Boxer: Breed History & Origin

Once upon a time in the ancient times on the territory of modern Europe, dense forests were rustling, in which there were many all kinds of animals, and the most powerful of them – bears, wolves, wild boars, wild bulls, and bison lived in abundance. Hunting for these animals was a difficult and dangerous business, especially since hunters did not yet have firearms in those days. They were helped in this difficult task by very special dogs – fearless, insensitive to pain, possessing powerful wide jaws and tremendous strength, combined with excellent endurance and instant dodge.

Bullenbeissers – so-called this dog. It was they who, at the end of the nineteenth century, served as the basis for the creation of a new breed, which largely inherited their qualities and in just a few decades conquered the whole world. The name of this breed is the German Boxer.

Bullenbeissers have been a very common dog breed in Western and Central Europe for many centuries. Apparently, these were the descendants of the ancient Assyrian fighting dogs, which were the direct descendants of the Tibetan Mastiffs, brought by the Phoenician seafarers a long time ago. Images of these fighting Assyrian dogs can still be seen on the walls of ancient Sumerian and Assyrian temples. The Phoenicians are people who lived in the X-VI centuries BC on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Assyria was their eastern neighbor. The Phoenicians were so brilliant in navigation that even in those ancient times they sailed not only in the Mediterranean, but also skirted Africa, swam to Gaul and Britain, and sailed to the shores of America.

During travels to Gaul and Britain, they brought Mastiff-like dogs there, where they took root and became numerous. By the time the Romans conquered Britain and Gaul, Mastiff-like dogs were already mature breeds here. The Romans liked them for their colossal strength, and they began to be actively exported to Rome to participate in gladiatorial battles and to hunt large animals.

Having settled in Europe, the ancient Mastiffs served as the basis for the formation of several local breeds. On the territory of Britain, the Old English Mastiff was formed, which was then divided into two growth varieties – the English Mastiff and the Bulldog. Over time, several dog-like breeds appeared on the territory of continental Europe, among which the vastness of the habitat – Belgium, Holland, the north of France, Germany, and Prussia – stood out Bullenbeissers. The ancient Bullenbeissers, like the ancient English Mastiffs, were divided into two growth varieties: large, or Danzig Bullenbeissers, and small, or Brabanter  Bullenbeissers.

Danzig Bullenbeissers, judging by the name, was most common in the Danzig area – this is the old name of the city of Gdansk, located in the north of modern Poland. For medieval times, these were the wildest places and abounding in large and dangerous predators. For resisting large predators, especially bears, the Danzig Bullenbeissers was most suitable. He was large, massive, had powerful jaws and extraordinary strength.

The Brabanter Bullenbeissers were most common in the more western regions, at that time more embraced by civilization – the province of Brabant is located on the territory of modern Belgium and the Netherlands, therefore, sometimes the Brabanter  Bullenbeissers was called Dutch. The Brabanter  Bullenbeissers was not as huge and massive as the Danzig one, but it clearly won with speed, endurance, and dexterity in battle. Breeding them in those days was mainly in the hands of hunters. The task of the Brabanter was to grab the beast driven by the hounds and hold it until the arrival of the hunter, who was killing the prey. For this purpose, the dog had to have as wide a mouth as possible with a wide set of teeth, allowing to provide the maximum width of the space grasped during the grip, shortened jaws, allowing, due to the small length of the levers, not to overload the jaw muscles during the grip and to keep all its mass for a long time on weight during an attack, as well as an upturned nose, which allows the dog to breathe normally during a long deep grip, even on a thick bearskin. Each Brabanter with these characteristics was used in breeding primarily because breeding pursued purely practical goals. Thus, a very peculiar appearance was formed.

The heyday of Bullenbeissers in the second half of the 17th century comes to an end. After the end of the Thirty Years’ War, most of the large wild animals in Europe became extinct in a surprisingly short period of time. This was caused not at all by the vastness of hostilities, but by the intensity of the development of agriculture, as a consequence of the bourgeois revolution in England, the establishment of capitalist production relations there, the transfer of progressive methods of economic management to the continent, and the subsequent French bourgeois revolution that followed. Where the forest was noisy before, now fertile fields were cultivated. Forests – habitats of wild animals. Therefore, their numbers sharply decreased, and this continued until their complete extinction. In addition, firearms had already been invented and guns became available to an increasing number of hunters.

Thus, the dogs were out of work. Their number began to decrease markedly. The Danzig Bullenbeissers, being specialized exclusively for large animals, eventually died out altogether. Why they called it that way, now we can only guess. It is known that the Germans often called the Bullenbeissers with this word several decades before the first real Boxers appeared. Some believe that they were named so because the head of these dogs resembles a boxing glove. Others find similarities between an animal’s face and a boxer’s face after a fight. A third believe that this name arose because Boxers in games or fights often hit with their front paws. were more mobile and versatile in use – in addition to hunting bulls and bears, they could be quite applicable for hunting wild boars and deer, which, although in small numbers, are still preserved, and were also excellent watchmen and reliable bodyguards … Their number declined much more slowly – individual specimens could be found at the end of the nineteenth century. But before disappearing altogether, they managed to give life to a new breed, which received the name Boxer.

Why they called it that way, now we can only guess. It is known that the Germans often called the Bullenbeissers with this word several decades before the first real Boxers appeared. Some believe that they were named so because the head of these dogs resembles a boxing glove. Others find similarities between an animal’s face and a boxer’s face after a fight. A third believe that this name arose because Boxers in games or fights often hit with their front paws.

It all started with the fact that in 1887 Georg Alt brought a female named Flora from France to Munich in the type of Brabanter Bullenbeissers, already disappearing in these parts. Here she was mated to a local Bullenbeissers of unknown origin. This was the first mating officially recorded (albeit late – the studbook began to be kept only eight years later) in the studbook of Boxers.

One of the red & piebald male puppies born in that litter named Box was mated to their own mother. Two females were born. One was named after her mother Flora II, and the other – Shekin. Shekin was mated to an English Bulldog of unknown origin named Tom, and Flora II was mated to her own father. The descendants of these two mates with three more Bullenbeissers laid the foundation for the entire Boxer breed. The origins of all of our modern Boxers, with the rare exception of the use of dogs of unknown origin, can be traced back to these few dogs.

An important role in the creation of the breed was played by the move from Northern Germany to Munich, the well-known cynologist at that time, an excellent trainer, and a big fan of the use of dogs in military affairs, Friedrich Robert. Prior to that, he spent a lot of time in the German colonial troops in Africa, and in addition, he had extensive experience in breeding the Airedale Terrier breed. By the time he arrived in Munich, he was quite absorbed in the idea of ​​creating the perfect military dog. Here he met two associates who were equally absorbed in this exciting dream. Their names are Elard Koenig and Rudolf Hepner. Robert and his associates had an excellent idea of ​​their goal. Robert deliberately described what he would like to see a Boxer. Of course it was an ideal service dog: medium height, elegant, high-legged and at the same time powerful, with wide massive jaws, preferably of a red color.

Compared to the Bullenbeissers, Robert’s dogs looked leaner. Robert and his friends were very energetic and inspired people, they actively promoted the new breed, sparing no time or money for this. Therefore, it is not surprising that already in 1895 the Boxer was presented as an independent breed at the exhibition. At the exhibition of the “St. Bernard-Club of Munich” in the experimental class was presented a Boxer, only one. It was the brindle-piebald son of Tom and Shekin named Flokki – the first Boxer entered in the studbook. His performance was so successful that the German Boxer Club was founded in Munich in the same year. Officially, 1895 is considered the year of birth of the breed. The next year, 1896, already 50 dogs were presented at the exhibition! In addition, they were of a fairly even type and with heads that were not bad for that time, mostly white in color or with large white markings.

In the further development of the breed, it was extremely lucky: fate gave them a Genius. At an art exhibition in Munich in 1910, a sculpture of a Boxer was presented, which attracted everyone’s attention. And there was something to be surprised: the Boxer depicted did not at all look like the Boxers of those times, it was the Boxer of the future, the Boxers became such only after 7-8 decades. The author of that sculpture, 19-year-old student Friederum Stockmann, soon became the owner of the Boxers’ kennel called “von Dom”, which for many years, up to the 60s, became the birthplace of most outstanding Boxers.

By the end of the 40s, Boxers conquered the whole world and there was a need for a single organization that would allow Boxers to unite efforts and coordinate the development of the breed. In May 1950, in Strasbourg, at the initiative of the French Boxer Club, an organization called ATIBOX (Association Technique Internationale du Boxer) was established, uniting many countries. Now ATIBOX unites Boxers from 25 countries.

4 thoughts on “Boxer: Breed History & Origin

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