The natural abilities of the Boxer both in regards to their mental alertness and intelligence as well as their physical abilities make them an excellent competitive breed for may different types of events. There is really no limit on what types of events that a Boxer is suitable for since in their history they have been used in several different and very diverse capacities. Typically, although Boxers were used as flock guardians, they are not herding dogs and have limited natural abilities in this area. They also have a higher prey drive due their original use as a hunting breed, making them a poor choice for these types of competitions and events.
On the other hand anything that combines intelligence, obedience and physical ability other than herding is typically a very good match within different Boxer dogs. Some are naturally very gifted at advanced levels of competitive obedience, others are good at agility, scent tracking and even the very demanding competitions known as schutzhund. It is important to keep in mind that not all Boxers are good at all events, so if you are considering a puppy that you want for a particular type of competition look for a breeding line that has proven champions or competitors in that particular event. This is perhaps the best indicator that the puppy may have a stronger natural tendency in that event than a puppy from a line that has a history in another type of event or competition.
In modern working dog roles the Boxer is found in a wide range of activities and jobs that closely mirror many of the competitions and events. Boxers are used as police and military dogs in some areas and countries, where their natural hunting and holding abilities make them ideal for detaining and managing criminals in combination with human police officers. They are also used for surveillance and guard dogs, for both property and for personal protection.
More recently Boxers has also been incorporated into many of the specialized detection services offered by police and security services. These can include drug detection at airport, borders and other locations, bomb location, search and rescue dogs as well as cadaver dogs. Some Boxers are also trained as therapy dogs and for use as assistance and guide dogs, although this is not as common as the other uses of the breed.
Incorporating the natural skills of the Boxers into competitions for obedience is a natural and logical transition. Boxers love to please and, with the proper obedience work, are outstanding obedience competitors at any level. The Boxers ability to focus in on the handler and their ability to avoid distractions is a real asset in competitive obedience work. It is important that Boxers in these types of events be highly socialized and desensitized to the presence of other dogs as this can be the biggest issue that may affect the Boxer's performance in the competition. Once they know and understand what they are there to do, they are really amazing to watch even at the most advanced obedience levels.
Agility work is almost like a game to the Boxer. They are naturally very commanding dogs with regards to athletic ability and the jumps, tunnels, climbs and other obstacles on the agility course are a great match for the Boxer's ability. In agility events the most problematic part for most Boxers is the pause table where they actually have to stop for a pre-set time before continuing on with their course. The ability to work as a team with the handler, due to the strong bonding tendencies of the breed, make them ideal in these types of off-leash competitions.
Schutzhund training is very specialized and is often seen as the most advanced form of training for police dogs or dogs owned by private individuals. Started in Germany to test the soundness and temperament of German Shepherds for police and military work, Schutzhund competitions are now open to any breed that can meet all the preliminary requirements. All dogs first have to pass a temperament test before they can enter the schutzhund event itself. This tests the dogs level of self-confidence with aggressive or timid dogs eliminated from proceeding.
There are three different components to the Schutzhund event. This includes an obedience section where the dog has to perform a set pattern and go through a variety of tests. This includes walking through a group of people, handling a gun being fired in close proximity and working both on and off leash with the handler. Another section tests tracking ability over a pre-set track with objects positioned at key points that the dog must find and alert on. The third part includes the actual police work, where the dog has to locate and hold a suspect until the handler arrives. The dog will also help the handler move the suspect to a set position and prevent the individual from attacking both the dog and the handler. During this stage of the competition the Boxer often uses his or her paws in the boxing manner so connected with the breed.
Schutzhund training has three different titling levels ranging from level one to level three. Dogs and handlers can move up through the levels based on their successful completion of the previous level. There are few dogs that actually make it to the Schutzhund title level three, however there are both German bred and American Boxers that have held these advanced titles. Finding a Schutzhund club or trainer is the best way to get started in the sport as it is more intensive with regards to training in all three components as well as the temperament test.
For those that want a less stressful and intense type of training and competition, Boxers can also be used in some of the more popular team type dog sports such as Flyball and Frisbee. The natural focus, competitive edge and high levels of athletic ability make the breed a great match. Any of these types of competition also helps with ongoing socialization of the Boxer, plus it helps provide a focus for training, exercise and dog and human interaction on an ongoing basis.