There is a certain standard of grace and beauty which consists in a certain relation between our
nature, such as it is, weak or strong, and the thing which pleases us. Whatever is formed according
to this standard pleases us, be it house, song, discourse, verse, prose, woman, birds, rivers, trees, room,
dress, and so on. Whatever is not made according to this standard displeases those who have good taste.
Why can't I breed my white Boxer?
The quick answers
- Because the American Boxer Club (or Canadian Boxer Club, or British Boxer Club, etc.) says that you can't. And when it comes down to it, I cannot think of any valid reason why an ethical, responsible breeder would not follow the tenets of the National Parent Club. You may not agree with them - but the way to effect change is not to fly in the face of the rules, but to work from within to change them. And if you are not following the ABC Code of Ethics, what ethics are you following?
- Because the breed standard states that a dog with more than 1/3 white markings is disqualified.
That still doesn't tell me why I can't breed my white Boxer. I'm not a member of the ABC and I don't show my dogs.
Of course, our response to this is that you probably shouldn't be breeding your dogs at all. If you are not breeding to the standard, there is absolutely no justifiable reason to be breeding. There are millions of dogs killed every day - even purebreds! - and dogs that are not what the breed is supposed to be are more likely to be among those numbers.
But let's backtrack a bit. Why do we have a breed standard to begin with? Certainly, it is not to discriminate against Boxers of a specific color. Breed standards came into being as the different breeds were developing. Certain types of dogs were used to perform certain functions, and as they were bred to excel at those functions, the types grew more and more distinct. In an effort to keep the different types distinct, and to give future breeders a guideline as to what traits were desirable for the functions performed, breed standards were written. Thus the Boxer's short, broad, undershot muzzle, for holding (and, often, hanging from) game larger than itself, and the sighthound's long, slender muzzle, for catching and holding smaller game. And while the original function the breed was designed for is sometimes no longer practiced, as is the case with the Boxer, breed standards today are also a way of preserving and honoring the history of the breed and those pioneers who so long ago set in motion the development of the dogs that we so love today.
So let's explore that history. The Boxer is descended from the Molossis dogs of ancient times, found as far back as 2000 B.C. As the centuries passed, the Molossian dogs developed into the different types, one of which was the Bullenbeisser in Germany - ancestor to Mastiffs, Great Danes, and our Boxers. Through natural selection, smaller Bullenbeissers were produced, called Brabanters. These smaller Brabanters are believed to be the direct ancestor of the Boxer, and of the English Bulldog. As the Brabanter was becoming distinct from the Bullenbeisser, the function the dog performed was changing as well, from hunting boar and bear to a butcher's and cattle dealer's dog. For a brief time, the Brabanter was also used for dogfighting and animal baiting, until the practices were outlawed in the late 19th century. The ability of these dogs to control cattle was highly valued, and many believe that the legendary talents of one such dog, called the "Boxl," is the reason for the breed name of Boxer.
Proponents of breeding white Boxers often claim that the "first" Boxer was white. This is simply untrue. It was in the 1830s that the English Bulldogs were brought to Germany and crossed with the Boxers - and it is at this time that the color white began appearing in the breed. Prior to that, all Boxers (and Bullenbeissers) were fawn or brindle with black masks.
The modern Boxer "began" in 1895 with the creation of the Munich Boxer Klub, and the first written breed standard. At this time there were plain, white, and flashy Boxers in existence. At this time a brindle bitch, Alt's Flora, was imported to Germany from France. Flora was the grand-dam of the first Boxer registered in the first Stud Book, Mühlbauer's Flocki in 1904. So, for those who choose to use the Stud Book as the "true" starting point of the breed as we know it, the "first" Boxer was brindle. Flocki was a flashy brindle; his dam was a parti-color or "check" brindle, and his sire was a white Bulldog.
This is not to say whites did not play an important role in the development of the breed. Indeed, the Boxer considered to be the "grand matriarch" of the breed was Meta von der Passage, a predominantly white (parti-color) bitch and a full sister to Flocki. Meta herself was not a great example of breed type, but she consistently produced puppies far better than herself, and all of the influential sires of the early days of the breed trace back to her.
(Note: The American Boxer Club website has a much more detailed history, and I encourage all fanciers to study it thoroughly, in order to better understand the breed.)
OK, so white Boxers are a part of the history of the breed. Why are they now disqualified by the standard?
Our White Paper discusses this issue and so we will not go into much detail here. In a nutshell, whites were never preferred, and were undesirable for the purposes of a war and police dog, and so in the mid-1920s the standard was changed to exclude them from showing and breeding. (It is important to note that in Germany, even today, there are breed wardens who must determine that a Boxer meets the breed standard before it can be bred.)
The breed standard is the blueprint of the breed. It explains what the Boxer should look like, what it should act like, how it should move, and what makes it distinct from other breeds. If you do not follow this blueprint, you will soon end up with something that "resembles" a Boxer but isn't quite right; and eventually you'll have Boxers with muzzles that are 1/2 the length of the head (a trademark of an irresponsible breeder), Boxers that are aggresive or viscious, Boxers that can't gait in a straight line and could never perform the duties for which it was bred.
If you care at all about the breed you must breed to the standard. There is no valid reason to do otherwise, and we have yet to find someone not breeding to the standard that is motivated by anything other than ignorance or money - or, quite often, both.