The Boxer, as it is today, is a relatively new breed, but it has ancient origins.
First off, the Boxer is a part of the Molosser group of dog breeds. Molossian dogs date back to before 2000 BCE with the Assyrians’ dogs that were bred large and muscular for battle. Molosser dogs have remarkable courage, tenacity, and a savage fighting ability that carried through through to Egyptian armies.
During the Middle Ages, Molossian dogs and Mastiffs were used on the battlefront for their strength and courage. These dogs were also used as guard dogs and hunters of large marauders such as bison, bears, and wolves.
Europeans put them into battle in fighting arenas, putting the dogs against all sorts of animals and humans.
Boxers, among other Molossian dog breeds were used as bull and bearbaiting. Village butchers used them to “bait” animals for slaughter, as it was believed that baited meat was more tender and nutritious. The butchers would chain the bear or bull while the dog(s) attacked it. These events brought crowds, so the butchers started putting their bull-baiting dogs into fights against other dogs as a sporting event.
The dogs used in baiting and fighting were bred for their strength and tenacity. Animal fighting spurred a new sporting event, which brought about the natural selection for smaller, faster dogs.
With blood sports flourishing, Brabant, a Belgian city, became the breeding center for a medium-sized, agile dog, which became known as the Brabanter Bullenbeisser. These dogs flourished Germany as great hunting dogs. The dogs had wonderful instinct for tackling game from behind and holding it for the hunters while avoiding serious injury. The shape of the dog’s head and underbite allowed the dog to keep breathing while maintaining hold on its prey.
The Brabanter Bullenbeisser is generally accepted as the ancestor to the modern-day Boxer.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Brabanter Bullenbeisser were used as hunting companions. They became great family pets and guard dogs, as well as invaluable assistants to butchers and cattlemen- holding and catching the cow/bull for slaughter.
In the late 1830s, England began exporting the Brabanter Bullenbeisser/Bulldog/Boxer to Germany where meticulous breeding records began.
Frau Stockmann and her husband (Philip) ran the vom Dom Kennels. She developed uniformity within the breed. In her book My Life with Boxers, Frau describes the effect that WW1 had on Germany’s Boxers. Philip Stockmann trained and placed Boxers with the German army, taking 10 dogs with him to the front lines, returning with only one. Frau described how the dogs suffered the same food shortages as the German people, and mant of those who survived were sterile and the mortality rate of litters were greatly affected.
Breeders were overcoming the hardships, when WW2 began. At this time, Boxers once again became war dogs and were whisked away by the German government, generally never seen again by their owners.
It took three years after WW2 ended before the German Boxer recovered from the war and would become German’s most exceptional dog.
In 1904, the American Kennel Club began to recognize the Boxer. Frau Stockmann’s vom Dom Kennels originated the Boxers first recognized by the AKC. In 1938, Herr Philip Stockmann helped revise the breed standards, which matched closely with the German Boxer standard.
There are four main Boxers that are known as the founders of modern-day Boxers in America: Sigurd, Dorian, Utz, and Lustig.