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With perky ears, a protruding muzzle, and a hyper yet affectionate personality, Boxers are some of the most instantly recognizable and lovable of all domestic dog breeds. They’re one of the most popular breeds in the US, and they’ve got a history that stretches back thousands of years.
Boxers often get grouped in with many dogs that share a few commonalities such as American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs, and even Rottweilers. Together, these breeds and other similar ones are known as bully breeds, despite being some of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet.
Though Boxers are distinctly different from any of these breeds, there’s no doubt that they do share some characteristics.
In fact, Boxers even share some genetics with these breeds.
With that in mind, the real question is: are Boxers a bully breed?
Indeed, Boxers are considered a bully breed. Bully breeds are all descended from the ancient Molosser dogs of Greece. In Germany, the Molossers were bred into Bullenbeissers, which are ancestors of the modern Boxer. Thanks to this direct ancestry from the Molosser breed, Boxers absolutely qualify as a bully breed.
One thing to keep in mind is that bully breeds aren’t an official breed at all. Rather, bully breeds are a collection of breeds with similar characteristics and common ancestors in the distant past.
To really understand where Boxers fit into this larger picture, you’ll have to first understand what bully breeds really are.
What Is a Bully Breed?
Some dogs are pretty easy to place within the bully breed group. American Bulldogs, for example, are obvious members.
Pitbulls seem like an easy breed to place in the bully breed category, but Pitbulls are a group very similar to bully breeds.
You see, Pitbulls aren’t an official breed. Rather, they’re a group of related breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with many common characteristics.
Bully breeds work in a similar way.
Ironically, all of the aforementioned Pitbull breeds are considered bully breeds, but there are many other breeds that fall into this category, some of which might surprise you.
For instance, did you know that both Boston Terriers and Pugs are part of the bully breed group?
At first glance, it might be hard to see the relation, but even little Pugs and Boston Terriers share many similarities with other bully breeds. Boston Terriers look quite a bit like miniature Boxers, after all.
Common Bully Breed Traits
There are quite a few traits shared by all bully breeds, ranging from their physical stature and appearance to their personalities and temperaments.
Common traits shared by bully breeds include:
- They’re highly athletic
- Strong yet gentle
- Very affectionate and loving towards people
- Intrinsic prey drive
- Highly active and excitable
- Covered in muscle
- Large head with protruding muzzle
- Above-average intelligence
- They’re very playful
The Defining Trait of Bully Breeds
There’s a lot of confusion about what actually constitutes a bully breed. According to some sources, the physical and temperamental similarities are vital components.
While all of these traits do define bully breed dogs in general, there’s one thing that’s an even more important determiner: genetics.
The reason all these breeds seem to share so many similar characteristics is that they all stem genetically from the same ancient group of dogs known as Molossers.
Molossers are no longer around, but their descendants are everywhere.
Molossers were an ancient Greek breed, but they spread around much of the world through trade and conquest. They were often used for hard work like hunting or guarding livestock against wild predators.
These original Molossers were gigantic dogs, as are many of their modern-day descendants like Mastiffs and Rottweilers.
Eventually, various descendants of these Molossers were used for a wide range of jobs and activities, including some that were used for bull-baiting, and it’s believed that this is where the bully breed moniker first made its appearance.
Are Boxers a Bully Breed?
Now that we’ve defined what constitutes a bully breed, let’s see how Boxers fit into the equation.
For a Boxer to qualify as a bully breed, they must be descended from the ancient Molosser breeds of Greece.
Molossers were bred with many different dogs across the world, which is why there are so many bully breeds around today. Let’s take a look back at the history and origins of the Boxer breed to find out if they’ll qualify as bullies.
A Brief History of Boxers
The Boxer’s history starts long before the breed existed. According to the AKC, you can trace the breed’s lineage back as far as 2,500 BCE. Of course, looking back that far, all you’ll find are ancestors of the modern-day Boxer.
As far as modern history, the Boxer breed as we know it began in Germany.
Back in the medieval period, the Germans created an epic canine breed known as the Bullenbeisser. This breed was stocky, muscular, and incredibly strong. So strong, in fact, that they were used to hunt some seriously big game like bison, bear, and boar.
Since Bullenbeissers were used for hunting big game primarily, when the sports of boar and bear hunting fell out of favor during the early 1800s due to the changing political landscape in Germany, the Bullenbeisser was no longer needed.
Luckily, the breed’s story doesn’t end there.
Rather, Bullenbeissers were crossed with other mastiffs from England of a smaller size, bringing the once-massive Bullenbeisser down to a sleeker and more manageable size.
By the end of the 17th century, the Bullenbeisser’s transformation was complete and the Boxer as we know it today was born; streamlined and agile yet still strong and muscular.
But we have to look back a bit further to learn about the Bullenbeisser’s lineage. After all, this breed didn’t just appear in Germany.
They were created there.
Bullenbeissers were a cross between several large Bulldog breeds from Germany and giant Molosser dogs.
As such, we can see that Boxers are directly descended from the great Molosser breeds of old, and therefore, Boxers definitely do qualify as a bully breed. There are also some other breeds closely related to the boxer that come from the same line.
It’s not hard to see this lineage in the modern-day Boxer. Boxers today perform a wide range of jobs, some of which are pretty similar to the tasks performed by their Bullenbeisser and Molosser ancestors.
For example, Boxers today make competent guard dogs, hard-working generalized farm dogs, and can even be used as hunting dogs that excel at tracking, chasing, and capturing prey.
But more often than not, boxers are simply pets and the combination of an easy-to-manage coat, outgoing personality and medium size makes them a popular pup across the world.
Bully breeds often get a bad reputation for being dangerous or aggressive, but anyone who’s ever had a Boxer knows that they’re some of the sweetest creatures on the planet! And since they’re direct descendants of the original Molosser breeds from ancient Greece, Boxers are a bully breed through and through.
Look back in history far enough and you’ll see that ancestors of today’s Boxer breed have been around for thousands of years. Boxers may look completely different today than they did back when they were boar-hunting Bullenbeissers or livestock guarding Molossers, but they still carry the same genes today that first began with these long-lost dog breeds.