You’d like a dog who is willing to protect you – but what you don’t want is an aggressive dog.
Are Boxers aggressive? Should you worry about them suddenly attacking people you know and love? What about other animals?
Let’s take a deep dive into the Boxer temperament, what you should expect, and whether you can rely on your Boxer when the chips are down.
The things Boxers are best known for are goofy playfulness – will your Boxer suddenly flip and become a hound from hell? From nature to nurture, we’ll also look at how you can raise a well-balanced Boxer.
Boxer Temperament: What’s A Typical Boxer Like?
Apart from being very energetic and playful, Boxers are bright, confident, intelligent dogs with a little streak of stubbornness to make things interesting.
A well-balanced Boxer is a cheerful soul who, while being friendly, will be fiercely loyal.
He’s also fearless, so if he does commit to a fight, he doesn’t back down easily. That can be a good thing or a bad one depending on the context.
For example, if your Boxer decides that someone is invading your personal space, that can result in a sticky situation.
Spare a thought for my first boyfriend who leaned in to kiss me only to get a nip in the face for his pains! As first kisses go, that was certainly an interesting one! Don’t worry, no blood was drawn, but that may have been luck!
Boxers And Other People
Boxers aren’t naturally suspicious of other people. If they’re used to folks dropping by, they’re unlikely to maul your guests at the gate. But the important thing to remember is that they need to be used to it!
Boxers aren’t aggressive by nature, but the protective side of their personalities will stretch to their territory as well as to you if something out-of-the-ordinary is happening.
So, apart from spending quality time with you and your family, it pays to accustom your Boxer to visitors from puppyhood.
It’s a very important part of his socialization training and it won’t detract from your Boxer’s ability to identify real threats.
What it will do is spare you from nasty situations involving your dog and innocent bystanders. Protectiveness, within limits, is great. Aggression isn’t.
It’s therefore important to get your dog used to non-threatening situations involving people he doesn’t know. If he’s unused to it, your Boxer might feel uneasy, and that can translate to aggression.
Are Boxers Aggressive? Boxers And Children
Kids can be careless around dogs, and Boxers can get overexcited when they’re around children.
For the most part, they wouldn’t dream of attacking a child in your family, but if that child hurts or startles it, there could be a sudden, instinctive reaction.
Usually, Boxers are pretty good with kids, even though their tendency to jump up or develop a case of the zoomies might mean that kids accidentally get hurt.
For parents, it’s always wise to supervise children when they’re around animals, Boxers included. It’s not just for the sake of the child, but also for the sake of the animal.
A former neighbor of mine had a child who would run up to their Boxer and throw himself on the dog with all his momentum and weight.
How that child never got bitten will always be a mystery to me. It’s not a risk you should take, even if your dog is usually tolerant.
Then, there are those zoomies. An overexcited Boxer isn’t aware of his own ability to harm small children, and kids are super-good at exciting dogs!
Let’s just sum this up by saying you shouldn’t leave children who aren’t old enough to be responsible for their actions alone with your Boxer.
Boxer Aggression: Boxers And Other Animals
It’s always wise to remember that Boxers were originally bred to be fighting or working dogs often used for guarding purposes.
That history is long past, but it does mean that you have to be aware of the Boxer’s potential for developing aggression toward other animals.
Once again, socialization from puppyhood will be key, but even with that in place, you may need to be careful.
A well-socialized Boxer is usually fine with other dogs, but in certain situations, particularly ones in which dominance is challenged or your Boxer perceives a threat, things can rapidly go wrong.
In general, it’s not advised to keep Boxers with other dogs of the same sex. They’re more likely to have a battle for who will be in charge.
As for any pet that might take fright and run away, that’s a sure trigger for the hunting instinct. If it runs, give chase!
Obedience and socialization training are both important in having a dog you can trust – regardless of breed. In Boxers, the focus should be even greater.
What Makes Boxers Aggressive?
Most Boxers aren’t extremely aggressive, and you should be very careful about trying to “make” a dog aggressive.
If protection is what you want, your Boxer is naturally adjusted to identify and neutralize threats – you don’t have to make him aggressive and unsafe to be with just because you want a good guard dog.
And, because you want your Boxer to be a safe family dog as well as a good guard dog, there will be certain situations in which you should be on your guard.
Dominance: Boxers like to be in charge. Watch out for situations in which your Boxer’s dominance might be threatened by other dogs.
At the same time, teach them that you and your family are in charge. This will help you to control your dog when the need arises.
Fear: When a Boxer is afraid, it will work to neutralize the threat. If that means being aggressive, it will go all-out.
Monitor your dog when he is in unfamiliar situations, and take him to a safe place to calm down if he seems to be panicking.
Poor management: If you’re not in charge of your dog as pack leader, your Boxer will take the lead.
This could include behaving aggressively. Simple things like telling your dog to sit before you feed him or having your dinner before he gets his food say that you’re in charge.
Past experiences: Know your Boxer’s history. Even a rescued Boxer from an abusive background can become a relaxed family pet, but it does take time.
If you know what negative experiences your dog has had in the past, you can try to create positive experiences to counter them. Be patient and vigiliant.
Training: Ever confronted an out-of-control Chuhahua? Small as they are, they can behave like hellhounds. Now imagine that with a Boxer. Scary? You bet! Train your dog for good citizenship!
Gender: This relates to dominance, and male Boxers tend to be more aggressive than females. But two females can still jostle for space in a hierarchy.
Spaying or neutering can result in a calmer pet. Boxer females in heat can get super-cranky.
Intact Boxer males are more likely to be aggressive towards other intact males, especially if there’s a female in heat somewhere in the offing.
This applies to all breeds. If you decide to spay or neuter, however, do so at an appropriate age. Consult your veterinarian about this.
Health: If your dog is in pain, you can expect him to be more defensive of his personal space.
In rare cases, hypothyroidism, a condition to which Boxers are somewhat prone, can lead to unexpected aggression. Dog “not acting like himself?” Get a veterinary checkup!
Exercise: Boxers are high-energy, intelligent dogs. If they don’t have a constructive outlet for these qualities, they’ll act out.
With luck, your Boxer just digs up your entire garden. In a worst-case scenario, they might become aggressive.
Age: Even the gentlest dogs can suddenly become grumpy with age. All those aches and pains mean it’s easier to hurt him by accident.
Chances are, this will be a rapid-fire “back-off” from your dog rather than full-on aggression. Respect your elderly Boxer, and ask family members to be more gentle.
Misinterpreted or unfamiliar situations: Like people, dogs aren’t always able to interpret situations correctly, especially when they’re unusual.
Be alert for situations in which your Boxer feels confused, threatened, or frightened.
How To Raise A Well-Balanced Boxer
Are Boxers aggressive? Well, to a large extent, that’s up to you. As we’ve already noted, you don’t need an aggressive dog to have a good watchdog.
What you do need is a predictable, well-trained Boxer dog. One you can trust around kids, and who won’t turn on you in fear.
In most instances, there are no “bad dogs,” just bad dog owners. Before you bring a Boxer into your life, be sure that you’ll have lots of time for your pet.
Boxers left alone in a yard, Boxers who aren’t actively socialized, and Boxers who aren’t well-trained can all become dangerous animals.
Raising a well-adjusted Boxer will require plenty of time and energy, but the relationship you’ll build along the way will be worth it.
Preventing Boxer Aggression: Socialization Training Is The Place To Begin
Boxer aggression is most often based on fear and a need to feel in control of situations. Of course, your Boxer shouldn’t be worried when you’re in control, but how will they know?
The first step in raising a calm, self-controlled Boxer is to familiarize them with as many “normal” scenarios as they’re likely to encounter – and starting this young.
That means introducing strangers and other animals to your puppy and taking them into as many different places and situations as possible.
It also means knowing when to withdraw them from situations when they show signs of becoming over-excited or sacred.
This sends the message that it isn’t OK to go crazy and that they don’t have to fend for themselves in scary scenarios because you’re there for them.
Just taking your puppy out with you once in a blue moon isn’t going to cut it. Try to explore the world with your Boxer puppy every single day if it’s at all possible.
Obedience Training: Your Boxer Knows You’re In Charge And Feels Safe With You
Many dogs, and Boxers are no exception, become reactive because they don’t recognize their owners as being the ones they should take the lead from.
Knowing you’re in charge provides a sense of security, calming fears and the aggression that comes from fear.
Obedience training isn’t just a matter of getting your dog to obey your commands. It’s also a way of showing your Boxer that they can count on you because you’re the “top dog.”
Animal behaviorists often say that their work in addressing doggie aggression isn’t so much a matter of training the dog, but the owner.
Being in control doesn’t mean being aggressive to your dog. In fact, it’s really a matter of staying calm and using positive reinforcement when your Boxer gets things right.
Apart from being an opportunity for your Boxer to socialize, puppy and dog training classes teach you how to train your dog.
Before you begin, talk to the trainer about their methods. Boxers thrive on all things positive. “Punishments” and extended stays alone in a crate won’t suit Boxers.
Positive reinforcement training is the best way to go. Make it fun for your Boxer. Training sessions should be pleasurable and exciting, not a chore.
Are Boxers Aggressive By Nature? Conclusions
All this talk about Boxer aggression plus warnings and caveats may lead you to think that Boxers are naturally aggressive dogs. They aren’t.
However, they are so enthusiastic about absolutely everything that interactions can escalate. A person or another dog might misinterpret the way your Boxer behaves, and from there on, things can turn ugly.
In general, Boxers are actually quite mild-mannered – at least, around humans. The most important thing is to remain in control of the relationship.
When your Boxer recognizes that he’s safe with you, you can master the most common cause of Boxer attacks: fear.
As for other animals, especially those who are not part of your family, it’s best to be cautious – that socialization training goes a long way, but it isn’t completely foolproof.
Do remember that Boxers are high maintenance. Sure, that coat doesn’t need much attention – but the dog does! Before asking whether a Boxer is right for you, ask yourself if you’re right for a Boxer.
Unfulfilled needs lead to boredom, frustration, and even aggression. It’s true of any breed, but Boxers are particularly needy.
Most of all, they want your company. Next up, they want to have fun. And, for the sake of your peace of mind, they absolutely need the right conditioning and training. Luckily, that’s part of the fun if you do it right!