“The character of the Boxer is of the greatest importance and demands the most solicitous attention. He is renowned from olden times for his great love and faithfulness to his master and household. He is harmless in the family, but distrustful of strangers, bright and friendly of temperament at play, but brave and determined when aroused. His intelligence and willing tractability, his modesty and cleanliness make him a highly desirable family dog and cheerful companion. He is the soul of honesty and loyalty, and is never false or treacherous even in his old age.”
- 1938 AKC Boxer breed standard
Boxers are a bright, energetic and playful breed and tend to be very good with children. They are active dogs and require adequate exercise to prevent boredom-associated behaviors such as chewing or digging. Boxers have earned a slight reputation of being “headstrong,” which can be related to inappropriate obedience training.
Owing to their intelligence and working breed characteristics, training based on corrections often has limited usefulness. Boxers, like other animals, typically respond better to positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training, an approach based on operant conditioning and behaviorism, which affords the dog an opportunity to think independently and to problem-solve.
Because of their resistance to repetitive and punishment-based training, Stanley Coren’s survey of obedience trainers, summarized in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs, ranked Boxers at #48 – average working/obedience intelligence. Many who have actually worked with Boxers disagree quite strongly with Coren’s survey results, and maintain that a skilled trainer who utilizes reward-based methods will find Boxers have far above-average intelligence and working ability.
The Boxer by nature is not an aggressive or vicious breed, but, like all dogs, requires socialization. Boxers are generally patient with smaller dogs and puppies, but issues with larger adult dogs, especially those of the same sex, may occur. Boxers are generally more comfortable with companionship, in either human or canine form.