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If you’ve ever spent any time living with boxers then you know that these dogs be a little…goofy. In fact, sometimes these dogs are downright silly!
You also know that boxers can be serious too and have a long history of performing tough work with humans. These dogs have done everything from hunt boar, control cattle, and even some general farm work.
But what about protection work? Can boxers make good guard dogs?
Boxers can excel in protection work and are well known for their alert nature, attention to detail, and loyalty to their family all of which make them great guard dogs. They also have a long history of protection work and will usually take to the job quickly.
We’re going to cover everything you could possibly want to know about boxers as guarding dogs or watchdogs but let’s start by looking at the history of these powerful pups.
There’s Guarding In The Boxer Bloodline
As a part of the mastiff family of dogs, Boxers are the ancient descendent of the now extinct Bullenbeisser dog, a breed that was used for hunting, bull-baiting, and of course guarding.
That means these silly pups have a serious bloodline with a history of jobs that required strength, bravery, and plenty of determination too.
But in the 1800s boxers were bred more specifically for guard work along with working as a general war dogs.
Boxers were able to combine their history of hunting big game as catch dogs with their natural protection instincts to become efficient and effective guard dogs. The folks at Fenrir Boxer Show do a great job explaining a boxer’s history as a guard dog and why these pups are often referred to as the “Gentle Guard Dog”:
Watchdog vs Guard Dog…Can Boxers Do Both?
You’ll typically hear the phrase guard dog used interchangeably with watchdog but they’re really considered two different roles.
The job of a watchdog is to alert their owner of a potential threat by barking while a guard dog is not only expected to alert their owner but also neutralize the threat.
Some breeds, like Great Danes, are better suited as watchdogs and other breeds can do both.
Boxers fall into the latter category and with the ability to act as both watchdog and guard dog. However, their exact action will depend on their training and most boxers will favor barking before attacking.
But once it’s time to neutralize a threat, their long history of working as catch dogs for wild hogs make them well suited to subduing a human.
We’ll focus on the term guard dog for the rest of this article but just know that boxers are able to do both.
What Makes Boxers Good Guard Dogs?
Sure, any dog can bark at strangers but that alone doesn’t make a good guard dog!
Here’s what helps boxers stand ahead of the pack.
Boxers Are Affectionate, Loyal, and Loving
While the idea of a crazy, aggressive, and out-of-control junkyard dog is common in popular media that’s not actually what you want in a guard dog.
Instead, you want a dog that knows when it’s time to relax with the family and when it’s time to take action and go on the alert. Boxers do a great job walking this line and these silly pups have a long history of doing well with families including those with young children.
After all, what good is a guard dog if you’re just as afraid of your dog as the burglars are?
Boxers Are Brave
Protection and guarding work require dogs to face dangerous, strange, and sometimes frightening situations.
In other words, bravery is an absolute prerequisite.
Boxers, like most mastiffs, have a long history of hunting big game like boar. That work requires tough dogs that won’t shy away from danger.
Humans continued to make the most of a boxer’s bravery in both World Wars where boxers served as messenger dogs. but that wasn’t the first time boxers had seen war and the mastiff family of dogs, of which the boxer is a part, have been used as war dogs for thousands and thousands of years.
Boxers Are Strong and Athletic
Boxers may be a little small compared to legendary guard dogs like the Rottweiler, but these boxers still have more than enough physicality to intimidate most would-be intruders and take action if needed.
They’re also far from the fastest dogs in the world, but they can still easily outrun a human intruder. It also helps that boxers can weigh as much as 60 pounds with plenty of powerful muscle.
But just as important as having the muscle is knowing how to use it. Boxers and their ancestors were used to hunt hogs which included holding on to powerful wild pigs and not letting go. That’s a job that takes serious muscle and athletic ability.
The boxer may have changed in appearance since their hog-hunting days in England but these pups still have the required power to be great guard dogs.
Boxers Have Natural Protection Instincts
While you can train a dog to do just about anything any other dog can do, by going with a non-traditional breed you’re making your life a lot harder.
All dogs have some natural territorial instincts that can be leverage for guarding and watching but you’re going to have much more success going for a dog that has a real history of being bred specifically for guard work.
Boxers were specifically bred in Germany to be guard dogs. That means traits like a high level of alertness, territorial nature, and an eagerness to bark at potential threats are all hardwired into the brains of most boxers.
So instead of having to build protection and guarding instincts, you’ll just need to direct your boxer’s existing drives.
Boxers Love Having A Job
There’s a reason boxers have had so many roles over the years, these outgoing pups love having a job. Whether that’s helping on the hunt, working the farm, or even doing agility it’s generally agreed that boxers love having something to do.
Guard dog or watchdog work is just another job that most boxers will be happy to take on.
What Could Hold Boxers Back As Guard Dogs?
Of course, it’s not all perfect and there are a handful of qualities that could hold boxers back when it comes to guarding.
Boxers Aren’t Very Weather Resistant
Some guard work requires dogs to spend long hours outside, surveying their turf.
While it’s an entirely different type of guarding, livestock guardian dogs have thick double coats for this reason. Dogs like the Great Pyrenees are built to live outdoors within the flock they’re guarding.
That’s not the type of guard work boxers are ready for but they still may need to spend some time in the elements to get the job done.
But with a short single coat boxers aren’t ready for particularly cold temperatures. Their short brachycephalic snout puts them at a disadvantage in hot weather too. They can tolerate the heat better than a dog like a pug, but they aren’t built for hot climates like some breeds.
If you’re looking for some extra peace of mind in your apartment, then the boxer is still a great fit. But you’ve got a large area of land and live anywhere besides the most temperate climate then the boxer may not be the best fit.
Boxers Aren’t Big Barkers
Boxers aren’t the most vocal dogs which could be considered a positive or negative when it comes to guarding work. While these dogs aren’t afraid to let out a light growl when they suspect something is up, they typically won’t bark unless there’s a real concern or potential threat.
If you’re living in an urban area, that can be a positive since you wouldn’t want your boxer to spend all day barking at any potential threat.
But if you’re looking to cast a wide net in terms of alerts, the boxer’s selective bark may not be what you’re looking for.
Boxers Are Intelligent But Can Be Stubborn
Boxers aren’t dumb by any means but they aren’t as smart as other guarding breeds like the Rottweiler.
Canine psychologist Stanely Coren ranked boxers as average in terms of obedience and intelligence in the same group as breeds like great danes, pointers, and greyhounds.
However, it’s important to point out that part of Coren’s rankings also considers how likely it is that dogs will follow commands on the first try. According to Coren, Boxers follow commands the first time about 50% of the time and if you’ve ever dealt with a stubborn boxer then this number may even feel generous.
This has led some folks to mistakenly label boxers as dumb when in reality they’re just doing what they want. The adorable Layla provides a perfect example of this as she politely refused to get off the couch:
But does this really matter for a guard dog?
It honestly depends. Your boxer isn’t going to suddenly decide not to bark at intruders- the instinct to protect is just too strong. It’s also something that boxers want to do.
If instead, you’re asking your boxer to do something they don’t want to do as part of their guard work then you could have problems.
But if your boxer can guard from the couch then you won’t have a problem!
How To Set Your Boxer Up For Guard Dog Success
Even though the natural protection instincts are there, boxers will still need some help becoming great guard dogs.
We’ve mentioned several times that boxers have a natural protective instinct but that’s doesn’t mean they immediately get to guarding without any training. You’ll need to start with the basic commands and work up from there.
Not only will this take time but in some situations, it will take real skill to teach your boxer what they need to do.
Make sure you’re going into training with reasonable expectations on how long it will take for your boxer to begin guard work and don’t be afraid to consult a pro!
Socialize Early and Often
Even though boxers aren’t especially known for aggression, socialization is important for any breed. Even more so for a guard dog or watchdog work where boxers need to constantly practice figuring out what’s a threat and what isn’t.
You also want to make sure that your boxer can quickly take your cues for who’s acceptable and who isn’t. That means it’s a good idea to teach your boxer an introductory command that signals to them it’s okay to go “at ease” and meet a new person.
What you don’t want is a guard dog that’s always barking or constantly suspicious of everyone. That’s like a car alarm that’s constantly going off- eventually, people stop paying attention to it altogether.
Should You Have Two Boxers For Guard Dogs?
You’ll often see guard dogs working in teams. Not only does this make sense from a security perspective since you’re effectively doubling your protection but most boxers will appreciate a chance to socialize with another dog.
However, two boxers can be a bit of a handful since not only will you be doubling your security but also the stubbornness as you have two boxers to deal with. So unless you’re an experienced trainer it’s probably a better idea to find a more obedient companion dog for your boxer.
Legal Considerations For Having A Boxer As A Guard Dog
Unlike commonly banned breeds like Pitbulls and Rottweilers, boxers aren’t considered a dangerous breed by most authorities. That means most insurance companies won’t charge you more just for having a boxer but if you explain that your pup is guard dog trained then you may be in for some higher premiums.
While you’ll typically be held liable if your dog bites someone in any situation, the legal repercussions could be worse for you and your boxer if you train your dog in guarding work.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train your boxer for guard dog but it’s important that you have a good idea of what you’re getting into.
It might be hard to imagine the silly boxer handling the serious work for watching and guarding but it’s work that these dogs were specifically bred for.
Of course, that doesn’t mean boxers don’t want to relax on the couch from time to time but with the proper training, they can excel as a guard dog or watchdog.
What do you think? Are you going to train your boxer to be a guard dog?