I’ve always had a soft spot for boxers. So much so, that they appeared on the shortlist of breeds we were considering when we decided to get a dog 3 years ago. Boxers are athletic, loving and playful dogs who make good family pets and my love of them started way back in my childhood with a boxer called Rolf, who was all of the above.
I did not have any pets as a child, Rolf belonged to a neighbour who lived on the ground floor of our apartment block. But, since the neighbour loved children and had no problems sharing his dog, Rolf belonged to the neighbourhood kids as well. He was often part of our games and there was nothing he loved more than the cuddles and attention he received from us. Rolf loved children and children loved Rolf. I still bear the image of this sweet-natured childhood companion in my mind, and haven’t yet met a bad boxer to ruin it.
George, however, feels completely differently about boxers. The mere sight of one is enough for him to go ballistic and start to bark, growl and show his teeth. The hair on his back will rise sky-high giving him a pretty menacing, beastly look. And all these before we even gets close to the poor dog.
In fact, George has never seen a boxer up close, mainly because of his silly behaviour. He has no bad history whatsoever as far as these dogs are concerned. He’s never been attacked or even growled at by one.
Then why is it that my soft, friendly dog behaves in this manner around boxers?
I asked the advice of an experienced dog owner and behaviorist and here’s what I found out.
First of all, this happens whilst both George and the other dog are on the lead. The theory is that, since finding himself at the end of a lead annihilates George’s only reliable defence mechanism – his speed – he feels exposed and vulnerable, and shows aggression in an attempt to scare away those dogs that he feels threatened by. Of, course, he’s clever enough to only act this tough when the other dog is also on the lead and can’t go for him. He’s never behaved this way when meeting other dogs off-lead.
This theory makes sense and I’m ready to accept it. But my dilemma remains: why is he so much worse when the other dog is a boxer?
Well, it seems that it’s quite common for boxers to be picked on by other dogs. Apparently, it has to do with their unusual face. Again, the theory says that other breeds do not perceive a boxer’s face as being normal. So, boxers are not dogs to other dogs, but rather weird, unknown creatures. Depending on the other dog’s nature, a boxer’s face will therefore inspire fear (as it happens with George) or an irresistible urge to investigate and conquer. In both cases, the reaction will be aggressive. Whilst dogs like George will try to keep the boxer at bay by looking vicious, dogs from the latter category will most likely attack and try to assert their domination over the ‘alien’.
This theory kind of makes sense too, but my knowledge of canine psychology is very limited and therefore I’d like to hear other opinions before I make up my mind. So I thought I’d ask our blogging friends. What do you think of the theory described above? What is your experience with boxers? Do your dogs behave differently around them?