The opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Boxer Association.>


WHY DOES
BOXER STYLE
VARY AROUND THE WORLD?


By Judy Horton
(Originally written for "Sammen for Boxeren" - Norway Boxer Newsletter.
Reprinted with permission of the author, and Henning Lund - Editor)


People say nowadays that our world is really becoming a much smaller place! We can transmit words and pictures at the speed of sound from one place to another thousands of miles away.  With Jet travel we can get from one side of the world to the other in less than one day!

In the dog world, the availability of frozen semen and the new pet passport scheme throughout Europe, plus the ability to send dogs themselves to foreign countries almost overnight have led to the rapid improvement of most breed types worldwide.The gene pool is widening in these breeds and breeders have a much greater choice when choosing prospective sires.

So why is it that our Boxer breed has such a variance in style all over the world? Our Boxer standards are basically the same - slightly truncated in some countries, but in essence itís essentially the same!

The standard is very explicit on head measurements, front and rear angulation, size etc, but the breed varies so much in all these points around the world.  I donít mean just in kennel to kennel variances, but from country to country and in some cases even within a country!!

In some instances Boxers are becoming almost a different breed! The good breeders are finding it harder and harder to find a good stud dog of correct type to suit a particular bitch as their choices are limited to certain areas of the country or world.

Now donít get me wrong, the very best dogs from all countries could compete successfully against each other and the winner would only win because the judge on the day preferred a slightly "more bone/less bone/more workmanlike/more elegant" dog.


England

Europe

Australia/New Zealand

USA

Good examples of correct type

Yet all around the world we are seeing extremes of type that are occurring in the Boxer ring all too frequently. These distinct types are not always shown at the same time, as some exhibitors may be forced to keep two or three types if they want to keep showing! European type to be "only shown" under the European judges. English type "only shown" under English and Ďmiddle of the roadí judges. American type "only shown" under American and judges who require a more elegant dog. Or they only keep one type and pick their shows and be content to go to shows every other week!

Why is it happening? There could be many reasons.....

Could it be that many countries are becoming too insular, only appointing breed judges instead of alternating breed judges with well travelled allrounders? Allrounders, possessing knowledge of our standard that have seen Boxers in many countries, place emphasis on overall balance therefore judge the dog as a whole?

Could it be that Boxer breeder judges are becoming fault judges? Now I know thatís not ALWAYS true, but in the majority of cases itís correct. Boxer breeders spend time looking at their dogs and wishing that they were a little better here .... a little better there...etc. When they breed they try to offset these faults and breed to a dog that doesnít have that fault and doesnít throw it! (Iím right arenít I, to this point!

Now this breeder becomes a judge and when he/she enters the ring they penalise any dog that has a fault they particularly dislike, and award any dog possessing the virtue they find hard to breed in their own line. What they end up doing is neglecting to take into consideration the overall dog!

Could it be that the shows are becoming a merry-go-round of judges that do not know our breed and just put up the style that they have seen winning in their area? (Or horror of all horrors, the dog belonging to a friend, or to a famous exhibitor regardless of the dogís merit.)

Could it be that Exhibitors look at the show schedule then decide if that particular judge would like a particular "type" of dog/bitch before entering, because that particular judgeís country of residence?

(If non breeder Judges become accustomed to seeing only a certain style shown under them, they interpret it as being correct. After they have judged for a while Boxers not conforming to this style look different and therefore do not win.)

Could it be that a certain style of dog has gradually evolved in an area over time and become what we are used to seeing, week after week. This may have come about because of a limited gene pool of Boxers available at stud, or because a certain dog was used consistently and has set the style.

Could it be the fault of the breed clubs for not having symposiums where all breeders can get together and discuss type and style and where they are heading?

Could it also be the fault of the breed clubs for not implementing a comprehensive education scheme for new judges?

Could it be that there are not enough people who have been in the breed for many years who are willing to take on mentoring of newcomers, regardless of where they bought their dog?

Could it be that not enough people read and discuss the standard openly with other breeders, even argue certain interpretations thereby clearing the air of misconceptions?

Could it be that Boxer breeders are kennel blind and cannot see the faults and virtues of both their own dogs and the competition.

(We must learn to fully evaluate our own stock honestly to move ahead in our breeding programs)

Could it be that breeders are not getting together and discussing the breed and where itís heading? Instead only discussing type and style with others that think along the same lines as themselves, and throw up their hands in horror when a different style of dog or point of view is discussed.   (This does not have to be in person....the Internet is another way to discuss dogs and breeding)

Could it be that new owners are brainwashed by the breeder of their dog, (who themselves may be fairly new to the breed) to think that the style of Boxer they have bought is correct and every other style is wrong?   (It takes many years to learn about the Boxer breed, and even more years to know you still donít know everything!)


England

Europe

USA

Australia/New Zeland

Good examples of excellent heads

Could it be that it is due mainly to the different breeds of dogs that were used to create our breed originally?
(In reality we had a more consistent type 10-20 years ago, so that does not account for the many new "OFF TYPE" heads appearing in the show rings around the world today.

In some countries these "Off Type" heads are becoming thought of as correct TYPE, eg:-

  • Very heavy wrinkles down the sides of the head.
    (The standard asks only for wrinkle on the top of the skull when the dog is alert, and from the root of nose running down the sides of muzzle.)

  • Very heavy flews, dragging the eyes rim down and giving a heavy look to the head.
    (It IS possible to have thick lips without heavy flews.)

  • Thick, heavy ears.
    (The dog was bred to have thin ear leathers - thick ears can bleed profusely if damaged while doing his job.)

  • Lack of chin.
    (The standard asks for the chin to be plainly perceptible when viewed from the front as well as the side, without protruding and bending upward as in the English Bulldog.)(Bear in mind that width of underjaw is also very important as we donít want narrow spoon shaped jaws!)

  • Too much chin
    (see above)

  • Lack of depth of muzzle (quacky)   (The wording of the standards vary, but all ask for the muzzle to be broad, deep and powerful, never narrow, pointed, short or shallow and with balanced proportions to the rest of the head.)

  • The tip of the nose lower, or not higher than the root of the muzzle.
    (Lacking tip-up)

  • Very short muzzles that are closer to one quarter the length of the head.
    (The standard states that the length of the muzzle is one third of the whole head measured from the tip of the nose to the stop.)(See diagram below)

  • Dane type heads, that are too long in muzzle.


Then to compound the problem we also have the body faults that are "off type" for a working dog like our Boxer, eg:

  • Too short or too long in front legs.
    (The length of leg should equal half height at witherssee Ilustrated Boxer

  • Overloaded shoulders and weak hindquarters, losing the balance of the dog.

  • Straight fronts with upright shoulders and short upper arms.
    (The shoulderblade should be on a 45 degree angle and the elbow should be placed well back under the body with forechest in front.)

  • Short bunchy muscles.
    (A Boxer is an athletic dog not a weight lifter, and their musculation is "plastic". Which means smooth, moulded and elastic)

  • A tight jacket.
    The standard is explicit on this point - TIGHT!

Whatever the reasons for the variances around the world today, we need to correct them now!   For the sake of our breed we must take the middle road! We must all work towards breeding a Boxer that has the looks, stamina and brains to do the work it was bred to do, plus have the conformation excellence, smoothness and quality enabling it to win in the showring.

As I said earlier in this article, the TOP WINNING Boxers in most countries around the world do not differ markedly from one another! They vary slightly in style only. All the examples in this article could fulfil their purpose of a working dog, have the correct Boxer conformation and ooze breed type. They may have a few small faults, but nothing structural or "off type".

Some of these dogs also have a quality that the normal Boxer may lack, and that is a special "star" quality.  It is hard to come by, but easily seen when it is there. These are the dogs that win Best in Show.  Not all dogs have this star quality, yet still possess correct type and can be excellent specimens of the breed.

Then there are others with small faults that are slightly "off type" which may still be useful to the breed if carefully used. 

It is the extremes of type as mentioned above, of which we must be constantly aware. We must continually guard against these wrong types becoming the norm if we want our breed to continue strongly into the future!

(Addendum....
I recently read this quote from Richard Beauchamp Author of the Book "Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type". He was asked by Dog News the question...

Q: Itís inevitable that breeds will evolve and change somewhat as new generations of breeders take charge. How can the essence - or true breed type - be maintained?

A: Well, I think that the first thing that you have to understand is that there is a difference between breed progress and a breed evolving and changing a breed. In the seminar that I do, I use the analogy of a man [who] buys a sport coat and takes it to a tailor in order to have the sleeves shortened and to have it fit better. What heís done there is progress from something that was O.K. to something that is splendid. Now, if he were to take that same sport coat that he bought and say to the tailor, " Make this into a tuxedo jacket", thatís a change! This is the thing that the mentors in the breed and the educators in the breed have to really stress. Yes, we want our breeds to get better as we go along, but we donít want to change them.

I think that with our obsession with Groups and Best in Shows, judges and breeders are forgiving of major deviations from what is correct in the breed - in order to get that dog that has the flash and glamour to be able to win a Group, or to win a Best in Show.

I personally feel that this statement sums it up in a nutshell.)

******************

Judy Horton has been a Boxer breeder for 40 years.
Judy is also an All Breeds judge.

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