Mixed breed dogs can often make some of the best family companions. While many people are drawn towards pure breed dogs, don’t forget that there are lots of wonderful mutts in rescue centres all over the country that are just as deserving of a loving forever home. Not least, the often zany and very loving Boxer Pitbull Mix.
Pitbull Boxer mixes can have varying personalities and traits, depending on the heritage that they were bred from. In most circumstances though, you’ll get the loyalty of the American pitbull terrier with the friendliness of the boxer.
Before opting for a mix like this, it can be useful to understand a bit more about the possible traits that this dog could have.
Understanding the Term ‘Pitbull’
The term ‘Pitbull’ is one that has developed in recent years. It is not actually one specific breed, but rather it is a catch-all term for several different ‘bully’ breeds. It is most commonly associated with the American Pit Bull Terrier. Some other breeds are also sometimes referred to as ‘Pitbulls’, and these include the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Bulldog.
The term is one that has now become associated with negative connotations, primarily as a result of irresponsible breeders and owners and sensationalism in the media.
The introduction of Breed Specific Legislation across many countries and specific States, which varies between an outright ban or restrictions on owning this type of breed, has only served to heighten the hysteria and perpetuate unfair myths.
Most breeds that come under the umbrella term of ‘Pitbull’ are ones that are extremely strong and powerful, some were traditionally bred as fighting dogs, and now they are often owned by individuals as a status symbol or to work as bait or fighting dogs in illegal operations.
The reputation these types of dogs have earned is an unfair one. Providing they have been bred responsibly, and they have an owner that will give them the right love, training and socialization, they can make good family pets. Yes, they are powerful and, given their history, they don’t always enjoy the company of other dogs, but, in the right home, they can make a truly loyal and loving companion.
In this article, when we refer to ‘Pitbull’ we are specifically referring to the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), rather than the more generic overarching use of the term.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is thought to originally have been the same as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They were both originally developed in nineteenth-century England and used first for bull baiting and then for illegal dogfighting.
During the 1930s, some breeders began focussing on developing the strengths of the breed as a companion animal, rather than one for fighting and, at this point, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier became an officially recognized breed, but the APBT did not. In 1972 the American Staffordshire Terrier was introduced as an official breed by the AKC, and this was an even more honed version of the breed.
The Boxer is thought to have originated in Germany, and again their origins are as a fighting dog. Gradually they became popular for their guarding and hunting skills, and they were the first dogs to be used as police dogs in Germany.
The AKC officially recognised them in 1904, but their popularity did not grow until during the 1930s. Recently, they have consistently ranked as one of the most popular breeds in the United States and in 2017, they were recorded as being the 11th most popular breed.
Both the Boxer and the APBT are muscular and athletic dogs. The Boxer is slightly heavier, but it tends to be taller and slimmer. The APBT is stockier with a broader chest and head. Both breeds have short, smooth coats.
The Boxer is usually a fawn or brindle coloring, but often they have black or white markings. Boxers are also sometimes completely white, although this color is not recognized as a breed standard by the AKC. American Pit Bull Terriers come in a much wider variety of colors, so this means there is a greater chance of there being a bigger selection of coat colors in a Boxer Pit Bull mix.
They can come in mixed and solid coat colors, including black, white, fawn, brown, tan and brindle. They also come in red and blue colors, and these varieties are often referred to as Blue Nose or Red Nose Pit Bulls as their nose and nails are also the same as their coat color, rather than the standard black coloring.
Unlike some hybrid dogs, Boxer Pit Bull Mixes will not look too radically different across the individual dogs because of the similarities in size and shape of the two breeds.
While both the Boxer and the American Pit Bull Terrier were originally bred for their guarding and fighting traits, the Boxer has had more focus in recent years on developing a dog more suited to being a companion.
The biggest difference in their personalities is probably the fact that Boxers are not known for commonly being aggressive towards other dogs. They can be a little over-enthusiastic, rambunctious, zany and even a little hyperactive, but they are generally fun-loving and exceptionally affectionate with people and other dogs.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is known for being incredibly steadfast and loyal to its family. They are sometimes even referred to as ‘nanny dogs’ because of their affection and tolerance levels with children. While they are usually dogs that love interactions with people, because of their strength and size, they should always be supervised with children. It is also important to teach children the right way to interact with dogs. Even the most tolerant of dogs can be pushed beyond their patience levels if a child does not respect their space and boundaries.
The APBT can live well alongside other dogs and animals with the right training and socialization, but they are a breed that is known for sometimes not liking other dogs, and they can be reactive and aggressive. If you have a Boxer APBT mix, it could mean they may suit living in a one dog family household better, or careful introductions will be required to assess compatibility.
The APBT is a breed that’s often crossed with other purebred pups, like the Labrador.
If your dog inherits more of the excitable Boxer nature, then care will need to be taken around young children, that they are not accidentally too rough.
They are both dogs that thrive on lots of human attention. This means that most Boxer Pitbull mixes will benefit from living in a home where they have company for much of the day. APBTs, in particular, can suffer from separation anxiety if left on their own too much.
Given the strength of both breeds, training and socialization will be extremely important. If your dog has the hyperactive nature of some Boxers, they can become a bit wild and difficult to manage. They are also a dog that, in their enthusiasm can like to jump up.
If they are not good with other dogs, like some APBTs, if they are too strong and you do not have good leash control, this can make things dangerous for you, them and other dogs.
Both dogs need as much training and socialization as possible from the start to ensure that you have a well rounded and manageable dog.
They are both clever dogs, eager to please and respond extremely well to positive, reward-based training methods.
Both also have powerful jaws and enjoy chewing. Making sure that you offer plenty of tough, interactive chew toys and additional enrichment will help you to avoid any potentially destructive behavior in the home.
Both breeds are generally high energy dogs. Your Boxer Pit Bull Mix will not likely be a dog that will want to be a couch potato with just one short walk a day. They are a dog that will benefit from at least one or two decent daily walks, or other physical activity. They may even enjoy taking part in some sort of dog sport.
Boxers are a brachycephalic, flat-faced breed, and this means that they can overheat more quickly than other dogs. If your dog inherits the face shape of the Boxer, more care will need to be taken to ensure they do not get heat exhaustion in hot weather conditions, particularly when exercising.
Walking them first thing in the morning and in the evening may be required in the summer months to help keep them at a comfortable temperature.
Your Boxer Pit Bull Mix is unlikely to have a high maintenance grooming regime. Both breeds have a short, smooth coat, so no expensive trip to the groomers will be required for a clip out.
They do both shed though, so a good curry comb style brush out once a week will be beneficial to lift out dead hairs, keep the coat and skin in good condition, and minimize the number of hairs found around the house. A vacuum cleaner that lifts pet hair easily and a lint roller for your clothes will likely still be a good investment too.
If you get your Boxer Pit Bull Mix from a rescue shelter, you will not know the history of the parents. We would always recommend considering pet insurance to avoid any potentially costly medical bills.
If you have bought your dog as a puppy, it is important to make sure you have purchased them from a responsible breeder that has health checked the parents so they are not knowingly breeding from dogs that have conditions that can be passed on.
The Boxer, in particular, has a fair few inheritable conditions that you should be aware of.
Boxers are a breed that is commonly associated with some different types of cancers, including skin cancers, lymphoma and mast cell tumours.
They are also known for developing heart conditions including Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and Aortic Stenosis. Both these conditions can be managed if they are diagnosed early enough, but they cannot be cured, and they often result in a shortened life span of the dog.
Boxers also have a predisposition towards joint problems, like hip dysplasia, and this can lead to early onset arthritis.
American Pit Bull Terriers are generally seen as having less inheritable conditions than Boxers, but they are still more prone to a number of conditions.
They are also prone to hip dysplasia, they can more commonly develop skin conditions and allergies, and they are linked to developing hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid, which causes their metabolism to slow down). Luckily the skin conditions and hypothyroidism are conditions that can usually be successfully managed with medication or changes in diet or lifestyle.
You are likely to have a high energy, muscular and reasonably sized dog, so you will need to budget to feed a high-quality diet for the weight and energy levels of your dog.
If your dog does have allergies (like some APBTs), you may need to feed a specific diet on the advice of your vet or a qualified canine nutritionist. Sometimes an exclusion diet needs to be done for a while to establish if the allergy is food related and what food may be causing the reaction. Once this has been discovered, choosing a food that only contains ingredients that do not set the condition off may be required.
Finding Your Pitbull Boxer Mix
Sadly, because of the unfair stigma attached to Pit Bull type dogs, many of these dogs, and mixes of them, can languish in shelters for longer than some other breeds. This means there is a good chance you could find a Boxer Pitbull mix deserving of a loving home at your local rescue.
If you do want a puppy and find a breeder that has a litter of this mix, it is essential that you do your research. A responsible breeder will be one that has done appropriate health checks on the parents, will allow you to visit mum and her litter together in a loving home environment, will be doing appropriate early socialization and handling, and will not separate mum and puppies until they are fully weaned and at least eight weeks old.
A Boxer Pit Bull Mix could make a wonderful family pet. Both breeds are usually extraordinarily affectionate and loving with people. They are likely to be a high energy dog that requires a lot of exercise and enrichment, so they would benefit from an active home that has company around for them most of the day.
If they inherit more of the APBT traits, they might not necessarily enjoy the company of other dogs, so they may suit being the only dog in the household or need careful introductions when meeting other dogs.
They are also likely to be a powerful dog, and making sure you spend time on training to stop any unruly or unmanageable behavior will also be important.
Don’t forget to check out your local rescue centre as this is just the sort of mix that could be waiting for a loving home.