Boxer Vs German Shepherd – Which is Better? Dog vs Dog
The German Shepherd and the Boxer, two German dog breeds that other than their shared Motherland seemingly have little in common. Both are very distinct, yet well-known dog breeds. But, which makes the better pet? Let’s jump in. This choice is not going to be easy.
In the 1800s in northwest Europe (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands) the most common dog used to herd sheep and protect the homes was the so-called “continental shepherd dog”. These dogs looked very similar at that time. It was around 1890 that the three breeds (Belgian Shepherd, German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd) went their separate ways.
During the 1850s, attempts were being made to standardize dog breeds. Dogs were being bred to preserve traits that assisted in their job of herding sheep and protecting their flocks from predators.
In Germany this was practiced within local communities, where shepherds selected and bred dogs. It was recognized that the breed had the necessary skills for herding sheep, such as intelligence, speed, strength and keen senses of smell. The results were dogs that were able to do such things, but that differed significantly, both in appearance and ability, from one locality to another.
The modern German Shepherd Dog descends from the work of an ex-cavalryman and former veterinary student by the name of Max von Stephanitz, who believed that dogs in the now more industrialized Germany should be bred as working dogs. He recognized the attributes of Germany’s herding dogs, but was unable to find a breed that checked all the boxes for a working dog. With a dog he found at a dog show, he created the Society for the German Shepherd Dog, which crafted the breed we know so well today.
Also a working dog, the Boxer is descendants of now extinct bullenbeisser breeds crossed with Mastiffs, Bulldogs and possibly Great Danes and even a terrier. Like the German Shepherd, they were also developed in Germany in the 19th century, initially as bull baiting dogs and later as butcher’s helpers, controlling cattle in slaughterhouses. Some breed historians say boxers are named from the German word boxl, their slaughterhouse designation.
Other fanciers contend the name boxer comes from the characteristic way that they use their forepaws to play, sparring much like a human boxer.
Boxers were one of the first breeds employed as a police dog, and like German Shepherds they have been used as seeing-eye dogs. But they are also bred to be companion and guard dogs, perhaps best known for being loyal family pets that are especially fond of children.
Neither breed was imported to the United States until after World War I. After 1940 they both rose to become among the most popular in America.
Appearance and Size
There is little chance you will ever confuse these dogs with one another. Their both very distinctly different dogs.
According to the American Kennel Club, the ideal Boxer is a medium-sized, square-built dog with short back, strong limbs, chiseled head, and short, tight-fitting coat. Its well-developed muscles are clean, hard, and appear smooth under taut skin.
The broad, blunt muzzle is the distinctive feature, and great value is placed upon its being of proper form and balance with the skull.
The Boxer weighs in at between 65 and 80 pounds with a height of between 21 to 25 inches.
The German Shepherd is a more wolf-appearing dog than the short-faced and stocky Boxer.
The GSD has a double coat, which is comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black in color, is medium in length and is shed all year round. Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver and blue.
The German Shepherd’s body is long — generally between 22 and 26 inches — in proportion to its height. This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity and long, elegant strides.
The German Shepherd weighs between 49-88 pounds.
Who’s got the better personality? That depends on what you are looking for in a dog companion.
Both are intelligent dogs who’ve used their cunning to get to the top of the working dog world. However, they use their intelligence in different ways.
The German Shepherd is very protective and devoted to its family and home, maintaining a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers. It can be dominating and assertive towards dogs, though it is normally friendly with other pets in the home.
The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks. However, the German Shepherd Intelligence comes with no small amount of stubborness as we’ll find out later when we discuss trainability.
They are quick to bark and are top of the class guard dogs. They also are a bit of a velcro dog. You’re not going to have much alone time with a German Shepherd in your home.
Boxers are intelligent, high-energy, playful dogs that like to stay busy. Their temperament reflects their breeding. They prefer to be in the company of their owners and are loyal pets that will fiercely guard their family and home against strangers.
Few boxers bark excessively. If a boxer barks, chances are there is a good reason. Many boxers are vocal, however, and make a growling noise that’s really just the dog’s way of talking.
Boxers are ideal for people who want a canine companion with them most of the time or for larger busy families with homes that are often occupied by someone.
Boxers are especially fond of children and perhaps a bit more dog-friendly than the average German Shepherd.
Boxers are extremely trainable, and are highly interested in treats and playtime as rewards. They tend to be bright, attentive, and trainable – albeit a bit excitable. They do very well when told what to do and given a job. Many boxers excel at competitive dog sports such as agility, and obedience.
These dogs benefit from careful socialization to ensure that they don’t become overly suspicious of – or aggressive towards – strangers, kids, other dogs, and new situations.
An under-socialized Boxer can easily become a fearful or aggressive boxer. With a bark and stature like theirs, it’s important to avoid this for the comfort of your neighbors.
The German Shepherd is considered more intelligent than most dogs, at least according to Dr. Stanley Coren in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs.” But, despite being able to learn a myriad of complex commands is not “user-friendly” when it comes to training.
The German shepherd has all of the tools necessary to be an efficient learner. They are smart, hard-working, and capable. It is no surprise, then, that this breed is used in some of the most important canine work forces. They are commonly used as service dogs, drug dogs, bomb dogs, security guards, and even serve in the military and law enforcement.
GSDs have the capacity to do so much, it is a shame when they do not receive adequate stimulation. If they are not asked to use their brains in a constructive manner, they may begin to cause problems.
Thankfully, this can be avoided by participating in fun and interactive activities. Many GSD excel in agility and showmanship.
It is best to initiate early training with a confident, calm person. This allows puppies to begin socialization and obedience exercises before developing negative behaviors. They also appreciate the stability of learning from a partner they trust. Like all dogs, German shepherds respond best to consistent reward-based instruction.
Energy and Exercise
Get your workout shoes on, both of these dogs need lots of exercise.
When it comes to energy and intensity, the German Shepherd cranks everything to 10. A German Shepherd who’s under-exercised and ignored by their family is likely to express pent-up energy in ways you’re not going to like.
Playful, energetic, and bright, the Boxer is a fun dog for sure!
The majority of Boxers are natural athletes. They’re happy to use their long legs and muscled bodies for rough-and-tumble play, especially wrestling and tug-of-war. That said, some lines of the Boxers have been bred with ultra-short noses, which makes breathing difficult. Dogs like these should be carefully monitored during exercise to avoid overheating.
Health and Lifespan
Over the years, indiscriminate breeding practices of German Shepherds have lead to hereditary diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), and flea allergies. Prudent breeders have started working through these genetic disorders, but they should be noted.
The German Shepherd is also prone to bloat. Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach produces excessive gas and enlarges severely enough to cause death without immediate treatment.
Common health problems for Boxer dogs include cancer, colitis, bloat, canine hypothyroidism, respiratory problems and canine heart disease. Two additional potential health issues to be aware of are arthritis and canine hip dysplasia.
As with any dog breed, the best scenario is to learn about their potential health issues and their associated symptoms so you can spot them if your dog begins showing symptoms.
Both breeds live about 9-13 years, about average for larger dog breeds.
There is one thing these two breeds have in common, they are Power Chewers. With their strong jaws and immense energy they destroy almost any toy presented to them.
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So, which of these amazing breeds best suits your lifestyle? Do you prefer one or the other? Let us know in the comments.