The Boxer truly has a unique personality in the dog world. They are clownish and playful, loyal and steadfast, courageous and protective and goofy and stubborn all rolled into one dog. This combination of temperament traits combined with intelligence and a very expressive face result in a one of a kind type of dog.
People that have lived with Boxers indicate there is really no other dog like them. While the Boxer is incredibly affectionate to their family they are often very distrustful and aloof around people they don't know. Even close family friends may never be fully accepted by the Boxer as being "part of the group". This sometimes makes finding people to care for a Boxer a challenge since they can be rather intimidating with their somewhat fierce expression.
Another key trait of the Boxer temperament and personality is that they are a breed that tends to bond with several people, however they typically have one person that they bond the most with. This bonding process can occur throughout their lives with the strongest bonds typically with the primary caregiver and the person the dog sees as the alpha leader in the family. This is not a person that is aggressive or harsh with the dog, but rather a person that is consistent, firm, positive and loving towards the dog. Working with the dog in obedience work and exercise, playing with the dog and involving the dog in day to day activities in the family will reinforce this bonding and provide a great relationship between the humans and the Boxer.
Of course the energy level of the Boxer is definitely a part of their personality and behavioral traits. They are a dog that is capable of sitting or lying quietly at your feet, or even better on the couch beside you, then immediately springing into action for a jog, run or a play activity. As puppies and juveniles they tend to be very exercise intensive and will continue to need above average amounts of exercise throughout their lives. Boxers are best suited to active families or individuals that love to walk, jog or run on a daily basis. Boxers are also avid game players and love games of hide and seek, fetch and Frisbee. These games stimulate the dog mentally as well as provide much needed physical exercise.
While the Boxer can adjust to life in almost any type of living situation they are not recommended as kennel dogs or outdoor dogs in all but the most moderate of climates. They are not happy isolated away from the family and prefer to be indoors, at least in the evening. Boxers do enjoy outdoor time, however they need to be kept in a very secure, appropriate height fence as they will dig and jump to get out if they are bored. They are a breed that also roams, so they are not recommended for unfenced areas.
With their very short although dense coats the Boxer is not a good outdoor dog in cold climates. They also have difficulty in very hot and humid weather conditions when left outdoors or exercised in these conditions. This is because of the short nasal passages that prevent proper cooling of the air being brought into the body. Boxers can suffer from heatstroke, which can be a fatal condition.
Apartment and small space living can work for the Boxer, as long as the high exercise requirements are met. Most Boxers will be moderately active indoors and tend to follow people around the house and play and interact on an ongoing basis. This is not enough daily exercise for the breed and they will require at least two longer fairly brisk walks, jogs or some time to run in a secured off-leash area every day, regardless of the weather. For very hot climates exercising in the early morning and later evening is recommended as this is when the temperature is cooler. In cold climates shorter, intensive exercise is great, as these dogs do love to play in the snow, they just can't stay out in it for extended periods of time without having problems with becoming chilled and developing potential respiratory problems.
Boxers have a great personality for matching with children, however the adults in the family need to train the Boxer and the kids how to properly interact. The Boxer has to learn to be gentle with children and to not jump up on them, or anyone else, especially in greeting. Teaching the kids and dog to play games such as fetch or even soccer together is a great way to allow the dog and children to interact without any concerns of injury to the kids with the dog getting too rambunctious. Older children typically understand the issues and get along fantastically with Boxers. The Boxer will be naturally very protective of children and will defend the kids if other people or dogs try to approach.
The Boxer is an extremely clean dog and is somewhat cat like in his or her self-grooming routines. They are incredibly easy to housetrain and, when given the opportunity to get outside, learn within a week or two. The short, dense coat does shed and regular grooming three or more times a week with a bristle brush or grooming mitt can help decrease any hair loss around the house. Some Boxers are prone to drooling so having a fairly large water area with the appropriate non-carpeted surface is recommended.
Another trait of the Boxer is his or her use of growls to show affection or to "talk" to the owners. Some Boxers do this a lot, while others are less vocal. It is important to understand this is a contentment and playful sound, not aggressive or protective. Barking is generally not an issue with a Boxer but when they do bark they are serious about protecting their space, family or property. Boxers can be trained to be guard dogs but will need little if any training to be very good watch dogs.
As a trait that is often considered to be a funny yet lovable part of the Boxer breed, snoring may be an issue with these dogs. This is not uncommon with the brachiocephalic or short muzzled breeds, but the size of the Boxer just makes it that much more noticeable.