This rambunctious rover has been a valued member of the American family for over a century. Known for their playful spirit and sociability, boxers are high on the list of dog breeds to consider if you’re a dog lover looking for a loyal, park-hopping pal.
How did the boxer get so popular? And why does this dog breed continue to top the charts? These party pooches happen to be a treasure trove of surprising skills and histories.
Whether you’re looking to sniff out the secrets of a potential new household member or test how well you know your pup, we’ve compiled this list to treat you to our favorite boxer fun facts. Read on to dig up interesting facts all the way from the boxer’s ancient beginnings to their stellar speed stats.
#1 These Dogs are Ancient Hunters
The ancestor of the modern-day boxer dog can be traced to the Assyrian empire, a warring people who occupied lands from ancient Mesopotamia through Asia Minor in the second millennium.1
These dogs were frequent fighters, following their owners into battle after battle across the East. Flash forward to late nineteenth century Germany, the descendant of the Assyrian breed, the Bullenbeisser—which translates to “bull biter” in German—assisted nobles in hunting big game like vision and wild boar on estates.
When the noble class fell out of favor, and the practice of big game hunting declined, Bullenbeissers were mixed with other breeds across Europe to create the modern boxer, the elegant family dog we know today.
Icons of Western Art
Our knowledge of the boxer dog’s hunting past is derived largely from artwork. Images of the boxer breed have been located in sixteenth and seventeenth-century tapestries that often depicted historic boar hunts of the elite.
One famous sixteenth-century tapestry commissioned by a king includes a scene depicting one of the Roman Emperor Maximilian’s boar hunts. In the image, multiple dog breeds, one presumably the ancestor of the boxer, jump on the boar while guards run forward with weapons.2
Another well-known work by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, entitled The Calydonian Boar Hunt, reinterprets a passage about a hunt from an ancient text. The artist incorporates images of a catch-dog that looks very similar to a boxer, referencing the breed’s contemporary prominence.3
#2 They’re Perfect for Children
Similar to the English bulldog and Newfoundland, this dog breed is happiest when exposed to lots of people. Protective, playful, and hyperactive, young children who match this dog’s energy often make the perfect playmates.
While boxers are protective and are guardians by nature, they can be clumsy due to their constant excitement. So it may be best to supervise playtime if young children are involved. Boxers have been known to jump up and knock unsuspecting owners over!
The eternal wish for play also means these dogs suffer from strong separation anxiety if left alone. If you go out of town, make sure to call a neighbor or a kennel to step in and give your doggo some love and attention.
#3 No Grooming Needed
The award-winning shiny and short coat of a boxer often needs very little care. Like all dogs, they do shed depending on seasonal changes, but that can be managed with occasional light combing.
The biggest concern for boxers is their teeth and nail health. With constant interaction, vets recommend brushing their teeth daily and trimming their nails monthly. And, of course, a balanced, nutrient-filled diet will always go a long way toward helping your pet stay healthy and self-sufficient.
Always do your own research when it comes to picking the best food for your dog, but if you need a place to start, try BARK food for Boxers! Pro Tip: Get 25% off with code 25FOOD and free shipping!
#4 Boxers Consistently Rank in Top Competitions
The esteemed Westminster dog show has awarded its top slot to a boxer four times (1947, 1949, 1951, and 1970). They often excel at the barn hunt portion of the competition due to their hunting past and keen sense of smell.
In the 1950s, the Westminster-winning boxer dog, Bang Away, became a national celebrity—immortalized by artists of the time and featured in broadcasts beside his owner, Friederun von Miran-Stockmann.4
Bang Away is often credited with popularizing the breed in America. And that popularity has lasted through the decades, with recent polling by the American Kennel Collective (AKC) confirming the boxer as the 14th most popular breed in America.5 In fact, singer and songwriter Justin Timberlake happens to be a boxer owner as well!
#5 This Breed is an Ideal Service Dog
This loyal working dog breed has held a key role beside humans on the job. Like the German Shepherd, Boxers are routinely trained as part of K9 units, assisting with police work. In the 1800s, their hunting pasts made them a staple of the German police force.
Boxers also had a career in both World War I and World War II. These pups carried army packages, distributed important messengers, and served as attack dogs on the frontlines.6
Today, their acute skills and guard-like instincts lead this breed into the vital role of assisting individuals suffering from physical impairments like blindness. In addition, their affectionate personality means they are often employed as therapy dogs and can be found frequenting nursing homes and schools.
#6 They have an Amazing Sense of Smell
The hunting ancestor of the modern boxer was often sent off ahead of its owner to discover the site of a fallen animal during a hunt. According to AKC, a boxer’s sense of smell is 100,000 times stronger than the human nose.
AKC details that at this level of natural smell, dogs can be trained to track disease odor in as little as the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar diluted by two Olympic swimming pools.7
For this reason, these canines are often selected for Nose Work, a special unit of the police force that includes searching for drugs, lost people, and disaster victims, as well as detecting disease.
#7 They’re Forever Young
While boxers tend to live a good ten to twelve years, this breed is often late to mature, and their rambunctious puppy energy won’t begin to taper until at least ages three to four.
“A tired boxer is a well-behaved boxer” can be a popular saying among owners. No matter their age, boxers continue to need to expend constant energy. This breed does best when socialized at a young age, allowing them to continue to play with other dogs in a friendly manner throughout their lifetime.
Older boxers may need less exercise, but if not allowed to run, they can become particularly skittish and destructive. Vice versa, boxers under one year old should not overexert themselves. As their bones are still growing, excessive exercise can pose muscular and skeletal issues down the road.8
#8 Their Name Origin Remains a Mystery
Most assume the boxer name comes from the “boxer-like” stance these pups assume in play. Leaning back on their hind legs, their front feet jump into the air in excitement. However, there are some discrepancies.1
The ancestor of the boxer, the Bullenbeisser, was also called the Bierboxer by owners in Munich. This later became “Deutscher boxer,” and it’s possible that their modern name morphed out of these iterations.
Another theory is that the boxer name relates to the breed’s original role in controlling slaughterhouse cattle. Boxer may have evolved out of the term “boxl,” an old-German word for slaughterhouse.9
#9 Boxers Love to Run
This breed averages a pace of 38 miles per hour on the trail, making them one of the fastest dogs at the park. For context, most medium-sized dogs run at a 15-25 mph pace while greyhounds—the top-ranked runner—clock in at 45 mph.10
This muscular, powerhouse pooch has an athletic build with a big chest and narrow waist. With adequate room for the heart, an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers, and a slim figure that limits weight gain, these canines can really cruise.
Planning your weekly workout? Be careful to train your favorite companion to go at your pace. The average human runs 5 miles per hour, and if your boxer spots a squirrel while on a leash, you may be hard-pressed to kick your own speed into overdrive to keep up.
#10 These Canines Hold a World Record
These prize pals aren’t only making waves at the annual competitions! In 2022, Brandy, a boxer from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, USA, set the Guinness World Record for the longest tongue on a dog ever.11
Brandy’s owner, John Scheid, confirmed the measure of her tongue at 17 inches long!
Treat Yourself to BARK Post
We like to think of dog ownership as a two-way street. While the unspoken loyalty and love dogs offer can be unparalleled, our role as owners is to prioritize the happiness and well-being of our pups. That’s why BARK Post works to bridge the communication gap to deliver vetted information to owners who want to ensure certified best-care practices.
What’s better than a morning dog walk? Everyday dog content! Since 2014 we’ve been working with experts and veterinarians to treat our followers to a constant stream of top advice, tips, and stories.
Owners and enthusiasts can explore topics like home care, breed traits, training hacks, and health patterns on our dedicated blogs. More often than not, the more you know, the more you love! So click around BARK Post to fetch our facts about your favorite dog breeds and wow the other owners at your next dog park hang.
- American Kennel Club. Boxer Dog Breed Information. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/boxer/
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bernard van Orley: The Final Assault on the Boar, or December from a set of Hunts of Maximilian. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/223047
- The Getty Museum. The Calydonian Boar Hunt. https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/object/103QTF
- American Boxer Club. Who was the greatest American Boxer of all time? https://americanboxerclub.org/greatest.html
- American Kennel Club. The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/the-most-popular-dog-breeds-of-2020/
- Pet Health Network. Tough-Looking Dog with a Heart of Gold: The Boxer. https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-breeds/tough-looking-dog-a-heart-gold-boxer
- American Kennel Club. The Nose Knows: Is There Anything Like a Dog’s Nose? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/the-nose-knows/
- Florida Boxer Rescue. Are You Right For a Boxer? https://flbr.org/are-you-right-for-a-boxer/
- National Purebred Dog Day. Why the Boxer Got its Name. https://nationalpurebreddogday.com/why-the-boxer-got-its-name/
- Not a Bully. Are Boxers Good Running Dogs? (How Fast Can They Run?) https://notabully.org/are-boxers-good-running-dogs/
- Guinness World Records. Longest tongue on a dog ever. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-tongue-ever-dog
- United States Boxer Association. History – US Boxer Association . https://www.usboxer.org/overview-boxer