are likely to suffer from separation anxiety. Despite being intelligent, they can be somewhat stubborn and wilful.
The importance of Boxer education
All dogs need to be properly educated. From learning to urinate outside to reducing certain instincts, training allows them to live in the domestic environment peacefully. The benefits are for the dog as much as their human family since it reduces problematic behavior and stress, while encouraging strong bonds and affection.
The Boxer dog breed's past usage as fighting dogs is remote. They are not aggressive or dangerous. However, they are easily excitable and can be a little clumsy when they play. For this reason, it is important to supervise their play with young children and small animals.
Circumstances in which a Boxer dog may attack are restricted to when they feel threatened or they sense their family is being threatened. When the dog has little security, has been through trauma or is negatively stimulated, behavioral problems can be exacerbated.
Proper education, socialization and positive reinforcement are the best ways to prevent behavioral problems in Boxer dogs. However, this is the same with any dog breed. If we do not provide them with the training, support and affection they require, this is when problems arise.
If you want to know more about what to expect when caring for a Boxer dog, as well as their training requirements, you can look at this video:
If you want to read similar articles to Are Boxer Dogs Dangerous?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.
- Weiss, L. S. (2001). Breed-Specific Legislation in the United States.