Are Boxer Dogs Aggressive? Causes of Aggression & What to Do

Agressive Boxer dog running near the beach

The Boxer is one of those breeds that is associated with the word “aggression.” However, is this an innate behavior in the breed brought by its bloodline, or are there factors that drive this in Boxers?

Boxers can become aggressive due to their war, hunting, and fighting heritage. However, it does not come out naturally. Multiple factors can make them display aggression, but if they are bred and raised under the proper conditions, Boxers are normally loyal, affectionate, and patient dogs.

The next question is, can something be done to manage this aggression if it is triggered? This is something we will explore in this article, along with everything else there is to discover about the Boxer breed’s aggression.

Are Boxers Considered an Aggressive Dog Breed?

Agressive Boxer dog fighting with another breed

Boxers are not naturally an aggressive breed of dogs. In a normal situation, and given the proper socialization and training provisions, it will only display aggression to protect its owner or when it perceives any threat.

Further, the Boxer’s alert and self-assured stance must not be mistaken for a show of aggressive tendencies. According to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed standards, this is expected of Boxers as hearing guard dogs.

Hence, unless provoked, expect Boxers to remain calm and gentle dogs under normal situations.

Are Boxers Considered Aggressive Toward Humans?

To reiterate, under the right socialization and training conditions, Boxers will never be aggressive unless they are provoked or their families are threatened.

In fact, they are expected to show fearless courage during these situations. On the other hand, they are normally friendly and playful with family and friends. You can even trust them to be patient and tolerant of children.

However, precaution must always be practiced during their playtime with children since the dog may mistakenly perceive continuous rough play as a threat. Hence, it is best always to monitor their interactions with kids.

When it comes to strangers, they are outrightly reserved. So, do not expect them to be friendly right away. However, once properly introduced and approached gently and honestly, they can return this kindness promptly.

Are Boxers Considered Aggressive Toward Their Owners?

Aggressive Boxer dog running outdoors

Similar to other dogs, Boxers will respond accordingly to how they are treated. Under the right care and attention of their owners, they will be loyal, loving, and reliable companions to their owners and their families.

However, should they experience any sort of maltreatment, neglect, or abuse at the hands of their owners, then this can result in distrust and aggressive behaviors, not just with their owners but with everyone.

Are Boxers Aggressive With Other Dogs?

Without proper socialization, Boxers will lack exposure to their surroundings, and this includes their unfamiliarity with other dogs and animals.

Remember that Boxers are highly reactive to perceived threats, so even the slightest approach by other dogs can be deemed as a provocation by an unsocialized Boxer, and a fight may break out.

However, take note that this is true for all untrained and unsocialized dogs. This just becomes more highlighted with Boxers since they are strong and tenacious.

Boxer Dog Attack Statistics

Angry Boxer dog up close

According to a report by Dogsbite.org with data covering 13 years from 2005 to 2017, the Boxer ranks 10th in the breed of dogs involved in a fatal attack in humans. 

This is bout 1.6% of the total incidences of fatal dog attacks in the United States during the said period. 

Please see the table below illustrating these statistics:

BreedNumber of Deaths% of Total
Pitbull28465.6%
Rottweiler4510.4%
German Shepherd204.6%
Mixed-breed173.9%
American Bulldog153.5%
Mastiff/Bullmastiff143.2%
Husky133.0%
Unknown/Unreleased112.5%
Labrador Retriever92.1%
Boxer71.6%

Although the statistics coming from Boxers might seem a bit low compared to that of Pitbulls or Rottweilers, they are involved in some vicious deaths in the United States.

These fatalities involving Boxers include a 56-year-old man who was mauled after walking into the pen of his employer’s dog. 

Another victim was a 4-year-old toddler who was playing in their front yard when his neighbor’s three Boxers attacked. Lastly, a 64-year-old male was killed while stopping the fight between his own Boxer and Cocker Spaniel. 

Another report cited by The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, covering a longer period of 32 years from 1982 to 2013, has indicated that Boxers have also been involved in 64 bodily harms and 31 maimings in the country.

15 Causes of Aggression in Boxer Dogs

With Boxers having a bite force of about 230 pounds per square inch (PSI), they belong to the breeds with the strongest bites. Hence, to avoid any untoward incidents, preventing them from being aggressive is critical.

To do this, we first need to understand the most common factors driving aggression in Boxers and then address these accordingly.

Here is a list of the top reasons that trigger aggression in Boxers:

1. Poor Breeding

When it comes to sourcing Boxers, it is important to deal only with reputable breeders who follow high and ethical standards in breeding Boxers.

These breeders produce these puppies with both health and temperament in mind. They carefully select the breeding stock that will retain the core characteristics of a Boxer without being prone to inappropriate aggression.

They also strictly release puppies at the right age, which is anywhere between 8 and 10 weeks of age. 

Removing them from the litter too early prevents them from learning core socialization skills from their mother and siblings. 

On the other hand, releasing them too late will instill dominant or submissive positions in the pack, which is also not advised.

If you decide to go for a cheaper Boxer from a puppy mill, you risk all these breeding considerations and might end up with a Boxer with inappropriate aggression that you have to deal with yourself.

2. Dominance Issues

As early as their first couple of months, one can determine which puppies within a certain Boxer litter show dominance among their siblings. 

It can be because they came first in the pecking order or they are the largest or strongest in the pack.

Although this can easily be corrected while young, such puppies are more prone to developing aggression as they grow into adults.

3. Territorial Issues

True with other dogs, some Boxers may have a bigger tendency to assert their ownership over their personal stuff and become too territorial. This may include their favorite toys, bed, bowl, and even their families.

Dogs with this condition are also highly protective of their food and treats and must never be disturbed while eating.

This condition, known as resource guarding, may lead to uncontrollable aggression if not properly addressed.

4. Overprotective Nature

As hearing guard dogs, Boxers have a natural tendency to be overprotective of their families and their homes. Once they perceive a threat, they will do everything to protect their loved ones and their territory.

This may lead to aggression, especially if their owners do not inhibit them.

5. Lack of Socialization

Early socialization is the most important deterrent to aggression. Without proper socialization and exposure to its surroundings, a Boxer may not be used to seeing other people, dogs, and even other animals.

This unfamiliarity may lead to fear-based aggression since it will not know how to react when exposed to other people and animals for the first time.

6. Poor Management

Without proper research and handling of Boxers, they will dominate even their owners. As strong observers of human cues, they can take over leadership at home if they feel that they have control over their humans.

Hence, it is important for Boxer owners to show firm and consistent leadership and to keep them in their proper place in the household.

7. Negative Experiences

Past traumatic experiences may leave a heavy mark on Boxers that can translate to aggressive behavior to protect themselves. These experiences may include abandonment, abuse, neglect, or fights with other dogs.

Since this has some psychological impact on the dog, professional help may be required to reverse this. The goal when it comes to treating this condition is to replace these negative experiences with positive ones.

I remember the rescued adult male Boxer of a friend who would get angry whenever my friend went to their garden to water his plants. 

The Boxer will turn crazy and chase after the water coming out of the water hose, not in a playful way, but in an aggressive one. 

In an effort to correct the behavior, he found out eventually that its previous owner used water from a pressure washer to reprimand its bad behavior, which was indeed unacceptable.

8. Lack of Training

Boxers are very smart dogs, and without adequate training that will translate this intelligence to obedience, they are bound to create their own rules and become very independent.

Further, if they do not learn to follow commands, their owners may lose control over their aggressive tendencies.

9. Same-Sex Aggression

Similar to other breeds, inter-dog aggression can also occur in Boxers, and they are more likely to get into a provocation with dogs of the same gender. This happens both to male and female Boxers.

This behavior occurs more in younger dogs, between 1 and 3 years old. Further, this is also driven by their hormones and is associated with fear or perceived threats from the same gender.

10. Altering

Especially in male Boxers, reproductive hormones, like testosterone, have a lot to do with their display of aggression. Even the scent of testosterone in other males can spark aggressive reactions from male dogs. 

Meanwhile, reproductive hormones in females also drive them to be cranky or moody, leading to possible aggression as well.

Hence, neutering or spaying in dogs will stop the production of these hormones and will also remove hormone-driven aggression.

11. Health Status

If a dog is not feeling well, its mood will change. It becomes more sensitive and fearful. With its physical difficulty in defending itself during this time, it will exert more effort to do so and may become aggressive.

Further, health problems like hypothyroidism and certain medications like prednisone, especially on high doses or long-term usage, may also cause aggression in dogs.

12. Insufficient Physical or Mental Activities

Basic care of any dog breed warrants its owner to ensure that they are given the proper amount of daily physical activities and mental stimulation exercises to keep them on their best behavior.

Without an outlet for this pent-up energy, this will translate into a frustrated Boxer. This may also eventually lead to unwanted outbursts, including destructive behavior and uncontrolled aggression.

13. Age

Some Boxers may develop aggression as they grow into adulthood, especially in multi-pet households. As they mature more, they start exerting dominance in the pack.

This tendency is even stronger in unaltered adults and dogs of the same gender.

14. High Prey Drive

Even though most responsible breeders of Boxers ensure that they produce puppies that are not prone to unnatural aggression, remember that Boxers still have a heritage of being hunting dogs.

Hence, without obedience and socialization training, they can show aggression and chase after smaller dogs and other animals that they may consider prey.

15. Situational Dynamics

Sometimes, even gentle Boxers may react uniquely to situations around them, to the point of showing aggression. This may also vary based on each individual Boxer’s tolerance and understanding of the stimuli around it.

For example, a Boxer may be tolerant of smaller dogs that may even be aggressive themselves but perceives dogs of their own size or larger as threats even if they are mild.

Further, a Boxer may show aggression if it is placed on a leash. This may give it a feeling of restraint or discomfort.

What to Do if Your Boxer Dog Is Aggressive

Aggressive Boxer dog running on an open field

The good thing about Boxers displaying unacceptable aggression is that all of these can be reversed and corrected. 

Depending on the root cause of aggression, tailor-fitting the approach is necessary to correct behavior as soon as possible.

Here are some steps to prevent your Boxer from developing aggressive behavior or correct it if your dog already displays it.

  • Create a secure environment: Remember that a Boxer mostly displays aggression when feeling fear or confusion. Hence, creating a calm, loving, and secure environment will make it feel safe and peaceful and curb its aggressive tendencies. Further, projecting firm leadership will help you gain your dog’s trust, and it will learn to depend on you instead of resorting to aggression to address issues.
  • Train using positive reinforcement: With the Boxer’s high intelligence, giving it the appropriate training like obedience, leash, and crate training shall help you have more control over its behavior, no matter the situation. Positive reinforcement techniques shall also help drive results faster.
  • Have a regular health check: Sometimes, we may not be aware that our dogs are already experiencing certain health issues that make them feel uncomfortable and in pain. Hence, to avoid health-related aggression, it is best to have routine veterinary visits to catch and treat these illnesses early before they get worse.
  • Ensure proper socialization: One of the most effective ways to limit your dog’s aggressive tendencies is to ensure socialization with other people, dogs, and animals. Their exposure to the outside environment increases their familiarity regarding how to react to the outside environment and gives them a more relaxed disposition.
  • Neuter/spay your pet: The reproductive hormones in dogs, especially in males, will cause them to run into bouts of aggression beyond their control. This is even more prevalent among those of the same gender. Hence, neutering or spaying your Boxer under your vet’s guidance will help give them a gentler temperament.
  • Seek professional help: Understandably, some displays of aggression may have deeply rooted reasons. These instances may need the help of professional trainers, handlers, and veterinarians to correct the behavior.

To help you further with this, check this video on how to train an aggressive Boxer puppy:

AGGRESSIVE BOXER TRAINING! How To Train Aggressive Boxer Puppy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Boxer dog up close

Are Boxers as Aggressive as Pitbulls?

Though both Boxers and Pitbulls get a bad but unfair reputation for aggression, Boxers are not as near to being aggressive as Pitbulls. 

In fact, the earlier report mentioned in this article shows Pitbulls as the number 1 breed involved in fatal dog attacks, leading to 284 deaths, while Boxers ranked only 10th, with a total of 7 deaths.

Are Male Boxers More Aggressive Than Females?

Due to their testosterone, male Boxers are more aggressive and territorial compared to their female counterparts. They even have more ways of displaying aggression and dominance, such as territorial marking.

This may change once they undergo neutering.

Do Boxers Make Good Family Dogs?

Even the AKC recognizes Boxers as ideal family dogs. Boxers that come from reputable breeders are affectionate, even-tempered, loving, playful, and very patient and tolerant of children. 

Final Thoughts

A lot of potential Boxer owners hesitate to fulfill their wish of getting the breed because of the breed’s bad reputation. However, they need to realize that a Boxer is not a naturally aggressive dog.

In fact, the reasons that drive a Boxer to be aggressive are the same reasons that cause the same behavior in other dog breeds. With the right handling, you can easily prevent your Boxer from being aggressive.

Also, remember that no matter the reason for a Boxer’s possible aggressive behavior, this can always be corrected with the proper approach.

Have you ever handled a Boxer that has aggressive behavior? Please share with us your best practices in the comments below to help current and future owners of this breed.

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