The boxer dog temperament is generally loyal and strong.
This unique, well-recognized dog breed is also known for his athletic build.
These medium-sized dogs were originally bred for hunting, but quickly became used as alert guard dogs, smart military dogs and lovable companion dogs.
But does the Boxer really make as good of a companion dog as they say?
How does the dog’s hunting past contribute to his temperament? Do boxers have any behavioral problems that potential owners should be aware of?
We’ll answer all of these questions about personality, aggression levels, instincts and more in this article.
Typical Boxer Dog Temperament
They typical Boxer is loyal, fun-loving and active. They are intelligent dogs that take pretty easily to training.
These dogs are also extremely outgoing and friendly.
However, early socialization and puppy training classes are important to channel this breed’s outgoing and exciting nature.
They are quite large and can accidentally injure their new friends if they haven’t been taught how to behave properly.
The Boxer gets along well with most people, but can sometimes run into difficulties with other dogs.
They are not always tolerant of other dogs, especially if they are the same sex. Early socialization is vital to prevent dog-directed aggression.
This dog’s hunting instinct can also make him chase cats and other smaller pets.
Early socialization can also be helpful in this situation.
The earlier they are introduced to smaller animals, the less likely they are to regard them as prey.
Boxers’ outgoing nature also makes them upbeat and playful.
They love jumping around and romping with their companions. Their patient nature makes them suitable for children.
They can also be very protective, and make good watchdogs and guard dogs.
Exposing them to lots of people and animals will help curb any possible aggression they might have.
Are Boxer Dogs Easy to Train?
Boxers are intelligent and usually enthusiastic about obedience training.
They are not particularly stubborn, but their intelligence usually causes them to try to outsmart their trainers like some other breeds.
These dogs respond best to positive reinforcement training. Training sessions should be kept fun and interesting.
Because these dogs are so intelligent, training can help them put their minds toward something useful.
When bored, these dogs can become destructive. Regular training prevents this from happening.
However, their intelligence also means that they learn very quickly and is always hungry to learn more.
The Boxer particularly enjoys dog sports like agility and frisbee.
Even if you aren’t planning on competing with your canine, it can be great fun for both you and your dog to try out these sports.
Potty training is important for every dog. Luckily, the Boxer is one of the easiest dogs to potty train.
However, one of the biggest problems when it comes to training a Boxer is leash training.
Leash Training to Improve Boxer Dog Temperament
Boxers are big dogs, which makes it imperative for them to walk calmly on a leash.
It is easiest to teach this skill in puppyhood. But, if you adopt an adult Boxer, this is obviously not possible.
No-pull training leashes and beginning training indoors can help you train your canine more easily.
Another common behavioral problem with Boxers is jumping on people.
Boxers are friendly. Their outgoing personalities often lead them to jump on anyone and everyone.
Regular correction is the best way to avoid this problem. Do not let your Boxer jump on anyone, and always reward him when he doesn’t.
Are Boxer Dogs Friendly?
Boxers are incredibly friendly. Of course, this friendliness can get out of control sometimes, as we talked about in our training section.
These dogs are good with children and are very patient. Their playful nature is also usually a hit with kids.
However, these dogs are also protective. They have been used as guard dogs in the past.
So, they can present aggressive traits if they think their families are in danger.
Of course, dogs are not always good judges of whether or not their people are in danger.
If someone is chasing your child around the house, your Boxer can think the kid is in danger and react accordingly.
The best way to avoid this problem is to introduce your Boxer to as many people, places and situations as possible.
A Boxer is less likely to interpret something as dangerous if he’s seen it before.
If you adopt an adult Boxer, it is important to realize that you are not sure how socialized he is.
Certain situations might cause him to react aggressively due to his past.
We recommend training your dog on the “stop” and “no” command until he is proficient.
That way, even if he does interpret a situation as dangerous, you will be able to recall him.
Are Boxer Dogs Aggressive?
Boxers are usually not considered very aggressive. They are naturally friendly and patient.
The Boxer has not been shown to be particularly more aggressive than other dogs.
Friendly with strangers and good with children, they’ll even deal with the usual annoyances related to kids.
In fact, Boxers are actually rated as one of the least aggressive dog breeds by vets.
However, as we have previously discussed, Boxers can be somewhat protective of their families.
A Boxer is not going to become aggressive just because they do not know someone or because someone touched them in the wrong place.
Why Bloodline Matters in a Boxer Dog Temperament
The exact bloodline of a Boxer matters a lot when it comes to aggression.
Some boxers were particularly bred to be guard dogs. So, the descendants of these dogs are more aggressive than others.
We recommend meeting a Boxer’s parents whenever possible. Temperament is genetic.
Of course, this is not possible with rescue dogs. In these cases, we recommend training your dog to “stop.”
These dogs are very smart and loyal; they will listen to a command when properly trained.
When in new situations, you should also carefully monitor your dog.
You never know how your dog is going to react to something they’ve never seen before.
Even a normal, harmless situation for us can be scary for a dog, which can cause aggression.
To cut back on possible aggression, you should also keep your Boxer physically and mentally stimulated.
A worn-out, tired Boxer is less likely to get wound up and aggressive.
Neutering and spaying your dog is linked to decreased aggression levels.
Do Boxer Dogs Like Other Dogs?
Boxers can be somewhat uneasy around other dogs, especially those of the same sex.
They are not quick-to-trust with other canines and usually require introductions to be taken slowly.
As with everything, each Boxer will have his own personality.
One might love other dogs, and another might have a very hard time getting along with any of them.
It is important to know your dog’s personality and temperament when introducing him to other dogs.
Knowing his body language and reacting accordingly can help you stop a fight before it starts.
If your dog seems uncomfortable, stop the encounter and try again later.
Why Body Language Matters With a Boxer Dog Temperament
You should never force your dog to interact with another one if he seems uncomfortable or aggressive.
Be particularly sensitive to boxers’ body language when introducing them to dogs of the same sex.
Observe dog behavior in order to correctly identify your dog’s feelings and reactions during these meetings.
No matter your dog’s specific personality, however, socialization can help him learn to get along with other dogs, even if he doesn’t do so naturally.
If you’re adopting a puppy, introducing him to other dogs starting at a young age will lower any possibility of aggression.
However, if you’re adopting an adult shelter dog, this is obviously not possible.
Luckily, it is never too late to begin socializing your canine.
Even if your dog is approaching senior years, you can begin socializing him with other dogs.
Of course, it will be more difficult to socialize an older dog than a puppy—but not impossible.
Begin socialization gently and from a distance.
The more dogs you introduce your dog too in new places with new people, the less likely he will be aggressive.
All meetings should take place at neutral locations, like the park, to prevent any possible territorial behavior.
To understand your Boxer’s natural instincts, it is essential to understand his history.
Boxers can be traced to Germany and likely came into existence around the late 1800s.
The breed is thought to have bred down from a larger German dog called the Bullenbeisser.
The Bullenbeisser was Germany’s most celebrated big-game hunting dog.
Used by noblemen, these dogs ran down, catch, and hold bear, bison and wild boar.
However, in the early 1800s, Germany experienced a political shift, and noblemen fell out of favor.
The Bullenbeisser fell with them. By 1865, the Bullenbeisser was obsolete.
But all was not lost. Through cross-breeding, the Bullenbeiser was turned into the Boxer. By the 1900s, the modern Boxer has been born.
While Boxers were originally hunting dogs, this versatile breed is used for all sorts of jobs, including war dogs, police dogs, watchdogs, guard dogs and cattle dogs.
But, their history of hunting and fighting gives Boxers a few natural instincts that are important to make note of.
Firstly, Boxers are wonderful guard dogs. But it is important to work with this instinct instead of against it.
Train your Boxer to listen to you and protect you in suitable situations. Train him to stop the aggression when it is not necessary.
Secondly, Boxers have a prey instinct. They will chase animals, though not nearly as bad as some other dog breeds.
While most Boxers do okay with cats and other small animals, you should always be cautious. Know your dog.
Are Boxer Dogs Good Family Pets?
Boxers can make wonderful family pets. They are good with children and very obedient.
But they might not be good with other dogs or small pets, especially if they were not socialized early.
References and Further Reading:
Blackshaw, J.K., 1991, “An Overview of Types of Aggressive Behavior in Dogs and Methods of Treatment,” Applied Animal Behavior Science, Vol. 30, Issues 3-4, pgs. 351-361
Duffy, D.L., et al., 2008, “Breed Differences in Canine Aggression,” Applied Animal Behavior Science, Vol. 114, Issues 3-4, pgs. 441-460
Fatjo, J., et al., 2007, “Analysis of 1040 Cases of Canine Aggression in a Referral Practice in Spain,” Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Vol. 2, Issue 5, pgs. 158-165
Stafford, K.J., 1996, “Opinions of Veterinarians Regarding Aggression in Different Breeds of Dogs,” New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Vol. 44, Issue 4, pgs. 138-141
Tami, G. and Gallagherb, A. “Description of the Behavior of Domestic Dog (Canis Familiaris) by Experienced and Inexperienced People,” Applied Animal Behavior Science, Vol. 120, Issues 3–4, pgs. 159-169